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Digital Domain going down.

Once an incredibly powerful VFX company, originally founded by James Cameron in the early 90s – Digital Domain had for years been at the forefront of film, TV and game graphics(cinematic cut scenes) work. A few years back they tossed out LightWave3D from all operations and went to a completely “Maya/Houdini/Nuke” pipeline. Now they are on the the brink of bankruptcy.  You know those tools that everyone says are awesome and you have to learn and use if you want a “job” in this industry?? Well guess what –  they are really expensive to own and maintain. It’s the economics stupid studio! And now you are paying for it and so are your investors. I predicted this would happen back in 2007 and again in 2008 calling out a DD recruiter for being nothing more than an Autodesk product rep (turns out i was right on that as well – his prior experience was that of a trade show demonstration artist!). It’s interesting to point out that many years ago James Cameron split from DD after disagreement with the direction the company was going – this was just before LightWave and LightWave artists at the company started getting the boot, if they didn’t move over to “maya” because it was no longer considered viable for use. Oh really now? I hope DD crashes and burns hard. too bad for their investors and too bad for all their staff. But their board and management made bad, really bad decisions on several fronts and drove up their costs to astronomical heights and getting rid of LW was one of those bad decisions. LightWave3D is not dead. But it may be soon that DD is! Remeber they got rid of LW because they felt it was dying. Kind of strange how things work out isn’t it? Read the article concerning DD defaulting on its loan. BTW, for students considering going to DD school. Don’t. Try the DAVE school instead. Better value for your money.  

9 Comments to Digital Domain going down.

  1. Jeric says:

    The shaden, it is well and truly freud. >:^)

  2. Jeric says:

    BUT: sincere condolences to all those who might be looking for work in the wake of this. It’s no fun to be unemployed at this time, and especially if you’ve got family. GOOD LUCK.

    Amidst the cheerleading for our fav product, it’s easy to forget that economic turmoil has victims.

    That DD can go under, I hope stiffens the resolve of producers to quit bidding practices that force them out of business.

  3. Mikael Burman says:

    The use of AD products instead of LW isn’t really an argument that holds water in the long run, because then this would affect all other studios that are using ADs products, such as ILM, WETA, Digital Double, The Moving Picture Company, Framestore, etc, etc…

    So, the argument that the use of Maya would be the cause of DD eventually closing doors is just… out there, in lala land.

    DD has done some poor desicions, yes, and, I do agree with the sentiment that for certain things, LW would have fitted some jobs better than other apps. Getting rid of LW instead of adding tools around it is something I can not really understand the thoughts behind. One reason could be that they were loosing the good LW-artists they had to other companies that do understand the value of the tool. I actually don’t know why they did what they did, regarding LW. Certanly at this day, LW11 does a much better job fitting into pipelines… but that wasn’t really the case back then, when DD finaly took a desicion to get rid of it from the pipeline.

    But, to say that the desicion to do so has taken them to the situation they are now in, is just… as I said, out there in lala land.

  4. tischbein 3 says:

    its not just lala land its imho also quite unapropriate.

  5. kat says:

    Just a bit of information here on business and LW at DD years ago. Their commercial division which was very, very successful and profitable was the last component of DD that used LightWave. When they moved away from it their costs went up and so did their bids, edging them out of being competitive and they lost business. When the average car commercial runs about 1-3 million dollars to produce and a significant portion of that being VFX – LightWave was the cost effective tool that ensured profit margin stayed wide. At times in DDs history the commercial division helped to keep the doors open between large films or when they would be pinned against the wall. A similar situation took place with CafeFX. CafeFX a few years back before they closed distanced themselves from LightWave and the same thing happened to them. You can also say the same about Rainmaker/CIS – again moving away from LightWave cost them their bread and butter business and where is RM/CIS today? It’s a shell of a company from its previous standings and its founder would be rolling in his grave over it frankly because it was a really stupid move, motivated by ILM/Autodesk alumni types who only saw chasing after mega budget films as a way to sustain the business, engaging in a race to the bottom in a game of high stakes risks by integrating these incredibly expensive tools and business practices on an if-come.
    Now here is a connection between what happened with RM/CIS and CafeFX. The same people/person who took CIS/RM down that road and killed off their LW business is the SAME person who got involved with CafeFX and within 2 years CafeFX was out of business.

    Connection? No… of course not.

  6. tischbein 3 says:

    well primarly i feel its a bit inappropriate to do a post mortem before things are settled down a bit, especially considering the amount of job losses.

  7. erikals says:

    well, certainly it wouldn’t have hurt the company to stick with LW for certain tasks. AD prices are scary, and upgrades too. just how much LW would save them could be argued.

    about inappropriate part, not so sure, 200 guys have been laid off now, and > DD may consider bankruptcy protection

  8. erikals says:

    16mill here, 16 mill there…

    John Textor Made $16 Million In 2011 While Digital Domain’s Revenue Dropped.

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