Digital Domain, the visual effects company behind chart-topping Hollywood action adventures like Spiderman: Homecoming, Avengers, Beauty and the Beast, X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool and more, has now opened a studio in Telangana's capital Hyderabad. It is considered the world's largest independent visual effects company and was co-founded by Hollywood director James Cameron in 1993. The 42,000 sq.ft facility in India is the fifth studio and the 10th location for the California-based digital production company.
Located in Hyderabad's IT/ITes' special economic zone, Digital Domain India will have other bigwigs like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google for company and hopes to reap rich dividends from a country which produces an average of 2,000 films a year. Hyderabad's "world-class infrastructure" and "start-up ecosystem" are factors responsible for Digital Domain's decision to set up shop in the city of Nizams, instead of Bengaluru, the traditional IT hub, or Mumbai, Bollywood's home turf.
The Telangana government is keen on encouraging facilities for the animation, gaming, comics and visual effects industry, evident in its launch of an incubation facility ‘Innovation in Multimedia, Animation, Gaming and Entertainment’ (IMAGE) in 2015. The investment in Digital Domain's new facility is pegged around $3-5 million range.
Sudhir Reddy, former associate vice-president at Reliance MediaWorks-Digital Domain has been appointed the head of Digital Domain 3.0, the visual effects studio avatar of Digital Domain Holdings. “Combined with the recent projections for smart phone growth and mobile bandwidth expansion in the region, the people of India are primed to demand and expect premium content, and we are ready to deliver on that need,” said Daniel Seah, global CEO of Digital Domain.
Action in the Indian entertainment business has been seeing a quickening in investments in the recent past. In August, Hollywood studio, the $2.4 billion Lionsgate opened its Indian operations and appointed a local head for its business. Even as analysts point out a growing market for entertainment in the country, given the increased broadband access in the country.
But, immediately, production companies are finding the growing demand for local content in new formats a bit opportunity. Both Netflix and Amazon, which are offering annual subscription services for the video entertainment channel are scouting for local content. On the one hand, they are buying licenses to existing content but are also willing to spend top dollar for producing local content.
For studios like Digital Domain, the abundant availability of local visual effects talent is also lucrative. With recent international hits like Baahubali and Dangal, which have raked in millions in the US and China, respectively, the Indian market is now seen as an important playground for offering sophisticated VFX services by overseas media and entertainment giants.
The American company has been hailed for its pioneering role in generating stunning visual effects, live-streaming events in VR, building “virtual humans” and making interactive content. Besides motion pictures, Digital Domain has lent its cutting-edge expertise to video games, commercials, music videos and virtual reality experiences and its workforce have bagged Oscars aplenty for visual effects in movies like Titanic and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.