Tag Archives: Digital Domain

Video: Machine learning with Digital Domain’s Doug Roble

Just prior to NAB, postPerspective’s Randi Altman caught up with Digital Domain’s senior director of software R&D, Doug Roble, to talk machine learning.

Roble is on a panel on the Monday of NAB 2019 called “Influencers in AI: Companies Accelerating the Future.” It’s being moderated by Google’s technical director for media, Jeff Kember, and features Roble along with
Autodesk’s Evan Atherton, Nvidia’s Rick Champagne, Warner Bros’ Greg Gewickey, Story Tech/Television Academy’s Lori Schwartz.

In our conversation with Roble, he talks about how Digital Domain has been using machine learning in visual effects for a couple of years. He points to the movie Avengers and the character Thanos, which they worked on.

A lot of that character’s facial motion was done with a variety of machine learning techniques. Since then, Digital Domain has pushed that technology further, taking the machine learning aspect and putting it on realtime digital humans — including Doug Roble.

Watch our conversation and find out more…

Jaunt VR launches Jaunt Studios headed by Cliff Plumer

Virtual reality company Jaunt VR is opening Jaunt Studios, a new arm of the company that will focus solely on developing, producing and collaborating on live-action VR experiences. Jaunt Studios will work with creative talent to produce VR content. In addition to expanding collaborative projects with creatives and brands across music, adventure, travel, sports and other verticals, Jaunt Studios will also ramp up production of original, narrative VR content.

Jens Christiensen

Jens Christensen

Jaunt called on Hollywood vet Cliff Plumer (pictured above), formerly CEO of Digital Domain and CTO of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic, to lead the endeavor. In addition, David Anderman, formerly COO and general counsel of Lucasfilm, has joined Jaunt VR as chief business officer to lead the new company’s business growth and help it meet the demand for custom VR experiences. Anderman was named Variety’s Dealmaker of the Year in 2012 for his work on Lucasfilm’s acquisition by Disney. Meanwhile Miles Perkins, Lucasfilm and ILM veteran and former head of corporate communications, will serve as Jaunt VR’s VP of marketing communications. While all Jaunt Studios employees will report to Plumer, Anderman, Perkins and Plumer report to Jaunt VR CEO Jens Christensen. Most under the Jaunt umbrella will be involved in the studio as well.

The new creative studio will have a location in Los Angeles, where its team will work directly with storytellers, filmmakers, musicians and artists. Jaunt’s team in Silicon Valley will continue to develop VR technology for creating cinematic VR, both in hardware and software.

To kick off the Jaunt Studios effort, Jaunt and Condé Nast Entertainment (CNÉ) announced a VR production deal at CNÉ’s Digital Content NewFront event on April 27. Jaunt Studios and CNÉ will produce two virtual reality series that explore CNÉ’s  portfolio of travel, lifestyle, fashion, sports and technology content. Jaunt Studios is also in negotiations with other top content partners.

Digital Domain, Mothership combine for ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’ spot

Creative agency Mistress called on LA-based VFX company Digital Domain and its commercial production company Mothership to help produce a cinematic spot for the Ubisoft’s historical action-adventure video game, Assassin’s Creed Unity.

Directed by Digital Domain Mothership director Neil Huxley, Make History integrates the game’s Parisian backdrop with original scenes, live-action characters and CG doubles.

Featuring masterful VFX, the trailer introduces Assassin’s Creed Unity‘s new cooperative multiplayer feature, as live-action gamers converge with a painterly stylization of the game’s French Revolution setting.


“Mistress’ concept was equally artful and cinematic, which really inspired us to create something unique in the commercial-making sphere using the same caliber of VFX we apply to the feature film world,” says Neil Huxley.

Make History was shot over two days with four units at a Los Angeles sound stage. Cinematographer Ross Emery (The Wolverine) shot all of the live-action, including 25 extras in full period costumes before Digital Domain turned them into hundreds of unique CG characters.

Digital Domain created the realistic movement of the gamers by shooting plates against greenscreen and deploying stunt men in green suits — “green ninjas” — who lifted the actors in their chairs and moved them realistically.

Over a five-week post schedule, Digital Domain VFX supervisor Janelle Croshaw (Her) rendered the spot’s movie-like environment using her team’s feature film pipeline. Ubisoft provided myriad game assets which were integrated into the stylized CG palette.

Tools used included Maya, Nuke, Flame, Vray and Digital Domain’s proprietary tracking software, Track.

Huxley and his team worked closely with Mistress to incorporate the finer details of the game and its storyline, such as signature character moves, weapons, and gameplay features.

“Visually capturing all of the story beats that Mistress wanted us to hit on in essentially 38 seconds was a challenge, but we pulled it off,” says Huxley. “We needed a style to seamlessly transition between all these different moments, which we dialed in by varying the editorial pacing.”

For the trailer’s culminating fight scene, which depicts Arno, his Brotherhood of the Assassin’s brethren and four gamers descending upon Robespierre as executioner, Digital Domain built a life-sized guillotine for the scene. The template for the climactic shot was a sketch that Mistress provided. Rembrandt-like lighting of the scene’s cityscape was based on Croshaw’s own HDR reference photos of Notre Dame and Emery’s lighting on greenscreen.

“We composed and framed each CG shot like a classical painting that could stand on its own,” concludes Huxley. “The big question going in was, ‘how are we going to best blend the CG and the live-action?’ The period of the game inspired the resulting aesthetic from the outset. Atmospherics and smoke were important blending elements, and the color-grade beautifully emulates the period, giving the film a neoclassical feel. It was a conscious effort by all involved to provide a style that is faithful to the brand.”

VFX Chat: Digital Domain discusses its work on ‘Maleficent’

By Randi Altman

The Disney hit movie train keeps rolling along, with audiences getting on board at every stop; this time it’s Maleficent’s turn. The studio has taken a classic animated villain, Maleficent, and put her into a live-action film, starring Angelina Jolie as the title character.

Directed by Robert Stromberg, the story is a “re-imagining” of the classic Sleeping Beauty, but from Maleficient’s perspective. There are battles and fairies and magical wings. All of which imply visual effects.

One of the houses called on to help was Digital Domain, which provided 540 shots for the film, which was more than originally thought. As the show went through some adjustments, that number grew.

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