A Field Trip to Silicon Beach

A Field Trip to Silicon Beach

Earlier this year, the AVPA film department was lucky enough to visit visual effects and digital production company Digital Domain in Playa Vista. Founded in 1993 by filmmaker James Cameron, film executive Scott Ross, and special make-up effects creator Stan Winston, Digital Domain specializes in special effects for feature films, video games, and advertisements.


The tour of Digital Domain was an elaborate and curated effort that included the history of digital domain, the projects they are currently working on, and what the near future looks like for Hollywood. The amalgamation of mediums and platforms that Digital Domain works on keeps the company relevant and very much in demand with locations in London and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. With its attractive tax refund incentives, Vancouver has become a hot spot for Hollywood productions.

One of the representatives and head of the VR department was nice enough to give us a tour, explaining what each department does in their unconventional office space filled with sound stages, break rooms, screening rooms, and desks. As a power player in this industry, having done special effects for movies like the academy award winning Titanic (1997), the building was filled with on going productions being worked on that we were able to observe.

One of the new frontiers Digital Domain is embarking on is VR, and how that can be accessible to the average person: through their smartphones. Partnering up with androids, the people at Digital Domain gave us access to early developments in what will be the near future for VR and the working class. Smartphones were attached to visors with a place for the smartphone to serve as a 360 degree, first person view of an array of possible situations such as attending a concert or playing in a professional soccer field all while still at the office.

Later on we were introduced to their version of a soundstage where actors in green screen body suits act as other creatures on a blank platform that will be changed to mars within seconds on a monitor three feet away. Their enclosed sound stages that are covered from wall to wall with sound proofing material are their foley stages where sound effects are created.

As modern as a 21st century office space and as advanced as a post production studio can get, the experience at Digital Domain was an enriching and refreshing experience.

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