Digital Domain, DreamWorks Animation Strike Virtual Reality Deal

Digital Domain reveals a VR strategy that also includes a deal with China’s Youku and the launch of a 360-degree camera.
DreamWorks Animation's 'Kung Fu Panda 2'

Digital Domain Holdings — the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-traded parent of visual effects house Digital Domain — on Tuesday revealed an aggressive virtual reality business strategy that includes a deal with DreamWorks Animation to produce virtual reality experiences for popular characters from DWA. The terms of the deal weren't announced.

The companies plan to begin with characters from the worlds of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda and expand to other franchises in the coming months.

“We are proud to have garnered the confidence of a renowned company like DreamWorks Animation, which has entrusted Digital Domain to develop VR experiences for their beloved characters,” Digital Domain CEO Daniel Seah said in a statement.

Digital Domain entered the VR business in 2015, with VR camera technology, streaming and production services including VFX. That effort included the recent acquisition of Immersive Media Ventures, which develops 360-degree camera and streaming technology and is the partner in the IM360 VR joint venture that DD and Immersive Media launched last year.

Also part of Tuesday's announcement, Digital Domain Holdings revealed a three-year joint venture between Digital Domain and Beijing-based video business Youku for the Greater China market, through which DD will create VR content for all of Youku’s online and mobile broadcast channels. The two companies also plan to jointly develop an intellectual property rights business as well as 360-degree live streaming and pre-recorded video, VR, augmented reality and immersive media based on Youku’s events and content.

“Content has always been the focus of Youku VR and we are dedicated to developing the most comprehensive VR platform via various channels including self-production, joint-production and licensing cooperation,” Victor Koo, chairman and CEO of Yonku, said in a statement.

On the technology side, DDH also unveiled Zeus, a 360-degree camera for VR and related uses, which the company said offers 8K, 10-bit resolution, shoots up to 75 frames per second, and is capable of live streaming at up to 4K resolution.

While little information was revealed, DDH reported that it developed a business development plan for Hong Kong-based postproduction facility Digital Domain Post Production Office, which was launched when DDH acquired a share in the previously named Post Production Office earlier this year. 

“The establishment of DDPO represents the best combination of the strengths of Post Production Office and Digital Domain," DDPO chairman Nicholas Tse said in a statement. "Moving forward, DDPO will expand its business in Greater China as well as the Asia-Pacific region. Cook Up a Storm, the first 4D gourmet movie in Mainland China, as well as our first project together, will be in theaters next Chinese Lunar New Year.”