x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

500 jobs to be created in Abu Dhabi by Digital Domain

More than 500 jobs are set to be created in Abu Dhabi following the arrival of a visual-effects company that contributed to movie blockbusters such as Titanic and Transformers.

The Decepticon Mothership invades Chicago in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, from Paramount Pictures. (Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
The Decepticon Mothership invades Chicago in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, from Paramount Pictures. (Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

More than 500 jobs are set to be created in Abu Dhabi following the arrival of a visual-effects company that contributed to movie blockbusters such as Titanic and Transformers.

Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG), which is setting up at the twofour54 media zone, says it will make animated feature films and 3D special effects from its planned Abu Dhabi studios. Noura Al Kaabi, the chief executive of twofour54, said the launch of DDMG would help to cement Abu Dhabi’s place in the global film industry.

“It’s a great leap forward for twofour54 and Abu Dhabi – it’s where the future of media is,” she said.

DDMG, which has worked on more than 90 major movies, says it will eventually occupy a 150,000 square foot complex in Abu Dhabi, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2015.

Its facilities will include a motion-capture studio and be linked to a media school, the company said.

John Textor, the chief executive of DDMG, said its work in Abu Dhabi would have both a regional and international flavour.

“There is tremendous opportunity to produce original entertainment content for Middle Eastern audiences worldwide, and to bring Hollywood work and our own original productions here as well,” he said.

Priority will go to Emiratis when DDMG recruits the new staff, Ms Al Kaabi said.

But the staff base is also expected to include a mixture of nationalities from within the Middle East and further afield.

A Digital Domain Institute media school will accompany the launch of DDMG in Abu Dhabi in an attempt to boost the talent pool available locally.

Ms Al Kaabi said the media school would start operating at the beginning of 2014 and have a “focus on training UAE nationals and Arabs”.

Evidence for the demand for DDMG’s presence here includes the popularity of films with special effects in the region, Ms Al Kaabi added.

“I believe the demand for special effects and animation in the Middle East is very high,” she said.

More than 160 companies currently operate from twofour54, including Fox International Channels, CNN and Thomson Reuters. Sky News Arabia, a 24-hour TV news station, recently started broadcasting from the media zone.

Ms Al Kaabi said DDMG would become the “biggest partner” present at twofour54 in terms of staff numbers.

Although the main studio complex is not due for completion until 2015, DDMG said it would start operations before then.

“DDMG will begin production of visual effects and animation in studios in twofour54 at the beginning of 2013, with plans to recruit and hire staff immediately,” it said in a joint statement with twofour54. “Over time the studio will employ upwards of 500 people.”

Ms Al Kaabi said DDMG would initially occupy a smaller facility at twofour54’s existing campus close to Khalifa Park. It would then move into larger premises within a planned twofour54 campus, she said.

DDMG is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It also has studios in Los Angeles, Vancouver, San Francisco, London, Florida and Mumbai.

News that the firm is to open at twofour54 comes just days after it emerged Abu Dhabi was to offer rebates of up to 30 per cent to international production firms taking part in film shoots in the emirate in an attempt to boost the local movie industry.

Both announcements were made at the Cannes Film Festival, which runs until Sunday.

bflanagan@thenational.ae

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