News broke today that VFX house Digital Domain's recently founded animation department, Tradition Studios, has closed its doors. Citing DDMG's (Digital Domain Media Group, Inc.) growing financial troubles, the closure of Tradition Studios means 300+ staff will be laid off and production on, what was to be their first animated film, The Legend of Tembo has been halted.
Check out the story after the jump break!
In their press release, DDMG said they had:
"initiated a strategic realignment that will enable it to focus its resources on its core business, Digital Domain Productions, Inc., a company focused on creating digital visual effects, CG animation and digital production for the entertainment and advertising industries. As a key part of this strategic realignment, DDMG has begun the cessation of its Port St. Lucie operations by reducing virtually its entire Port St. Lucie workforce, retaining approximately 20 employees who will remain as part of the wind-down."
Tembo, the story of a baby African elephant who's taken and shipped to India, was being directed by Aaron Blaise (Brother Bear) and Chuck Williams and due for 2014. It's a crying shame to see such a promising looking film (check out some great artwork from it below and here) shut down, and so many talented artists and animators put out of work. Here's hoping they find work elsewhere quickly!
Cars 2 co-director, Brad Lewis, jumped ship to Tradition last year, and was working on their second feature film, written by Horrible Bosses writer Mike Markowitz. Lewis has likely not lost his job today, as he was developing the film at Digital Domain's San Francisco facility, says Deadline and Pixarian Cat Hicks. The film, though, was to then be produced at Tradition in Florida, so that's seemingly done for too. In fact, Tradition's website says the studio had "four full-length animation feature film projects in various stages of development".
The closure led to Digital Domain's controversial CEO John Textor's resignation also. Textor, famed for his ludicrous remarks about exploiting free student labour, said in his resignation letter that he was:
"in profound disagreement with the decision to close our animation and visual effects studio in the wonderful community of Port St. Lucie, Florida."
A sad day for sure. And we here at A113Animation wish the best for all the artists and crew from Tradition Studios and Digital Domain who lost their jobs today.