(Source: tcpalm.com) As Digital Domain Holdings Corp. moves into a temporary workspace at Indian River State College, the animation company is in the midst of a hiring spree.

Digital Domain has hired about 46 people and the company expects to easily exceed 65 by the end of the year. The company plans to do digital animation for feature films and military applications.

Digital Domain and Port St. Lucie agreed in November 2009 to a $51.8 million deal helped with state contributions. The money will go in part to building a 150,000-square-foot facility. The company must create up to 500 jobs at an average salary of $64,233 by 2014.

Chairman John Textor declined to get into specifics about salaries, but said the company is exceeding the average salary requirements. Not all of those jobs will be in animation.

Although show business should be the main revenue stream for Digital Domain, company executives are looking at other ways to make the company viable in the future.

Military applications and educational opportunities are key pieces of the company’s business plans, along with making special effects and feature films.

The company could move in to a 50-person workspace at Indian River State College within a week and begin work there by October, while a 150,000-square-foot studio is being built along Interstate 95, north of Gatlin Boulevard. Digital Domain has an agreement with Florida State University to create a curriculum for what will be known as the Digital Domain Institute, a college facility at a to-be-determined location, Textor said.

Parts of the curriculum are expected to be used both at IRSC and Florida State. Textor said he is eager to have Florida students learn about the industry and plans to hire a percentage of students out of college to work in Port St. Lucie.

“The more we can do to build the skill set in the student population, not only in the Digital Domain Institute, but at all of our educational partners, then we can help the major digital animation companies in our industry come to Florida as well,” Textor said.

Digital Domain also is looking to the military as a source of revenue. Digital animation can be used for battle re-enactments, rehabilitating soldiers and training.

“The existing market is growing tremendously for us, so it’s not about, we need it to survive,” said Michael Keane, the senior vice president of strategic planning and corporate development. “We just want to continue to grow and hire new people, and we’ve got a tremendous competitive advantage. We just want to exploit that and leverage that in any market that we can.”

At least three of the company’s hires, including Keane, will help market products to the military.

The company also hired defense industry specialist Raymond DuBois, who was known as the “mayor of the Pentagon” where he directly managed 2,500 employees and a $1.3 million budget.

“If you want to have a deep relationship with the Pentagon, you should gear your organization to have a lot of people with clearance so you can have real discussions about how our technologies can help train our soldiers and help win wars and help win the hearts and minds of people around the world that our American military causes are just,” Digital Domain Holdings Chairman John Textor said.

The military work, though separate from the animation work, could help the company solve certain problems in the future.

Digital Domain helped with the special effects for the action flick “The A-Team” and built an animated V-22 Osprey Helicopter. But no one knew much about the helicopter, Textor said.

“I call Ray DuBois,” Textor said. “Ray DuBois called the former commandant of the Marine Corps. Within half a day, our visual effects supervisor in Venice (Calif.) was down at a naval base able to inspect and photograph and measure an actual V-22 Osprey.”

Still such overlap might be rare due not only to the need to keep military work secret but also the movie studios’ requirement for the same discretion.

“Clearly the military stuff will exist in a more controlled environment, and there’s different requirements for contracting within that industry in terms of clearances and in terms of controlled access and stuff like that,” Keane said. “The studios also have requirements because they don’t want their movies going out the door either.”



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