Digital Domain, whose backers include Michael Bay, is opening a Florida branch

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Digital Domain, the Venice-based visual effects house partly owned by director Michael Bay, is expanding -- outside of Southern California.

The company best known for creating digital effects for movies including ‘Transformers’ and ‘Titanic’ announced today that it would develop a digital production studio in Florida dedicated to producing animated movies and video games.

Digital Domain has long sought to transform itself from being a work-for-hire movie and commercial effects house into a full-blown production studio. The Academy Award-winning company had planned a initial public stock offering last year to help finance that conversion, but later scrapped the IPO after a tepid response from investors.

The Florida studio is being financed with a $50-million investment by Wyndcrest Holdings, a Florida-based technology investor whose principals acquired Digital Domain in 2006. The project also is supported by a grant from the state of Florida’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and various incentives administered by the city of Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie County.


‘Developing original content has always been a key part of our strategy, and a natural extension of the artistic and creative talent that the company has developed over the last fifteen years,’' Digital Domain Chief Executive Cliff Plumer said in a statement.

The company also recently announced that it was opening a new visual effects studio in Vancouver, Canada, which offers film tax breaks to production companies.

-- Richard Verrier