Visual-effects giant Digital Domain in virtual reality content deal with Youku Tudou

Company also wins Anita Mui hologram rights

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 May, 2016, 9:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 May, 2016, 9:24pm

Digital Domain Holdings, which operates the world’s largest independent visual-effects company, is looking to swiftly expand its development of virtual reality (VR) content for the China market under a new partnership with Alibaba Group-backed Youku Tudou.

Youku Tudou, which says it is the mainland’s leading online video services provider, agreed on Wednesday to buy VR content from Digital Domain and distribute it through its various platforms.

The two companies also agreed to collaborate in the production of augmented reality and immersive, 360-degree, live-streamed video content.

Financial terms of their deal, which was announced in Shanghai, were not disclosed.

Our collaboration with Youku is an important step for Digital Domain to further penetrate the greater China market
Daniel Seah, Digital Domain

“Youku’s platform, network and resources will allow Digital Domain to develop a visual-effects ecosystem combining advanced technology, original content production and distribution platform,” Digital Domain chief executive Daniel Seah Ang said.

The deal with Hong Kong-listed Digital Domain marks the first major content pact for Youku since e-commerce giant Alibaba completed its US$4 billion takeover of the online video company last month.

New York-traded Alibaba also owns the South China Morning Post.

“Our collaboration with Youku is an important step for Digital Domain to further penetrate the greater China market,” Seah said.

Alibaba pays US$3.67b to take over Youku Tudou

In January, Digital Domain teamed up with Hong Kong actor and entrepreneur Nicholas Tse Ting-fung to drive its expansion in mainland China, the world’s second-largest movie market.

Tse serves as chairman of a new Digital Domain subsidiary called DDPO, which was established from its acquisition of the popular celebrity’s post-production services business on the mainland.

DDPO is responsible for growing Digital Domain’s visual special effects, computer graphics, virtual reality, 360 panorama video recording and digital human rendering services for mainland Chinese cinema, television, commercial advertising, concerts and sports events.

Actor Nicholas Tse teams up with Digital Domain to create content, special effects studio

Digital Domain runs award-winning movie visual special-effects studio Digital Domain 3.0, which also provides services to major commercial advertisers like Nike and Apple.

The company is now expanding into VR content amid efforts by technology firms like Google and Samsung Electronics to grow the global market for VR headsets.

In a separate partnership announced on Thursday, Digital Domain said the family of the late Canto-pop star Anita Mui Yim-fong had granted the company exclusive intellectual property rights to use her works and likeness to create a “virtual human” or hologram for concerts, advertisements and movies.

Mui would be the second Chinese virtual human project for Digital Domain since 2013, when a digital version of the late Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng performed duets with Jay Chou at a Taipei concert.

Digital Domain reported in March a 38 per cent decline in revenue for last year to HK$527.34 million, down from HK$849.95 million in 2014.

The company’s share price fell 2.94 per cent on Thursday to close at 66 Hong Kong cents.