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Digital Domain excels new frontiers in Malaysia

DIGITAL DOMAIN MALAYSIA
Digital Domain VFX Soars to New Heights with Expansion into Malaysia: A Positive Leap for Global Creative Powerhouse

 

Experience the magic of hearing beloved songs from the past performed by legendary Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng, who left us in 1995. Thanks to Digital Domain, a global visual effects company, this dream is turning into reality through their decade-long investment in AI-powered humans that can authentically sound and look like real people.

 

Digital Domain, founded by renowned Hollywood director James Cameron three decades ago and currently led by Malaysian-born Daniel Seah, has made significant contributions to the visual effects of numerous blockbuster movies such as Titanic, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, including the beloved Avengers franchise.

 

Today, Digital Domain stands as one of the largest independent visual effects studios, with offices in 10 countries, including the United States, Canada, China, and India.

 

Since 2016, the company has embraced the power of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, creating stunningly realistic and emotionally expressive virtual humans in real-time. One of their earliest triumphs was bringing the late Teresa Teng back to life as a hologram, allowing her to perform three songs alongside singer Jay Chou at a concert in Taipei in 2013.

 

virtual Teresa Teng
Virtual Teresa Teng

 

Fast-forward to the present day, and the AI-driven virtual human technology has become an indispensable tool. During the pandemic, Digital Domain utilized this technology to enhance various Hollywood movies and commercials, overcoming challenges when actors couldn’t physically be present on set or when additional scenes were needed during post-production.

 

Daniel Seah, during his visit to Kuala Lumpur on June 12, expressed his belief in the broader application of this technology beyond the entertainment industry. Virtual humans have the potential to interact with people in fields such as education, medicine, and hospitality, creating meaningful connections.

 

For instance, imagine Elsa from Frozen teaching students in China to speak English, or Teresa Teng engaging in sincere and impactful conversations with elderly patients in hospitals. These virtual humans can provide a sense of care and support.

 

However, Seah acknowledges the potential for misuse, fraud, and copyright issues that come with such advanced technology. He emphasizes the importance of lawmakers establishing effective guidelines to address these concerns.

 

Seah recounts instances where Digital Domain rejected requests from political parties in the US to create smear campaign ads and navigated delicate negotiations with Teresa Teng’s brother to honor her legacy. Digital Domain took on the entire cost of the hologram for the Jay Chou concert, a risk that paid off when her brother was moved to see her on stage once again.

 

Seah believes that technology, when used responsibly, can bring about positive social impacts. He highlights Digital Domain’s commitment to maintaining integrity and refusing business opportunities, such as endorsing products or engaging in live streaming, even though they have the rights to Teresa Teng. They uphold their own rules of engagement and prioritize ethical considerations.

 

Driven by their integrity and recognizing the strategic significance of Southeast Asia, Seah is actively seeking partnerships to establish a media lab for research and development in Malaysia or Singapore. He views this region as a neutral ground, conducive to collaboration with both China and the US.

 

Digital Domain aims to collaborate with top-tier universities, professors, and graduate students, mirroring their successful partnership with the University of Southern California. Investing in universities not only yields substantial returns but also nurtures the talents of future employees. Seah sees great potential in Malaysia’s excellent universities and proposes setting up a media lab with government support, initially employing 30 to 40 people and expanding from there.

 

Seah’s visit to Malaysia left him optimistic, having met with officials from the Science, Technology, and Innovations Ministry and engaging with the team at Taylor’s University. The vision of a media lab in Malaysia is within reach, and with the right support, it can become a beautiful strategy for all involved.

 

Digital Domain was involved in the making of a commercial which showed an aged David Beckham.

Digital Domain was involved in the making of a commercial which showed an aged David Beckham.

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