Walking the Tightrope


February 1999 

The creation of the short film "Tightrope" is the first step in the realization of a vision Digital Domain’s Founder, President and CEO, Scott Ross, spoke of at the company’s inception: to become more than an effects facility and eventually develop their own content, ultimately evolving into a production company creating their own feature films. "Tightrope", the award-winning vehicle chosen to showcase the talent offered at Digital Domain, was the brainchild of Daniel Robichaud, Writer/Director, who has worked on such films as "Titanic" and "The Fifth Element".

"Tightrope" features spectacular animation work that has had some industry insiders asking if the realism and fluidity of the character movements were achieved with performance capture technology. The answer is, no. The project was keyframed and completed entirely within SOFTIMAGE|3D using some very slick innovations pioneered by the team that collaborated on the film.

The five-minute film, which won the Prix Pixel in the Art Category at Imagina ‘99, features two characters: "The Jester", a happy outgoing fellow, and "The Suit", a dark sinister individual, who are walking towards each other on a tightrope and try to pass, using only exaggerated body movements and facial expressions to communicate what they want to say, much as a mime would. A total of 15 artists worked on the project, with a core of six people who took the film from concept to completion. These six were: Bernd Angerer, Animation Supervisor (the Suit), Stéphane Couture, Animation Supervisor (the Jester), Michelle Deniaud, Lead Texture Map Painter, Keith Huggins, Lead Effects Animator, and Daniel Loeb, Animator, and of course, Robichaud.