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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Digital Magic Company logo

Digital Magic Company or Digital Magic for short, located in Santa Monica, CA., was an effects house responsible for the post-production editing of, as well as creating, visual effects of numerous episodes on the last three seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the first three seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the first six seasons of Star Trek: Voyager, the feature film Star Trek Generations, as well as the documentaries Star Trek 25th Anniversary Special and Journey's End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Digital Magic, a division of Four Media Company, produced visual effects and provided post-production services and facilities to film and television productions. Among its founders was Mark Miller, who served as the company's president from 1998 until 2000, when he left the company to found Eden FX with John Gross.

Digital Magic was especially created in 1991 for The Next Generation at the start of its fifth season when the franchise made the decision to drop The Post Group as main provider for effects post-production services. (Cinefantastique, issue 97, Vol 24 #3/4, p.80)

Phil Barberio
Barberio (foreground), Moore (standing) and Rader in the editing bay at Digital Magic

The "digital" in the name initially did not refer to the technique of computer generated imagery (CGI), but rather the use of computers as aid in compositing and editing visual effects shots in post-production as opposed to actually generating these effects on the computer. Still Digital Magic, along with Rhythm & Hues and Santa Barbara Studios were among the very the first production companies that were experimenting for the television franchise on a more regular basis with the new technique, that by that time was making a rapid entry in the industry. Illustrative of this was employees Joe Conti and Tim McHugh's first use of the Lightwave 3D software in creating the Anaphasic lifeform for TNG: "Sub Rosa". LightWave 3D went on to become the standard software package for CGI in the television franchise.

Special FX Supervisor Loni Peristere, a former employee of Pacific Ocean Post, a sister company of Digital Magic, has shed some light on the way the company operated, "Digital Magic was once an 'effects boutique' created solely for 'Star Trek, the Next Generation'. The boutique did all the visual effects for the show and a group of people working there created Digital Magic, because of the 'Star Trek' franchise. Digital Magic is a company that owns visual effects equipment and is a facility where very talented visual effects artists have worked. In other words, Digital Magic would be a company which has an Inferno, a Henry, 3D machines and SGI machines that we use. They facilitate the work but their involvement in the actual production process is minimal. It's almost like a shop. But because of their reputation for having a well run shop, they hire good artists and they produce the work that they promise with the best machines that the industry makes." [1]

In 1999, the company received an International Monitor Award in the category "Film Originated Television Series - Electronic Visual Effects" for their work on VOY: "Thirty Days".

The company has also worked on such television productions as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1999), Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993–1997), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003), and Angel. Their film work included among others, Candyman (1992), Cliffhanger (1993), Coneheads (1993), Dumb & Dumber (1994), The River Wild (1994), Judge Dredd (1995), The Arrival (1996), Volcano (1997), Species II (1998), and Armageddon (1998), with the short movie Bottleneck (2006), being the company's last recorded credit.

As of 2011 the company is no longer in operation, as their homepage, "www.4mc.com/digitalmagic.html", has been off-line since 2008.

Staff

Further reading

  • "Special Visual Effects", David Ian Salter, Cinefantastique, issue 97, Vol 24 #3/4, pp. 79-82

External link

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