Today we are talking to Darin Grant, the CTO at Animal Logic. And we discuss what it took to bring The Matrix, Happy Feet and The Lego Movie to the big screen, the difference between partners and vendors, and we even get a few unexpected tips that will make you a better problem solver.
All of this, right here, right now, on the Modern CTO Podcast!
Darin Grant is a technologist who has focused his career on visual effects and computer animation. Currently, Darin is the Group CTO at Animal Logic, the preeminent Animation and VFX studio in Australia.
Previously, Darin served as the CTO at TouchCast, an enterprise collaboration company. At TouchCast, Darin concentrated on improving product and engineering practices, scaling technical operations, and improving the security of the company. Previously, he has held numerous technology leadership roles within the Visual Effects and Animation industries, most recently serving as VP, Engineering for Solid Angle (maker of the Arnold Renderer) to aid in the sale to and integration of the company, staff, and IP into Autodesk, Inc.
Over the years, Darin consulted for a variety of companies within the industry across all aspects of production and technology as well as a brief stint at Google running “the world’s largest civilian video conferencing system.
He was Chief Technology Officer for Method Studios from 2012 to 2013 with a focus on the unification of the infrastructure, pipeline, and workflows across Method’s many locations. Prior to that, he was CTO of Digital Domain after returning to the company in November of 2011. Darin rode the roller coaster of the parent (NYSE: DDMG) company’s IPO, its announcements of massive expansion, the birth of the Tupac Hologram, the closure of its Florida studio; it’s Chapter 11 filing and the sale of the core visual effects business to strategic investors. He is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of saving the company where he started.
Darin also worked for six years as DreamWorks Animation’s Head of Production Technology. With the company’s multiple projects in various stages of development, pre-production and production across several different production locations, Darin is responsible for guiding several key departments (such as the technical directors, production engineering, post-production technology) towards maintaining and enhancing the unified pipeline upon which the company relies on creating all of its animated films. Darin has received credits on numerous Dreamworks releases such as “Kung Fu Panda,” “How To Train Your Dragon,” “Megamind,” and “Puss in Boots.”
Before joining the studio in January 2005, Darin worked at Digital Domain for ten years, ultimately in the post of Director of Technology, the highest-ranking technology role at the company. Most notably during his tenure at the company, he created and managed the Technical Director department — a team of highly skilled visual effects developers that created effects and lighting systems in addition to maintaining the production pipeline and presenting dozens of techniques at SIGGRAPH over the years. He also received multiple credits, working directly on such Academy Award®-winning visual effects triumphs as “Titanic” and “What Dreams May Come,” as well as the effects-laden action films, “Fight Club,” “xXx,” “I, Robot,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Stealth.”
Darin has a Computer Science degree from Harvey Mudd College and over the years has served as a Computer Animation Festival Chair and juror, Director of Production Communities, and Sketches Juror at several SIGGRAPH festivals. He is also a member of the Visual Effects Society and is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Digital Imaging Technology Sub-Committee of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
ABOUT Animal Logic
Founded in 1991, independent Australian company Animal Logic is a world class animation, VFX and production company for the film and television industries with studios in Sydney, Los Angeles and Vancouver.
In 2002, Animal Logic pioneered a ground-breaking animation pipeline process with the production of its first CG animated feature film, Happy Feet, and in 2014 it delivered one of the most successful animated feature films in history, The LEGO® Movie for Warner Bros. Shortly thereafter, Animal Logic and Warner Bros. expanded their 15+ year animation production partnership with a three-picture deal seeing them set up a second animation studio in Vancouver, Canada.
Animal Logic is currently in production on The LEGO® Movie Sequel (2019). Other notable credits include: The LEGO® Ninjago Movie (2017), The LEGO® Batman™ Movie, Alien: Covenant, Guardians of the Galaxy 1 & 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Great Gatsby and The Matrix. The studios combined employ more than 600 artists and technicians in animation and hybrid visual effects production.
Animal Logic Entertainment (ALE), is the development and producing arm of Animal Logic. The enterprise has a robust slate of projects in development and creative partnerships with various studios and production companies. ALE recently produced the hybrid feature Peter Rabbit, released to cinemas in February 2018.
In 2016, Animal Logic partnered with The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to form the UTS Animal Logic Academy. This partnership saw the creation of the Master of Animation and Visualisation a post graduate degree for the Creative Industries.
In 2017, Animal Logic Entertainment and Imagine Entertainment announced a joint venture to develop, produce, and finance 6 feature length animation and hybrid animation projects over the next 5 years.