News that a layoff was headed our way had already reached most employees by the time they came in to work on Monday, but nobody really expected things to go this far. We had weathered large layoffs in the past- after our film ‘Rise of the Guardians’ flopped at the box office in 2011, we were forced to reduce staff in similar numbers, but our presence in Silicon Valley was never in question.
PDI has been around for a long time, much longer than Dreamworks has been. Founded in 1980, it was one of the early outposts in the CG world alongside other pioneering houses such as Pixar and ILM. By 1982 they had begun actual production work with 3d graphics- mostly in the form of flying 3d logos. You can imagine how cool it was back then.
By the late 80’s PDI’s technology had evolved to the point where it was taking on commercials and visual effects for feature films, which included character animation. One example is the Pillsbury Doughboy, which up to that point had been a stop motion puppet (which I had heard about when I worked at Laika, apparently whatever that old doughboy was made of was super toxic and had to be handled sparingly!). They also did work for the “Bud Bowl”, super bowl intermission / cut-scenes featuring Budweiser bottles playing football. Here’s a spot from 1989:
As it happens this is not the end of the road for me personally at Dreamworks, but it is the end of the road for an iconic and historic studio, one which helped trail blaze an entirely new form of media.