Hobart to Hollywood
Starting in a garage, Ignite Digi have built a global award winning business, supplying some of the biggest film and TV productions in Hollywood.
Ignite Digi’s advanced manufacturing warehouse is easy to miss on a suburban Tasmanian street. In Hollywood, though, their camera and gimbal accessories have serious street cred.
If you’ve watched Hollywood blockbuster A Star is Born, you’ve enjoyed some Ignite Digi innovation. Countless blockbuster movies and TV series have used Ignite Digi’s premium accessories to optimise their on-set performance and cinematic cameras. The likes of Tesla and Apple have used their products for advertisement filming and Fox Sports is no stranger to this Tasmanian company when it comes to elevating their execution of live sport coverage.
“Our move into manufacturing really came out of necessity,” explains Co-Founder Tom Waugh. “Our drone work was dropping off and we needed to innovate to survive within an industry where drones were getting smaller and everyone was flying one. It didn’t take long for the wizardry and hype of the drone to fade, taking our core business with it.”
Cinematographer Waugh joined forces with aeronautic engineer Chris Fox to launch Ignite Digi in 2013. While their early focus was aerial cinematography, today the company commit 95 per cent of their time to specialising in the manufacturing and sale of premium gimbal and camera accessories. They continue to offer crew and film services, with The Kettering Incident and The Gloaming on their CV, however niche accessories are their core business.
In the early days, Ignite Digi operated out of Fox’s garage. When well known gimbal operator Chris Herr posted about one of their accessories, things got busy in Hobart Town. Fox had one of their early CNC mills running 16 hours a day. He barely had time for breakfast and sleep between keeping the operation whirring in his garage. Boxes to export piled high in the granny flat kitchen and in early 2019 a decision was made to move to a warehouse.
“It was intense there for a while,” laughs Waugh. “But we settled into a good groove now we’ve expanded in space and machinery. We chose to remain in Tasmania because we love the lifestyle here. Chris has a young family and though I never thought I’d be able to work on the level of production I wanted to down here, it’s been quite the opposite. By working as a drone cinematographer on The Gloaming, and being involved in supporting camera crew with our products on the latest Disney film or Netflix series, I feel connected to world-class production.”
From their understated warehouse in suburban Hobart, the company design, manufacture and export accessories to more than 40 countries. From cables to gimbal accessories to battery adaptors, the equipment is highly specific to support the film industry’s latest needs. A nimble team of five full time employees work together from product imagining and prototype testing through to the finished product ready for market.
“What sets us apart is our industry knowledge,” explains Waugh. “We don’t just sell a product, but provide a service. Every element we have tested and designed to save professionals time on set, so we can speak to them about application and use. When a new RED® camera comes out, for instance, we try to be ahead of the game having developed our accessories for it and having an intimate understanding of the camera.”
From humble beginnings, Ignite Digi was awarded Best Camera Technology: Accessories Award at the Cine Gear Expo in Los Angeles in 2018. Fast forward to 2021, and the company continues to innovate and re-imagine, most recently dipping their toe into the health industry.
“When COVID-19 hit, we saw an opportunity to use our resources to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) for Tasmanian frontline workers, by way of 10,000 face shields. We worked with local manufacturer Lightning Protection International for this project and look forward to other opportunities to partner with local business into the future. We believe there is great potential here in the Tasmanian manufacturing sector. By working together, we can build this industry to be even greater.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Find out more about Ignite Digi.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.