||This article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. (March 2009)|
||A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (August 2010)|
|Industry||Visual effects, CGI animation|
|Headquarters||Santa Maria, California, USA|
|Employees||14 or more|
CafeFX was an award-winning feature film visual effects facility offering visual effects production and supervision, CG character creation, and 3D animation. Founded in 1993 by Jeff Barnes and David Ebner, CafeFX was located in a 36,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) studio on an eight-acre campus in Santa Maria, the heart of Santa Barbara County. Its commercial and music video division, Santa Monica-based The Syndicate, was a creative design, branding services and digital production studio, specializing in live action direction, visual effects, animation, motion graphics, and telecine. CafeFX and The Syndicate were held by umbrella corporation ComputerCafe Group, which has also established Sententia Entertainment, a long form production company.
After founding the company in 1993 as Computer Café, Jeff Barnes and David Ebner kicked off their part time hobby in a small 10 by 10 room inside a local print design studio in Santa Maria. Their initial tools included two Amiga 2000 computers, a vhs deck and video toaster. They used Lightwave 3D, D-Paint and Imagine 3D as part of their initial arsenal of software creation. Over the next 17 plus years Comuter Cafe would change its name and grow to one of the world top visual effects studios in the world. Their first official employee was Ron Honn who acted as the company Designer and Storyboard artist. Soon to follow was vfx supervisor Tom Williamson, who's connection in the LA make-up effects industry helped to launch the group to the feature film market.
The team worked their way up from local to regional and then national commercial and broadcast assignments. “Our first job was to show how a product called Shoe Goo worked.” said David "and then SLIME tires, some crazy projects back then". As their commercial reputation grew, so did their client base. Starting with an initial campiang on 24 spots for Foster's Freeze to their first national contract for Shasta Soda. Shasta was the first US nation spot to be fully rendered on a desktop pc. The team next steered its focus on broadcast work being repped by Our Gang Productions and studios such as Pittard Sullivan. During that time they produced various opens and tv station pacages for both regional and nation clientele. Some projects include, NBC, TNT, Nickelodeon, NBC, CBS, Dateline, Entertainment Tonight and the long running HBO Feature Presentation. Still under the banner of Computer Café, Jeff and David moved into motion picture effects by first tackling Clive Barker’s 1995 feature, Lord of Illusion. Yet even then, notes Jeff, “Everything we made, we put back into the company.”
In the late 90's, Jeff and David were in a position to expand their operations. Interest in a Los Angeles outlet for their CG feature film work, together with a plan to expand stronger commercially led them to first open their first LA location inside in Virgin Entertainments 525 Post in Hollywood. A year later they expanded into their own space in Santa Monica where they opened a boutique cg and compositing studio which housed a staff of 8. In early 2002 they purchased Santa Monica based telecine company (then own by Neil Feldmen called Pacific Data Post) added cg effects and compositing and renamed the company 'The Syndicate'. The Syndicate quickly become an award-winning short form visual effects company, providing Flame finishing suites, full CG services, and one of the industries top telecine studios lead by the management team of Kenny Solomon, Leslie Sorrentino and Beau Leon.
In 2005, Jeff and David also launched Sentenia Entertainment, a live action production company. “We are very excited about this division.” Stated Jeff, “It helps us to further diversify our group, and also provides an additional creative outlet for our talent.”  Their first project with Sententia was as Associate Producers for Guillermo Del Toro's Academany award winning "Pans Labryinth". The following film was "Danika" starring Marisa Tomei which David and Jeff served as Executive Producers for the film.
In 2006 after the success of Sin City, the Santa Maria office park they had called home for eleven years soon became cramped, leading to the 2005 purchase of the new CafeFX studio. “This has been a dream of ours since the beginning. We wanted to create the ultimate workspace for clients and staff alike, and believe we have “ smiles Jeff. The new studio includes room for over 200 artists, as well as such amenities as a café, fitness center, game areas, a 60-seat film and 2k digital theater, and even a two-lane bowling alley. The eight-acre campus leaves plenty of room for outdoor activities and future expansion.. notes Jeff.
Out of business
Announcement from Jeff Barnes and David Ebner
After 17 years in business, CafeFX/ComputerCafe has decided to officially close its doors. The current economic climate and global marketplace have made it unrealistic for us to continue to deliver the highest quality visual effects work, which has been our hallmark, at a competitive price and a sustaining profit. With a resume of over eighty award-winning feature films and hundreds of commercials, music videos, game trailers, ride projects and broadcast opens, we are very proud of whatwe have achieved over the years. We end our company’s relationship with the industry we love with pride in our contributions and our heads held high. We want to thank our many clients for their friendship, confidence, and support in the multitude of groundbreaking projects awarded us over the years. We would also like to thank our competitors, who always kept us on our toes by pushing the envelope. We have watched your work on the latest films with a mixture of awe and envy, as you continue to exceed industry expectations and thrill audiences around the world. You have our utmost respect.We want to thank our families and advisors who have stood by us and have given their patience and understanding on how to stay sane and viable through these turbulent times in our industry, our state and our country. But most importantly, we would like to thank our staff and all the incredibly talented people that have come through our doors. You are CafeFX. Your hard work, dedication and passion are what made us such a great studio. Because of you we were able to accomplish the impossible over and over again. Words cannot truly express how much we appreciate all that you have done to keep us successful for so many years. We will especially never forget our core staff, who helped to make CafeFX a unique and magical place, and who have now become life long friends and colleagues. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts, you are an exceptional group of people. We will see you soon.
Jeff Barnes and David Ebner
2010 Love Ranch
2010 Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (short)
2010 Alice in Wonderland
2010 Shutter Island
2009 The Final Destination
2009 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
2009 Dragonball: Evolution
2008 Seven Pounds
2008 Red Cliff
2008 The Happening
2008 Speed Racer
2008 Iron Man
2008 John Adams (TV mini-series) – 2008 Pathology
2008 Street Kings
2008 Nim's Island
2007 The Mist
2007 The Kite Runner
2007 Evan Almighty
2007 Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
2007 Spider-Man 3
2007 Ghost Rider
2006 The Good Shepherd
2006 The Departed
2006 Snakes on a Plane
2006 The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
2006 Pan's Labyrinth
2006 Scary Movie 4
2006 Art School Confidential
2006 Underworld: Evolution
2005 King Kong
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha
2005 Zathura: A Space Adventure
2005 Bad News Bears
2005 The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D
2005 Mr. & Mrs. Smith
2005 Sin City
2005 Are We There Yet?
2004 Flight of the Phoenix
2004 The Aviator
2004 Blade: Trinity
2004 The Dust Factory
2004 Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
2004 The Terminal
2003 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
2003 Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
2003 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
2003 The Core
2002 Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams
2002 Halloween: Resurrection
2002 Panic Room
2001 The One
2001 Megiddo: The Omega Code 2
2000 Dracula 2000
2000 Battlefield Earth
2000 The Crow: Salvation
2000 Waking the Dead
1998 Barney's Great Adventure
1998 Chairman of the Board
1997 Star Kid
1995 Lord of Illusions
CafeFX completed work on approximately 100 shots for the film adaptation of the classic comic book, Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes. The studio was called on to introduce the film's main villain—Blackheart—during a storm featuring fire rain and clouds with demon faces.
Snakes on a Plane- As the lead visual effects studio, CafeFX created more than half of the 500 VFX shots, including some 100 photoreal snake sots as well as all of the airline exteriors. CafeFX also handled all the airplane inflight exteriors shots and the Boeing's climactic emergency landing at LAX.
Pan's Labyrinth- Tasked with 300 shots and five months of post-production, the VFX crew embarked on a journey that required both artistic and technical inspiration to bring director Guillermo Del Toro's visions to life. The production had very detailed storyboards and the team stuck to those designs "religiously".
Theme park attraction
A major project underway at CafeFX for the past year is an attraction for “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” the world’s first fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment slated to open at Universal Orlando theme park in 2010.