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VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?

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CreativeCOW presents VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved? -- Film History & Appreciation Editorial


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Once upon a time -- 30 years ago -- VFX artists were unionized.

If they still were, perhaps the conversation would have been different. But many VFX artists today don't even know that history, and in their anguished discussions today -- such as the recent VFX Town Hall -- the focus is on reinventing the past, with unionization, as well as creating a trade association to sit down with the studios to hammer out a new way to do business. Can anything be done to change this picture? Is it all too little too late?

The engine driving these huge tentpole VFX-heavy movies is the billions of dollars in ticket sales to be had, from global audiences. If every VFX artist still had a union card and the facilities bonded together, what's to keep studios from continuing to exploit tax incentives and subsidies found in nearly every state in the union and numerous foreign countries? Why would the studios give up the cheaper labor costs found in India, China and other nations? Does the fate of the U.S.-based VFX industry figure in to the studios' decision-making? You can draw your own conclusions from recent events.

Jonathan Erland
Jonathan Erland
The conversation about how to remake the VFX industry has been going on for a long time. VFX technologist Jonathan Erland has posited what he calls the "Tripod Metaphor." Well-known for developing traveling matte technology (for which he received a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Science), Erland has worked for many years to improve the VFX industry, and not just as a technologist. He was the Academy's Chairman of the Visual Effects Award Steering Committee in 1995 when he achieved the long-sought goal of establishing Visual Effects as a Branch of the Academy.

He explained his metaphor to Creative COW: "The non-profit entities of the motion picture industry functionally resemble a tripod," he said. "This icon of our industry symbolizes strength and stability but derives its steadying influence from the necessary 'adversarial tension' of its three legs: 1) the honorary societies (AMPAS, VES, ASC, etc.) emphasize professional excellence; 2) the guilds and unions (IATSE, ICG, SAG/AFTRA, etc.) emphasize personal welfare; and 3) the trade associations (MPAA, NATO, etc.) emphasize commercial viability."

"What is clear in the case of visual effects is that, while we do have the VES component and the field is demonstrably 'excellent,' absent the stabilizing influence of the union and trade association legs of the tripod, the VFX industry is unstable and collapsing," he continues. "To the extent that globalization and inter-state economic warfare compromise or destroy the balance provided by existing tripods, the whole industry may well follow suit. To throw in another metaphor, VFX may turn out to be the 'canary in the coal mine'."


VES: THE HONORARY SOCIETY
Although it might seem odd to create an honorary organization before a union or trade association to protect companies and members (I know I did at the time), it makes some sense with visual effects, a part of the filmmaking process that gets little respect.

"That all goes to the anger and upset," says VES president Jeff Okun (Blood Diamond, Fantastic Four, Clash Of The Titans). "VFX people are not respected for their artistry. We're perceived as nerdy techs who push buttons and bring nothing to the game...that computers do it."



The Human Torch (Chris Evans) flies above the streets of New York City -- a comet of flame -- in "The Fantastic Four." ©Twentieth Century Fox.


The Visual Effects Society, founded in 1997, is today comprised of 2,600+ members. On its website, the VES describes its mission: to advance and promote the art and science of visual effects and to foster and strive for excellence and knowledge in all matters pertaining to visual effects, and for the purpose of bringing together those leaders and innovators in the field who have demonstrated a high standard of artistic and technical ability and whose singular achievements entitle them to Membership.

The VES was never intended to be a union or trade association, not to advocate or participate in the creation of either organization, and the timing of its founding is a good indication why. In 1997, digital VFX was in its boom days and, many if not most visual effects artists felt no need for a union (more on this below).

At the time, I scratched my head as to why a new group of film/TV workers didn't want to join an already unionized ecosystem, but in retrospect, I understand why: VFX artists and companies wanted to be acknowledged as artists, not button pushers, and wanted to change how the film/TV industry viewed the craft of visual effects. In some ways, the VES did just that, with an annual awards show honoring the best VFX of the year.

The irony was that circumstances would conspire to do the exact opposite of what the VES promised: create a perception that digital VFX were a commodity, not an art. That would have been a tricky thing to see at the time, and more recently the Visual Effects Society has drawn attention to this issue. In response to more recent unrest, the VES published an open letter outlining some of the woes of the industry, and proclaiming that although "VES may not have the power of collective bargaining, but we do have the power of a voice that's 2,400 artists strong in 23 countries -- and the VES Board of Directors has decided that now is the time to use it. We are the only viable organization that can speak to the needs and concerns of everyone involved in VFX to meet the challenges of a changing global industry and our place within it."

To that purpose, the VES has said it will call a Congress to discuss the issues and issued a Visual Effects Bill of Rights. To me, the VES is really hamstrung by its own mission statement. It was founded as an honorary organization, and -- for better or worse -- deliberately eschewed collective bargaining or any of the other tools that could have given it teeth. Executive Director Eric Roth reminded me that the VES has "no official position" on either unions or trade associations.


THE TRADE ASSOCIATION
Perhaps nothing would be more difficult to form in a fiercely competitive business than a trade organization. When he was General Manager of Industrial Light + Magic, Scott Ross (Terminator 2, I Robot, Interview With A Vampire) found that out first-hand when he attempted to create a trade association in 1989. "When I got to ILM, I was shocked that the industry didn't have a trade association," he says. "I put together a group, the Association of Visual Effects Creators or AVEC, which means "with" in French. We pulled together a couple of meetings, with Dream Quest Images, Boss and ILM, but everyone was so paranoid. We couldn't even sit around a table and have a meeting because there was such distrust and dislike." The attempt broke apart after the second meeting.


I, Robot. 20th Century Fox
Will Smith in I, Robot. ©20th Century Fox.


Ross, who was involved in the early days of the VES but later left, says the obstacle to starting a trade association is fear. "Everyone is afraid," he says. "They [the VFX studio executives] ere afraid to go to the studios and say, This isn't cutting it, because they were afraid of being blackballed. The industry was based in fear and the competition is my enemy, the director is my friend, and I'll do anything for the studio."

Bill Taylor, ASC (The Bourne Identity, Serenity, Milk), who headed up Illusion Arts, also remembers this era. "Ten years ago, we needed to form a visual effects trade association and it almost happened," he says. "But none of the actors could get together. They were all paranoid about letting the competition know their procedures. It would have helped a lot." He'd still like to see a trade organization formed but admits "it's getting harder and harder, no question."

Jeff Barnes
Jeff Barnes
In 2008, Jeff Barnes, who has known both sides of the business, as a facility owner (Café FX) and then as a (now laid-off) employee of Digital Domain, had his own brush with organizing a trade association. "When I was Chair of the VES, we held a meeting, open to all the facilities, to discuss the best ways to head off runaway production issues," he says. "The other thing we pushed in 2008 was starting a trade organization. A lot of people are blogging about a trade association organization like it's a new thing, but it's been talked about for a very long time."

He notes that one of the tricky aspects of starting a trade association was the fear of being perceived as colluding over prices. "We didn't have those conversation but anytime a group of organizations get together to talk about change, you have to be aware of those types of positioning," he says. He also pointed to the hyper-competition as a factor standing in the way of organizing a trade association. "Somebody in the meeting said, 'Listen, we all get along great when we're in the same room together, but as soon as we're out in the streets, we'll bite each other's heads off.'

"And that's true," he continues. People did whatever they needed to do to keep their own stability. I don't think it's intentional or malicious by any one company or studio. It's just business. Studios are in the business to get the best product for the least amount of money, and our job is trying to get the most work we can for the most amount of money. When those things collide, there will always be competition, which forces prices down."

As far as I know, there have been no other attempts to form a trade association. Will one ever be formed? Ross isn't sanguine. "Based on the history of the way the industry has acted, I'd say that it won't happen," he says. "My hope is that it will change, that we've reached some tipping point. Until someone has the power to address the industry's problems -- either as a trade association or a union -- nothing will change. We can all scream we're made as hell, but you need someone from a position of power representing the workforce or the companies that has strength, power and legitimacy."

At the same time, he's back in the game in a second attempt to start a trade association, which he feels should take place first, before unionization of the workers. At the VFX Town Hall held on March 14, Ross reported that he had sent invitations to 15 "major" facilities to meet and gotten responses from all of those except those in the U.K. He promised to report back on progress made on this front.

But the emergence of a trade association is not going to be easy. As times grow increasingly tougher for VFX houses to stay afloat, there's both more and less reason than ever for them to bond together. "The studios don't want a trade association," says Phil Feiner, former CEO of Pacific Title & Art. "I just don't see all these desperate companies wanting to stand up for a trade organization. It's big business and it's big dollars. I'm for anything that will accomplish it, but I don't think a trade association alone will do it. We're long in the tooth but late in the game."

Jenny Fulle
Jenny Fulle
VFX producer Jenny Fulle, who heads up the small VFX shop Creative Cartel (Ted, After Earth, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), expresses the desire that there be "more unity in the companies and the industry." "With VFX companies, it's such a survival of the fittest," she says. "It's like Hunger Games out there and it's hard to bring everyone together. But it would be amazing to have a trade organization that could stamp "fair business practices" on a movie, much like stamping food "organic," so you know the company is treating its employees well."

Is it possible to achieve fair business practices after so many years of embracing a dysfunctional business model? Can VFX companies adopt fair treatment towards employees when they are struggling to stay alive? The answer on many peoples' lips is: Union!


UNION AND DISUNION
Would it surprise you to learn that, at one time, nearly all the visual effects people in Hollywood belonged to a union? According to Steven Poster, ASC, President of the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG) Local 600, photochemical optical cameramen belonged to his local. Likewise, artists who did matte paintings, miniatures and other VFX work belonged to their respective unions and guilds. As digital effects came on the scene, some of the first VFX houses to adopt them came out of this hands-on, analog world and, thus, were still unionized.

Without a doubt, unionization remains the most contentious leg of the tripod. With the demise of Rhythm & Hues, we've heard loud calls for unionization again. Up until now, we've considered the VFX companies, their business strategies (or lack thereof) and their uneasy relationship with the studios. Nowhere in this equation are the VFX artists who make up the backbone of the industry.

Many, many visual effects artists -- in the U.S. and elsewhere -- work insane hours (when they're employed), get no overtime and no benefits including healthcare. Although they may make good wages, when the paycheck is divided by the actual hours worked, the hourly rate can be less than impressive. Visual effects artists are often doubly punished for overtime: if the studio needs the job completed faster, artists pull unpaid all-nighters, bringing the job in early. For their efforts, they're laid off early, thus deprived of the income that a longer job would have meant.

As Fulle points out, visual effects artists are a nomadic group, moving from project to project. Many, many VFX artists are nomads, moving from project to project and being paid by 1099s as individual contractors responsible for paying their own taxes. These so-called perma-lancers believe that, since they are not employees, they don't have the status to ask for union representation. Animation Guild organizer Steven Kapan disagrees, saying that if a VFX artist works in the facility, using that facility's equipment and keeps regular hours, that person fulfills the definition of employee. But how many perma-lancers know that?

The conditions, it would seem, are ripe for massive unionization efforts and yet Animation Guild labor organizer Steven Kaplan says that very few people have signed and sent in cards to be represented by a union. "Considering that 500 people marched up and down Hollywood...we only got 1 percent of those," says Kaplan, who later reported that a new online effort has led to more people asking for information. "Is it that people don't know? Or are they afraid?"


Founder/owner Richard Edlund, ASC set up Boss Film Studios as a union shop in 1983 to do Ghostbusters. Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures.
Founder/owner Richard Edlund, ASC set up Boss Film Studios as a union shop in 1983 to do Ghostbusters. Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures.


That could be one reason why the Animation Guild, which is seeking to represent VFX artists, isn't seeing lots of signed cards. It's easy to replace your Facebook photo with a green square, notes Kaplan, harder to stand up and be counted. "No one is ready to fight," he says. "And the first few contracts will be a fight. If you look at the history of labor, you see that it does take a bloody nose. True change is when the trade association, with the support of the union, sits in a meeting with the studio."

It's instructive to look at what happened to previously unionized VFX facilities who split from the union at some point in their transition to fully digital studios. "I set up Boss Film Studios as a union shop to do Ghostbusters," says founder/owner Richard Edlund, ASC. "The model shop guys and the VFX guys were in Local 40. At a certain point, when Dream Quest Images moved outside the 50-mile radius and they were non-union, I just threw my hands up. So when our contract was up, we decided not to renew."

Local 16 Vice President Eddie Raymond
Local 16 Vice President Eddie Raymond
Industrial Light + Magic was a union shop as a post production special effects company, with artists belonging to San Francisco's IATSE Local 16, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts. ILM's CGI workers remained part of Local 16 until shortly after the company moved to the Presidio in 2005. "We had a different kind of contract at ILM than we had elsewhere, with different dues structures, all geared to the kind of work that was done there and for people who worked for one employer all year long," says Local 16 Vice President Eddie Raymond. "In our negotiation the year before they moved to the Presidio, they hired an attorney to negotiate rather than do it themselves. It was a difficult and protracted negotiation but not the last one. In that contract they won the ability to have workers "opt out" of the union. By the last one, ILM was very much playing hardball; they wanted to drastically change our benefits structure. The CG unit there was no longer terribly loyal to Local 16; they were loyal to the company. Eventually, the unit expressed little interest in union representation and the union was spending a lot of time and money to represent them. I think there came a point when both sides felt the relationship had run its course."

As these union affiliations disappeared, nobody in the fledgling digital VFX industry advocated for renewing or creating union ties. Several factors played into this. First, the environment for unions has been unfriendly. Since the heyday of union membership in the 1950s in the U.S., membership has trended downward. From the 1954 peak of nearly 35% of workers unionized, The New York Times reported in January 2013 that membership is now 11.3% nationwide, a 97-year low.

The VFX artists were also not ripe candidates for recruiting. Rather than coming from the traditional film/TV guilds and unions, most VFX artists were college educated with a background in technology, computers, and art. They had no collective experience or background in the idea of a union. As professionals, they were paid well; they had no way of seeing into the future and knowing that they would need collective bargaining in 10 to 15 years.

In fact, there was a cultural disconnect between the IA unions and VFX artists. "Most of the men and women who work in VFX were young and highly educated and they looked at the union, particularly the IATSE, as their father's union," says Ross. "And they didn't want to be a part of it."

"The IA has had a difficult walk over the years," he continues. "On one hand, they want to represent the VFX community, but they don't understand the animal. They'll throw a mixer at a bar with velvet paintings on the wall, and the VFX guys will ask, where's your website? Where are the digital people? There was such a gap generationally and a gap between who the IA was and how they worked versus who these young artists were and how they worked. The men and women of the VFX industry never saw a kindred spirit in the IA."

It's no longer 1998 or even 2002, when a U.S. union of digital effects artists made sense. "The business is now global, and any union or trade organization that would have muscle would have to be global. "We need a union," says Okun. "Sadly we need a worldwide union and a worldwide trade organization and that will never happen."

At the Animation Guild organizing office, Kaplan and his colleagues are counting signed cards but the bar is high. "With a strong amount of support -- typically 65 to 70 percent support -- we approach the studio and begin to gain recognition," he says. "The artist has to be he one to initiate the card signing."


THE CHICKEN AND THE EGG
Which comes first: the trade association or the union? Although neither one exists at the moment, that question is central to the contentious discussions going on now within the VFX community. "I understand why people are angry and frustrated, but from my perspective, a union won't help," says Barnes, who is now an independent VFX executive. "It'll drive whatever jobs are left out of the state [California]."

Many industry players agree with Barnes, noting that because of the dysfunction impacting the business of VFX -- the VFX companies are not financially prepared to pay workers the money and benefits that unionization would bring. Ross made the same point at the VFX Town Hall, which was filled with many angry and frustrated workers.

"I support a Guild or a union for the VFX industry," says Ross. "But, and here's my big "but" -- it's in the timing. You are going to sign cards to organize VFX facilities, and they make no money. They do not make money, and a lot of the abuses that have happened towards their artists is because they are drowning and want to keep their heads above water. I have run a union shop and a non-union shop -- and union shops cost more money."

That unions cost facility owners more money is another bone of contention between union representatives and facility owners...but it's a moot point until enough VFX artists sign cards to begin the unionization process. "We have to go to the studios and say the business model we've worked on for the past 25 years doesn't work," Ross continued. "The VFX companies need to make a profit to afford treating employees well." But then again, all those VFX artists who are frustrated and angry don't want to wait. It remains to be seen if they're angst turns into signed union representation cards.

More than one person has said they would rather not focus on the struggle for a union, but back it up a few steps to the specific improvements they'd like to see. Fulle expresses the ambivalence that many VFX artists have about the idea of joining a union: "I think that what we need is very simple: how to have portable health benefits and stop overtime abuse," says Fulle, who also decries the inappropriate use of 1099s, which turns many artists into perma-lancers. "Those are the two things I think people are looking to the union for. But there must be a way to achieve these two goals, without the overhead and politics that come with a union."



The Abyss (1989) 20TH CENTURY FOX from BusinessWeek's Hollywood's Money Machine: James Cameron


IN THE END
As the VFX community debates its options, it would do well to place their struggles within the context of what's going on in filmmaking. We're past the early days of digital effects, when facilities and artists were rare specialists. The number of people around the globe offering VFX solutions has proliferated beyond anyone's wildest imagination. For VFX facilities and VFX artists alike, it's no longer a seller's market.

Barnes points out that there's an imbalance between supply and demand. "In the old days when we first started, in the late 1980s, early 1990s, there weren't a lot of us doing this stuff and we had more flexibility with the pricing structure and we were all trying to figure it out," says Barnes. "Now there is some crazy number of VFX facilities worldwide and not enough product to support all those vendors. It's a supply and demand issue."

Could a trade association and a union positively impact the industry -- at least in the U.S.? Possibly. Ross enumerates the changes he'd like to see: bidding templates, a standardized contract, education about VFX for directors and a public relations push to get consumers to understand how VFX are made.

But the clock is ticking, as VFX facilities around the globe become more sophisticated and capable, eventually leveling the playing field with higher priced facilities from Los Angeles to London. If the studios tread water for a few more years, the VFX community in North America (at least) risks losing any remaining leverage it has. Though many U.S. states and at least a couple Canadian provinces are finding that film subsidies are a losing proposition, there are enough places in North American enjoying the revenues that film production can bring to give it up.

Subsidies and tax incentives tilt the playing field, and many in the industry would like to see an end to them. Gene Warren Jr. of Fantasy II Film Effects (Hellboy, The Abyss, CSI:NY) talked at the VFX Town Hall about his long, unsuccessful effort to get film/TV subsidies declared illegal. But he hasn't given up on, noting that VFX Solider has hired a lawyer to look into ending subsidies. He encouraged attendees to contribute to that campaign. "Subsidies have become part of the business model for producers to go to a state or province, ask how much they'll get, and then go down the block and tell the next one what they're being offered," he said. "If I were to do this as a business and give you a kickback, I'd go to jail. The banksters who own the studios are getting free money and they won't change the law or enforce the law against themselves until they have to. It's a horrible race to the bottom and it's time to put an end to it."

But nobody can stop the globalization of the VFX industry, another obstacle towards changing the VFX equation. VFX artists are trying mightily to come to their own rescue, like the superheroes they often depict in their work. If the VFX industry does nothing, many more companies and artists' lives will be disrupted. The problem is that, even if they do something, the result might be the same. That shouldn't stop anyone from trying.






Follow Debra Kaufman on Twitter @MobilizedDebra




Comments

Re: VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?
by Dimitris Delakovias
@Debra
Firstly, I'd like to thank you for the two excellent articles, which sadly almost read like a post mortem, as they accurately lay out much of the timeline and cause and effect of what the "industry" faces today. If nothing else, they at last describe and ACKNOWLEDGE the very real problems that were accumulating but from which many were averting their eyes - even adopting a head in the sand mentality.

Of course it was difficult to do something about it, as very few things in life are easy, but other colleagues have quite rightly touched on the fear, denial and suspicion that overwhelmed any common sense and purpose. Instead of dealing with the oncoming "threats" most become more like animals dazzled in the headlights of the looming technology and the numbers which then overran the craft and humanity that always needs protecting if we are to preserve a more viable and sustainable survival.

Subsequently, to survive in the "market place", EVERYONE - from studio bosses looking at the bottom line to the graduates prepared to be exploited so as to get a foot in the door - goes for the short term gain which then has a knock on effect up and down the whole food chain, but then we are all at the mercy of the so-called "market forces"! Some simply call it greed.

As often as I tried to say these things from way back, I was more often than not greeted either with mocking - and even derision for spoiling their drinking and inane conversation about sport or gossip - to blank looks as if I was from another planet. Often quoting George Bernard Shaw's "Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get." met with the same fate - though sometimes with an awkward laugh.

Well I'm a great believer in what 'Sarah Connor' said: "There is no fate but the fate we make!" and that's largely why we are here now. So yes, realistically there's not a lot we can do except maybe try to minimize the damage of the inevitable correction that the "market forces" backlash will unleash. This unfortunately applies to much of what is happening in the world today, so buckle your seat belt Dorothy, coz Kansas... is going bye bye...
Re: VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?
by Dimitris Delakovias
After reading these two articles, and having tried to discuss this issue since the early 80's (starting at the BBC as I saw the onslaught of "market forces" while adapting and getting involved in the inevitable tsunami of the "new technology" - as digital was called then) the words "stable door, horse, shut, bolted, wind, against, pissing..." are screaming through my head...
@Dimitris Delakovia
by Debra Kaufman
That pretty much says it, Dmitiris, doesn't it? I think numerous people saw this coming but it was too difficult (and too late) to have any influence on the way VFX was going as an industry...One wonders if something could have been done earlier in the days of digital VFX. Or does digital tend to commoditize everything it touches?
Re: VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?
by Jayne Feiner
Pacific Title & Art Studio was a union shop and all VFX artists were covered under the non affiliate agreement. Back in the day the VFX artists did not get what they had at the time, all the #local peeps did. It's unfortunate that without any other unions shops those artists who most had put in their time to have something have no vehicle to continue to contribute, including our own current VFX artists at PJF/Pacific Title. If you were not a member of a local at PT, EVERYONE even the girl who fetched cookies and coffee(sorry for that description) had the same union benefits as the local members.
Re: VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?
by Douglas Bowker
"The industry was based in fear and the competition is my enemy, the director is my friend, and I'll do anything for the studio."

That right there is the biggest issue, far above union or no union. This is also not at all endemic to big studio and Hollywood effects companies. The animation company I worked at for six years in Boston did technical, medical and litigation work, and at one point had around 65 people there. A ton of really talented and motivated animators and motion graphics people, along with programmers and designers. But time and time again we'd accept jobs that the production staff new was way under-bid. And sure for the first year or so any start-up is burning through money and not making profit.

But after a while we actually had some excellent work to show and proven results. In the patent litigation graphics side we sometimes saved companies many tens of millions of dollars (or in the reverse helped them recover that from infingers). Some of the biggest pharma companies hired us to do animation work for new products and devices, again worth many millions or more. The thing is, the management still had the same approach as quoted above: please the client to the point of selling the work for far less than it took, even after we were well established. Today that company is down to one of the founders plus three full-time staff, and I seriously doubt any of the original investors ever got paid back. A lot of my co-workers went on to LA or NYC vfx companies, which I guess is great, except that several of those are now out of business too!

It's like somehow animation and VFX companies can't just think of themselves the way engineering, architectural or graphic design companies do: providers of highly valuable services, which are not cheap. It's not like those industries are all going out of business and racing to the bottom. Sure, some low-level work has gone overseas, we all know that. But when a company wants the best architecture, or cutting edge engineering they expect it will cost them and pay it even if they don't like it.

The other problem is that the more animation/vfx companies do this, the more it sets up a set of false expectations for the whole industry, all the way down to freelancers like myself. All companies I work with are cost conscious, but a few really take this attitude that somehow it's mostly done "by the computer" and it shouldn't cost so much. I nearly went out of business myself last year when I had a nine-month long project that took up all my time but paid about half of what got billed. Again: fixed fees, a client that fights every scope change but asks for more every step of the way. Would have a union helped out with this? I honestly don't know. Mostly I blame myself for ever buying into a fixed fee in the first place, especially since it was a repeat client that would have had a hard time finding another animator who knew their particular technology.

In the end, when a slate of summer blockbusters don't make their deadline or look sub-par maybe we'll have a few studio execs wake up.

Doug Bowker

3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
+1
Re: VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?
by Josh Ribbeck
The problem with a union or trade association, is the big studios can afford it and the smaller guys get screwed. I see it all the time :(
+1


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VFX Crossroads: Causes & Effects Of An Industry Crisis

VFX Crossroads: Causes & Effects Of An Industry Crisis

The VFX industry is in a crisis. As Life of Pi won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, the venerable facility that created those effects - Rhythm & Hues - declared bankruptcy, and they're hardly the first to close their doors due to financial problems. Debra Kaufman pulls from her 25 years of experience covering the industry to take a close look at how the creators of some of cinema's indelible images are falling prey to dysfunctional business models. Their deep historical roots have also led to visual effects becoming one of the least-profitable areas of film and TV production. How did we get here?

Editorial, Feature
Debra Kaufman
TV & Movie Appreciation
Favreau, Technicolor & MPC Make The Jungle Book Come Alive

Favreau, Technicolor & MPC Make The Jungle Book Come Alive

Todd McCarthy, veteran film critic and historian, in his review of director Jon Favreau's new, stunning adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book declared, "...the visual effects team led by Robert Legato and (MPC's) Adam Valdez has both created sumptuous settings that look as lifelike as any CGI ever presented in a studio feature and integrated both humans and animal characters in them in seamless ways."

Editorial, Feature
Jon Favreau
TV & Movie Appreciation
VFX Legion | Hardcore Henry breakdown reel

VFX Legion | Hardcore Henry breakdown reel

Remote post-production and visual effects studio VFX Legion has released its breakdown reel for the incendiary Hardcore Henry. The reel reveals the work that went into the first-person perspective action film, from augmenting violence to stitching shots together into one continuous sequence.

Editorial, Feature
COW News
TV & Movie Appreciation
Renaissance Masters Go 3D with Nuke

Renaissance Masters Go 3D with Nuke

VFX legend Steve Wright helped Italy's Sky 3D tackle an epic project, as Italian all-3D television station set out to present the city of Florence and the masterpieces of Renaissance art housed in the Uffizi Gallery in a spectacular stereoscopic 3D movie shown in 60 countries around the world. While the majority of the film was shot stereoscopically, Steve's challenge was to use Nuke to present some of the world's most precious artworks fully dimensionalized. Here's how he pulled it off.

Editorial, Feature
Steve Wright
TV & Movie Appreciation
The Sisterhood of the X-Files Fandom

The Sisterhood of the X-Files Fandom

As the first show to create a rabid, real-time internet fandom, devotion to "The X-Files" has been growing in intensity with each year since the original series finale, with a fanbase that is clever, thoughtful, and largely female. Not that there's any shortage of male X-Philes, but there's a generation of women who was inspired to technical careers by the Gillian Anderson's Dana Scully. Kylee Peña is among them, and additionally very specifically inspired by the production values of "The X-Files" to build a career in the technology of TV storytelling in particular. Here's Kylee's look at what it has meant to be a female fan of the art, technology, and empowerment of "The X-Files" in the 21st century.

Editorial, Feature
Kylee Peña
TV & Movie Appreciation
Peter Doyle: Supervising Visual Colourist at Technicolor

Peter Doyle: Supervising Visual Colourist at Technicolor

Peter Doyle, Supervising Visual Colourist at Technicolor, shares details of his upward spiraling career. His deep technical knowledge allows for a perfect blend of creativity and productivity in equal measure. Here he talks about his career, his aspirations, and his involvement in productions right from the outset.

Feature, People / Interview
FilmLight
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