A Recap Of The Trouble In The Visual Effects Industry
Visual effects artists are very much like our cousins, in the sense that our industry is visually based much like they are. We felt that we had to post about this for the sake of awareness in case you aren’t familiar with the news. Also, we wanted to create an open dialogue and hear from our readers about what they thought about all of this.
If you watched the Oscars this past weekend you’ll know that Life of Pi won an Oscar for best cinematography and visual effects. They also won for best director (Ang Lee) and more.
Rhythm and Hues, the VFX company that was responsible for the beautiful effects, is going bankrupt.
This announcement came right on the eve of the Oscars and it seemed to spark a protest. You can read more about that here.
Even though Life or Pi had a $120M budget, it seemed as though enough was not allocated to compensate the company and the artists fairly.
It wasn’t necessarily just because of this particular job that the company went bankrupt but it has put the issue front and center.
To understand this particular situation better, check out this open letter to Mr. Lee over at VFX Soldier by a lead compositor in the industry:
So it seems that the guys who put the magic in movies are suffering while the rest of the industry is making ends meet a little better.
Over at Reddit, there’s a great discussion going on that involves a lot of people working in the field.
User ‘Down With Pants‘ wrote a good overview of the situation:
“They went bankrupt because the VFX industry is fundamentally broken. Movie studios play the bigger VFX houses against each other, pitting them in a bid war until one of them finally bids so low that they actually lose money by doing the work – but they lose less than if they hadn’t.
Movie studios ship work to all over the world, chasing the next big subsidy being handed out by governments that, in the end, screw over the taxpayers too. BC taxpayers in Canada paid, on average, $60 per person for all of the VFX work being subsidized up there. This practice does a couple key things – first it makes job displacement a core tenet of the industry – so people often chase their job around the globe after every project. But it also lowers the Movie Studios’ perceived value of the VFX work itself because while the overall cost doesn’t drop significantly, the Studios themselves are paying a fraction of what they paid w/o the subsidies.
Then there’s a whole other conversation about the lack of proper benefits and pay for overtime. There are stories of people working 16 hour days for 1-2 months solid straight days with no overtime. That has the potential to destroy lives and families. The current model for the industry isn’t sustainable.”
Essentially, putting each studio against each other in a bidding war. The winner settles for an amount barely worthwhile, keeping the studio afloat a little longer till the ship sinks.
User Oddgenetix chimed in with a vivid description filled with emotion. It put everything in perspective:
“I am a laborer in the VFX industry. We are brutalized, constantly. We f***ing make the magic. We f***ing paint worlds in a digital ether that can’t be imagined any other way. Our paintbrush is computer code and we’re deft at executing. We are also forgotten, abused, underpaid, overworked, and every last one of us is completely burned the f**k out.
I personally poured over shot after shot on numerous movies, hand-massaged every frame, scrutinized the color, stereo depth, technical execution, among so many other things, on so many movies over the past 3 years. I am in a high-end position in the VFX industry.
I am often credited under the guy who gets coffee.
I know it’s different for everyone here, but seeing the front page filled with the c*nts that short my paycheck, and accept the praise for the worlds we create.. it f***ing makes me boil.”
You can also read the full discussion here – Full Discussion
This is just an overview for those who aren’t aware of what is going on at the moment. If you’re on Facebook, you’ll see a few people change their display pictures to a green frame in support.
Sound off in the comments below to let us know what you think about the situation, we’d like to keep an open discussion about your thoughts as well.