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When Jobs In The Animation and VFX Industry Disappear

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For some time i wanted to get in to VFX industry but been fallowing for few months how vfx industry is crumbling down  where 350 employees at Dreamworks Animation were recently recently laid-off and the creature effects powerhouse, Rhythm & Hues just filed for bankruptcy and let’s not forget that Digital Domain’s brand new feature animation studio in Florida was shut down this past September – before they could even release a film. VFX artist have given them self new name digital gypsy since they have to chase the jobs all over the world. What will  Weta digital do after the the hobbits will same happen to them and incentive that governments gives to studios will soon run out for VFX industry in Canada Vancouver the those studios will just pack bags and move on for better incentive but then what happens to workers? they have to pack and move but then the issue of visa to move to another country can take 3 to 6 months, and lets not talk about artists not being paid on time or for over time  While big studios make big bucks on those films like iron man hobbits artist who actually make those films possible suffer and are abused peter jackson him self has changes law of new Zealand for workers not to be able to form unions. i guess artists have to bend down and take it and not complain for the fear of being black listen like.

 

Sorry for bag grammar

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Yep it's really a terrible industry to be in right now, and I'm in it. Luckily I've yet to be laid off but I have countless friends who've had multiple jobs in the time I've been at one place. Problem is movie studios treat VFX houses like dog shit. They ask for bucket loads of work for not much money. And for some reason the VFX houses just keep kneeling down to them when they should be getting together and setting fair prices.

BTW Rhythm & Hues filed almost two years ago - almost immediately after finishing the box office hit Life Of Pi. It's fucking ridiculous.

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You should look up the whole Ed Catmull deposition stuff if you really want to know what goes on. I prefer to remain anonymous when I post stuff online because of the security paranoia with studios (even before the hack), you're always on pins and needles and that's pathetic in and of itself really. Vfxsoldier just ceased his fundraising efforts to lobby congress for tariffs (that would prevent uprooting families year after year), he's now deciding how to pay his legal fees. I got a postcard from a girl that went to India to find greater meaning, not for work, she changed her name to something I can't pronounce (many people have recently made resolutions to find another career). Meanwhile vfx movies are topping the box office, Marvel and Disney are breaking records with lesser known stories, much more is on the way. Ed Catmull is currently president of Disney and Pixar animation, and just sold his modest custom built mansion for 11 million in Marin. Obama comes to Hollywood when he's campaigning, he talks convincingly about keeping jobs in Los Angeles, later he attends an exclusive fundraising dinner arranged by David Geffen, we see jobs go overseas. On and on. It's not just a vfx story.

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It sucks, and not just in VFX. Whatever industry you're in, it doesn't matter the amount of work you do; the further you are away from the "front office", the more "disposable" you are. Reading sunyata's post triggers memories of a bunch of anecdotes that's starting to rile me up even now. >.<

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That's outrageous! I can't believe these studios which supposedly have a nice image are just teabagging their staff like that. It's rediculous. Something must be done 

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Why is this happening? Surely people working in the vfx industry are on the whole skilled and intelligent - and yet they can be treated like this?

I'm a complete outsider but I have read about this before and I find it really surprising - and scary!

I wonder if it's to do with the nature of the work - it can be done in any country. It's not a mine or something physical you can't move at will. So whenever they see fit, they'll close down and move on and the workers are in no bargaining position because they and the building they're working in can be replaced. If there was some kind of "campaign" against this, it would have to worldwide. 

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They need to slow down on the productivity side to maintain the value of their assets and make the assets more scarce.

There's also too much production capacity so it's a supply and demand issue.

I don't think studios set out to purposefully screw the VFX houses over. It's more a business problem than an ethical problem I think.

Hope they sort it out. What happened with  Rhythm & Hues was really sad.

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Why is this happening? Surely people working in the vfx industry are on the whole skilled and intelligent - and yet they can be treated like this?

I'm a complete outsider but I have read about this before and I find it really surprising - and scary!

I wonder if it's to do with the nature of the work - it can be done in any country. It's not a mine or something physical you can't move at will. So whenever they see fit, they'll close down and move on and the workers are in no bargaining position because they and the building they're working in can be replaced. If there was some kind of "campaign" against this, it would have to worldwide. 

​As I understand it -

Hollywood wants to pay as little money as possible for the work (which is a fair enough business decision). So they go around the VFX houses gathering price quotes. The houses all want the work and so become extremely price competitive. Some houses can be more price competitive than others because of tax breaks in their country or region. The house that gets the job makes barely enough to break even. And if they cant find another project to start immediately afterwards, they have to start letting people go because they can't survive otherwise. 

The VFX artists are skilled and intelligent. Unfortunately the people doing the business are either greedy or incompetent.

Oh another thing worthy of mentioning is that a lot of these artists end up working long hours overtime for free. And often don't get paid enough in the first place. I think that's not helping either really. If all the artists banded together and said no to unpaid overtime, I think it would force the studios to price the work more effectively.

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Also, I believe outsourcing is common these days, no?

​I wonder what will happen as it becomes more common with other parts of post production?

Ever try Elance or any of those online freelance sites? The rates you have to compete with are very, very depressing.

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Yes, this is why you cannot compete on mere technical ability alone now. Unfortunate when you're at production level and the managers are not fighting for you.

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For anyone who hasn't seen it, the 30 minute doc called "Life After Pi", detailing the downfall of Rhythm and Hues is a good (but depressing) watch

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I don't think studios set out to purposefully screw the VFX houses over. It's more a business problem than an ethical problem I think.

It's hard to believe, but it's true...there is a famous saying from a Hollywood producer who said "If I don't bankrupt a vfx house, I haven't done my job".

The biggest problem is VFX artists don't have a union, so studios can abuse them. Imagine if VFX workers went on strike? All of the blockbusters would grind to a halt! 

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