The Oscars, The VFX industry, and globalization

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by P-Worm, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. P-Worm macrumors 68020

    P-Worm

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    #1
    I thought this might be an interesting topic for discussion. The movie Life of Pi won an oscar for visual effects. During the acceptance speech, the Academy Awards began to play the Jaws theme to indicate that time was up. The speaker then began to mention about the financial issues his industry is facing and the Academy decided to cut his microphone and cut to Nicole Kidman instead.

    A run down of the events

    The Academy's jerk move isn't why I bring this up, but instead to start a conversation about how the VFX industry has been hit very hard by globalization and a price war. A good rundown of the problem can be found here:

    Reddit

    At the core, it seems like part of the issue that these visual artists have is that there is no union like many other fields in Hollywood. And if this trend keeps up (Always trying to find the lowest bid for visual effects work) truly groundbreaking work will be left in the dust.

    A lot of R&D goes in to VFX and right now that isn't being compensated. VFX houses that have pushed the bar are now going bankrupt.

    What are your thought?

    P-Worm
     
  2. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    totally cool
    #2
    Sounds like "first world problems" to me. I don't feel empathy for the dying VFX companies.
     
  3. P-Worm thread starter macrumors 68020

    P-Worm

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    #3
    Do you not care about the dying companies because they are in the visual effects industry, or would you also not care if it was a large amount of, say, dying manufacturing companies in America? It's not like VFX artist are getting paid a lot, from what I understand the standard is $10-15/hour.

    P-Worm
     
  4. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    totally cool
    #4
    Of the little vxf work I did (if you could call it that) on After Effects, I was making 25-40 an hour and that was in the early 2000s. Also what it took a team of people to do on 8 computers with 3 days rendering time can now be done by 2 or 3 on a couple laptops. The industry is going to change, this will just make things more streamlined.
     
  5. Roessnakhan macrumors 68040

    Roessnakhan

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    ABQ
    #5
    What kind of work did you do? Movies like Avatar, Transformers, and Life of Pi are not done on a couple of laptops. I seem to remember a frame of Transformers took an entire day to render.

    (from Wikipedia)​

    I've been trying to keep up on this as much as I can, as I have a few friends in the VFX industry. Isn't most the film industry unionized? I imagine any group that isn't in such a union is treated pretty poorly. So I imagine it will end with the VFX industry unionizing.

    As for the guy's speech being cut off, he did go on too long, he should have opened with it, to be honest. Ang Lee and the Cinematographer should have also credited the VFX team in their speeches, but Ang Lee hasn't had the best words to describe the VFX industry as of late, even though they basically made it so he could win his Oscar.
     
  6. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #6
    No offense but I don't think you really know what goes into VFX. Try using things like Real Flow, Houdini, Mari, Nuke, Soft Image, Maya, etc in a huge pipeline going from modeling to texturing to rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, and compositing. The technical challenges alone are staggering.

    As for a few days to render? That doesn't sound like a big project. To put things into perspective Avatar used to take a week and a half to render one frame (before NVidia built them a custom solution which took it down to a day and a half PER FRAME).

    Its sad that you don't feel bad for people losing their jobs and an amazing industry (that isn't just about movies) on the brink of collapse.
     
  7. Lone Deranger, Feb 27, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013

    Lone Deranger macrumors 65816

    Lone Deranger

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #7
    I'm sorry, but that's a flawed statement, based on the assumption that nothing has changed. That the VFX industry is still producing the exact same quality of work it did 12-13 years ago but using modern day software on modern day hardware.
    Sure, a scene file from back then can be created quite a bit easier if you take out the artistic side of the equation (something that happens with disturbing ease and far too often when it comes to CGI) and subsequently will render magnitudes faster on modern day hardware. The reality however is that the quality of the work has increased by an unquantifiable amount over the years. The expectation and demands from clients are utterly relentless. More work, better quality, for a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time. This is the mantra Hollywood producers operate under. And it's this, in addition to being treated like second rate movie makers, that's killing us and has got us worked up.

    To give an example of how flawed your statement really is, Framestore, the VFX studio I work for, recently completed the VFX work for the upcoming film 'Gravity', in which the vast majority of the film is entirely created by VFX artists. We had hundreds of artists working on this project for about 2-3 years and ended up with render times for the more complicated shots of approximately 2-3 days per frame, per eye (stereo), with many of the shots running in excess of 5000-6000 frames. To render (and re-render over and over again as artists labour towards the final look) a shot like that can cost tens of thousands of pounds every time you click 'Go'. And that's all excluding the costs of the hard work done by dozens of artists for months (years in this case) building all the assets on screen. The design, the modeling, the uv-ing, the texturing, the look development, the rigging, the lay-out, the lighting, the rendering, the render management, the render optimisation, the compositing, the grading, pipeline construction and management, shader/tool development, IT-support, over and over again until the client is happy (a very rare thing). More often than not, the costs for all of this is but a fraction of the salary or residuals handed out to a single lead actor.

    So 2 or 3 Laptops? Please.

    You're right about one thing though. The industry is going to change. Actually, scratch that, the VFX industry has always been changing and will continue to do so. We're just trying to hold onto our jobs, our health and our sanity, just like everybody else.
     
  8. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #8
    Off topic but I'm jealous that you work for Framestore :) I follow them on Twitter.
     
  9. Lone Deranger macrumors 65816

    Lone Deranger

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #9
    Thanks, I won't be for much longer though, as I am one of the 125-150 people that have been made redundant due to this very same industry turmoil.
     
  10. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #10
    Oh no! :( I'm so sorry to hear that :( I really hope you find something soon.
     
  11. Orange Crane macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    #11
    Stating "first world problems" in response to anything might as well be stating "I'm too lazy to think but here is a snarky quip to make me feel better about it".
     
  12. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    totally cool
    #12
    No wait. The stuff I was doing was for a couple little post houses in Santa Monica for some music videos nothing big budget.
     
  13. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #13
    The people making the money and the decisions could give two ***** less about the quality as long as they keep raking in the money from Transformers 13.

    They'll dump people with decades of experience for a third world sweat shop and then wonder why there are no professionals left when the quality is complete **** and their movies stop selling. Must be those damn pirates.

    The entire 3D industry is undervalued, from an artistic standpoint and a technical one.
     
  14. Lone Deranger macrumors 65816

    Lone Deranger

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #14
    Mark Kermode, a well known UK based film critic, gives a remarkably insightful synopsis and brings the plight of VFX-Artists around the world into the spotlights.

    YouTube Link.
     
  15. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    #15
    One thing is for sure. Top management, in every industry from healthcare to cinema, is never undervalued these days.
     
  16. tigres, Mar 1, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013

    tigres macrumors 68040

    tigres

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2007
    Location:
    Land of the Free-Waiting for Term Limits
    #16
    Bingo here.

    My sis has been in this very industry for 20+ years. Pacific Title Digital, Dreamworks, Weta, TMC UK and others.

    She has worked on the likes of (not all included here)- Die hard with a Vengeance, Road to El Dorado, Shrek, Titanic, Prometheus, Avatar, Jumper, LOTR/ Return of the King, Twin Towers, The Adventures of TinTin, King Kong, Godzilla... etc etc, on and on...

    We have spoken on this very topic in detail when she is able to come home to the states on holiday; which is seldom.

    On Avatar, her team at WETA put in an average of 110/ hours a week, but more often then not it was more. They work these VFX artist to the brink of collapse for the studios. Why do they work these hours? Because there is a line a mile long to get in the door.

    So I for one do hope these VFX teams can come together and fight for some solid future ground; because lets face it, what movie today does NOT have VFX? I'm shocked that all the remaining good shops don't get together and tell Hollywood, piss off until you pay these teams.
     
  17. samiwas macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #17
    It's a really sad state of affairs when "we can treat our employees like crap because we have a waiting list to get in" has become not only the norm, but acceptable.

    That would imply that the management of the shops cares as much. I would hope so, but it may not be that way. Unfortunately, it's up to the employees to rise up. But, if there is a line out the door waiting to take their place, that's unlikely to happen.
     

Share This Page