View Full Version : Vfx Burnout


mushroomgod
01-01-2011, 10:27 PM
I just noticed this over on reddit, thought some here might find it interesting.

I don't work in the vfx industry, and have no opinion one way or the other btw :)

VFXBurnout (http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/eudsw/iama_visual_effects_artist_for_the_last_14_years/)

marcuso
01-01-2011, 11:42 PM
Interesting read!

KrzysztofFus
01-01-2011, 11:55 PM
It was definitely an interesting read. I'd have to agree with what he said on the whole.

Can any senior artists explain to me why the lack of overtime pay is so frequent in this industry? I'm fine with working 60-80 hrs a week as long as I'm paid for it... I mean.

Artbot
01-01-2011, 11:56 PM
Another year, another disenchanted vfx worker rant. Makes sense, though, since we're hearing these kinds of rants from folks who've been in digital fx from the beginning (late 80s/early 90s). Also hard to believe the digital fx business has only been around about 20 years. That's not very old for any industry. Sadly, I don't think the world will ever run out of eager, underpaid noobs to fill the slots.

mister3d
01-01-2011, 11:57 PM
You have always choice either making more money and studying/working more, or having less money and have more spare time. If he wants more balance in life, he has to find another, calmer job. But I'm sure he got so used to comfort it's not easy. He will cry but continue doing his "terrible" job.
I understand he hates trainees, but he was too once. Trainees have less experience and have to compete somehow. If he gives this hatred to trainees, they will pass it on, and imagine the atmosphere they are to work in. I've seen this, when I first was hired and artists immediately started thinking "I am to replace them", it was all in the air. This is really a narrow-minded mindset.

All I see is a stressed person, and I bet he does fine most of the time. I can think most jobs have similar stress, but only because some people thought it's all fun they realize it's not. It's not problem of profession, but there's no perfect balance in most people's life, unless you're rich and don't have to work. The problem is if you work from 9 to 6 you can't have a balanced life, as you are slave. But that's how most people work paying for comfort. You can always leave and grow vegetables.

KrzysztofFus
01-02-2011, 12:05 AM
All I see is a stressed person, and I bet he does fine most of the time. I can think most jobs have similar stress, but only because some people thought it's all fun they realize it's not. It's not problem of profession, but there's no perfect balance in most people's life, unless you're rich and don't have to work. The problem is if you work from 9 to 6 you can't have a balanced life, as you are slave. But that's how most people work paying for comfort. You can always leave and grow vegetables.

Right, I sort of called bullshit when he said he banked in 200k in one year and still complained about being overworked. People choose to overwork themselves. I'd go through 3 months of hell to take a long vacation like he did any day.

I guess the only thing I hate about some companies is that they don't give overtime pay. They ask you your day rate and think that they can have you work there for 20+ hours straight for that one flat fee. And I'm saying this with my name completely out in the open. I don't care anymore. I refuse to work for free anymore. When I was trying to break into this industry I kept getting this speech from studios that you need to pay your dues and now finally once I broken in I know all that talk was bullshit and it was a ploy for them to save money.

Wongedan
01-02-2011, 12:08 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zlIXDFS2Ik
Alaska King Crab fishing

HughBowen
01-02-2011, 12:15 AM
I remember not seeing my wife for 3 months while we finished on The Day After Tomorrow. Upon finally being back together we went to go watch the film in the theater. I remember she was complaining on the way over that we hadn't seen each other in so long. When the credits rolled and I saw my name in the credits, I leaned over and said "that was worth it." Ooooh boy did I pay for that. She left me about two months later.
vfxburnout



this guy is messed up in the head and if you take any industry this serious or have to its not worth it.People who would put work over their wife or kids is really messed up mentally and deserves them to leave their ass,sry.If I sound like a dick when I say this Im sorry but that is just ridiculous.

Artbot
01-02-2011, 12:35 AM
this guy is messed up in the head and if you take any industry this serious or have to its not worth it.

Easy to say in hindsight. But the fact is, he got into it 20 years ago and probably had different expectations of what the future would hold. People are very capable at making up purportedly valid reasons to continue down paths that may not be best for them. They also are quite capable of deluding themselves into thinking that what they do is somehow important to the world or the greater good. It's some peoples' way to stay motivated. Young/aspiring fx and/or games artists often seem to have the idea that you can custom-order the career you want, but they are in for a rude awakening, just as this guy was.

I don't doubt for a second that he could pull that pay down in a year. The sad fact is that vfx work (and to some extent, games) is becoming more devalued than ever. There was a time when skilled, experienced people were in short supply and could get those salaries, but not any more.

Sadly, I know of many people who started out in fx or games 20 years ago, and like the guy said, they are now supes or have left the industry altogether. Even then, I personally know of only 1 or 2 people in their 50s or older who still work in either industry.

That said, perhaps he let it go on too long. Like staying in an abusive relationship, you console yourself with the good points and make excuses for the bad ones - but only up to a point.

Artbot
01-02-2011, 12:37 AM
vfxburnout

this guy is messed up in the head and if you take any industry this serious or have to its not worth it.People who would put work over their wife or kids is really messed up mentally and deserves them to leave their ass,sry.If I sound like a dick when I say this Im sorry but that is just ridiculous.

Uh huh. Check in with us in 20 years with your sad story.

HughBowen
01-02-2011, 12:46 AM
Uh huh. Check in with us in 20 years with your sad story.
I pray I have none. Hopefully all my bad stories turn to good stories because of that one bad situation

DoubleSupercool
01-02-2011, 12:56 AM
Another year, another disenchanted vfx worker rant. Makes sense, though, since we're hearing these kinds of rants from folks who've been in digital fx from the beginning (late 80s/early 90s). Also hard to believe the digital fx business has only been around about 20 years. That's not very old for any industry. Sadly, I don't think the world will ever run out of eager, underpaid noobs to fill the slots.

To me that is an unsustainable industry. The "old timers" are leaving after 20yrs. The mid-timers are leaving after 10 years . . . Seems to me that the industry has trouble keeping people with high level experience. By the time you are at supervisor level, the tech you learned on is out of date. Couple that with the fact that most people coming out of CG schools have no experience with film/on set experience and you have an immature industry in many ways.

So, we have immature people with immature experience levels in an immature industry. To me, that is ripe for exploitation, which is exactly where we are. By the time you get your sh*t together and realise what's up, you have been doing it for 7-10 years (like the article) and you realise how messed up the industry is. Then you leave because a 17yo will do the work for free (just like you did). Repeat cycle as wages go down, hours go up and more kids sign up. Studios must love it.

mister3d
01-02-2011, 01:00 AM
Easy to say in hindsight. But the fact is, he got into it 20 years ago and probably had different expectations of what the future would hold. People are very capable at making up purportedly valid reasons to continue down paths that may not be best for them. They also are quite capable of deluding themselves into thinking that what they do is somehow important to the world or the greater good. It's some peoples' way to stay motivated. Young/aspiring fx and/or games artists often seem to have the idea that you can custom-order the career you want, but they are in for a rude awakening, just as this guy was.

I don't doubt for a second that he could pull that pay down in a year. The sad fact is that vfx work (and to some extent, games) is becoming more devalued than ever. There was a time when skilled, experienced people were in short supply and could get those salaries, but not any more.

Sadly, I know of many people who started out in fx or games 20 years ago, and like the guy said, they are now supes or have left the industry altogether. Even then, I personally know of only 1 or 2 people in their 50s or older who still work in either industry.

That said, perhaps he let it go on too long. Like staying in an abusive relationship, you console yourself with the good points and make excuses for the bad ones - but only up to a point.

He still does good, for 20 years, which is quite an achievement. You know in our country after perestroika so much people have broken: many had colossal savings in the national bank, which turned into nothing, then many were building career towards soviet party, and got with nothing just in the middle of their life, some areas devalued as technology changed, and some were profitable and now you can't buy food working in them. Jesus, for 200k you could live 3 lives in many countries, and live them well. Is that devalued in your view?

SliceNDice
01-02-2011, 01:08 AM
Reading these forums makes the industry look so grim. :blush:

When I say I don't give a shit anymore, it's because I've seen people spend literally years studying software that is now no longer used anywhere and could've used that time to much better effect. I've seen people get fat, have panic attacks (I once had to drive a friend to the ER because he couldn't breathe), heart attacks, seizures, mental meltdowns, and burnout in general. It's where we all end up until we switch careers. Name one visual effects artist who's quietly retired.

lol...or is it a ploy to keep the new talent out? :arteest:

HughBowen
01-02-2011, 01:16 AM
Reading these forums makes the industry look so grim. :blush:
lol...or is it a ploy to keep the new talent out? :arteest:
yea he even tries to get rid of the competition when he is ranting....

mister3d
01-02-2011, 01:22 AM
http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/5769/amigajuggler.gif (http://img21.imageshack.us/i/amigajuggler.gif/)

" it's because I've seen people spend literally years studying software that is now no longer used anywhere and could've used that time to much better effect. I've seen people get fat, have panic attacks (I once had to drive a friend to the ER because he couldn't breathe), heart attacks, seizures, mental meltdowns, and burnout in general. It's where we all end up until we switch careers. Name one visual effects artist who's quietly retired."

That's the work they were working on.

DoubleSupercool
01-02-2011, 01:27 AM
yea he even tries to get rid of the competition when he is ranting....


How? Please explain.

almagesto
01-02-2011, 01:56 AM
http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/5769/amigajuggler.gif (http://img21.imageshack.us/i/amigajuggler.gif/)

" it's because I've seen people spend literally years studying software that is now no longer used anywhere and could've used that time to much better effect. I've seen people get fat, have panic attacks (I once had to drive a friend to the ER because he couldn't breathe), heart attacks, seizures, mental meltdowns, and burnout in general. It's where we all end up until we switch careers. Name one visual effects artist who's quietly retired."

That's the work they were working on.

:eek:

LOL :thumbsup:

might be caused by raytracing issues....

DoubleSupercool
01-02-2011, 02:56 AM
Problem was they were using their Amiga 500 without the 512k RAM expansion . . . it'll get you ever time :)

Artbot
01-02-2011, 03:33 AM
....200k you could live 3 lives in many countries, and live them well. Is that devalued in your view?

No. What I'm saying is the work has become more devalued over the last 10-15 years. If you read his posts, he says he will be lucky to make half of the 200k this year. That is what I'm talking about: Experience and tenure account for less and less in this industry, since there are so many more experienced people to choose from. There are other factors involved with declining salaries, but that's a big one.

But since he remains anonymous, we have no way to validate any of his claims. For all we know, maybe he has trouble staying employed because of his progressively bad attitude. Or maybe he didn't get along with people. Or may he just wasn't very good at what he did (wouldn't be the first time a talentless person made bank in this business). Not saying he is any of these things, but I would guess that there are many other factors involved here than just the rants he states.

mister3d
01-02-2011, 03:52 AM
No. What I'm saying is the work has become more devalued over the last 10-15 years. If you read his posts, he says he will be lucky to make half of the 200k this year. That is what I'm talking about: Experience and tenure account for less and less in this industry, since there are so many more experienced people to choose from. There are other factors involved with declining salaries, but that's a big one.
But if it declines too much, who's going to work in this area? It's attractive because it's profitable, but once it's not, people won't strive for it.

leigh
01-02-2011, 04:08 AM
I remember not seeing my wife for 3 months while we finished on The Day After Tomorrow. Upon finally being back together we went to go watch the film in the theater. I remember she was complaining on the way over that we hadn't seen each other in so long. When the credits rolled and I saw my name in the credits, I leaned over and said "that was worth it." Ooooh boy did I pay for that. She left me about two months later.

What an asshole, I'd have left him too.

Maybe instead of ranting and raving about the junior artists and the industry, he should be spending a bit more time contemplating the most guilty party for his bitterness here - himself. He ultimately made the choice to work those long hours, and now he "hates" other people for doing the same? And if, as he keeps saying, he "doesn't give a shit anymore", then why has he written this long rant, and why does he keep replying to all the posts?

kpamir
01-02-2011, 04:53 AM
What an asshole, I'd have left him too.

Maybe instead of ranting and raving about the junior artists and the industry, he should be spending a bit more time contemplating the most guilty party for his bitterness here - himself. He ultimately made the choice to work those long hours, and now he "hates" other people for doing the same? And if, as he keeps saying, he "doesn't give a shit anymore", then why has he written this long rant, and why does he keep replying to all the posts?

So ultimately it is his fault? I can't say I agree with that.

I think his point is simple. People are being taken advantage of in this industry, and in turn those people just coming into the industry are hurting the industry in the long run. The work we do is being devalued as a result.

And instead of seeing the the possible outcome in a few years like people tend to do we blame the messenger.

Obviously it isn't an articulate post, it's a rant and written like one.

You have a lot more experience in the industry than I do Leigh, many many years more in fact. But can you honestly say that the industry isn't going along the wrong path in terms of how it treats us tiny little artists? That when there is a disgruntled artist ranting and raving there is nothing of substance in his or her rants?

mister3d
01-02-2011, 04:55 AM
He fails to understand the price he paid back then is what gave him what he has now.

kpamir

I LOVE this talk, when specialists sitting in their aeron chairs, talking about the rules for starters not damping prices and not working longer. "I remember working cheaper, don't do this! Ask as much as I do, though I have portfolio and you don't, I have experience and you have zero. But be kind, be just, life is just juster for me, as I am a better person". That's because they have established clients, portfolio and all they are afraid of if you endanger their comfort, not your health. And they hate you because you are to replace them, not because you work longer.
Damn people, didn't you have times when you have nothing to eat and ready to work for 20 dollars? So imagine there are still people like this, not making 200k. When you have a better income, you always think you deserve it, and it always seems it will last forever. There is nothing like justice in life and people will do anything to get that 200, or even 100k job, be it long hours or working for the quarter of the pay.

DoubleSupercool
01-02-2011, 05:24 AM
The way I see it, (one of) the points he is making is that young eager beavers working for nothing devalues themselves and the industry, and that he was one of those people. You only get the big picture once you have reached the point where it affects *you* (when you are on a higher wage and looking for better quality of life, however you define that). I think it is something that a lot of people in our industry face.

You can say "Boo hoo old man, you had your shot and if you can't keep up on your big wage, then I am young and hungry and willing to do the job for 1/10th of your price to get into the industry". Then you do a few bigger projects and slowly move up the ranks and pay, but you still aren't earning a fortune and are still on contract. Then a young guy/girl says "Boo hoo old man, you had your shot and if you can't keep up on your big wage, then I am young and hungry and willing to do the job for 1/10th of your price to get into the industry".

That's our industry and you have to deal with that. You have to be on top of your game and willing to go extra. That is also why I see the industry as being fragmented and stunted. It's all about the individual getting theirs and studios can play individuals and FX houses off against each other. It's not a way to run a profitable business and this is born out by all the studio closures. At the end of the day, you (personally) need to make a profit or else you are better off working on your own stuff where you have creative control and have more chance of making money from your own IP.

mister3d
01-02-2011, 05:39 AM
DoubleSupercool, it's the amount of people wanting to get the job which devalues it, not the altitude of newcomers. Because if it would be true, then salaries wouldn't reduce when you reached the top. If the amount of specialists would stay the same, then the salaries would too, if the amount of them would reduce, the salaries would go up. Devaluation is not the result of someone eager to work for less, but rather about the amount of those.

RO
01-02-2011, 05:46 AM
Freelance is a whole different deal entirely... You know I did freelance for a while at NYC and it is easy as hell to drive the price high when studios are looking for a weeks or months worth of work. All it takes is asking. The problem with this is how ****ed up people in NYC are. I mean I have seen some of my superiors do some iffy things like call people in the middle of the night to check on work and admit such things to me showing how a strong leader they are while laughing. I have seen plenty of people get abused left and right, like interns ordered to do an errand that was not even company based, like taking a personal package to the mail. Plus screaming to the top of their lungs in some cases for people to get work done "properly"

Never happened to me because I never allowed such a thing to happen form the get go.

When it comes to Full-time it is a whole different story. I still belive that working long hrs is a general failure with the CG industry mentality as a whole.

1: Workers Let It Happen

Why do I blame workers, because a lot of people are stupid and let themselves be abused. I have seen people being overworked and than complain. When I enter jobs I make it clear to my superiors that if it is needed I will work long hrs and I will judge if it is needed not them. Some how I am still getting jobs... So it works. I do my job well I do not mess around... I am not much of fun talker at work, I do not lean on a cubical and make a long hr conversation at work about video games and how I killed that awesome wow boss with my 50+ instance guild. Why? Because it is work and should be respected as such, and I love my wife and want to see her everyday. people tell me hey eat a pizza stay for a bit, and I am like nah I love my wife's food and I go. People still like me :) In fact that creates this shield of job vs friendship. I have seen a lot of people waste time, talk at work, and guess what that equals long hrs. I get the same amount done when I enter and I exit at normal banker hrs.
Work smart get some sleep do not get drunk we are not porn stars and work again. And than you will have life on the side.

2: Producers and Leads Let It Happen

Seen tons of wasteful projects that get to nowhere at times. "The testing period" But this Testing period can not last that long decide smartly and do. I have seen countless times a method being used later to be re-created several times in different ways and than coming back to the first or second try instead of taking all those useless different creative ideas. I have seen scheduling problems and massive micro-scaling of things that take weeks to make right to be done in days. This comes becuase the producers and leads are comfortable with the idea that the Workers have already laid out in-front of them... "ABUSE ME WE LOVE WHAT WE DO"

And I do I totally love what I do, I do it so much at home as well. I work on my side projects. I am a CGaholic. But I like my personal projects. So I limit the abuse by standing my ground when needs be. Yet people like my work.

I have a strong belief that overtime and crunch times should never be tolerated or accepted. I Am open to talk to this with my leads and share my opinions, of course when starting a new job their is always has to be a trust period. But do not let people shaft you from the get go. Let them see that you work hard get shit done and leave. If you get your stuff done they can not fire you...

HughBowen
01-02-2011, 05:51 AM
What an asshole, I'd have left him too.

Maybe instead of ranting and raving about the junior artists and the industry, he should be spending a bit more time contemplating the most guilty party for his bitterness here - himself. He ultimately made the choice to work those long hours, and now he "hates" other people for doing the same? And if, as he keeps saying, he "doesn't give a shit anymore", then why has he written this long rant, and why does he keep replying to all the posts?
this is what I'm trying to say but ppl were calling me out. At least I'm not alone in this one :wavey:

@double supercool: well he in several post seemingly tries to turn ppl away from the industry and getting into it.

DoubleSupercool
01-02-2011, 05:51 AM
@mister3d: They go hand in hand I think. Yes more people devalues the work, but only a handful of those are actually any good. I would say that easily 50-70% of "graduates" don't have, and will never have, the chops to work in the industry, but yes it is a combination of all these things (individuals, schools, VFX houses and studios). But yes, there are way more people than jobs and it is still perceived as a glamour job - "Hot dawg ma, I gets to work on some of them there Holy Wood picture fillums!"

Unfortunately I don't see any easy answer. It's a tough industry to get into, and it's bloody tough to stay in it for the reasons this guy rants about.

@RO - that's good to hear (RE: being upfront and clear about what you are willing to do). Can I ask how long you have been in the industry. I think the problem is that when you are starting out:

a) You don't WANT to shoot yourself in the foot by giving them reasons not to hire you;
b) You don't have the experience and confidence to stand up for that kind of thing.

This is not just CG, any job when you are young you will face those issues. As has been pointed out, it's worse in CG because the market is flooded, so you want to show that you can do whatever they ask you to try and get that foot in the door. Cycle repeats.

kpamir
01-02-2011, 06:25 AM
He fails to understand the price he paid back then is what gave him what he has now.

kpamir

I LOVE this talk, when specialists sitting in their aeron chairs, talking about the rules for starters not damping prices and not working longer. "I remember working cheaper, don't do this! Ask as much as I do, though I have portfolio and you don't, I have experience and you have zero. But be kind, be just, life is just juster for me, as I am a better person". That's because they have established clients, portfolio and all they are afraid of if you endanger their comfort, not your health. And they hate you because you are to replace them, not because you work longer.
Damn people, didn't you have times when you have nothing to eat and ready to work for 20 dollars? So imagine there are still people like this, not making 200k. When you have a better income, you always think you deserve it, and it always seems it will last forever. There is nothing like justice in life and people will do anything to get that 200, or even 100k job, be it long hours or working for the quarter of the pay.

By no means am I suggesting new comers expect to be paid the same as someone with 2-3+ years of experience.

Not at all.

But when someone in another industry gets that 100k job they get their 100k and they get paid their o/t if they work o/t. Where as a 100k job in our industry might really be the equivalent of 50k+ o/t to equal 100k in the end. Sure in the end you get 100k but you literally works 2 times as many hours as the next person making 100k. Shouldn't you get some sort of compensation for your blood sweat and tears?

Obviously these numbers are not accurate I am just using them to point out the issue I see with the industry.

Because there are artists who feel that getting paid 100k for art is obscene! How dare anyone get paid that much for something that they love doing.

You can tell me that that is just how the industry is until you are blue in the face but, we are the industry.

What I take from his rant is that people are getting screwed and we are letting it happen when we have the power to change it. He brings up valid points that shouldn't be dismissed as him being jealous or mad about not getting paid well anymore.

RO
01-02-2011, 06:34 AM
@DoubleSupercool

Not as long as some of you here, a total of 6 Yrs real work, but a lot of mod work behind me :) I started like this from the get go. I was lucky to have been forewarned doing mod group stuff and working along side some passionate already game industry workers on some of those mods. I guess I took that stance early on.

When starting out it is very hard to be up front with your Leads. But think about this; Leads and Directors have lives also. They also want to get out on normal hrs as anyone who is sane. I do not think anybody would be apposed to this. I really do not think anybody schedules their full production plan with 3+ months of crunch in mind.(well sometimes they put backup plans) Crunch happens because workers get out of schedule. Leads only note what you communicate that you can do in a certain time, so when a lead comes and says if you can get so and so done in a day and you know it involves 3 days or more to do, please tell them the truth and tell them why and what it involves. Some producers or Leads are so caught up and thinking of the grand scheme that they lose some perspective. It is your job to inform your superiors what you can do and it will be scheduled as such and it will stress them out less and you of course.

Than your thinking well their is this kid who can make such and such in a day. Well good he is good at that stuff than... You are better at other things so sometimes it is good to inform because than they can move that project to another person. No hard feelings, sometimes your busy with other stuff and you can not pick up that project that is trying to be given to you. The end result will be a more efficient plan that works in your benefit and theirs.


edit:

Btw yes I have done weekends and long hrs. I may not agree with it sometimes, but I am not going to be disgruntled and I will time myself and communicate with superiors. It happens because of the above reasons 1 and 2 I put up. But I can only control what I do at work and still I limit my time of overtime using methods such as work is meant to be worked not messing around, I get out usually faster than most people with my work done and people liking it... so win win.

KrzysztofFus
01-02-2011, 07:31 AM
When starting out it is very hard to be up front with your Leads.

This is definitely true. When I was first starting out on my first few commercial modeling jobs I always told my producer that I could always do it days faster than what the schedule required. I chose to push longer hours specifically for the reason that if I screwed something up I would have buffer room to fix it.


Seen tons of wasteful projects that get to nowhere at times. "The testing period" But this Testing period can not last that long decide smartly and do. I have seen countless times a method being used later to be re-created several times in different ways and than coming back to the first or second try instead of taking all those useless different creative ideas. I have seen scheduling problems and massive micro-scaling of things that take weeks to make right to be done in days. This comes becuase the producers and leads are comfortable with the idea that the Workers have already laid out in-front of them... "ABUSE ME WE LOVE WHAT WE DO"


This happens a thousand times over in commercials. Its when this happens it kills me. Its the infamous "Planned Crunch" Sometimes producers or project leads are not clear when a project is over and then one day around 5 we hear " We need everyone to work all night. Its due in the morning." Thats what I hate the most but luckly I will never allow myself to work like that again without proper compensation. I have a life too. I have personal projects at home also. I'd rather work on my videogame enviro reel or my shading work at home than make sure that commercial gets done because it is not my responsibility or any other artists responsibility to keep the project on schedule. It is the producers or the project leads.

When times felt the absolute worst I say to myself "At least its happening now. Not later. Later I'll have a wife and kid. Later I'll have a reel and resume built up so I don't have to put up with this."

Having worked with Rogelio, he was the first artist who told me not to be taken advantage of. That there is no such thing as "paying your dues" in this industry. Its a demanding job. You don't just push buttons all day. You need to constantly be focused on what you are doing. Once again for this advice. Rogelio, Thanks.

Artbot
01-02-2011, 07:50 AM
This topic has been beaten to death here before, and I think the conclusion is the same: There's no one, single answer. It's pretty much everyone's fault, from the top to the bottom - company pres, producers, designers, artists, you name it. And the problem is made worse by the infinite ways in which these groups can, and do, interact with each other. The cumulative possibilities for poor planning are virtually endless, with almost no two situations exactly the same.

You can whine and complain all you want, but what are artists supposed to do - I mean specifically? Should there be a central command post for every noob to call and ask if their supe is being unreasonable in his scheduling practices? And who gets to be the judge of what's "unreasonable"? Will there be a "My boss wants me to work weekends for no o/t" hotline? Will every company freely admit to and publish their hit list of those employees who don't meet their standards of work dedication?

Seriously, what are the realistic and actionable responses to these situations? Or will it be a "if you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen" situation forever?

DoubleSupercool
01-02-2011, 09:18 AM
Seriously, what are the realistic and actionable responses to these situations? Or will it be a "if you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen" situation forever?

This. You have an overabundance of talented up and comers (even 5% of graduates being awesome would be flooding the market) who are willing to work longer for less. As your experience grows you will command more money until the studio will not pay you what you think you are worth, then you either accept that your rate will be steady at X, or possible less than X and that you either take the job or walk. A few people are rock stars, but most artists are artist/technician and unless they do something super special, are expendable.

There are sup roles if you have the management skills, you can freelance back with the studio when they hit the wall and they need your skills/knowledge (and you can charge a bundle), teaching etc.

Just my thoughts. My advice: do something that no one else can do, network, get to know the business side of things and set yourself up for the future. That's if you even want it. I was talking to a bunch of senior comp guys from ILM and Cafe FX and they were all totally over it. Good paychecks but one movie is pretty much the same as another after I while, I guess and as one guy put it "I have spent 7 years sitting in a dark room for 12hrs a day".

That's not everyone's opinion, and neither is the link guy's rant, but it is just as valid an opinion as the noob trying to get in, the junior artist climbing the rungs, the successful senior artist, the supervisor the directors. As stated above, everyone's situation is different and yours might be *totally* different to the VFXburnout guys, but IMO, you are not doing yourself any favours by dismissing what he has to say out of hand.

thepineman
01-02-2011, 10:53 AM
Reading this thread along with all the rants and complaints- makes me think of a solution. These are one of the instances I wish I was a billionaire and an employer who owns a business so that i will not let this burnout feeling get to the employees who work for me or my company. In the real world this is whats happening.

Caution: Slightly Off Topic- Fictional Scenario
But if you can rewrite the whole thing from scratch and improve the system of the work place or maybe the world, what would you do? How will you solve this problem?

This is what I will do:
1.) No overtime as much as possible, unless its very necessary. And if there will be overtime, all employees involved should be compensated properly.

2.) As an employer I will generously give the right salary and will not reduce it in time but rather increase them regularly especially if they really deserve it.

3.) Income from the business is good but it should not be my priority. And if the company is earning well then I should SHARE sizable portion of it to all the people in my company.

4.) More Paid Vacation.

5.) Working Time should be only 7 hours a day, 5 days a week.

6.) Hire enough people to do the job so that employees will have less stress and pressure at work.

7.) Lunch should be free.

8.) Accommodation will be free, they dont have to rent a flat/apartment; particularly those coming from faraway places or overseas.


The goal is to make them happy as much as possible and treat my employees as though they are also me (removing selfishness and greed)

JeroenDStout
01-02-2011, 11:45 AM
@thepineman

You need to factor in not so much that this costs money (everything always costs money and in hypothetical situations even the numbers are not written down) but rather who will pay for this. If you were a billionaire you may fund this, otherwise it is a problem of cashflow. There must be enough money coming in to cover the money going out.

So unless your work is significantly different to that of the bio-industry type of sfx-houses, your only clients willing to pay the higher fee are idealists such as yourself. Who, in turn, could only sell to idealists. But eventually one of them will have to pay for your employee's lunch. There being no such thing as a free lunch, being my point.

I am in favour of happy working places (evidently) and when I eventually come to hire people it is something I want to do right. But it comes out of someone's pocket and high morale is only one factor in your company's output.

The balance between money and happiness is hard enough to get right in one's own life, it is a far larger puzzle to get it right when having people's livelihood in your hands (though admittedly in Western-Europe 'livelihood' itself is a somewhat relative problem).

leigh
01-02-2011, 02:12 PM
So ultimately it is his fault? I can't say I agree with that.

I think his point is simple. People are being taken advantage of in this industry

You can only be taken advantage of if you allow it to happen. Look, I did the same thing when I first started working in VFX. I was eager to please and worked for a studio where working until 2am all week including weekends was the norm. I almost totally burnt out after 18 months of that. One day, I realised just how stupid I was being, and left the studio. Instant solution. And looking back, I was angry at myself for allowing it to go on for as long as it did.

These days, I don't do overtime, unless I feel it is needed. I haven't done a long stretch of overtime since working at the aforementioned studio in 2001-2002. Last year, I think I worked maybe two or three Saturdays (which we do get paid for) the entire year, but on those occasions it was because I agreed to it, because I felt it was needed. I don't work late during the week. Ever. Because my personal life is the most important thing and I don't let work get in the way of that. My job keeps me busy from 9:30AM-6:30PM, and when 6:30PM rolls around, I pack up my stuff, I walk out the door, and forget about work until 9:30AM the following day. Because no job is worth sacrificing your private life over.

I think the kind of longterm situation that vfxburnout is describing can be boiled down to one thing: someone who defines themselves by what their job title is. We all know a few people like this - stop and think about it. If I am at a party or whatever, and I meet someone, you invariably get asked "So, what do you do?". My answer is always the same - "I work in the film industry", and I don't bother going into specifics. However, people who define themselves by their job titles would respond "I'm a VFX artist". This may seem like a trivial thing to mention, but there's quite a big difference between my answer, and the other. The other answer is more likely to come from someone who, as vfxburnout describes, is really into the whole working in the VFX industry thing. They feel a thrill over seeing their names in the credits of films they've worked on, because their job is such a huge part of their lives.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have loads of fun at work and really enjoy my day to day job. But I hardly ever watch anything I work on, because I'm actually not really interested. For me, it's important to enjoy my job but ultimately the final product isn't necessarily of interest to me at all. I'm not really into Hollywood blockbuster type stuff. I can enjoy working on them because I like all my colleagues and have fun working on shows, but I have other things I'd rather do in my spare time than sit through an hour and a half of some show just because I worked on it. Like I said, when I walk out the door at 6:30PM, I stop thinking about work. So the films we work on are not really on my radar. This vfxburnout guy seems like the opposite to this - he'll go watch anything he worked on and then sit there to see his name in the credits. His job has consumed his life and that's why things like a credit are so important to him, to the point that he actually said it was worth not seeing his wife for three months.

It's one thing to be enthusiastic about your job; it's another to start defining yourself and the rest of your life by it. Because when you do that, it's a one-way ticket to being so consumed by it that you lose your private life. People need to choose their priorities. If you want a meaningful private life, don't define yourself by your career, define yourself simply as a human being and take it from there. If an employer is putting unfair demands on your own time, say NO, or go work somewhere else.

I think it's very important for junior artists to remember that they also have a choice about this. The freedom to say no is not just a perk enjoyed by the senior artists, it's something that everyone, at every level, can say.

Dubbie
01-02-2011, 06:24 PM
Anyone who bitches about changes has ZERO sympathy from me. It's your job to do whatever you are asked by the supe to do. If you don't like it go and make your own indy movie where you don't have to change anything.

You should try to get satisfaction from doing the best work you can regardless of whether it ends up on the cutting room floor or on the big screen. If you can't do that you are in for a miserable time indeed.

HughBowen
01-02-2011, 07:31 PM
Anyone who bitches about changes has ZERO sympathy from me. It's your job to do whatever you are asked by the supe to do. If you don't like it go and make your own indy movie where you don't have to change anything.

You should try to get satisfaction from doing the best work you can regardless of whether it ends up on the cutting room floor or on the big screen. If you can't do that you are in for a miserable time indeed.
if my supe tells me I have to work overtime everytime I come to work or when a project starts if its not im my contract or job description I'm going to decline sometimes. I need have a life,too. Like everyone is saying learn to say "NO" sometimes

Dubbie
01-02-2011, 09:24 PM
if my supe tells me I have to work overtime everytime I come to work or when a project starts if its not im my contract or job description I'm going to decline sometimes. I need have a life,too. Like everyone is saying learn to say "NO" sometimes

That is perfectly fine. If you feel that you are not getting adequately compensated for your time, then saying no, leaving or renegotiating is perfectly fine. What I hate is people bitching about doing something they are paid to do.

HughBowen
01-02-2011, 09:44 PM
That is perfectly fine. If you feel that you are not getting adequately compensated for your time, then saying no, leaving or renegotiating is perfectly fine. What I hate is people bitching about doing something they are paid to do.
but from what he is saying he wasnt being paid to it and that he chose to do it or it just happened and he thought it was ok

n-drew
01-02-2011, 09:45 PM
damn, for 200k $ i would sell my soul....

dax3d
01-02-2011, 10:10 PM
Leigh, do you feel this is possible across the board at any of the big studios? I've only worked in the California shops, but very rarely did I have a "walk out at 6:30" kind of day. Even studios that have told me no overtime would happen, certainly didn't end up that way in reality. At one particular studio we worked 6 days a week at least 10 hours a day..because. Just because. For example, we had "x" amount of shots due every week. Well our team would hit that number by Friday. Did we have to come in Saturday? Yes, and then we would have even more shots approved. Could we leave early Saturday then, after crushing quota? Nope, not at all.

I don't say this to be negative in the slightest, just the reality I've known in the industry. And from what I was told (no actual experience, just what I heard) it's worse in other countries? Or at least you won't get overtime or such. Well besides the compensation issue, was really curious about the having a life aspect of the discussion.

Daniel-B
01-02-2011, 10:21 PM
My job keeps me busy from 9:30AM-6:30PM, and when 6:30PM rolls around, I pack up my stuff, I walk out the door, and forget about work until 9:30AM the following day. Because no job is worth sacrificing your private life over.

I agree with this completely. However, how do you make it happen? I've never heard of any VFX artist that can just simply leave when their shift is over. How do you keep from being labeled "not a team player." How do you avoid the need for overtime most of the time? If you were at another studio, do you think they'd force you to stay longer, even against your will?

mr Bob
01-02-2011, 10:22 PM
At one particular studio we worked 6 days a week at least 10 hours a day..because. Just because. For example, we had "x" amount of shots due every week. Well our team would hit that number by Friday. Did we have to come in Saturday? Yes, and then we would have even more shots approved. Could we leave early Saturday then, after crushing quota? Nope, not at all.

I hear you buddy, when I started out in the vfx racket , nobody worked ot , now its a totally different story.

THX1311
01-02-2011, 10:32 PM
I agree with this completely. However, how do you make it happen? I've never heard of any VFX artist that can just simply leave when their shift is over. How do you keep from being labeled "not a team player." How do you avoid the need for overtime most of the time? If you were at another studio, do you think they'd force you to stay longer, even against your will?

By establishing from Day one that you are a professional technical trading highly skilled labor for money during a specified period during the 24 hour Day.
NOT a Beggar or Grateful Wage slave or anyones "Beloved" eager to please at all costs.
Do your job with skill and the highest standards and Live your Life .
Takes some Courage yes but so be it.


Cheers

DoubleSupercool
01-02-2011, 10:45 PM
@Leigh:

"I almost totally burnt out after 18 months of that. These days, I don't do overtime, unless I feel it is needed."

Leigh, they got almost 2 years out of you. Why did you stay there for even that long? This is kind of what I am saying. For the first few years you do the crazy work and then you realise it is wrong and you have the leverage (skills and experience) to pick and choose work or negotiate more. That is the same in every industry, pretty much. You don't walk in to a studio straight out of school and say "Well, I refuse to work overtime and my weekends are "me time", so hands off big boy!". You say "Yes, sir, sir-itty sir, sir, sir! Coffee sir? Yes sir! Overtime? No probs, chief!"

The difference, I guess, with our industry is that unless you are a rock star, you are not doing anything particularly better or different than multiple thousands of new grads who are willing to do those first few years for even less money and more OT than you did because it is harder for them to get in.

It's hard to compare our industry to other trades like builders/mechanics as the technology aspect and the glamour appeal make it hard to make direct comparisons. It's not like every 6mths there are new hammers and nails coming out that you have to learn to use. Obviously there are new building and repair techniques etc, but it doesn't seem to move as quickly as CG.

Personally I don't see the situation changing. From the top down I am sure the suits at the studios are happy with the situation because they are getting ever increasing quality for the same (or less) money in shorter time frames. From the bottom up, the schools are happy because they can charge thousands of dollars to thousands of kids to teach them the software so "you to can make AAA games and Hollywood movies". They don't give a crap if the kids have good technique or can produce quality work, once the have the cash they are happy.

leigh
01-03-2011, 12:01 AM
@Leigh:

"I almost totally burnt out after 18 months of that. These days, I don't do overtime, unless I feel it is needed."

Leigh, they got almost 2 years out of you. Why did you stay there for even that long?

Like I said, I was young (22 or so). When you're young, you do stupid things. It was only as I got older that I started realising how precious my free time is.

leigh
01-03-2011, 12:02 AM
Leigh, do you feel this is possible across the board at any of the big studios?

As I said in my earlier post, the artist has to take responsibility for this too; so even if the studio is asking for overtime (and some do this a lot, as we know), then you need to say no. And I know I am being a bit of an idealist here but if everyone was more assertive, we wouldn't have this problem.

leigh
01-03-2011, 12:04 AM
I agree with this completely. However, how do you make it happen? I've never heard of any VFX artist that can just simply leave when their shift is over. How do you keep from being labeled "not a team player." How do you avoid the need for overtime most of the time? If you were at another studio, do you think they'd force you to stay longer, even against your will?

No-one can force me to stay against my will, that would simply never happen because I wouldn't allow it. Thankfully I've never encountered the "you're not a team player" bullshit mindset, so I can't really comment on that. Suffice to say that if I did end up working somewhere where people had an attitude like that, I'd leave.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this: I don't take shit from anyone.

Daniel-B
01-03-2011, 12:10 AM
Leigh, I think you might be one of the only other people in ANY industry that I've come across with this attitude, and I applaud you for it. When I tell people I value my free time over money, they look at me like I have two heads. I love my job, but I'm not going to destroy my personal life for it.

SliceNDice
01-03-2011, 12:27 AM
This thread makes me laugh. Why do so many people work hours and hours of overtime w/o pay when they could use that time to do freelance work or something? :applause:

RO
01-03-2011, 12:30 AM
I agree with Leigh.

And yes same when I was a tad younger I did overtime. It was not really ever asked of me to do it, I did it to myself back than. I have also come to realize that working longer hrs never ever even in a million yrs equals better work. I have had many situations that staying is not the best answer especially if their is a lingering technical problem sometimes a pillow is great to get your head clear. I have had many many situations that I could not solve a problem at work... I did not let it get to me said alright cya later have a good night you all... everyone looking at me weird when exiting because this is a "big problem and we only have in till tomorrow ends to solve it mentality" I come back tomorrow run a few tests bam it is done and people are like wtf I stayed here at night trying to figure it out... I am like dude... I went to get a good dinner with my beautiful wife... Once rested the problem was as clear as day literally ;) Than they proceeded to say we should have done the same.

I have seen people fiddling at night. Rarely do I see some huge improvement for something at night time or crunchers. All the good work happens at day time. All the big errors and last decision making which for the most part tends to be bad, are made at night and in the day we fix those mistakes and this vicious cycle happens again and again. Rest is a wonderful thing.
Crunching can not be taken away entirely, but it can be minimized.

More hrs, more crunch, and more tired people does not equal good productivity.

Artbot
01-03-2011, 01:03 AM
if my supe tells me I have to work overtime everytime I come to work or when a project starts if its not im my contract or job description I'm going to decline sometimes. I need have a life,too. Like everyone is saying learn to say "NO" sometimes

Your description says you are a student. If this is so, how do you speak with any authority on this? I mean, it's a nice sentiment that I also happen to agree with, but have you actually done this?

DoubleSupercool
01-03-2011, 01:29 AM
Exactly. Mookiemu recently wrote an excellent post on getting int the industry (http://forums.cgsociety.org/showpost.php?p=6791708&postcount=34) and one thing brought up was educating yourself on the business side of things. Negotiating your wages/work conditions is not something that is really ever taught to people. Again, when you are young you often don't know any better (or care) and that can lead you to getting screwed over. The more you know about this kind of thing, the more you can set boundaries and still be respected for it. Obviously you still need to do your job, but as has been mentioned, most sup's have lives too and they will often respect that.

If you are dealing with people that blacklist you for not "putting in the effort" and doing 18 hr days, do you want to work there?

I will say that all of my opinions/experiences are coming from a post-production point of view, where crazy deadlines and all-nighters are the norm as you come down to the pointy end of production. If you don't like that kind of thing, you are at the wrong end of the pipeline :) The VFX burnout guy was a comper and to be honest, it gets pretty crazy when the deadline looms. Pre-viz, modeling, texturing and animation have pretty much done their job and have left the building by that stage and are on to their next project. The good news is, if you are decent at what you do you can get paid crazy well because you have to consistently pull rabbits out of hats when there are no hats and no rabbits left to pull!

You will often get BS about there being no budget left. F*ck that. You had budget to pay for craft services for the second assistant to the dog trainer. Guess what, you have the budget to pay your artists that are going to finish the film.

Oh wait, it will look good on your reel . . .

Like I said, I was young (22 or so). When you're young, you do stupid things. It was only as I got older that I started realising how precious my free time is.

Poisen
01-03-2011, 11:05 AM
quote "At the end of the day, it comes down to this: I don't take shit from anyone"

it is not about your expectations about your employer.
it is about what you expect from yourself that matters.

if you decide to sell your soul for a quick buck ...
dont complain a few years down the line that you are overworked and souless.
just move on and enjoy your dollar...;)

Paul McLaughlin
01-03-2011, 01:09 PM
You have to stand up for yourself.

My senior year at college in one of the higher level animation classes one of our assignments was to make a 12 second animation that would then be used to promote the school at some festival in China. Apparently it was somewhat of a big deal because the chairman of the department was involved along with some grad students and another professor. There were very specific instructions to be followed and we were required to use a rig that the school provided. I think a lot of the people in the class were kind of annoyed that this was our final project in the class, but no one really said anything. However, I did.

I raised my hand in class and said right to the chairman of the department that I felt that this was, in polite terms, exploitive and we were essentially being forced to do commercial work for free. In addition to this, the higher ups involved weren't putting in as much effort as they were expecting from us. There were delays in getting the rigs to us and the people leading it didn't seem too involved.

Well, the chairmen of the department flipped out and started yelling at me saying "Have a great career with that atttitude blah blah blah blah blah." While the parameters of the project were not changed after that, the people involved from the school seemed to put in a little more effort themselves and things started running a little more smoothly.

While things may be a little bit different if you are getting paid have kids to support/a mortgage, I think the bottom line is that you need to stand up for yourself. Make sure people know your soul isn't for sale.



Also, CG isn't a car factory. The artist owns the means of production. The sooner people realize that the better off we will all be.

fablefox
01-03-2011, 04:29 PM
this are easier said than done. the speed of internet is causing vfx industry to become just like software dev. and not all country created equal. outsourcing is both a solution and a problem. the more work went to cheaper country, the more people from more expensive country getting laid. heck, even if your company is selling a billion dollar worth of games, they are willing to lay 300 staff just because the goverment are not willing to give a tax break. i read the news somewhere today.

and i think one of the founder of the closed sfx shop mentioned that they cannot cope up with pricing unless getting tax breaks.

and it seems to me that more and more companies are setting up offshore studios. while in the press kit they say they're 'expanding', exploiting people from other country is more like it. just read articles about sweatshop and child labours. at least we are lucky in this aspect as their headquarter are under union rules. but vfx are not. if it worse back in the US/Europe, turst me, it is even worse someplace else.

Does anyone from this board went to the Kre8tif in Malaysia last december (www.mscmalaysia.my/topic/Kre8tif)? and heard the story of 3d modeller / game programmer being paid RM 800 even for degree holder (equal USD 261). And barely enough to live on. Why? There is no minimum wage law. And it even sad to know that if you're over 30, some company doesn't want you anymore...

http://www.lescopaque.com/recruitment.html

oh well. but i think this problem is is everywhere, it just worse on something that is new (vfx industry) and intangtible (art). vincent van gogh are not appreciated when alive, live on being supported by his brother, died in poverty, and popular after his death. while certain kid this day can make a lot of money just by splattering paint here and there ( even my kid could paint that - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0912592/).

bankers being paid more because it's something tangtible. if you managed to secure a client that borrow 2 million, and charge 10%, you provide the bank with 200,000. and the bank can easily calculate how much bonus you deserve. same as insurance salesperson - and your part of the sales keep coming in as long as your client pay the insurance.

i think i'm ranting too much. anyway, i'm a 3rd worlder. i know how the OP feel. I know how it feel being overworked, unappreciated, denied of overtime pay via creative accounting (ha ha ha - creative accounting is another joke in the industry - no wonder vfx company are screwing vfx artist, on the other hand, disney and the wwtba millionare is interesting news to hear).

these are the times if you let people walk over you, they WILL. Takes this from someone who spend five day in a ward because of work.

BigPixolin
01-03-2011, 04:45 PM
The most powerful force at work here is the greed of the employer.

dax3d
01-03-2011, 05:21 PM
As I said in my earlier post, the artist has to take responsibility for this too; so even if the studio is asking for overtime (and some do this a lot, as we know), then you need to say no. And I know I am being a bit of an idealist here but if everyone was more assertive, we wouldn't have this problem.

Ah, I see then. Yes, I would love to have said I'm heading out at 6:30, I just haven't seen that the reality anywhere. In that particular situation my lead would stay till the very last minute, though now that I recall our coordinator would be camped out in front of our offices, and she was the stickler for sure.

At another facility I worked at, they said there was no real overtime. Ok, great. Well once on the project, I would have nothing to do all day (this is during hair grooming, so no shots), and then right at 7 my lead would update some code, and want me to get cracking on all sorts of changes. Even trying to pull a "I'll get to it first thing in the morning" caused real friction. He would stay all hours, and just real gung ho about it which I think may actually be a problem in trying to say no to the overtime. For any of us that have been around a bit, and want to put our foot down, they'll have someone behind us willing to work cheaper, longer, etc...so it comes down to leverage.

KevBoy
01-03-2011, 06:58 PM
I think it's pretty narrow-minded from some companies to linearly assume that overwork = more work getting done. People get fatigued, they get tired and lose enthusiasm. Even if the tasks being performed are tedious ones you'll still go faster if you've had a nice evening to relax and a good nights rest.

JoshBowman
01-04-2011, 03:59 AM
I remember when i was working for a company and we were told to bust our guts to get out 20+ seconds of super high quality animation for a t.v. show per week through 3 levels of feedback and direction.....with no overtime pay. I was only able to do 15 seconds at the quality asked and that included doing a bit of overtime here and there and a couple of saturdays but i didn't kill myself over it. Some others though pulled insane hours to meet quota and a mate of mine worked 36 hours straight for something that "HAD" to be done in 2 days and then ended up only needing to be finished 5 days later......and then 90% of the company was fired because the boss had zero clue about the amount of hours and money creating a t.v. series actually entailed (convinced he could make a "Pixar quality" 26 x 1/2 hour tv series for under 7 million)

So really, why have a breakdown if you're not getting paid to have it. I did what i reasonably could in the time i had and knocked off, went out, made friends and ended up really enjoyed the experience (not the fact that we spent a year fighting the guy to get our unpaid wages and super). I'm still working and infact have had more work in the last year than I've ever had before even though I supposedly wasn't a "team player" because I wouldn't let myself be taken advantage of.

Lunatique
01-04-2011, 06:05 AM
I think it's important to take a step back and assess the meaning of your job/career in the grand scheme of your life. What tends to happen is that many people stop assessing the direction of their life by looking at the big picture--the 10,000 feet macro view, and are too caught up in the tunnel-vision they have developed and forget about what else life has to offer. But then again, we all feel differently about different things. Some people are so passionate about collecting stamps that they are willing to make tremendous sacrifices in their lives for it, and no one will understand why any person could care that much about stamps, unless they share the same passion and to the same degree of intensity.

Maybe for some people, to work in VFX is their one true passion in life--it's more important than anything else--family, friends, health, etc. It's like an addictive drug that they can't get enough of, and it's the only thing that brings them true joy. Different strokes for different folks. The tragedy for this guy's family is that they probably didn't realize just how obsessed he was, and had no idea that he would ultimately choose his passion over his own family. If his wife had known this right from the start before they even got married and had kids, then perhaps she never would've married him. But maybe he wasn't that obsessed in the beginning, and it got worse and worse as time went on. Everyone's story is different. What's unfortunate is that he realized all of this too late and lost his family.

Usually, there's a common pattern. Young people are very driven and ambitious, and they are willing to go to great lengths to see their dreams fulfilled, but as they get older, they relax more and start to understand that there's more to life than just ambition and chasing after one's ultimate dream. There are also the simple pleasures and many things they have never explored, as well as the bliss of domestic life. I do wonder about all the history's greatest minds though. Some of them remained totally obsessed even into their old age until their death, and many die with regrets that they didn't finish that painting, or that symphony, or that novel. I think their relationship with others probably played a part as well. Those who were surrounded by loving family and friends probably were less likely to be so consumed by their passion, while those who were loners and had a hard time getting along with others would be more obsessed because that is the one constant thing they can count on to bring fulfillment to their lives. And of course, history is filled with people who were obsessed and eccentric and tortured. Maybe some of today's VFX artists are just continuations of that. Whether working on some commercial production as an artisan/hired help is worth getting obsessed about (as opposed to doing something for yourself--your own artwork, writing, music, film, etc) is a whole different topic though.

mehran
01-04-2011, 09:43 AM
Leigh is right! it's about realizing that at the end of the day it is just a job. A job that you picked up so that you can make money, if you are having fun while doing it than that is great, if you are doing what you love to do than it is even better, but all that certainly isn't worth being taken advantage off.
Having a life out side of your workplace is really important for us. And I for one have only recently came to this realization that there is stuff outside of our passion/hobby and the job we do in pursuit of these hobbies.
The guy on reddit got it wrong when he got divorced cause of spending too much time at work. Obviously, alot, if not most of the times just quittin a job isn't a real option, you have to have the other job ready so that you take little to no financial hit. So you have to take that into account to. But i bet my 6 years on the job, that no financial hit is as worse as getting divorced out of a working marriage.

mister3d
01-04-2011, 10:16 AM
You can negotiate when you have experience and portfolio. Then you "realize" you can not work till 3 AM. I wish someone has said "I instantly realized I won't work overtime, and that was my firm decision despite being fired several times". Also I think it has to do with getting older and your hormones and energy is not driving you to make mad things like working non-stop several days. Just look at kids, they can run all day long. It's the same with newcomers at their 20's.

sonn
01-04-2011, 04:13 PM
Where's the Burnout cinematic??

anyway, I don't think this has anything to do with the vfx industry. it has to do with working in general(working for someone else). For example, I can't imagine how horrendous a programming job would be after a couple of years. Unless you own part of the company you work for, your work becomes tiresome and meaningless after a while.

SliceNDice
01-04-2011, 04:52 PM
Where's the Burnout cinematic??

anyway, I don't think this has anything to do with the vfx industry. it has to do with working in general(working for someone else). For example, I can't imagine how horrendous a programming job would be after a couple of years. Unless you own part of the company you work for, your work becomes tiresome and meaningless after a while.

Well...imo any programming job outside of 3d graphics or games is pretty decent and doesn't get you burned out....well not more than any other job.

berniebernie
01-04-2011, 05:57 PM
Ugh. This is depressing. :deal:


"Live like an artist but know all this technical stuff inside out".

th3ta
01-04-2011, 06:28 PM
In my experience a lot of the problem comes from the client side(especially when you deal with ad agencies and commercial work). No matter how well your studio has their act together, clients cause all kinds of delays - getting you feedback, giving you assets, etc... which always pushes you up against the deadline and forces overtime to meet the delivery date.

As a side note - I just recently turned down an offer for a senior compositing position at one of the major vfx studios in London. Multiple reasons why I declined, but one of them was the amount of time I knew I'd be at the office vs time I currently get to spend with family.

FWIW, they told me no OT pay during the week and Saturday work is compensated with extra vacation days.

taffy77
01-04-2011, 06:36 PM
I have been doing this for 15 years now and dont feel I will burnout as I take everything with the perspective that I also have a life. Yes there are times that I works long hours and during some shows I have worked 120 hours in a week (although this is rare:).

But one thing I have never done is work for free. Ever since my first job I have been paid OT. Both during the week andalso on weekends.

girloftomorrow
01-04-2011, 11:25 PM
It's really sad to hear someone to be so bitter about our industry. I feel like I'm also at that turning point in my career where I'm getting to work on really cool stuff, but at the sacrifice of my personal life. I think if I ever wanted to settle down, be a mother and start a family I would probably have to quit the industry altogether. Some people have said it's up to us to go home at a decent hour and not work overtime. I think you wouldn't be employable for long if you weren't able to work long hours. You can't raise a family working 80+ hours a week. Again, mileage may vary. I'm a compositor and I feel like since we are at the end of the pipeline we generally get worked the most.

I really feel like it's high time we are treated like the rest of the film industry. We should have union privileges and protections that everyone gets. If you're a DoP, grip, actor etc, there are plenty of rules and regulations that protect you from being taken advantage and overworked. VFX Artists are not protected in any way and often are illegally made to work OT without pay. We are the only department in film that does not have these protections. Do you think anyone in any of the film unions would put up with this abuse?

leigh
01-04-2011, 11:32 PM
FWIW, they told me no OT pay during the week and Saturday work is compensated with extra vacation days.

Time off in lieu is very common in the UK, and if given the choice, I always take it instead of money. Because no amount of money can buy me back the time I lost; in other words, my spare time is more valuable to me than money.

SciFibrow
01-04-2011, 11:37 PM
I think it's important to take a step back and assess the meaning of your job/career in the grand scheme of your life. What tends to happen is that many people stop assessing the direction of their life by looking at the big picture--the 10,000 feet macro view, and are too caught up in the tunnel-vision they have developed and forget about what else life has to offer. But then again, we all feel differently about different things. Some people are so passionate about collecting stamps that they are willing to make tremendous sacrifices in their lives for it, and no one will understand why any person could care that much about stamps, unless they share the same passion and to the same degree of intensity.

Maybe for some people, to work in VFX is their one true passion in life--it's more important than anything else--family, friends, health, etc. It's like an addictive drug that they can't get enough of, and it's the only thing that brings them true joy. Different strokes for different folks. The tragedy for this guy's family is that they probably didn't realize just how obsessed he was, and had no idea that he would ultimately choose his passion over his own family. If his wife had known this right from the start before they even got married and had kids, then perhaps she never would've married him. But maybe he wasn't that obsessed in the beginning, and it got worse and worse as time went on. Everyone's story is different. What's unfortunate is that he realized all of this too late and lost his family.

Usually, there's a common pattern. Young people are very driven and ambitious, and they are willing to go to great lengths to see their dreams fulfilled, but as they get older, they relax more and start to understand that there's more to life than just ambition and chasing after one's ultimate dream. There are also the simple pleasures and many things they have never explored, as well as the bliss of domestic life. I do wonder about all the history's greatest minds though. Some of them remained totally obsessed even into their old age until their death, and many die with regrets that they didn't finish that painting, or that symphony, or that novel. I think their relationship with others probably played a part as well. Those who were surrounded by loving family and friends probably were less likely to be so consumed by their passion, while those who were loners and had a hard time getting along with others would be more obsessed because that is the one constant thing they can count on to bring fulfillment to their lives. And of course, history is filled with people who were obsessed and eccentric and tortured. Maybe some of today's VFX artists are just continuations of that. Whether working on some commercial production as an artisan/hired help is worth getting obsessed about (as opposed to doing something for yourself--your own artwork, writing, music, film, etc) is a whole different topic though.

Amen to that. Love should always come first (with career a VERY close second. :) ).

Never lose sight of what makes you happy.

Daniel-B
01-05-2011, 12:28 AM
... in other words, my spare time is more valuable to me than money.

When I tell people this very thing, they look at me like I'm crazy. 'What could be more important than money?!?!?!?' Pffffff.

KrzysztofFus
01-05-2011, 03:15 AM
Time off in lieu is very common in the UK, and if given the choice, I always take it instead of money. Because no amount of money can buy me back the time I lost; in other words, my spare time is more valuable to me than money.

Just a quick question. When studios do this. Are these unpaid vacation days or paid vacation days? I'm just curious on how this works.

NanoGator
01-05-2011, 03:29 AM
Time off in lieu is very common in the UK, and if given the choice, I always take it instead of money. Because no amount of money can buy me back the time I lost; in other words, my spare time is more valuable to me than money.

Boy do I agree.

I worked on a show once where I had one week with a bunch of overtime. They gave me the option to take time off and I took it. For the next month and a half I was going home on Fridays at 4:30. It was like having a holiday every week. Awesome.

Rainroom
01-05-2011, 06:48 AM
I agree with Leigh completely about taking it just as a job. But then again something inside me asks what would have happened if all the pioneers in the CG industry took it just as their job? Would we still see the great innovations that have happened in the industry since its birth? :shrug:

fablefox
01-05-2011, 07:51 AM
I agree with Leigh completely about taking it just as a job. But then again something inside me asks what would have happened if all the pioneers in the CG industry took it just as their job? Would we still see the great innovations that have happened in the industry since its birth? :shrug:

Yes, we will keep on getting great innovations. Maybe more than ever since they won't suffer from burnout, or change industry. We keep on getting innovation from many other industry where a job is a job, and overtime are paid. Health, Science, Education, Security and many other. It just that the industry is matured long enough (and it wasn't as abstract as art) that people know how things work.

Remember when Hollywood writers strike? 3D animators need to come to a point when if we say overtime need to be paid, we will GET PAID, or vfx house don't ask us to stay overtime at all. :deal: :deal: :deal:

leigh
01-05-2011, 09:07 AM
Just a quick question. When studios do this. Are these unpaid vacation days or paid vacation days? I'm just curious on how this works.

They're paid vacation days.

rendermaniac
01-05-2011, 12:32 PM
I get the impression that the original article isn't really about overtime - there are plenty of people who stay late out of choice and without being asked. A lot of them are great people, but they also tend to be young and/or single, and usually their alternative is being down the pub with the same guys from work or at home on the computer. This is especially true if someone has been flown in for a few months and doesn't know many people outside of work.

If someone asks you to look at something around 6pm the correct response is "I'll look at it in the morning". I don't know how it's possible to concentrate properly if you are clock watching at the same time.

I know several very disciplined people (a lot more so than me!) who find it difficult juggling a proper work/family life. This is especially true when you get more responsibility and they feel they should try and get more done by staying later.

Simon

bentllama
01-05-2011, 01:58 PM
I agree with Leigh completely about taking it just as a job. But then again something inside me asks what would have happened if all the pioneers in the CG industry took it just as their job? Would we still see the great innovations that have happened in the industry since its birth? :shrug:

you would be surprised at how much motivation and inspiration you get from vacation that can then be directly/indirectly applied to your vocation.

for example:
a lot of veterans in this industry have a family and children, myself included. the amount of sheer joy spent with them outside of work hours directly reflects the quality of the work and innovation you put forth. more companies are starting to realize this, film and vfx is just being a turtle.

th3ta
01-05-2011, 03:13 PM
Yeah the vacation days are paid and if you still have vacation days left over when your contract ends you get paid for those days. That part I liked actually, I'd much rather get vacation days too. Totally agree bentlama, time off works wonders on your creativity and ability to jump back into work and solve problems.

circusboy
01-05-2011, 04:07 PM
anyway, I don't think this has anything to do with the vfx industry. it has to do with working in general(working for someone else). For example, I can't imagine how horrendous a programming job would be after a couple of years. Unless you own part of the company you work for, your work becomes tiresome and meaningless after a while.

Different strokes for different folks! Some individuals still thrive on the 'creation aspect' of this (or any) job. So once you own (or part of) a company you'd better switch that all off and become a *business man*! Because thats all you will be to keep that venture alive. And you'd better be awsome too or you and your employees are all going *under*. Oh yeah and you'd better have enough money to start such a venture as well.

Sorry-but some of us out there don't wanna touch that with a ten foot poll!

ShadowM8
01-05-2011, 05:15 PM
The only way I've seen people get up and be able to leave at 6:30 while the rest of the team is working OT is if that person has made it part of their contract when hired! And unfortunately unless you have years of experience you will never get that concession when negotiating!
Be it as it may, no matter what level you are at in your career, read your contracts, ask about OT policy and fight for a better detail! As mentioned earlier take time over money if you can afford it!

However, when it comes to taking time instead of OT pay, unless you get a direct ratio of N hours = N days off set from the get go, and the ability to take those days off at will, take the money! I've seen many people get burned by this because 3 days off, available only when it's good for the studio, does not make up for 3 month of OT!

leigh
01-05-2011, 05:35 PM
The only way I've seen people get up and be able to leave at 6:30 while the rest of the team is working OT is if that person has made it part of their contract when hired!

To be perfectly frank, I think that's absolutely disgusting and would never, ever stay in a company that had an attitude like that.

th3ta
01-05-2011, 05:56 PM
To be perfectly frank, I think that's absolutely disgusting and would never, ever stay in a company that had an attitude like that.

Leigh, do you think your job role is playing a part in this? Do you usually complete your work and hand it off the other dept early on/middle of production? I'm sure there are crunch times for the texture artists, but I don't know if crunchtime for you guys ever gets as bad as it does for some of the other departments, like the compositors/editors/colorists, who are last ones to touch shots.

I dunno, just a thought I had. I know the main reason you don't stay is "you don't take sh!t from nobody" But I thought maybe the fact you're a texture artist facilitated that.

circusboy
01-05-2011, 06:06 PM
OT cannot always be avoided. But I also think it depends on 'who' your company is, how many 'captains' are running the ship and how direct and constant the review process is between the artist and the client is. Too much noise inbetween can really delay the end product. If the process is smooth enough it can be possible to reduce OT *if* its an idea the powers that be support.

I currently work for a company that feels quite bad about working overtime. And if the bosses ask for it-they are doing it themselves! Meanwhile many of us are old enough to have lives and family outside of work so OT is something everyone wants to avoid. By the vast majority here.

Meanwhile if a company is run by a bunch of uppity twenty-somethings and career bachelors you might find sympathy for domestic life is wanting.

Artbot
01-05-2011, 06:16 PM
.....what would have happened if all the pioneers in the CG industry took it just as their job? Would we still see the great innovations that have happened in the industry since its birth? :shrug:

Innovations in the CG industry do not come from contract workers being asked/forced to work ot for no extra pay.

leigh
01-05-2011, 06:17 PM
Leigh, do you think your job role is playing a part in this? Do you usually complete your work and hand it off the other dept early on/middle of production? I'm sure there are crunch times for the texture artists, but I don't know if crunchtime for you guys ever gets as bad as it does for some of the other departments, like the compositors/editors/colorists, who are last ones to touch shots.

I dunno, just a thought I had. I know the main reason you don't stay is "you don't take sh!t from nobody" But I thought maybe the fact you're a texture artist facilitated that.

To a certain degree yes, my position in the pipeline makes it less likely that crunchtime happens, but we still work to a tight schedule and occasionally we are asked to come in on weekends (I usually, however, say no). I'll often be working on tweaks and stuff right up until the end of a show too. Yep, compositors are far more likely to work OT, but my point wasn't so much about the OT itself, but this attitude that if everyone else is working late, that you should too, just because. If you've finished your work for the day, you have every right to get up and leave without fearing scorn from colleagues. Even compositors are all working on individual shots - if one has finished their work, why should they be expected to stay on just because everyone else is? That's just ridiculous.

circusboy
01-05-2011, 06:27 PM
Leigh, do you think your job role is playing a part in this? Do you usually complete your work and hand it off the other dept early on/middle of production? I'm sure there are crunch times for the texture artists, but I don't know if crunchtime for you guys ever gets as bad as it does for some of the other departments, like the compositors/editors/colorists, who are last ones to touch shots.

I dunno, just a thought I had. I know the main reason you don't stay is "you don't take sh!t from nobody" But I thought maybe the fact you're a texture artist facilitated that.
From years of pipeline observation that is a big helpful factor.
Modeling and textures are really always further away from the deadliest part of the deadline then folks doing lighting/rendering/fx/comp are. The only thing thats hauls them in are dramatic client driven retakes that took till the last second to 'discover' (usually effects nearly everyone else down the pipe as well however!). And this is hopefully a rare occurrance. Not a constant. But by default they are further away from the jaws of death.

But like I said earlier-not every company thinks that 'over' worked is the 'best' worked. :)

th3ta
01-05-2011, 06:42 PM
From years of pipeline observation that is a big helpful factor.
Modeling and textures are really always further away from the deadliest part of the deadline then folks doing lighting/rendering/fx/comp are. The only thing thats hauls them in are dramatic client driven retakes that took till the last second to 'discover' (usually effects nearly everyone else down the pipe as well however!). And this is hopefully a rare occurrance. Not a constant. But by default they are further away from the jaws of death.

But like I said earlier-not every company thinks that 'over' worked is the 'best' worked. :)


How to avoid any unexpected OT? Become a concept artist!

leigh
01-05-2011, 07:54 PM
Bear in mind though, that in the last 11 years that I've been working in VFX, it's only in the last four and a half years that I've only been doing textures. Before that, I did a mixture of texturing, modelling, lookdev, lighting and even compositing. And I had the same attitude then (with the exception of my first 18 months) as I have now. You've got to stand up for yourself.

Obi
01-05-2011, 11:52 PM
I'd love to have a workplace where I can get up at 6:30 pm.:) (worked on blockbusters for London based huge vfx house, now for LA area and even bigger vfx house.) In november, I had 281 workhours payed, so it means at least I spent 300 hours in the office. Sometimes I really want to quit the industry but I know nothing else... I couldn't get a job outside this. If I could work maximum 8-9 hours a day, I wouldn't have any problem. I really like being a lightingTD, but it's exhausting for me. I want to see the sun!:D

Daniel-B
01-06-2011, 03:26 AM
Forgive my ignorance, but why are VFX artists always working these insane hours anyway? Why can't they work 40-45 hours a week, like normal people? It is because clients keep asking for changes and you have to do things over and over? Is it ludicrous deadlines on projects?

If so, A) Why don't clients agree to something before a shots is started, but with allowances for minor tweaks. and B) Why are studios in such a rush to get the shots? Why not plan ahead with plenty of time to finish the VFX without the need for a mad rush at the end?

Perhaps I am just naive.

Rainroom
01-06-2011, 05:34 AM
@PixelMagic: You would be really surprised to know how unorganized and unplanned the clients can be sometimes. And more often than not that mess trickles down to the VFX houses :sad:.

Obi
01-06-2011, 11:34 AM
First of all, the clients want everything for yesterday, and changing and trying out every aspects of the shots (supervisors sometimes are the same...). Secondly, there is a pressure on the studio itself, to deliver more but faster and cheaper. And us, the artist pay the price for it.

I'd love to work 40-45 hours a week, but if I do that, I think I would be fired... as it happened a lots of the time with former colleges. (And for a studio what does outsourced shots, it's even worse. Maybe terrible... the worst crunch time I've ever seen was fast and furious4, for the compositors. I really don't know why, but every comper arrived about 9am, and didn't left the house before 10-11PM or maybe even later.)

So... i really don't understand those horrible work hours, but I can't quit. (And I wouldn't want to, if I were able to work just 8-9 hours a day, by the way.)

circusboy
01-06-2011, 03:31 PM
[QUOTE=Obi]
I'd love to work 40-45 hours a week, but if I do that, I think I would be fired... as it happened a lots of the time with former colleges. QUOTE]
In an ideal world-you might get fired-but you'd also have enough money to get awsome lawyers to sue them for wrongful dissmissal too. You'd win no contest if you could prove *thats* why you were fired!

This is the kind of back-lash it will take to wake the industry up. But it would have to happen in great enough numbers to set a precedent.

dax3d
01-06-2011, 04:52 PM
As I sort of stated earlier, at least one facility, no actually at least two major studios I worked at had us basically sit at our desks whether we had work or not.

I mean, if you have a "quota" and the team meets quota on a Friday, why does the team come in a full day Saturday? Just don't tell us what the quota is, or make it higher :D I just didn't understand the overtime required if we obviously didn't need it. I'd rather have gone outside to play lol

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