Cost of Living and the CG artist:Tell us your opinion.

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Old 09 September 2012   #46
I just got a modeling job in Vancouver and will be making an entry-level salary. My wife is pursuing academia and works part-time. So needless to say we are kinda hovering around the low-income mark. But were happy.

Five years ago we were suits and had a combined income of about $140,000 and hated our lives.

At the end of the day, give me a world class city with its culture and infrastructure any day of the week. I'll deal with the cost of living issues, its worth it. I would rather deal with a little uncertainty than do some job I hate, or even worse "tolerate". Who wants to spend what precious time they have "tolerating" life just so they can have a big house.

***I should add that were not having kids, so that does make things a little easier. But I think people use kids as an excuse sometimes to play it safe. Yes it is a huge financial commitment, but most of the artists I know all have kids and there all doing just fine.

Cheers,
Matt
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Last edited by Clappy3D : 09 September 2012 at 07:15 AM.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #47
The nature of a lot of VFX work is very fickle, either in contracts or companies going down the gurgler. It's hard to plan for everything and i think that's what makes the industry so volatile for the people at the bottom end.
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Old 09 September 2012   #48
Originally Posted by axiomatic: The nature of a lot of VFX work is very fickle, either in contracts or companies going down the gurgler. It's hard to plan for everything and i think that's what makes the industry so volatile for the people at the bottom end.

You certainly bring up a valid point. Regardless of whether or not you work as a freelancer or staffer in some studio, there's definitely that "feast or famine" element at play. You might have one contract or project that's feeding you well, but the uncertainty of what's next is just killer. It's a veritable Sword of Damocles hanging over your head. You just never know.

I knew this game artist who lived in Cali. The guy was an env modeler. Had been for about a decade. The longest he ever lasted in one place was probably two or three years. He'd move from studio to studio kind of like a nomad. Not because he was bad or anything. He was actually quite good and a hell of a nice guy. No. The problem was that once a product shipped, the studios would turn over their staff or just shut down. He'd usually have to live from one development cycle to the next. In some cases, a project would get canned mid-stream and that'd be it for him. Ultimately, he couldn't live like that, having a family to support, and just went outside of the industry, away from the "hot zones", & into something more stable, but still CG related.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I know somebody who's been at the same place for about 13 years now so t's all relative and your mileage may vary, as they say.

It's hard to make a living or save for the future when the ground's moving beneath you. A chance a roll of the die and it can all shift just like that, before you even have a chance to steel yourself properly. If you're in a bigger city, it's bad enough having to do more with less because your dollar isn't buying as much as it could. To balance that with uncertainty? You're like Scrat from Ice Age, chasing and trying to hold onto that one precious little acorn... if you can.
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Last edited by cookepuss : 09 September 2012 at 01:15 PM.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #49
Originally Posted by x24BitVoxel: Other peoples' priorities are not my priorities.

They can be for the right amount of money. The more other people make mistakes or have problems arise, the more money to be made. Go ahead and fix it in post.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #50
There's one or two tv or film related cg jobs in my city(called a town outside Canada). The rest are around Vancouver. The commute isnt bad but I find a lot of places dont want to deal with you unless you live there and sometimes they mention that in their job ads.
My home is a mid size 3-4 bedroom house that would cost around $10 million in Vancouver which I think is ridiculous given there's so much less to do there culturally speaking compared with larger cities (Vancouver population is around 600 000 vs 8 million for a New York or London). Gentrification and real estate shenanigans must be at play. But most of the cg business is outside companies here for the government money which seems really unstable to me. If that money stopped I wonder how many businesses would flee because of the property costs.

Its pretty boring at home but at least there's more scenery to look at and less crime.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #51
Certainly if you want to work for a VFX facility you have little choice but to work in the major cities central to that industry. If your dream job is working in feature film VFX I suspect most folks have to come to terms with the realities that come with that kind of job and the cost of living in those industry hub cities. It should be no surprise when you get that first dream gig or even a senior position you won't be having a Porsche, McMansion and 5 kids. Nobody goes into CG for the love of money anyway.

If you plan to have a family someday make sure you structured your career, financial and living situation for that goal. I agree with Leigh that kids shouldn't be used as an excuse for lack of funds. You knew what you were getting into, prepare for it. That's what brought me back east from Los Angeles. After some time working there (In music for television) I quickly realized the cost of living was exorbitant for the quality of that living and adding children would have made it exponentially so. Those I knew with kids were in senior positions and still lived very modestly with both parents working long hours and so on. Not saying it can't be done smashingly, I just didn't want to risk significantly compromising the quality of life we imagined for our future family for the sole sake of my career choice. So I made it work somewhere else. Doing something else I love (CG ironically) in a place I love (Portland Maine) was not easy to achieve but for the past 12 years, done and done.

Relocating and changing careers wasn't an easy choice as there were many factors and a significant sense of loss, but it was the right choice. Sometimes the solution is a complete change of gears, whichever direction you go. Just like how Clappy3D and his wife shifted gears to city living and new jobs when career and life where at odds. Who knows, when the kids are a bit older maybe I'll feel like going back to a metropolis, the key is to not be afraid to admit when things aren't working for you and take action.
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Old 09 September 2012   #52
I've turned down about 6 or 7 offers for jobs over the years, just so I can stay at the same company, where I work full-time. It's a stable job, in the CG/VFX industry and in a not-so expensive area where I can own my own home.

I've had offers from a lot of places over the world to work freelance gigs for 3-6 months, longest was 1 year, some cool places like The Orphanage and Cinesite, but in the end, staying at a full-time job where I can provide for my family of 4 just made more sense.

The older you get, the more your priorities shift, from working on the coolest gigs, to finding stability so you can provide for your family. Is it really worth uprooting my family to go work on John Carter of Mars for a year, and then what? I'd rather just stay at my secure job.

That's why I agree, this industry is made for young 20-somethings with no family, but it doesn't have to be. It's not always an all or nothing scenario, there is an in-between.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #53
I'm fortunate in the fact that the company I work at just moved to an island in a nice area. I moved into a house on main street and now my kids walk to school. The middle school is in front of the house and the elementary school is right behind the house. The beach is walking distance as well as the office and soccer parks (I coach and all 3 boys play). My daughter loves to dance and the dance studio is across the street from our house (next to the middle school). The high school is right behind our new office, so long term, it will hopefully work out. The people in the community are way more laid back and friendly. The schools are not as violent either. I would have chewed my right arm off (and did financially) to get my kids out of the school system they were in. I walked away from a house, ownership shares in a company and am basically starting over financially to get my family in a better situation.

As our company grows, we are hoping to not only attract perspective employees based on the cost of living, but the cultural environment. I plan to start recruiting and developing talent at the high school level. Many of the locals love the area and do not want to leave, but are forced to leave due to lack of industry and good paying jobs.

Last edited by XLNT-3d : 09 September 2012 at 06:25 PM.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #54
Originally Posted by XLNT-3d: I'm fortunate in the fact that the company I work at just moved to an island in a nice area.

Man, that sounds so nice I want to punch you in the face. j/k of course

Anyway, while reading I was reminded of some very wise words.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiRGRvE_Wqg
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Old 09 September 2012   #55
Originally Posted by XLNT-3d:
As our company grows, we are hoping to not only attract perspective employees based on the cost of living, but the cultural environment. I plan to start recruiting and developing talent at the high school level. Many of the locals love the area and do not want to leave, but are forced to leave due to lack of industry and good paying jobs.


Fantastic outlook and something that I can guarantee will keep you rolling forward and there will be plenty of people looking to knock on your door
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Old 09 September 2012   #56
Originally Posted by vfx: Fantastic outlook and something that I can guarantee will keep you rolling forward and there will be plenty of people looking to knock on your door

Get in line!
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Old 09 September 2012   #57
All I know is that according to a lot of the financial things I've looked at, I'll need around $2million for retirement. I'm not going to get there by working for $100k a year in Los Angeles.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #58
The problem I have with the way things work now is that good intentions and being good and fair to your staff, even producing great product while doing so, won't protect you from the market. Fuel is a classic example. Everyone I know who worked there said it was a great place. They did work on first class work and BAM, they're gone.

Stability isn't important to everyone but it is to some people. That makes the VFX industry more easy for some than others. I'd be guessing families fall into this category. Mind you, that's not a new thing. I was reading a book about Francis Bacon the other day and in the 1560's he said that no great man accomplished anything who had a wife, family and great friends. It would be a shame to think our industry, one of the most hi-tech in the world, is stuck in the 1560's :P
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Old 09 September 2012   #59
Fuel is a classic example. Everyone I know who worked there said it was a great place. They did work on first class work and BAM, they're gone.


Thats the perception you have of Fuel but from what I have heard from friends who worked there . People who had full time contracts and had worked there for years are getting a tiny redundancy from a law change in 2010 to force companies to provide redundancy. So for all those prior years of loyalty you get nothing.
The Market is ruthless and if you drop the ball you will pay. Its the same for any business in any area of industry you care to mention and nothing will ever change that fact.

b
 
Old 09 September 2012   #60
Originally Posted by RobertoOrtiz: Get in line!


As soon as we can get the workflow going again and you're ready to leave DC and own a home, you know you've got a place. If you speak and read fluent spanish, even better!
 
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