The Unofficial Truth about The Industry (Part 2)

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Old 09 September 2013   #61
Originally Posted by sentry66: health, dental, vision, retirement, life insurance, short-term dismember/disability benefits

I only had dismemberment (coverage) while working as a Dovahkiin double.
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Old 09 September 2013   #62
daraand nailed it!

One of the best, most concise posts on the business of making movies I've ever read.
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Old 09 September 2013   #63
Originally Posted by sentry66: So given what's been going on, what are the possible outcomes?

1. VFX artists eventually move to India or China so they can continue to work in their field.
2. VFX people take similar jobs in other industries and let India and China handle film VFX.
3. Unionize, but since VFX can be outsourced unlike physical film crews near hollywood sets, VFX would still be outsourced to India and China.

Is there a 4th option I'm not thinking of? What other scenarios (or combinations) are there?


No, no, no...ILM is not going anywhere. Weta, DNEG...all the top places are in demand.
Now, they might outsource some work and some low level tasks might get done elsewhere, but they aren't suddenly going to be doing all the work in India or China. Maybe 20 years from now if we don't keep up, but I doubt it. Not in this generation anyways.

Star Wars and Avatar sequels are coming down the studio pipes soon. Those will be monolithic shows with massive VFX needs and budgets. Plus all the Marvel and WB superhero work coming down the pipes too. People will be employed in VFX, like they are now, there just might be fewer facilities with larger ones getting the majority of what's out there.

There's less and less room for the medium and small shops.
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Old 09 September 2013   #64
so then for the small and medium size VFX shops, what happens? What do people do if they don't get to work for ILM or WETA?

I didn't really think the mega studios were going anywhere. I'm just concerned the industry is slowly shriveling to the point you're either working at a top tier studio, or working in a 3rd world country.

How can the small/medium studios compete with the high-end tech and manpower of ILM, WETA, Pixar, etc or the low cost labor in China? They can't offer either.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #65
Originally Posted by sentry66: I'm just concerned the industry is slowly shriveling to the point you're either working at a top tier studio, or working in a 3rd world country.


You pretty much nailed, in one sentence, where I think the industry is headed. 5 years from now we'll all be working for a big shop or we'll be out on the street. There's only so many jobs to go around. Lots of redundant positions will be mitigated in the process.

Eventually it will cause VFX prices to rise again, and we'll have some balance restored.
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Old 09 September 2013   #66
Originally Posted by -dc-: You pretty much nailed, in one sentence, where I think the industry is headed. 5 years from now we'll all be working for a big shop or we'll be out on the street. There's only so many jobs to go around. Lots of redundant positions will be mitigated in the process.

Eventually it will cause VFX prices to rise again, and we'll have some balance restored.


I just hope that come that point things have stabilized as far as where work is located (i.e. chasing subsidies has ended) and that I am able to get a visa to relocate. As it stands now visas seem harder to come by and those candidates that require them are the last resort. A year ago when I worked in Vancouver it was much easier. Now studios seem more reluctant.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #67
One of the things the people at the Association of Medical Illustration (www.ami.org) are trying to do is reach out to CG VFX artists to possibly become interested in medical animation, work in their industry and even go to the conferences, etc. Rumor has it they might set up a booth at next year's SIGGRAPH.

Right now a lot of pharmaceutical companies and medical programs are expanding on their medical animations and there isn't always enough manpower to get the jobs done quickly. On top of that, clients are now expecting near Hollywood-level work because that's what they're used to seeing. This is forcing studios to expand their staff to take on these higher-end jobs.

One thing I brought up with several people at AMI is the lack of a production pipeline at many of the medical animation studios. Typically, studios hire several certified medical animators (who are generalists) who each work on a project from start to finish with assets from different software so they aren't compatible with each other. The concept of a pipeline is relatively new to many since medical animation has generally been taught with a medical illustration (single-artist) approach. Students don't work in group projects where they each focus on a different technical specialty. Their specialty already is anatomy and medical story-telling and so they generally have always each done their own projects from start to end.

I don't know how soon it'll happen, but there's a chance there might be more medical animation studios seeking VFX specialists to fit into their new production pipeline who can bring a skill set the studio doesn't already have. It might be a decent fit for many people looking for stability and not necessarily abandoning their skill set in the process if the work holds their interest.

Speaking from experience, when the recession first hit, the medical animation industry did the opposite and was booming with work from companies wanting to advertise their new products to doctors.

Last edited by sentry66 : 09 September 2013 at 12:10 AM.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #68
If.. I may go back to the point Mr. Kevin Spacey was making..... Basically he's talking about "value chain compression".

The barriers to publishing, distribution, and even merchandise creation have shrunk.

I predict more artists of varying sizes (individuals, groups, entire studios) will start exploiting this value chain compression to varying degrees and eventually an "enterprise" or "market" will result.

Basically soon, a lot of us will adopt "Hasbro strategy" ("launch the show to launch the toys" - both belong to me). If ILM took a step, maybe, by launching its own film "Rango", then assuming it owns all the property, the clear next step is to do a multi-pronged strategy where the next show includes merchandising.

Even the very thorough breakdown of the business from David Andrade points out the significance of Parks, Merchandise, other Revenue to keeping Entertainment alive.

Necessity will be the Mother of Invention.
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Old 09 September 2013   #69
just curious, why the hell do companies like ILM, WETA etc bother to do VFX for movies that aren't owned by themselves anyway? Is Hollywood waving just too much money in their face to ignore even though everyone is bidding as low as possible for the work? I mean, why are they bothering to chomp at the bit for low-paying projects that everyone has bid to pay as low as possible when they have the means to make their own money and sustain their own business by making their own movies?

I'd think it would be a much better industry practice if those FX studios owned their own franchises and China/India can go on with their bidding war to do the FX for Avatar 17. The profits would go directly back to the studio which would enable them to hire more people, keep people on staff, offer basic healthcare benefits, etc. I guess the issue is the studios don't have that sort of up front cash to launch their own movies if so many are on the edge of bankruptcy.

It's interesting that in the sea of sequels, Pixar's announcement that they're going to be focusing on original IP over the next many years is what'll probably make them stand out among the crowd. Do Pixar employees not get any healthcare benefits or get laid off every 3-6 months?

It just seems like the low-bidding and hire-and-fire approach is a desperate/defensive business model that reacts to the industry rather than define it. I mean, even Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Showtime, Starz have all decided to put out their own shows vs waiting for hollywood to bang on their door to use them.

Last edited by sentry66 : 09 September 2013 at 02:10 AM.
 
Old 09 September 2013   #70
David's post mentions something that is very important. A number of times he mentions that certain changes don't occur simply because "It's always been that way".

We're still operating mostly on the same market dynamics that have existed in the SFX and VFX business since 1977 (STAR WARS).

Imagine that. An entire set of market rules created when there was only one player, carried over now in this modern era when there are so many players.

It's not unusual, but it shows part of the problem.

I think not many venture into making their own IP because for a long time it wasn't part of the model - and nobody needed to do it.

When Hasbro thought of emulating the Mattel strategy of launching a toyline with a show, they did have this entire toy industry to "rest" on while they prepped the Transformers and GI JOE shows with Sunbow. You can argue that ILM or WETA do have a sizeable VFX business to "rest" on to make their own show.... but I'm not privy to how much resources (Men, Machines, Money) can be allocated to something like that at each of those places.

Then again, you can argue ILM has been doing this with STAR WARS (Merchandising and everything else used to go straight to Lucas, supposedly going back into investments for ILM).

STAR WARS brings up another point... anybody wanting to do this has to make damn sure they're making one damn good show.
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Old 09 September 2013   #71
It goes back further than 1977 if you count Project Unlimited from the 60s. They were a "work for hire" company (albeit a small number of individuals-Gene Warren Sr., Wah Chang, Jim Danforth, ) that did fx for various clients in tv and film. ILM wasnt the first.

At the other end of the spectrum you had Harryhausen who did develop his own projects (mostly based on public domain stories) and didnt own any of it either.

I remember an interview with Dennis Muren in the late 80s where he was asked what is the biggest misconception he sees among new fx artists and he replied "that they will be hired to use their imagination. That's someone else's job. The writer, the director, producer. You're job is to bring it to existence."
 
Old 09 September 2013   #72
Originally Posted by kelgy: It goes back further than 1977 if you count Project Unlimited from the 60s. They were a "work for hire" company (albeit a small number of individuals-Gene Warren Sr., Wah Chang, Jim Danforth, ) that did fx for various clients in tv and film. ILM wasnt the first.

At the other end of the spectrum you had Harryhausen who did develop his own projects (mostly based on public domain stories) and didnt own any of it either.

I remember an interview with Dennis Muren in the late 80s where he was asked what is the biggest misconception he sees among new fx artists and he replied "that they will be hired to use their imagination. That's someone else's job. The writer, the director, producer. You're job is to bring it to existence."


Yes and part of that is because traditionally those "Full-time creatives" are being run through a different system - usually one closer in proximity to distribution.

Traditionally, "he who controls the distribution, controls the universe."

But that's where digital and online come into play, the balance CAN be different now, and those people who joined on "Dennis Muren's Misconception" may yet be tapped for a little extra value.

It is happening elsewhere.

McLaren for example have a little budding "media business" now that includes an animated show. Again, this is only possible because the processes, costs, and revenue will not put strain anymore on the core activity of McLaren.

They didn't need to talk to some TV station, network, or collaborate with cinemas to get their content out and make ad revenue. Revenue which, I believe, Framestore is a regular stakeholder in because I think they do all the McLaren cartoons.

Of course McLaren did not become another Warner Bros. But the point is that digital and online distribution, and access to that distribution has given birth to a different "system" that is different to the one David Andrade described earlier.

McLaren's YouTube Channel

McLaren YouTube Parnership
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Old 09 September 2013   #73
Originally Posted by sentry66: just curious, why the hell do companies like ILM, WETA etc bother to do VFX for movies that aren't owned by themselves anyway? Is Hollywood waving just too much money in their face to ignore even though everyone is bidding as low as possible for the work? I mean, why are they bothering to chomp at the bit for low-paying projects that everyone has bid to pay as low as possible when they have the means to make their own money and sustain their own business by making their own movies?


Oh no, ILM and Weta makes giant bags full of cash money. Their margins are huge. Proof is in the bidding. ILM bids are typically 2-3 times more than anywhere else. Weta is up there, but not as high.

You get what you pay for they say...and with ILM you get guaranteed Oscar worthy VFX every single time, and you get a top supervisor and producer to boot.
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Old 09 September 2013   #74
Originally Posted by -dc-: Oh no, ILM and Weta makes giant bags full of cash money. Their margins are huge. Proof is in the bidding. ILM bids are typically 2-3 times more than anywhere else. Weta is up there, but not as high.

You get what you pay for they say...and with ILM you get guaranteed Oscar worthy VFX every single time, and you get a top supervisor and producer to boot.


So I guess instead of "nobody needs to do it" I should say "Places like ILM still don't need to do it" with regards to venturing into making the entire end-to-end enterprise.

Then again... why wait for things to get worse? Downward pressure will catch up with them sooner or later.
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Old 09 September 2013   #75
Great thread guys ! thanks for all those very informative input !

Originally Posted by -dc-: You pretty much nailed, in one sentence, where I think the industry is headed. 5 years from now we'll all be working for a big shop or we'll be out on the street. There's only so many jobs to go around. Lots of redundant positions will be mitigated in the process.

Eventually it will cause VFX prices to rise again, and we'll have some balance restored.


Joe on this one i have to disagree !

Cause my main concern with VFX now is that when i look movies done by WETA / ILM / DNEG i am of course very impressed by the technical quality, but they are only bringing to life the visions of their CLIENTS. Blockbuster tend to be the biggest VFX eater. To my POV i am not artistically impressed by 95% of their work, giant FLIP simulation like in ( Battleship / Avengers / Pacific Rim ... ) is only a redundancy of the same FX. Giant buildings that collapse (2012 / Transformers / Avengers ... ) is again a redundancy of the same FX. What strike me is the artistic POVERTY of all those blockbuster ... but again it's a personnal POV. I was quite impress with some FX in snow white and the huntsman ... and they were far easier to do than the one in Avengers ... (the MILL mirror man / Dneg stone character / R+H deer).

To sum up, those big ship has the fire power and the infinite blade, but they are executing the vision of people who want to make the same movie again and again.

I think that the best CGI from an artistic POV (originality / strong identity / not so many seen before concept ... ) will come from small shops that don't have the fire power , but who have a vision and a true desire to bring this vision to life , the (advertising buisness + internet streaming) is really interesting in this level has it offer the possibility to a bunch of nerds to express themselve and spread their creation.

I have as much respect for shops like
http://www.polynoid.tv/
http://www.sehsucht.de/
http://www.buck.tv

They are small but they really bring creative CGI to our eyes ! so i do believe in small shops , and i also believe that they will bring the most brillant and creative CGI in the coming years ... Of course they will not be tons of explosions and water splash but ILM / DNEG and WETA will still be there to raise the bar in this area ...

Cheers

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Last edited by SebKaine : 09 September 2013 at 07:40 AM.
 
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