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Old 02 February 2013   #16
Originally Posted by LucentDreams: Surprised that a german software company would support an opposition to globalization of the industry and keeping the jobs in LA only.

I'm sure like many of the people on the forums and facebook they missed that part of VFX Solidarity's message.

Quite a limited way to see this. VFX artists and animators instead of being considered expendable material, just because their face or voice is not shown or heard in the film, and should be entitled to a fair share of the profits they helped to produce.

Even though I am in a part of the industry yet unaffected by this trend, if VFX artists are kept being treated like machines it will eventually affect everyone. It doesn't matter where we are, we should unite and support this internationally, instead of trying to find semantics to make fun of.

Last edited by 51M0N : 02 February 2013 at 04:01 AM.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #17
Originally Posted by EricM: Funny how UK, Canada and New Zealand are treated like sweatshops with no health insurance and stuff like that. Good grace, please don't send me to countries with gun regulation and free hospital...

Nobody is assimilating these countries with sweatshops. The issue here is that they provide unfair competition by attracting foreign companies with local subsidies paid for by their taxpayers.

This violates international trade agreements, and is hard to compete with, especially when it comes to the US because it will only subsidize big corporations with their taxpayer monies, not the little/medium guy. That said, protectionism is also bankrupting the governments that run them, so not really fair to the people of these countries/states either (because this also happens within the US).

When you bid on a job and the competitor gets an automatic 30% price leg up on you, you can probably see where it leads to problems. The sector is running thin margins (5% on a good year, for R&H), so hard to lower your prices to match that from the get go.

Add to that sweatshops in growing markets, which once again is hard to fight against (unless you think people should work for $2/hour) and you get a better picture of what people are gripping about.

I don't necessarily agree with unionizing the sector (heck, unions can be horrible too), but studios should be able to reap proportional rewards for their hard work, and skilled workers should be fairly compensated and protected (in any country).
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Old 02 February 2013   #18
Despite the unfavorable way in which Hollywood is treating artists, I'm of the opinion that this effects driven age has had a negative impact on film.

No disrespect to the talented people who work on CGI films, but I find myself longing for something with context, a half decent story and character I give two sh*ts about. That's sadly missing from a lot of stuff we're seeing today, it's just all eye candy and filler.

The industry needs to mature, the artists need to ask themselves why they longed to work in movies in the first place, if not to make masterful, thought provoking film.

So if I were in this position (sadly I don't work on films, yet), this would be the perfect time to do that. In the absence of movies to work on, there's an opportunity to break away from the Hollywood formula and to create something unique.

Film is supposed to be a continuously evolving art form and the CGI/VFX should be a visual aid in the telling of a unique story. But more often we're finding CGI is the story, it's the center of attention and to be honest, I find that to be particularly boring and represents a sad future for moviegoers.

The vfx community has my support, kudos to Maxon for acknowledging the failures that have taken place in recent months. It's a mess and I don't have a solution, but I do hope that people see that good can come of this situation, with a little (well probably a lot) of effort.
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Old 02 February 2013   #19
Originally Posted by ThePriest: ... I find myself longing for something with context, a half decent story and character I give two sh*ts about. That's sadly missing from a lot of stuff we're seeing today, it's just all eye candy and filler.


Trouble is the first sort of film is very tricky to come up with - and sell I'd imagine - whereas the second sort, although technically challenging of course, is not. When Transformers3 makes $1.5Bn, Transformers4 will come along sooner or later.

The best example I can think of for a vfx/performance film is Black Swan - there were plenty of shots but they weren't the meat of the story, they were the wrapping. And the film did very well.

Anyway, keeping it vaguely on topic as a Cinema/Maxon thread... perhaps a move to more freelance-based talent would be a good solution. Crew up for big productions, block bookings are every freelancers friend, then when the production's over they all go out and get drunk and move onto the next studio. The freelancers decide what rate is acceptable, the vfx studios don't have to pay hundreds of staff to sit around twiddling their thumbs between gigs - and the talented cream of the crop rise naturally to the top to take on the staff positions. Freelancers are notoriously more adventurous with their choice of applications, so C4D gets a bigger slice of the Pi that it's been looking for as talent drifts out of the Mograph space and into VFX.

See, everyone's happy ;-)
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Old 02 February 2013   #20
Originally Posted by 51M0N: Quite a limited way to see this. VFX artists and animators instead of being considered expendable material, just because their face or voice is not shown or heard in the film, and should be entitled to a fair share of the profits they helped to produce.

Even though I am in a part of the industry yet unaffected by this trend, if VFX artists are kept being treated like machines it will eventually affect everyone. It doesn't matter where we are, we should unite and support this internationally, instead of trying to find semantics to make fun of.


I'm all for change in the industry, particularly how the big six and VFX studios relationship works. But the specific group that started the greenscreen profile pic movement stand for a lot of things. You can't simply join the cause but pick and choose which part of their movement it represents. I listed the three main things VFX solidarity stands for. You choose a greenscreen profile pic and you say you support all three which I think the vast majority, especially those outside the US, do not. As Leigh said in another thread, this VFX solidarity movement is clearly a US solidarity, not a global one.

The other disappointing thing about the Maxon one, is that being on a corporate site it really should have at least linked to an article or something else explaining the reasoning behind it. If I went to their site a month ago, I'd assumed it was simply a marketing message saying that without C4D you'd have just a green screen, but c4d make the worlds you put in that green screen. I'd not associate it with a political cause.


And unwarranted, really, do you claim that your first post wasn't educating me on the plight of R&H's non US studios?

Originally Posted by ChrisCousins: Anyway, keeping it vaguely on topic as a Cinema/Maxon thread... perhaps a move to more freelance-based talent would be a good solution. Crew up for big productions, block bookings are every freelancers friend, then when the production's over they all go out and get drunk and move onto the next studio. The freelancers decide what rate is acceptable, the vfx studios don't have to pay hundreds of staff to sit around twiddling their thumbs between gigs - and the talented cream of the crop rise naturally to the top to take on the staff positions.


R&H Vancouver, 140 employees at it's prime before the bankruptcy. Maybe, and this is stretching it, 20 Fulltime Staff employees more likely around 12, and very few of those non admin. The industry is already primarily freelance. R&H LA was different, closer to 50% staff, but that's because of legacy being a 25 year old company with a lot of people who've been working for 10+ years there. VFX artists rarely if ever are fulltime staff. They work show to show and if the work keeps coming in they sign a new contract and move immediately onto another show instead of being let go when the contract ends. Companies get a lot of bad flack when they let a large group go, without coverage of the fact that the applicable show ended and thus most contracts did too. The challenges start when you have someone really talented who really understands your pipeline.

Despite being freelance you don't wanna lose them when a show ends and being freelance, not staff you are very likely to lost them, so when their contract ends they renegotiate and you keep them on with no work and sometimes pay them more while waiting for the next project. Worse yet, you hire a bunch of freelancers for a set time, and then the show your working on chooses to reshoot, or change things up and you now have tonnes of employees who are on contract, but have no work to do. Then, when they get working again, their contract was for a set date but obviously with delays the schedule now goes beyond that date. So you've paid an artist for a bunch of time while they work on nothing, and then have to try and hold onto them to finish the project. Have three of these films at the same time and you go form a company that had one of it's most profitable jobs one year, to bankruptcy 18 months later. It's not the sole reason, but it was a major factor. So freelance is already in place and therefore not a solution.
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Old 02 February 2013   #21
Originally Posted by LucentDreams: VFX artists rarely if ever are fulltime staff. They work show to show and if the work keeps coming in they sign a new contract and move immediately onto another show instead of being let go when the contract ends.


Interesting info! Thanks for posting & straightening that out.
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Old 02 February 2013   #22
Originally Posted by LucentDreams: And unwarranted, really, do you claim that your first post wasn't educating me on the plight of R&H's non US studios?


All I said was that the bankruptcy of R&H affected not just US workers, but workers at all of the international branches as well. That's just common sense, and a point you reiterate in this very same post:

Originally Posted by LucentDreams: R&H Vancouver, 140 employees at it's prime before the bankruptcy. Maybe, and this is stretching it, 20 Fulltime Staff employees more likely around 12, and very few of those non admin.
.

So, if you want to throw snark based on a statement of fact, be my guest... but typically you've been better than that. I'm just chalking it up to you have an understandably high level of frustration and/or stress over the whole thing.
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Old 02 February 2013   #23
Originally Posted by GruvDOne: All I said was that the bankruptcy of R&H affected not just US workers, but workers at all of the international branches as well. That's just common sense, and a point you reiterate in this very same post:

.

So, if you want to throw snark based on a statement of fact, be my guest... but typically you've been better than that. I'm just chalking it up to you have an understandably high level of frustration and/or stress over the whole thing.



Sorry, I think my wording may not have been clear as you certainly misinterpreted that post. There was no mention of layoffs or terminations in the post. I'm saying out of that 140 people maybe 20 were fulltime staff, the other 120 or so are all freelance. The whole point was that the idea that freelance would solve things is rather useless when 6/7 of the employees are freelance, or 1/2 in LA. That post wasn't to suggest we went from 140 staff to only 20 staff, which I guess I can see it being interpreted as.
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Last edited by LucentDreams : 02 February 2013 at 01:10 AM.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #24
It's funny to see people attacking the VES letter for being 'protectionist,' when the motive for those very attacks is to protect your OWN job. We're ALL protectionists when it comes to our livelihoods.

I think the VES letter makes a pretty clear and defensible statement - VFX jobs should go to the most talented and driven individuals, rather than on the basis of ludicrous tax breaks and incentives, stripping workers of benefits, overtime pay etc. The letter is not protectionist, it merely seeks to level the playing field.

This isn't really about WHERE the jobs are, it's about WHY the jobs are going to the places that they are. Not one of us here should support a race to the financial bottom, even if you are living in places like Vancouver that are benefiting from these silly tax schemes.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #25
Originally Posted by beenyweenies: It's funny to see people attacking the VES letter for being 'protectionist,' when the motive for those very attacks is to protect your OWN job. We're ALL protectionists when it comes to our livelihoods.

I think the VES letter makes a pretty clear and defensible statement - VFX jobs should go to the most talented and driven individuals, rather than on the basis of ludicrous tax breaks and incentives, stripping workers of benefits, overtime pay etc. The letter is not protectionist, it merely seeks to level the playing field.

This isn't really about WHERE the jobs are, it's about WHY the jobs are going to the places that they are. Not one of us here should support a race to the financial bottom, even if you are living in places like Vancouver that are benefiting from these silly tax schemes.


Well said. The race to the financial bottom is what it's all about. It's not just this industry either. Most companies are cutting costs left right and centre, so they can maximise profits for shareholders. This is a recipe for disaster, because you can only trim something down so much until it plain breaks.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #26
Perhaps a disaster, or near disaster, is what it will take to finally make the buyers wake up?

In these recent years, we've witnessed the slow decline in the value of creative services in general. Just look at the number of crowdsourcing design sites around... now there are even animation crowdsourcing sites. And online services that will do motion graphics/animation starting at $1000. Heck, anyone with cracked software and a PC is an artist these days. Maybe an apocalypse is needed to reboot the entire system?

But this is going to be the trend moving forward, then we as artists need to find a way to respond/adapt in order to stay in business. So to swing this post back on topic, perhaps the tools that we use need to evolve to empower the artist to get more done, more quickly. Especially in the area of 3d/CG, which has always been very time and labour intensive, and somewhat technical. The quicker we can complete a job with quality, the more competitive–and profitable–we become.

To me, Cinema4d seems well-suited for this compared to Maya/Max; less tinkering and more creative. We joke a lot about having a 'Make Beautiful' button, but honestly that's quite the right direction. It's great to be an expert rigger/TD and all, but for most things an autorigger/Character Object gets the job done just as well, just faster.

In the end, technology has advanced and the world has changed. Honestly, I find that the glory days of the CG/VFX/Hollywood behemoths were over since 2008(maybe even earlier). New models will have to be established. Maybe globalisation is one of answers? Set ups like Boundary VFX(http://boundaryvfx.com/about) and Alex Lindsay's Pixel Corps(http://www.pixelcorps.com/overview-2/) are some interesting examples.

There's been a lot of fragmentation resulting in big wins for the boutiques and ninjas, which is C4d territory. The upside to all this turmoil is new opportunities, and a call for new ways to do things.

Clients/buyers don't seem to want to pay top dollar for perfection under the hood. They just want something shiny that sells.
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Last edited by mustardseed : 02 February 2013 at 09:11 AM.
 
Old 02 February 2013   #27
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