Scot Ross discusses the State of the VFX Industry at NAB (Video)

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Old 05 May 2013   #46
The real problem of remote working is communication.
There are alwalys delays and misunderstanding.
Most savings from remote work usually go away because of miscommunication/delayed communication.

I prefer everybody in ONE location even client.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #47
Quote:
Originally Posted by circusboy
True I forgot ILM wasn't at 'the ranch' any more.

I think your perspective is kinda limited to the California industry.
I think there is a reason many are drawn there to make it 'big' (by working on something 'Hollywood'). But then they leave after a few years.
I'm working with many now. And a few of the studios here in Montreal were start-ups from people who did exactly that and came home again to work. Come to think of it - the only colleague's/friends I have that are raising kids in California's VFX industry are at PIXAR. Which is known to be family friendly...

I myself am already doing better than what you seem to suggest I could be doing (in California). I'm not in the country but I've owned a house - with a yard - since 2003. I've been a father since 2007. I've worked a places where my entire team all were parents. And I'm a senior artist. BUT I'm not a 'twenty something' (and haven't been for 2 decades). I'm quite happy where I'm living now-but if I could live in the country altogether and work I'd be tempted to do that.
But move the California? That wasn't for me.

Weta -now there is another example of why things 'could be' better in general around the world in this industry. New Zealand is definetly off the beaten track. Just how often do the Hollywood studio execs make a pilgrimage to NZ? for a show that *doesn't* involved Peter Jackson?

NZ is definitely off the beaten path but Weta is somewhat of an oddball as it was founded and operated by a relatively famous director with direct studio connections. Plus I dont think they do much commercial work.
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Old 05 May 2013   #48
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Originally Posted by RobertoOrtiz
You know guys, I just launched an Ip development club right here in the forum... just an FYI


Tell us more Rob!
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Old 05 May 2013   #49
It is an idea that I am slowly cultivating. I wanted to cook it a bit more before taking it further (and good folks at Ballistic)
Here the current thread:
IP Incubator Club Thread 2013: Bi-Week-004: May 20-June 2- 2013
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Old 05 May 2013   #50
I think this is the most important thing an artist can work towards. I'd like to see this get more official. Problem is also a huge part of this is crowd funding for a lot of us indie's , so that would have to be worked out as far as the conflicts with CGsociety if we were advertising an IP that was going through that process.

But, again, if you read about any successful visionary or person involved with the actual creation of content not the facilitation of that content, they own many ideas they built and funded on their own before they are given the reins to be a creative. Prove you can do it before a company gives you money to do so.

Lordy knows I accelerated my abilities every time I work on my own idea and learn from failures and successes. Its really the only way I've personally been able to gauge where I lack, because you can't learn that on the job due to the fact that you're usually hired for what you can already do, doing something on your own uses skills you might not yet have.

Every one of us should have our own IP in the background and work on making it happen. You can;t JUST be a cog anymore.

Its getting easy in this world to distribute your own idea. Do it. Ever if it takes a while, it only benefits your craft and makes you less dependent on the whim and BS this industry seems ripe with these days.

Great work on the thread Robert. And there is some amazing stuff already in it, inspiring to see.

Last edited by pipdixel : 05 May 2013 at 03:32 PM.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #51
Raonull Conover has made some excellent posts. Very realistic outlook and its a path that would benefit both parties. I can seriously only see a future where this is a reality. Already studios are buying into offsite networked workstations, offsite cloud rendering and storing and I'm seeing even interviews for jobs (friends in other industries) now being done on Skype instead of in person. Centralising is not going to be necessary, hardly any directors or producers need to review work over the artists shoulder it's done by the studio sups or leads in a room alone.

Own ip.. I think weta is a good example - perhaps more studios need to get directors on board and then eventually also start making their own ip. Dneg is another business in some extent that is doing this.
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Old 05 May 2013   #52
Yeah ... I'm a guy who makes the whole crew sit down for dinner together when working deadlines. I don't *want* to work remotely. I *want* to work with awesome people whom I trust and whom I can joke with and have fun with.

Morale = super important.
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Old 05 May 2013   #53
Quote:
Originally Posted by axiomatic
Yeah ... I'm a guy who makes the whole crew sit down for dinner together when working deadlines. I don't *want* to work remotely. I *want* to work with awesome people whom I trust and whom I can joke with and have fun with.

Morale = super important.


Ed Catmull swears by this as well. He says that it's the team that makes great things. How the team gets along is everything. The Pixar model has definitely been proven.

Skype type conferencing will keep getting better though, maybe there is room for remote morale.

Or maybe the best of both worlds. Have small teams that need to work together work together, then have a bunch of remote teams get together online conferencing . . .
 
Old 05 May 2013   #54
Quote:
Originally Posted by gauranga108
Ed Catmull swears by this as well. He says that it's the team that makes great things. How the team gets along is everything. The Pixar model has definitely been proven.

Skype type conferencing will keep getting better though, maybe there is room for remote morale.

Or maybe the best of both worlds. Have small teams that need to work together work together, then have a bunch of remote teams get together online conferencing . . .


Where I work we have facilities all around the world and they share common tools and pipeline for sending work between them. This is great. But we also send artists to locations regularly to work on-site because on-site supervision is Always On.

Working remotely is similar to working odd-hours: it's fine until things break down and then you're in the office at 3am all by yourself with no support. Even with our 24hr pipeline where we can get support at all times of the day this is a dangerous thing. If it's a creative issue someone will be delayed with work waiting for a response.

Technology wise, even with our solid infrastructure, transferring data is a pain not helped by the fact that the facility I'm in is in China. And even with our solid backbone connection it's a significant time delay to upload a couple of gigabytes worth of textures, not to mention hundreds of gbs worth of sim data. Some cools tools make all the versioning and revisions and everything much easier than they would otherwise be but at the supervisor-artist level (as opposed to supervisor-supervisor) the Always On aspect of feedback and questions helps with the daily production cycle.

And the above is for inter-facility work. For off-site work none of the deep pipeline stuff would work. Even Shotgun which is more-or-less a remote tool is deeply integrated into the computers environment. Without having the right launchers for your software and the right directory setup and whole environment layout then everything begins to break. For commercial production you can get around this ... for film? All these machines need to sync all these assets and use *all these plugins for programs* and those plugins need licenses and yada yada. I'm not saying these issues can't be solved but I think it's a lot more complicated than just having a bunch of remote tools. Any major pipeline is an *integrated* thing.

But as I said above, this all pales in comparison to me for the boost in productivity we get by working on site together. I've worked many times with remote artists and it is very rare that I feel that everything is communicated as efficiently as it would be if they were sitting a couple of desks down from me. For my team we simply work a rough cost-benefit analysis. there is cost bringing someone in to the office to work but does that mean we'll get ### dollars worth of extra product from them? I'd say right now about 80% of the time the cost is worth it.
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Old 05 May 2013   #55
Quote:
Originally Posted by axiomatic
Where I work we have facilities all around the world and they share common tools and pipeline for sending work between them. This is great. But we also send artists to locations regularly to work on-site because on-site supervision is Always On.

Working remotely is similar to working odd-hours: it's fine until things break down and then you're in the office at 3am all by yourself with no support. Even with our 24hr pipeline where we can get support at all times of the day this is a dangerous thing. If it's a creative issue someone will be delayed with work waiting for a response.

Technology wise, even with our solid infrastructure, transferring data is a pain not helped by the fact that the facility I'm in is in China. And even with our solid backbone connection it's a significant time delay to upload a couple of gigabytes worth of textures, not to mention hundreds of gbs worth of sim data. Some cools tools make all the versioning and revisions and everything much easier than they would otherwise be but at the supervisor-artist level (as opposed to supervisor-supervisor) the Always On aspect of feedback and questions helps with the daily production cycle.

And the above is for inter-facility work. For off-site work none of the deep pipeline stuff would work. Even Shotgun which is more-or-less a remote tool is deeply integrated into the computers environment. Without having the right launchers for your software and the right directory setup and whole environment layout then everything begins to break. For commercial production you can get around this ... for film? All these machines need to sync all these assets and use *all these plugins for programs* and those plugins need licenses and yada yada. I'm not saying these issues can't be solved but I think it's a lot more complicated than just having a bunch of remote tools. Any major pipeline is an *integrated* thing.

But as I said above, this all pales in comparison to me for the boost in productivity we get by working on site together. I've worked many times with remote artists and it is very rare that I feel that everything is communicated as efficiently as it would be if they were sitting a couple of desks down from me. For my team we simply work a rough cost-benefit analysis. there is cost bringing someone in to the office to work but does that mean we'll get ### dollars worth of extra product from them? I'd say right now about 80% of the time the cost is worth it.


Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Real world experiences like this really help everyone with there production decisions.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #56
I've heard personally from Ed Catmull that it's imperative to have everyone working at one facility on one project. The collaboration that is created from this more than offsets the financial benefits of a remote workforce (or split teams at separate facilities). Splitting a team introduces more variables to an already complex formula in the forms of communication, morale, and a loss of quality. You also lose the culture of a studio when you have people working remotely.

Although I have the option to work remotely, I find that I working in the studio increases my creativity by a large margin, simply by interacting with my coworkers.
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Old 05 May 2013   #57
That's ideal, but can they afford to do business as usual? Not anymore apparently. Other options need to be explored to get competitive that is not salaries.
Not having physical locations and waste might be one of those.
 
Old 05 May 2013   #58
Quote:
Originally Posted by WesComan
I agree too. It amazes me why the London facilities complain about tight profit margins and then rent some of the most expensive office space in the UK. They could all get organised and set up a VFX 'Silicon Valley' somewhere, still within striking distance of London but cheaper. There could even be an amount of sharing of resources, infrastructure, and staff (which they already do of course) between the companies.


These places do exist already in the movie studios that cluster around London - Pinewood, Shepperton, Leavesden etc. At one time there were several VFX companies and animation houses set up in these studios, Magic Camera at Shepperton was perhaps the best known. Aside from the odd small previs setup they're all gone now - VFX has clustered in the UK is clustered in London's West End - and the previs teams are very much project-based, when the movie wraps they wrap up too.

In terms of lowering the cost of doing business, it really doesn't make much difference. In fact, it can actually raise it. That was our own experience when we ran a studio at Pinewood - we had to pay people, who could otherwise have worked in Soho, an average 20% extra to work out in the sticks. This far outweighed any saving in ground rent. Sure, Soho/West End ground rents are high, but the vast majority of a VFX studio's overhead is staff salaries. The only way that being outside of a big city makes VFX significantly cheaper is if the staff will accept substantially lower rates of pay - and that ain't happening!
 
Old 06 June 2013   #59
Quote:
Originally Posted by dneg
That was our own experience when we ran a studio at Pinewood - we had to pay people, who could otherwise have worked in Soho, an average 20% extra to work out in the sticks...The only way that being outside of a big city makes VFX significantly cheaper is if the staff will accept substantially lower rates of pay - and that ain't happening!
I find this remarkable, for the majority of industries the staff at the London offices are paid more due to the increased living costs. That said, where Pinewood is based is only really the sticks compared to central London... Windsor and Maidenhead are still pretty pricey.

I realise that living more remotely might have a negative impact on the appeal of younger staff but I can't help shaking the notion the the longer serving employees would relish working in the countryside. You should float the idea of a special Logan's Run 'Sanctuary' retirement studio, where every employee over the age of 30 gets packed off to some idyllic farmland where they can afford their own house with a nice garden and live out their days match-moving with cows in the background.
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Old 06 June 2013   #60
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