The Oscar protest that you didn't know happened. VFX industry in trouble?
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    The Oscar protest that you didn't know happened. VFX industry in trouble?

    The Oscar protest that you didn't know happened
    If you watched the Academy Awards tonight, you may have noticed an awkward music cut-off during the Life of Pi Visual Effects acceptance speech. It may have looked like they were just stopping a long running speech, but in truth the speaker was about to mention a hot button topic of the evening, and many people think it was cut short intentionally to hide the truth.

    Most viewers were unaware of this incident and most media outlets failed to report on it, but outside the Dolby Theater, there were over 400 picketers protesting the poor state of the visual effects industry. Although it was being ignored on the televised broadcast, it started gaining momentum online during the ceremony, and is finally getting the media attention it was lacking.

    So what is the protest about?
    The film Life of Pi was nominated for Visual Effects (and won!), but sadly the studio that did the effects for the movie (Rhythm & Hues) had to file for bankruptcy a few weeks ago, and laid off close to 250 employees. The protest was named "A Piece of the Pi" to show that the VFX studio behind the film wasn't getting their share of its success.
    Full article here...pretty sad

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    Cgsociety has a long thread on the subject.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    I was surprised there wasn't a thread here earlier. Strap on people, this is gonna get worse
    and rest assured, the same's happening in the video game industry...

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    Why should any content creators take the Oscars seriously anymore, aside from acclaim? At best it's a popularity contest and at worse a giant ego stroking circle jerky...thing. A lot of this seems to be that much of Hollywood seems to be concerned with what Hollywood does, and hardly anything else.

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    "Nothing can take the sting out of the world's economic problems like watching millionaires give each other golden statues."
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtsySiridean View Post
    Why should any content creators take the Oscars seriously anymore, aside from acclaim? At best it's a popularity contest and at worse a giant ego stroking circle jerky...thing. A lot of this seems to be that much of Hollywood seems to be concerned with what Hollywood does, and hardly anything else.
    Quote Originally Posted by SpectreX View Post
    "Nothing can take the sting out of the world's economic problems like watching millionaires give each other golden statues."
    - Billy Crystal
    Nice job missing the point.


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    It was pretty sad seeing how many VFX shots were done for free for Beasts of Southern Wild. Of course people were arguing the "exposure" angle for students - and it's like...really?

    Imagine the young child actress doing hours of work for free on that set. People would scream or at least tell the parents to sue for child labor exploitation.

    Students work with educational software for free, paying for an elective. That's ok, exposure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Nice job missing the point.
    I know what I said. I was trying to infer that the entire ordeal is just a mess, and that this sort of editing shouldn't be surprising to people. It's terrible, yes, but not anything too new. To that end, thigns are changing for the better. It just seems like a very slow process.

    Last edited by ArtsySiridean; February 26th, 2013 at 03:19 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtsySiridean View Post
    I know what I said. I was trying to infer that the entire ordeal is just a mess, and that this sort of editing shouldn't be surprising to people. It's terrible, yes, but not anything too new. To that end, thigns are changing for the better. It just seems like a very slow process.
    Can you provide examples for "better"

    Seems worse. Beasts of Southern Wild was done with students paying for the course.
    Prior to Life of Pi, another studio went under and employees went unpaid who worked on Journey to the Center of the Earth http://www.fxguide.com/featured/labo...npaid_artists/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    Can you provide examples for "better"

    Seems worse. Beasts of Southern Wild was done with students paying for the course.
    Prior to Life of Pi, another studio went under and employees went unpaid who worked on Journey to the Center of the Earth http://www.fxguide.com/featured/labo...npaid_artists/
    Aside from people showing their awareness of the problem I really can't, admittedly. Providing support helps, but only to a fair point, I'll also admit. To that end I should probably be quiet.

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    For those unfamiliar with the background, io9 has a roundup article: http://io9.com/5987131/why-the-visua...them-in-return


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    I would like to take a moment to welcome the VFX industry to what happened in graphic design. And illustration. And the steel industry in America. I'm sure a few traditional matte painters will join me.

    The problem is simple - VFX houses accepting jobs for too little compensation and not demanding percentages.

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    Of course this is just a little of the same that's been happening the world over in many other
    industries, as Jeff said. Squeezing more out of the workforce for less, and ultimately just looting
    the companies blind, "bankrupting" them, workers penniless while stockholders flee with the money.

    What makes this more intense these days (beyond our circles) is the fact that a movie that won
    awards and has earned more than $580 million world-wide, hasn't (supposedly) paid back enough
    to keep a major contributor to it's creation afloat (Jaws ate them I suppose).

    As I said before, the video games industry's probably next and maybe with more intensity. THQ
    went under, costs of production are ridiculous, even games selling millions now (Resident Evil 6
    they say) are considered failures, and if the trend continues, there'll be trouble there too.

    I'm just wondering for how long we're gonna keep letting this fascist money-hungry investor class
    chew us alive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    The problem is simple - VFX houses accepting jobs for too little compensation and not demanding percentages.
    The problem is a little more complicated: if VFX houses do not accept jobs they will be out of business before they know it.

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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    After winning the Oscar for Best Director, Ang Lee addressed the financial woes that struck his Life Of Pi VFX collaborators at Rhythm & Hues. “It’s bad news that visual effects are too expensive and I’m aware of Rhythm & Hues’ (situation)”, he said, noting that VFX artists are “more than just technicians”.

    http://www.deadline.com/2013/02/osca...es-bankruptcy/

    Sometimes one actor/actress or ...director's check/cut in the film can fund the entire vfx staff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Line View Post
    Of course this is just a little of the same that's been happening the world over in many other
    industries, as Jeff said. Squeezing more out of the workforce for less, and ultimately just looting
    the companies blind, "bankrupting" them, workers penniless while stockholders flee with the money.

    What makes this more intense these days (beyond our circles) is the fact that a movie that won
    awards and has earned more than $580 million world-wide, hasn't (supposedly) paid back enough
    to keep a major contributor to it's creation afloat (Jaws ate them I suppose).

    As I said before, the video games industry's probably next and maybe with more intensity. THQ
    went under, costs of production are ridiculous, even games selling millions now (Resident Evil 6
    they say) are considered failures, and if the trend continues, there'll be trouble there too.

    I'm just wondering for how long we're gonna keep letting this fascist money-hungry investor class
    chew us alive.

    Oh man, definitely. It seems like a long time coming for that industry to implode on itself. I feel like the recent surge of new, smaller outfits is at least working out well, because I really can't see how the larger game studios can keep propping themselves up on one or two AAA games that they sink millions upon millions into. What was it, the majority of Activision's profit is derived from Call of Duty and World of Warcraft? How the hell is that possibly healthy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    Sometimes one actor/actress or ...director's check/cut in the film can fund the entire vfx staff.
    Yeah, but the problem is one of branding. The expensive actor or director is highly paid with the expectation that their name is going to draw people to the film. VFX companies haven't branded themselves, with the exception of Pixar and ILM. Nobody outside the industry and hardcore fans knows who they are, so the execs don't worry about treating them like shit. Same with the writers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl View Post
    The problem is a little more complicated: if VFX houses do not accept jobs they will be out of business before they know it.
    They are going out of business... for the simple reason they are in fact accepting jobs that don't cover their costs. The idea of simply "accepting the job", just so you can work is the whole problem. Undercutting and underbidding jobs to the point where the entire industry is at risk is the problem - it's the "Oh I'll work for free just so I can get my foot in the door" problem taken to the highest level. The only solution all along would have been for major houses to say "Fuck you - we can't do it for that and we won't". I agree it gets a bit more complex because the studios can now outsource to the entire world and pay people much less in developing countries...and that is where our own government trade policies come up short by not taxing or enforcing some sort of tarriff to ensure that the outsourcing option is equal or even less attractive and viable.

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    Boo efing hoo a bunch of idiots lost their jobs completely through their own fault. Working for free or bidding on contracts for less than what it costs to fulfill those contracts is just asinine even for an art related business. I'm sure the head of R and H will walk away with plenty of money and all of his personal assets intact though. They are filing chapter 11 which means they keep the business but can void worker contracts and bonuses or lay them off and get cheaper labor. Sound familiar?

    Those same artists were happy to undercut all of the gaffers and set builders, they didn't care about putting them out of work even when they tried to roll them into the unions, no they were too good for that. They were happy to outsource all the work overseas, Rand H started that in 2000 by the way. Now they are complaining because someone is willing to work for less than they are? Screw them. Monkeys can do what most of those jobs require.The movie industry has always cultivated a silent sheep mentality, especially from digital techs, because, its the movies, ooh. The people in the industry are happy to be abused to see their name on the credits of even the worst piece of shit film like Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser even though they weren't paid.

    All industries get kickbacks and incentives from states and governments to funnel business. That's why West Virginia has so much extraction going on and Alabama has so much toxic dumping going on. Those states lobby to get those businesses, as hard as it is to believe, its true. VFX houses thought they were the driving force for the movies , they're not. Great movies are story driven. Lord of the Rings is great because of Peter Jackson, good source material, good screen writing and good acting, not ILM and WETA, if anything John Carter and the last 3 Star Wars films proved that. Everybody knows this except the people working for VFX houses it seems. Just because you're good at digital wire removal, writing wave or cloud procedurals, and mocap doesn't mean you are as creative as John Lassiter or Joss Whedon.

    Talent means being able to do something better than other people doing the same thing, you know like Joshua Bell or Yo-Yo Ma. If any body can buy a tool and do the same thing then there isn't very much talent involved, which means it isn't worth very much in the marketplace. The more one dimensional your talent is the better you have to be at it to be really successful. So if your good at marketing and your not a dick and you can model in 3d you don't have to be as good as someone who is only good at one of those things. Most VFX houses are one trick ponies and the tech is available to anyone.

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    It is a lot like the video game discussion on next gen gaming. Cost to make is getting worse and worse. But at least they pay they're artists as far as I know. Making it a bit different.



    And yeah I remember the Journey to the center of the earth shit.


    http://www.fxguide.com/featured/labo...npaid_artists/

    Dave Rand’s is particularly vocal about, what he calls an injustice, because accordding to Rand, he was asked to keep his crew working without pay.”A million dollars is not money – money is what you take to the supermarket to buy some bananas. A million dollars is power, and it shows a company’s true character. Being a family-oriented network, Meteor, Discovery and Evergreen should be ashamed of themselves.”

    Discovery and Evergreen initiated bankruptcy proceedings for the studio, formerly known as Meteor Studios of Montreal, leaving artists without jobs or back pay. The action extended damage to other studios with less than deep pockets; Canadian banks refused lines of credit or stopped existing ones. Rand says many artists had to leave Canada and seek work in other countries.

    Rand also reports a new company has been formed at the former Meteor Studios’ location named, “Lumiere VFX,”



    Sounds pretty familiar.

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    I also found this comment interesting

    http://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comme...oscars/c8l8eg8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    I also found this comment interesting

    http://www.reddit.com/r/movies/comme...oscars/c8l8eg8
    Note #s 6 and 7:
    6. Every other movie trade except VFX has a union to prevent such gross injustices. VFX artists don't have a stable 9-5 full time job. They are just temp contract workers, jumping company to company, project to project. As such, they do not have portable benefits, as other unionized trades in filmmaking do.

    7.Artists are too afraid to speak up against these injustices because they'll just kick you out the door for causing too much trouble, because there are 100 dumb young kids who would jump at the chance to work on a Hollywood movie for peanuts. Without a union, they don't have much leverage.



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    But they did have those things, when VFX were departments of studios like Lucas or Disney. We had matching 401 K's, profit sharing, bonuses, dental and medical when I was at Lucasfilm. The artists were the ones who wanted to spin off and be independent. When they did that they started dropping those benefits, then wages, then their self respect, and then they just bent over and dropped their pants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    They are going out of business... for the simple reason they are in fact accepting jobs that don't cover their costs. The idea of simply "accepting the job", just so you can work is the whole problem. Undercutting and underbidding jobs to the point where the entire industry is at risk is the problem - it's the "Oh I'll work for free just so I can get my foot in the door" problem taken to the highest level. The only solution all along would have been for major houses to say "Fuck you - we can't do it for that and we won't". I agree it gets a bit more complex because the studios can now outsource to the entire world and pay people much less in developing countries...and that is where our own government trade policies come up short by not taxing or enforcing some sort of tarriff to ensure that the outsourcing option is equal or even less attractive and viable.
    It is a bit like saying that lasting world peace is easy to achieve if everybody stops fighting now...

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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    Quote Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl View Post
    It is a bit like saying that lasting world peace is easy to achieve if everybody stops fighting now...
    Whatever. Work for free then. Undercut other artists. Let me know how that works out. It didn't work out too well for Rhythm and Hues apparently.

    I mean, I just don't get your point? You seem to be saying it's ok to have accepted work for less than it covered their operating costs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Whatever. Work for free then. Undercut other artists. Let me know how that works out. It didn't work out too well for Rhythm and Hues apparently.

    I mean, I just don't get your point? You seem to be saying it's ok to have accepted work for less than it covered their operating costs?

    No he's saying while the solution may be simple, it's easier said than done. He's not advocating the practice.

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    This article just shows you what a lie this all is and how stupid the artists are for continuing to work under paid and no pay. Like I said chapter 11 just allows them to not pay their responsibilities and void worker contracts or lay workers off and hire cheaper labor. How are those green squares of solidarity looking now?



    Taipei, Feb. 27 (CNA) Rhythm & Hues Studios Inc. (R&H) will open its new facility in southern Taiwan by the end of March, even though its U.S. headquarters filed for court protection two weeks ago, a local executive said Wednesday.

    Plans to open a new studio in Kaohsiung remain unaffected, despite reports that the award-winning visual effects company is facing financial difficulties, said Mike Yang, manager of Rhythm & Hues Studios Taiwan Co.

    The two-story, 2,640 square-meter facility in Kaohsiung, now in the final stage of construction, will offer space to over 200 local and foreign artists and instructors over the next five years, Yang told CNA.

    "Actually, all the studios, including in Los Angeles and at four other locations, are operating," Yang said, adding that the studios are currently working on post-production for three Hollywood movies.

    Further, Yang expressed confidence in the capability of the California-based company, saying that over 10 parties have expressed interest in merging or acquiring it.

    R&H, he added, is turning its focus to developing or expanding studios in Canada and Southeast Asian countries, which either provide seductive tax incentives or cheap labor.

    "I'm sure we can get through the difficulties, as we are still one of the tops in this industry," the executive said. "Winning an Oscar just proved that."

    R&H, winning an Oscar for the 3-D movie Life of Pi, has a globally distributed production infrastructure with studios in Mumbai and Hyderabad, India, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Vancouver, Canada

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  43. #29
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    It's just like I said, it's standard practice to "bankrupt" a company. That way the investors/owners
    get all cash and aren't obligated to pay anyone (at least I think they're not obligated).

    Feeling and standing next to fellow artists is still valid dpaint, this could have happened under any
    circumstances the artists put themselves in, there's no guarantee. What's imperative, I think, is to
    learn how these things work, educating each other worldwide so as to avoid these things as much
    as possible, if at all.

    Of course, I do get what you are saying and yes you are right from your standpoint but, while us,
    the masses, are sitting here pointing the finger to each other yelling "I told you so" or explaining that
    "I had no choice", others are making millions off our labor and we get squeezed more and more.

    It's no coincidence that this stuff has been happening for decades in any kind of job, whether is
    has a union or not (unions can be bought). It's just happening more and more often now that's why
    we take notice more.

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  45. #30
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    JeffX99 is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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    Yep - welcome to the New America...Land of the Indentured Servant and Home of the Serf. VFX is not going away, it will just be done in other countries.

    And sorry but I still see it as an easy solution or decision, based on reality and integrity. IMHO it is better to be realistic about the costs involved and say no if necessary than to bankrupt an industry. That goes for the artists and techs doing the work as well as the execs making the deals.

    For thirty years America's economic and trade policies have been engineered by the wealthy for the wealthy...this is a small example of the result. We're pretty much to the point, maybe far past it, where they can't get any more blood from the stone. The future is far stranger and scarier than the one I was raised to believe in.

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