VFX Soldiers In India

A VFX artist in India emailed me this post he wrote that he allowed me to post here. It’s a bit long but an incredibly worthy read:

Hi,

First off, I am writing this post not because I want to bitch about anything or because I believe I can effect a change…..I don’t (Far brighter men/women than I have tried and failed at that). I am writing this for the future VFX artist who is considering entering the industry (especially in India, since I cannot speak for other countries). So that you can make an informed decision. A footnote somewhere out in cyberspace where hopefully they stumble onto it and gain some knowledge into what is going on.

I am a relatively new user here, I am also a VFX artist currently working as a freelancer in India, before this I worked for some of the bigger studios in the country mostly as a VFX/Lighting Artist without naming names. On the forums when I browse through certain topics I inevitably see the topic of discussion shift to how work from US/UK/Canada etc is/was/will-be outsourced to India/China/Phillipines etc. A lot has been said on this, some bad & some not-so-bad but this has led to a general discomfort for some users in relation to people from these countries.

Also the perception that VFX shops in India are more “sweatshops” than actual production houses. While I cannot object to that conception (Its entirely true…..although that is changing), I feel no-one ever clarified the situation from a local point of view. As a VFX Artist working in the Indian industry, I can tell you that not everything is fine here. The work comes here because of the grossly undervalued bids placed upon them or the cheap labor available, the obvious result is that VFX artists in India are suffering the same fate as their western counterparts. This is mainly true in case of salary/compensation for services rendered. Don’t even get me started on the work environments.

There is a disturbing trend in India for the past couple years in India (Especially since around November 2008, around when the recession hit) where VFX artists are forced to work for “experience” or “goodwill i.e we’ll keep you in mind” in “apprentice” or “training” positions. These apprenticeships usually last for a period ranging between 3-9 months and are generally unpaid. Some companies at the end of the term of these apprenticeships cut loose the interns stating reasons of “insufficient quality” or the more popular “We just don’t have any projects going on right now….We’ll call you”. OR They might consider extending your training to an extra three months or more, if you choose to remain unpaid for the duration. Whats more, is that you will have to repeat the whole process when you join another studio, because experience certificates and references are non-existent here (unless the studio exec is your close personal friend/relation). It appears that cheap labor isn’t good enough, now the labor is required to be free. Thats not to say that people are not selected to full-time or continual work, its just that is very rare. The end result being that the companies, get an almost inexhaustible pool of FREE Labor, allowing them to turn essentially a profit without Cost of production overhead in terms of labor. How is it inexhaustible you ask…….for the following reason;
(How’s that saying go again….”The rich get richer….” or something like that)

Animation/VFX Schools are churning out more students at the speed of light (literally…think…..Blink and another batch of students have completed their course) promising them futures in Award-winning films and telling them the industry is “booming” with tens of thousands of available job opportunities. Suffice to say, the training offered by the majority of these institutions do not exceed even a beginner’s level (You could literally study the tutorials available on the internet and be 10x more qualified to a production job). Also, just to clarify beyond a shadow of a doubt…..there are thousands of jobs “available” but if you can find one that pays you fairly, consider yourself one of the lucky few. A brief side-note for ones who studied 3D/VFX on an educational loan, you have to begin repaying the loan from the date of joining a job whether it is paid or not meaning, if you don’t come from a family of means…….you’re in trouble. (<—just a personal experience observation)

What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing…..to an industry BUT to a flesh and blood individual with a family & responsibilities it means a lot. Especially, since it’s more than likely you’re going to take a loan out to study the outrageous basic courses on offer. The industry maybe booming but the true professionals within it are slowly wearing thin, not because there is a lack of talent -though that maybe a common presumption-, but because people with the talent and the dedication and the passion (and all those other big words) are being phazed out….why? because the dumber the industry stays, the more free labor the companies get. And let’s face it, it’s not like they require a solid 3D artist/Compositor to get the job done, all they need is someone who can click effectively (I’m talking about roto here not 3D).
There are people in India, human beings not machines, human beings with dreams and aspirations just like individuals from all over the world. Human beings some of whom really do want to make a better industry, and human beings who will never get a chance to do so. And in my honest opinion, human beings who would be better off pursuing some other worthwhile profession…….atleast until the spoilt whiny infant that is the current Indian VFX industry grows up into a responsible adult (That could take forever sadly…..or may never happen).

I just want to say that I am not a pro/veteran or anything like that. I am just a kid from a small town who had to hold down three jobs and work for peanuts (sadly, I still do) who unfortunately had the wise idea of becoming an effects artist……and now is bitching about it.
When I look at the people from an industry I don’t see an American VFX Artist or Indian VFX Artist or Canadian etc etc., I see a fellow Artist…..Someone who I might be able to learn something from or someone who I can teach something. And for the record, as an Indian Professional working actively here I oppose the outsourcing of work from one country to another , I honestly believe that outsourcing has replaced money as the root of all evil. But hey, what do I know! I am just a kid after all.

If after reading all that you still feel you can make a difference in the industry, I have a very…very humble request, respect your work and ask for fair pay. If it’s a company that can’t afford to hire you for salary, it’s a company that shouldn’t be in business anyway. Just ask yourself one question, will any educational institution teach me for free? no? Then why should I be expected to work for free?

On a final note, I’d just like to state that I did not intend to hurt any sensitivities with the preceding wall of text. Its an opinion for what it’s worth, nothing more/nothing less.

There are exceptions to every rule, and there most certainly are many valid studios/opportunities in India as well as valid Educational institutions that have recently been established, what is stated here is more or less a majority situation not an all-encompassing epilogue of a country’s state of affairs in 3D/VFX.

Oh and uh………Let the flaming begin!

What generated this post was my article on something that happened at a VFXTalk forum. What angered me was unsuspecting VFX artists in India and China being taken advantage of by a predatory businessperson. Those VFX professionals who tried to warn those new artists of the practice were censored and banned.

My blog was started to help protect artists worldwide of abuses by predators in the industry. Whether it be Warner Bros. trying to shake the New Zealand government for more cash, or some vfx school luring unsuspecting kids into a mountain of debt. As you can read from the post above, we all go through much of the same issues: unfair practices, unpaid labor, predatory vfx schools.

I may not be able to help VFX artists in India and I know many bring up the fact that creating an international union would be impossible. However, if a VFX union is formed here in the US, I would strongly advocate it help streamline the visa process of international artists who get hired at a union shop.

Soldier On.

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78 Responses to VFX Soldiers In India

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Heusser, @ftwo. @ftwo said: VFX Soldiers In India: A VFX artist in India emailed me this post he wrote that he allowed me to post here. It’s… http://bit.ly/g3k9RO [...]

  2. Young vfx artist trying to break into the industry says:

    On the note about going to school for vfx, Once a young artist gets their BFA at a 2-4 year program they are more and likely able to get a work permit anywhere in the world based on immigration laws. So if you don’t have a BFA, or have 5 years of professional vfx experience than ‘your shit out of luck’ if you find your dream job in another country.

    • David says:

      Not entirely true, I had a friend that’s been in the industry for 3 years and did not graduate from school, go to work in Canada for 3 months.

      • Tom says:

        @David

        He makes a valid point. You can’t just roll into DreamWorks or Pixar asking for a job. Maybe 15 years ago if you knew a little about computers this might have been the case.

        1 Person or even 100 people making it into the industry without an education in any industry is certainly possible. But as the need for higher demand for better visual effects grows; The demand for better educated employees grows.

        Little example: 15 years ago, if you had some art background and no computer science background you could do hand-drawn animation. About 10 years ago, hand-drawn was kicked out the front door and 3D came along. If you had no computer skills you where SOL as we say it. Fast-foward to today. To even be considered at most VFX houses and Animation studios. You need at minumum one of the following:
        – Strong Computer Background (BS, MS, PhD)
        – BFA, MFA
        – Or equivalent experience (5+ years in graphic design for example)

        I am not talking about small studios of course. Those you can most-likely get in, work like a dog, get paid nothing or very little. Do that for 3-5 years then jump to a big studio. But if you want to compete with people like me. You need at least one degree.

        And for me, I have 3 degrees and I am considering a 4th. My three are BFA, Bachelors of Computer Science, and Bachelors in Graphic Design. Sounds expensive, but beleve it or not, other industries outside the VFX industry actually pay for your education. The only one I had to pay for was the BFA that got me into this industry (stupid’est thing I did to date). I could have gotten in with my Computer Science Degree. But then, I did not know that. Nor did I even know where to apply.

        Also, many studios are now jumping on the 3D bandwagon. Well, I started doing 3D nearly 5 years ago. So people coming into this industry need to learn a lot more than they did even 5 years ago to be a valuable asset.

        Bottom line, you will find yourself getting paid way less because of lack of experience and lack of education. That goes for any industry.

  3. MattWBP says:

    Bravo.

    I’m banned, otherwise I would comment there so hopefully the original poster of the thread will read that.

  4. [...] Soldier has posted a letter received in response to a previous article – VFX Soldiers In India [...]

  5. Tom says:

    I usually give long messages. I, this time, will ask a question…

    What will it take to get an International VFX Union (US, Canada, Europe, India …)?

  6. Abhishek says:

    the post holds true to each and every word said, i am going through this phase in my career where i am seeing young artists and freshers working for peanuts in so called “conversion facilities” and some don’t even realize that they are being used , as for me i have boycotted myself from all these so called outsourcing works, i rather be unemployed than being used

    i hate those artist who work for peanuts and then make life for guys like me so bloody harder and often frustrates me that even after working so hard i still have to struggle for a decent job

    i hate those seniors who advocate working in these outsourcing firm for the sake of experience

  7. Simon says:

    Great post. This is one of the most well written letter I have read on describing and analyzing the situation. I definitely feel for the people working there. And thanks VFX Soldier for posting this. More people needs to know. Its hopefully how changes can begin.

    One question, where does the India govt stand in all of this? There are no regulations or they just don’t care?

    • prince asder says:

      indian govt. a big joke you cracked dear……… govt. never cared here, its like shit.. so pathetic political people ……….

    • bluefalconn says:

      LOL! The govt doesn’t care about poorest of poorest. Why would they care about VFX artists!

  8. The guy who posted the article says:

    Thank you for your support.

    The Indian govt. has been pro-active when it comes to encouraging the entertainment industry especially the IT & CG industry. They have setup numerous “Technoparks” and “Film Parks” all over the country which provide everything from tax reliefs/holidays to concessions and aid to companies carrying on business in CG. However, these considerations -sadly- are only targeted towards the companies in question and not towards it’s employees. In it’s bid to increase foreign work inflow, the govt. has been…..”lenient” with their stipulations, especially when it comes to interfering in company policies.

    What this means is that basically, a company can set it’s own rules -without fear of reprimand- outside of established norms.

    For Ex:-

    Lets say our artist got hired to a mid-level shop as a roto-artist. Ethical conduct would dictate that his salary be in proportion to the quality of work + total working hours per week + overtime + incentives/benefits (if any.) for exceeding expectations. However, reality holds that the artist will receive:

    A) Salary that is grossly disproportional to the work performed (sometimes unpaid).
    B) Working hours that extend beyond any reasonable expectations WITHOUT overtime.
    C) Termination of employment without prior notice from the employer or justifiable cause for termination. Salary due on termination may or may not be paid depending on the employer.

    To top it all off, the company would have our artist sign an agreement whether in the form of an NDA or Contract stipulating as follows: -I’m paraphrasing this-

    “The company will give you a job that wont be enough for you to even make a decent living off of, we will expect you to be chained to your workstation and think of nothing but performing your duties indefinitely (We will only pay you for 8 hours of work per day though). During the time that you are working to the edge of insanity to scrape off a living, if we feel that you may become a threat to us or if we just don’t like you….we reserve the right to throw your ass out on the street and cancel any existing dues that you maybe owed. By signing this agreement, you agree that you understand the fate that will befall you and also agree to not hold us responsible legally or otherwise for any of the aforementioned ill-treatments that we may extend towards you. You also agree not to breathe a word of this to any soul outside the company, or we would be more than happy to sue the pants off you (that is the only thing you own after all with your pitiful salary) and have you thrown in jail.”

    If or when the govt. chooses to intervene it would be unable to prove any malpractice by said company as they have already been indemnified through virtue of a signed piece of paper. And since contracts in India are a relatively new tool, people believe contracts to be unbreakable or indisputable.

    This is why it was important that artists (especially newcomers & students) be made aware of the state of affairs of the industry.

    ———————————————————————————-

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hey dreamer4ever,

    I just wanted to say thanks for posting without agenda, with honesty and sincerity about your experiences with the VFX industry. It’s people like you – who seek to discuss topics regardless of the fear of response or stigma, that strengthen online communities. So once again, thanks for this post.

    Trouble’s been a-brewing on VFX for a couple of weeks, and I wanted to take this opportunity to lay out my outlook on the situation as it does appear that Jah has re-branded it into a race debate. It saddened me a little that you seemed to be concerned about being flamed – the reality of this VFX community has always been one of camaraderie between artists wherever they are from.

    Yes, there are concerns about work being outsourced to other countries – that’s a concern the world over, work is always going somewhere else. Though another fact is that VFX artists all over the world are in some form or another – being shafted.

    The reaction against crowd-sourced work was almost entirely attacking something that users here (many of experience) felt was looking to take advantage of VFX artists wherever they lived. Even if a couple of artists are happy to enter that kind of environment – it’s up to those who understand that even with only 2 artists interested, 50% of artists are being shafted – and to voice their concerns openly in the hopes of protecting others from being shafted in the future.

    See, what we don’t want is an environment where shafting is okay, or expected simply on the basis that one person receives some money which is pretty good for where they live. Jah’s offer would only be good money for an artist living in India – so it’s fair to say he may have been specifically targeting Indian VFX artists because of their low pay.

    In objecting to this behaviour, users were trying to defend these artists from someone cynically though perhaps naively looking to take advantage of poor work environment in other countries. The standards this did not meet were not those of Hollywood or London artists – but of ethics. We stood up, and we objected because we knew Jah was trying to shaft VFX artists.

    It’s quite amazing that Jah has now turned around and claimed that VFXT has a community of people earning lots of money who are also racist and trying to ‘piss on the Indians’. As far as I’m concerned – if you’ve put the time in to become an artist, which many in India most certainly have – you are someone I will welcome in any community I’m part of. And if you are an honest, brave and sincere individual such as yourself dreamer4ever – I think that you would also be vital to those communities.

    VFXTalk is a sinking ship, it truely is. And whilst I respect those who want to stay I feel like I should tell them they’re headed for icey waters. When something new appears – I very much hope to see some of you, as well as the OP here there.

    Best of luck to you all.

  10. jah says:

    Your industry sinks alongside vfxtalk… it happened to software outsourcing and will happen to vfx as well since there is really no art in vfx its a science and a science can be learnt and mastered by anyone.

    Tht is unless you truely do something about it other than shoot your mouths off like blogs like this one do, and shell cash out to the vfxsociety to get props.

    You guys are just all talk, as i can see from what happened in my forums. Wimps afriad to stand up but trigger happy to talk shit.

    So what are you doing to address this? How can you help this guy? You think you can change economics?

    Best of luck to you all.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Jah you may have done something I will never be able to do: unite Vfx artists!

      Sent from my iPhone

    • Anonymous says:

      Jah – People were pretty quick to stand up to you and defend artists when you tried to take advantage through crowd-sourcing. Even when they knew you might ban them, I would say that’s more courageous than it is cowardly.

      What is cowardly, however – is your decision not to make a solid case in your favour and to instead, censor and ban people who disagreed with you. And what makes that even more disgusting is that you’ve been consistently racist about doing it.

      You’re sorely mistaken if you believe VFXTalk shares any connection with the industry. It used to have a minority of users who knew what they were talking about – now they’ve gone.

      The analogy of a bar is relevant here. You’ve run somewhere that a handful of VFX Artists liked to hang out. However, since you started to decorate the place with Swastika’s – I think we’ll find or create somewhere else.

      Somewhere where we can no doubt, look back upon your behaviour and laugh.

    • PrincessNau says:

      “there is really no art in vfx its a science”, what is your background? you sure you know anything about VFX? Don’t talk about things you don’t know.

  11. vfxlabor says:

    People say its a crazy time to organize vfx here in the states. Truth is outsourcing doesn’t scare me as much any more since it already happened. ALso the proof that I’ve seen in the last 10 years is that things won’t get better on their own. In fact, new avenues of exploitation have opened since they have met with little resistance.

    The artist from india mentions how the govt has provided many provisions for business in vfx, lamenting that nothing has been done for the artist. While I’ll wager that CA has better labor laws than india, that hasn’t stopped companies from violating them. Nor has it encouraged artist to seek enforcement themselves for fear of being black listed for not being a team player and sleeping under their desk.

    In the end, what indian employees have to do is organize themselves. The irony being that if indian employees did organize themselves, its not like the work is going to get outsourced… to india. You may not make US wages, but you will make something that is livable. More important you will help cease this devaluing of VFX by the false economy created by free or near free labor.

    So how would organizing in vfx in the US help. I think it will create a bit of a beacon of what is possible for the rest of the vfx world. I think it may bring some more senior talent back to the sates… I think some would trade a bit of their salary for a proper pension and medical.. and an ability to plan for the future.

    People ask about an international effort. Look at how small our community is on the internet… you can speak to artist around the world. If the US vfx industry organized I think it would inspire others to do so. Who would have thought that organizing VFX here in the states could actually improve condition for a worker in India… IT can! By Example.

    I highly recommend the poster from india read this book…

    Drawing the Line by Tom Sito.

    its the history of animation in the US from the standpoint of labor and unions. There’s no other book like it. It will teach you much of this happened already in the past: labor abuses, fear of outsourcing, etc.. and instead of having the animation industry disappear from the US, it has studios like disney, Dreamworks, WB, Nickleodeon, Film Roman and others that offer union jobs to their animation artist. Animation has been around for DECADES compared to digital VFX.

  12. Anon says:

    Jah,

    to say there is no art in vfx shows just how little you understand of the process or how little you’ve been involved in it? It’s like saying a cinematographer is merely a technician, so much of every decision is creative.

    I totally agree about people should be doing something more, its coming from every size of company across different countries taking advantage of their employees in vfx. It effects every artist, it also needs to come from the supervisors and leads together.

  13. anothervfxguy says:

    Ever occured to anyone that if you can’t get a job there are to many people going for the job? That if people will work for peanuts then that is the rate that people will be paid?

    No one owes you a vfx job, not matter how good you are or how much you spent on your education. If all the slaving and loans and overtime is a price you are willing to pay to work in vfx then you pay it, if it ain’t. Go fucking do something else.

    • The guy who posted the article says:

      No-one asked for any handouts or said that they were entitled to a job or career in any way. And who said that they weren’t willing to work overtime or pay off the loans that they took?

      The article is right there, quote from where it says that everyone is entitled to a job in vfx or that we wont fulfill our responsibilities??

      No-one is talking here about being owed a job, most of the people posting here are working professionals in the field who earned their way….EVERY STEP, what we are talking about is being paid fairly by the companies that we work for. And perhaps forming an organisation that will aim to protect OUR interests as artists.

      From the way your reply is phrased, I can gather that either you are someone who just got into the work or are on the management side of things. Either way, what you are suggesting is that no-one should speak about fair wages? or organizing? but rather just leave the field that they love. Why? Because you said so? Because there’s a lot of change that needs to be done?

      Tell me something…..Did you take a loan to study what you know? Did you have to pay it off? Are you working for peanuts in a company? advocating that people “pay the price” is easy when you don’t have to do it yourself.

      Here’s another question….why is that “slaving and loans and overtime” the price that needs to be paid? It isn’t “slaving” when you actually enjoy what you do…..and about overtime…..WE ARE TALKING ABOUT BEING PAID FOR WORKING OVERTIME…..not that we won’t work overtime.

      “No one owes you a vfx job, not matter how good you are or how much you spent on your education. If all the slaving and loans and overtime is a price you are willing to pay to work in vfx then you pay it, if it ain’t. Go fucking do something else.”

      Don’t worry most people are wising up and leaving the field as we speak. We’ll see how long your companies maintain their ways when no-one is willing to “pay the price”.

      How about this…..what if I tell a company…if you can’t hire employees for fair wages and can’t pay them what they are owed….get the f*@k out. If there’s a price artists have to pay, then there is most definitely a price that companies have to pay too….here’s a hint….it’s called fair ‘Salary’.

  14. Acorn VFX says:

    BRAVO! Thanks for that info I have a survey done by NASSCOM and the above written is the 80% truth.. One more thing you have proven you have better English skills than us..

  15. Anon says:

    “…what if I tell a company: If you can’t hire employees for fair wages and can’t pay them what they are owed, [YOU] get the f*@k out[!]”
    AND pay them for fair over time hours(!)
    What we are talking about is governments in developing countries allowing company owners to take advantage of their workers. This is what started globalization and this is what is eroding the value of developed countries workers. We are talking about countries that allow child slave labor. Even Hu Jintao admits they can do more in China. The Hobbit Law is the NZ government telling VFX artists the world wide they don’t deserve fair work hours and health benefits. Just ask Thomas Friedman…





    ps. what happened to VFXHell.com?

    • Anon says:

      Baby boomers invented globalization and sold out their children’s future so they could sit on their asses and play the stock market with Madoff. It’s funny how when the baby boomers were in their prime during the 80’s it was “greed is good” now they are in retirement it’s “…let the children pay for our oil addiction war and our socialized health care…”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Century_of_the_Self

      • Anon says:

        That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I’ve seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts of once busy Main Streets. I’ve heard it in the frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear – proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.
        They’re right. The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an internet connection.
        Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They’re investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.
        Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future – if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas – then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.
        Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us – as citizens, and as parents – are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.
        That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.
        The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information – from high-speed rail to high-speed internet.
        Our infrastructure used to be the best – but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do.
        Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.

        http://nationaljournal.com/whitehouse/exclusive-obama-to-declare-the-rules-have-changed–20110125

    • Anon says:

      What is most striking to me being in India this week, though, is how many Indians, young and old, expressed their concerns that America also seems at times to be running away from the world it invented and that India is adopting.
      With President Obama scheduled to come here next week, at a time when more than a few U.S. politicians are loudly denouncing immigration reforms, free trade expansion and outsourcing, more than a few Indian business leaders want to ask the president: “What’s up with that?” Didn’t America export to the world all the technologies and free market dogmas that created this increasingly flat, global economic playing field — and now you’re turning against them?
      “It is the Silicon Valley revolution which enabled the massive rise in tradable services and the U.S.-built telecommunication networks that allowed creation of the virtual office,” Nayan Chanda, the editor of YaleGlobal Online, wrote in the Indian magazine Businessworld this week. “But the U.S. seems sadly unprepared to take advantage of the revolution it has spawned. The country’s worn-out infrastructure, failing education system and lack of political consensus have prevented it from riding a new wave to prosperity.” Ouch.
      It looks, said Srivastava, as if “what is happening in America is a loss of self-confidence. We don’t want America to lose self-confidence. Who else is there to take over America’s moral leadership? American’s leadership was never because you had more arms. It was because of ideas, imagination, and meritocracy.” If America turns away from its core values, he added, “there is nobody else to take that leadership. Do we want China as the world’s moral leader? No. We desperately want America to succeed.”
      This isn’t just so American values triumph. With a rising China on one side and a crumbling Pakistan on the other, India’s newfound friendship with America has taken on strategic importance. “It is very worrying to live in a world that no longer has the balance of power we’ve had for 60 years,”
      the guy in Kansas,” he added, “who today is enjoying a better life than [an Indian] maid, is worried that he can’t pass it on to his kids. So he’s a pessimist.”
      Yes, when America lapses into a bad mood, everyone notices. After asking for an explanation of the Tea Party’s politics, Gupta remarked: “We have moved away from a politics of grievance to a politics of aspiration. Where is the American dream? Where is the optimism?”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/opinion/31friedman.html

  16. Krishnan says:

    It is completely unfortunate, if you are a right candidate.

    As we see there is no right talent produced out of any college, or training institutes in India.

    We are also a company in this VFx business for 17 years, we haven’t treated or seen any body with this kind of story at-least in this part of India.

    (We are not a company inside any IT parks or with SEZ status – utilizing government benefits.)

    if one proves his skills in a few days and his/her consistent deliverables, match the companies expectations and their clients delivery standards, no company will say that you have to work for free.

    For the simple reason the candidate would move to another company. and no company would afford to loose a right candidate for their team.

    And if the company is not happy with one’s performance, they wouldn’t want to keep a person whether they are paying salary or not.

    This is not just for VFX/ India, it is applicable for any trade/ profession irrespective of any countries.

    I believe this one of a very rare and an exceptional case where a company would have done this (not paid for nine months) for all wrong reasons. this example is not true for all companies in India.

    There are some friends of mine in VFX industry in India getting paid equivalent/ close to an US company standards. but the companies are making thin margins as out source income.

    First of all a person from small town, in India, for my knowledge, writing this good English is very rare to see.

    Try and evaluate you strengths and weaknesses and apply for suitable job of your strength.

    Your personal experience should not affect an image of a country.

    If you think, you are a deserving candidate send a link of your works – i can help you in getting a job – of-course not for free.

    Again, Do not spoil the image of a country of your own.

    • The guy who posted the article says:

      Firstly, I believe I made it abundantly clear that the views expressed are entirely my own.

      Quoted from my article:

      On a final note, I’d just like to state that I did not intend to hurt any sensitivities with the preceding wall of text. Its an opinion for what it’s worth, nothing more/nothing less.

      There are exceptions to every rule, and there most certainly are many valid studios/opportunities in India as well as valid Educational institutions that have recently been established, what is stated here is more or less a majority situation not an all-encompassing epilogue of a country’s state of affairs in 3D/VFX.

      If you believe this is an isolated incident, you are more than welcome to check the original thread on VFXTalk.com for replies made by other Indian professionals in the field.

      Secondly, the experiences presented in the article are not my own alone, they are from a majority of industry professionals that I have known over the course of my life. This isn’t about me as an individual, I neither need nor demand any work/favors from anyone.

      The “work for free” scenario is in relation to apprentice-level artists NOT junior/senior level. In context of junior/senior level the main issue is being paid fairly and payment of overtime. If you are a company that has maintained that code of ethics and kept that standard of paying fair remuneration then good for you.

      “Do not spoil the image of a country of your own.”

      India has spoiled her own image for years in more ways than one without any help from me. India is my country, I love my country and make no mistake I would bleed and die for my country if the need ever arises. But outsourcing has done nothing but destroy any trace of heritage left in her veins. How can we know who we are, if we forget where we come from?

      Indian film-making is entirely her own art.

      India has her own industry in Bollywood (north) and Kollywood (south), why is it that we need to take work from countries half way around the world from us?

      You say that “companies are making thin margins as outsource income.” – The only reason outsourcing exists is because we do it at a fraction of the price. Not because of quality expectations or because of any other valid reason. Then why is it a valid point to state that.

      So my question is this, as someone who is speaking on behalf of a company thats been 17 years in the field….

      What has outsourcing ever done for us? Why are you opting for outsourced work if a “thin margin” is all that can be made?

      It has collectively lowered the standards of expectation of an Indian artist and limited us to nothing more than rotoscope and wire-removal for the majority of our artists.

      True that there are some who have elevated themselves to comparable US/Foreign level salaries but we aren’t speaking about a few…..we are speaking of the situation for the other guys.

      One thing I will tell you is that every single point recorded in my article is the absolute truth that I have come across. My opinions have been made, for better or worse I hold to them. What you choose to believe and take away from them is entirely your choice as an individual.

  17. Anon says:

    The winner is the company with the cheapest workers.
    So what if you don’t have the skills now? Just outsource the skills training…

    http://www.primefocusworld.com/location/india/global-headquarters

      • Anon says:

        Nope; It’s just a ‘fake’ “credible front-end [Indian] operation that has its own local repute” to capture expensive 1st world skills and work and send it to India…
        (ie ‘outsource’ skills training – “learn the processes” and send them to India)
        The prime focus business model:
        “…our focus is to build a certain pipeline to be able to get work across borders and to bring it to India using our cost and technology base, unlike any other typical outsourcing company we are also creating a very credible front-end operation that has its own local repute and presence through acquiring studios abroad. So, for the client it is as good as walking into his studio and saying what he would like to do. We then open our backdoor and get the work done somewhere [else] and plug it into the end product… acquiring studios abroad adds another strategic dimension to our business. While we have the capacity and technological expertise to carry out special effects and post-production projects, we do not have the experience to cater to Hollywood. The studios that we acquire bring in this repertory of experience in the form of people who have worked with film-makers in the developed markets. Our Indian operations will be able to learn the processes and skills required to cater to global film-makers from the teams added to Prime Focus through these acquisitions.”

        http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/prime-focus-is-onwell-hedged-trajectory/314042/

        ie Work for Prime Focus, kiss your career goodbye
        Globalization: get paid a 3rd world rate for 3rd world hours but pay for a 1st world cost of living

      • Anon says:

        When a 3rd world company sets up a shop front in a 1st world country shouldn’t they be bound by 1st world labour laws for ALL their workers?
        Is it different from a 1st world company outsourcing to ANOTHER company in the 3rd world that then takes the responsibility for their own working conditions?
        As we saw with China vs. Google, what are the ethics of corporate sovereignty?

        http://www.primefocusworld.com/news/2010/11/prime-focus-handpicks-hottest-vfx-talent-launch-prime-focus-film

  18. [...] permalink Just wanted to say that if you feel the conditions are not good, don’t sell yourself short. Accepting these kinds of jobs for 12k pesos or less will be a disservice to yourself and to the field. A lot of western countries have established companies in india, china, philippines. These companies are not poor. In any business one just wants more profit margin. Being in the philippines doesn’t mean you have to work for peanuts. I hope india and the filipinos smarten up and learn to negotiate for their contracts. read on VFX Soldiers In India VFX Soldier [...]

  19. [...] matters. Whether you are an Indian or an American, if you are talented you will demand high pay. I recieved an email from an artist in India who talks about similar problems [...]

  20. [...] That’s not to say that there isn’t quality talent in India. There are many superb Indians doing VFX and like you and I, they want to be paid appropriately for their talent. So many of them leave India for Australia, UK, Canada, and the US. Read this post written passionately by a VFX artist in India. [...]

  21. sumant says:

    i was thinking of joining a vfx course at one of the popular institutes after reading about the boom in papers and job opportunities.

    I thank the author for portraying the real picture with such frankness.

    I it would be helpful if someone tells me are “good drawing, sketching skills required in vfx, just like animation”????

    Regards.

  22. nirav says:

    i m learning nuke compositing after the course i m planing to go at mumbai and do job as compositer and study in fx school so whats my future i m really thinking after all post really i m good field? i cant understand what is future in this field

    • Trying to help.. says:

      That depends on a lot of factors. If you’re already studying compositing I would suggest you stick with that. Gaining experience and showing that you are stable and consistent is very important. No-one is going to hire someone who keeps job-hopping every 3 months.

      That said, do a lot of research into what it is exactly that you want to do. Both Compositing and FX have a lot of sub-functions associated with them, mastering all of them takes time and a lot of effort (not to mention talent, dedication, hard work……the usual). Mastering Compositing alone will take many years of dedicated work and FX is a beast of it’s own.

      IMO stick to compositing atleast for a year and gain experience, don’t try to hop jobs every time a better offer comes along, pick your opportunities carefully, eventually (hopefully) you’ll be making enough to take care of yourself, at which point if you still want to pursue FX, you can do so at your convenience.

  23. VFX Soldier says:

    [...] dedicated a post called VFX Soldiers In India which was one Indian’s perspective on things there. It should be no suprise that their [...]

  24. [...] about scams and most recently posted various opinions by those working in the Indian VFX industry here and here. I also posted reaction to articles on how Indian VFX is actually being outsourced to the [...]

  25. [...] pay. This is kind of a no-brainer. However, when I read VFX Solider’s post on the working conditions in India, specifically with regard to unpaid internships, I was appalled. [...]

  26. [...] funny to me because in reaction to a similar scheme occurring in India that I posted about a year ago the same moderator preferred we see less posts about this issue: Newsflash: this [...]

  27. Gabriel Saldarriaga says:

    Cool little video I made to support the #vfxprotest cause. https://vimeo.com/60545199

  28. A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you should publish more about this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people don’t speak about such topics. To the next! Kind regards!!

  29. DrEmoTonic says:

    Well, being a VFX aspirant and hailing from the same country, I think whatever is being said in this article is a bitter truth, even though I don’t have any professional experience, but I hear the same, time to time.

    I have completed my Engineering in Information Technology with honors!, but as because I want to pursue by dream of becoming a known CG artist I switched over my department. Even though, here in India, getting job in IT sector is easy and they do pay nicely.

    I have just finished my course from one of the known ‘educational’ institutions here. And as said, these institutes only mints money and provides nothing more than basics. They gives you hopes about the booming career in 3D animation and VFX around the globe (still using 2009-2010’s data, ehh?)

    Fortunately, I learned everything on my own and online tutorials being my sole masters. Although, as I was new to this field, the institute helped to understand the basics but alas, nothing else.

    I am on a stage of completing my show-reel and then, will apply for a job.
    Whatever I read on this article, shattered a bit of my confidence.
    But I think, if you have enough skills and talent in your hand you can achieve your goal.

    VFX is my dream, I want the world to see my works and be entertained by it. But, now I am thinking to switch over to the fields of motion graphics or TV Idents for a while (hopefully, they are in good shape).

    Phew…I am horrified,
    ….back to PRACTICE!

    HOPE TO SEE SOMETHING GOOD.

  30. Paul Herrin says:

    we are awaking. spring is coming.

  31. My fellow VFX artists, reading this article made me feel like shit X) , I’m from India too. I have been doing VFX for just 2 years now, learnt everything on my own from online masters like Andrew ;P and I’m already on my way of finishing my first movie. It is full of VFX, a good story but lol obviously unknown actors, I also happen to be a good Website Designer plus m about to finish my B.E., but i dont care about that. My dream is to make movies so i can show them to the world, now seeing the situation of the industry, I decided I will make my own movie first, and show these big ass studio idiots that what they can make i can make too, in fact we can make it better. THIS way perhaps we can bring attention to ourselves the VFX ARTISTS, and have the studios and industries start respecting us. Its just an idea, just imagine how it would be if we all started making movies on our own and started publishing them on youtube :D ppl will see how awesome VFX artists can be without the glamorous actors or heavily funded greedy fat ass studios lol :)

    and if you guys are interested to know more about my soon-to-be-released-worldwide-on-youtube movie lol OR give this new guy some tips check out:my page :)

    https://www.facebook.com/FantasyDomain

    take care, and hopefully something good will come tomorow for every one of us :)

  32. and oh yes…just seeing my initial work, i got around 4 job offers….3 of them were “Producers” or “friends of Producers” who said if i help them make cool VFX in their movies they will tell my name to the “BIG GUYS”. !!!! :O hawww…….

    so this is a note to all the aspiring innocent new comers in this field, if some1 comes offering you something like this…take out your shoe and start beating him up, if he cant pay than he doesnt deserve ya and thats what i did too (except the shoe part lol ) it doesnt matter how well connected he is, if he wants to show your work, just give your Demo Reel, enough. Dont need to work your ass for some1 for free.

  33. David B. says:

    Not to say I disagree with any of this but I would like to point out that just because vfx is suffering this is definately not a new or unique event in the entertainment industry . No one paid any attention to the jobs lost from the rise of vfx. Every aspect of film making was changed and many companies and long time industry professionals have been effected. Vfx took jobs from set builders ,prop makers , model makers, special effects, special make up effects, lighting ect..
    I do sympathize but the real fault lies in those company owners that agree to take the jobs for a budget so low that the only way to get it done is to have low or no paid interns . The more that low paying jobs are accepted the more that productions feel they can keep cutting department budgets. I myself work in special make up effects a department that never unionized so I have felt the impact .We too have been flooded by low payed straight out of school interns so I do understand this . So the question is how do you make a difference when only about twenty to thirty company owners are calling all the shots?

  34. I can totally relate to the post.

  35. Nitish says:

    as a student i have to say that study or training level is worst. I mean I am enable to find any institute/college think about talent or creativity in India….
    or giving a best artist to the the industry….
    they just targeted your money (and pretend that they appreciate your skills).

    Maybe its because there is no gov. institution or college in India…. for vfx kind of studies… and thats a serious problem for the students who are talented but not have lots of money to waste on these expensive private institutions….

    and if the conditions are that bad in jobs as well., then god bless me and all those students who cant change their passion like me…..
    if anybody think that this is not the condition(or maybe can share any important information please reply,,,)

  36. A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you should publish more about this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but usually people don’t talk about such issues. To the next! Kind regards!!

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  38. Anonymous says:

    Almost all the information in this article about the industry is true. I m fortunate enough to be working with a leading VFX company in India and to some extend I enjoy the cretive freedom and respect for the work I do however its a bitter truth that the compadatively less pay , the kind of work and discrimination are something we have to face regularly.I have learned from the institute claiming they will provide the VFX training but sadly now that i know that you can get way better training in the online training programs like gnomon and digital tutors which are run by actual industry pros. There are a huge amount of ignorance on both the students and their parents side who fail to understand that its totally a wrong picture these institutes are potraying.Wrong and misleading information and figures are the USP of most of these institutes. Most of the faculties dont even have any experience working with the VFX studio and they are the imaginary VFX pros or role models created by the Institutes and their students.Rotoscopy and paint have become the higlight of their cources which will fetch a fresher not more than 6-8 k per month in a city like mumbai which is not even enough to pay the rent.I m not even discussing the pay and the treatment in the local film industry specially telegu and tamil industry where the exploitation reaches to another level.Sadly the lack of jobs, huge competition and the requirement of less paid employees to cut down production cost have given birth to the new HR policies which are unfair and most of the time against law as well. Long working hour , unreasonable pay deductions , work expectation even on the holidays , verbal abuse , mental harrasment , threat and various other unfair means are pdactised commonly by the management and the Supervisors to run the business in so called “indian way”.There is less hope that this industrt will survive in india for long it may sound negetive and depressing for people who are thinking of becoming a part of this industry but the fact is its better you know whats going on rather than having a rosy picture of so called creativity and the proud to be called an artist thing in your mind.
    Cheers

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