VFX Spring?

Lots of VFX news today. The LA Times starts off with the story of Sari Gennis:

Gennis said the long hours aggravated a severe arthritis condition. She’d already had both knees replaced, and needed a third surgery, but couldn’t afford to take time off for the operation.

“If I continue these kind of hours, it could kill me,” the visual effects veteran said.

There is also coverage in major publications about today’s VFX union informational meeting near Imageworks.

Deadline Hollywood:

The historic Culver City Hotel may see a little Hollywood union history of its own Friday when Visual effects Artists from nearby Sony Pictures Imageworks meet with representatives of the Animation Guild and IATSE.

“We are the only vfx facility,” says the SpiUnion blog, “that has all of the following: makes our own content (Cloudy, Smurfs), is partially unionized (SPA), does vfx for other studios, has offices in multiple countries, and is owned by one of the major studios. That gives us a very unique edge in this discussion over any other facility in the world. Let us show the rest of the CG industry that change can start with us.”

LA Times again:

Supporters say workers deserve benefits shared by their peers at a time when visual effects have become increasingly important to the commercial success of movies.

“We need health insurance that will carry us through downtimes now more than ever before,” SpiUnion says on its blog. “We are not second class citizens. We sacrifice, work hard, and make good movies we should all be proud of. We are not a commodity, we have talent, we have value.”

Hollywood Reporter:

History is complicated though: a failed 2003 attempt by the Animation Guild to organize SPI casts a shadow over the current effort. Kaplan acknowledged that in the prior effort, “the IA was (trying) to walk in and impose a contract on you,” and said the approach would be different this time. “Organization has to stem from the artists within,” he noted.

Is this the start of VFX spring? It’s certainly promising and I hope so. After all, usually when spring comes by it leads to green shoots.

Soldier On.

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46 Responses to VFX Spring?

  1. John Crane says:

    Cinesite may be not around that much longer if you listen to all the rumours coming out of there

  2. KM says:

    Unionize now. Imageworkers in Culver City, please answer the call! We’re counting on you.

  3. something says:

    Management Lesson 14: How to get free labour.

    A: Do not work OT unless approved.
    B: Great!
    A: You need to get this shot done by tomorrow morning.
    B: Can I do OT?
    A: You’re not approved for OT.
    B: But you want this shot done by tomorrow…
    A: Yes. You’re not approved for OT.
    B: Okay…

  4. Eric Rosenthal says:

    I’m freelancing at Imageworks now and am definitely going to put in my union card. Imageworks is a great place to work but after the stunt that DD just pulled the Union is (in my opinion) the best way to help protect us from stuff like that.

    I also remember the crap that MBO partners and Yurcor did to exploit freelancers and would love to see the Union help take them out. (MBO is out of the picture but Yurcor is still doing their dirty work at the Mill, I’ve heard)

  5. Daniel Hayes says:

    It’s really interesting how the arab spring’s become a yardstick for people standing up for themselves.

    I was in the middle east in 2010, backpacking through Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Syria and Jordan.

    I stood on the sidewalk where a young woman was shot in Tehran in 2009 during protest.

    I stayed in a hostel in Tahrir square that a few short months later would be the scene of some really ugly violence. I befriended a group of urban studies grad students at that who allowed me to tag along on a study-tour of some of Cairo and Giza’s worst slums – families living in piles of dried mud on the banks of the Nile or vast blocks of crumbling high-rise apartment blocks that were illegally built by hand while the government looked the other way.

    I was nearly mugged on a bridge in Syria not far from where people would later be shot by the hundreds.

    People would sometimes ask me, “why in the hell would you come from California to HERE?” And I would smile and shrug but the real answer was that I had a gut feeling that if I didn’t go it might be a long time before I ever could. I didn’t know how right I’d be.

    What was interesting was that at the time it was hard to see it coming. People seemed happy, going about their business. Families had picnics in parks. Young couples would sneak into tourist traps so they could flirt and kiss without getting caught.

    But in retrospect there was evidence all around. Few people seemed to have real jobs, despite being young and intelligent and educated. I barely ever saw any babies. You never really heard the sound of laughter. Little things like that.

    Anyway, all discussions of economics and the like aside, the lesson that stays with me is that people simply cling desperately to what little they have, until that’s taken away too. Then all the anger they’ve stored up will ignite.

    There was a guy in Tunisia who had almost nothing and when what little he had was taken away, he lit himself on fire. People felt that, and they recognized the feeling of powerlessness and how you try so hard to just get through your life without complaint but inch by inch even the basic necessities are taken away.

    Please don’t take this as a metaphor, or even a relative measurement of the complex problems we face as Artists. It’s nothing like the same situation.

    But there is a lesson to be learned, for people on both sides:

    All you need to do to keep people placid is give them the opportunity to live an ordinary, modest life.

    And, just because people accept today less than they had yesterday doesn’t mean they’ll accept the same tomorrow. Don’t be surprised when people get angry – they already were angry, and just trying to get by.

    • llbgreen says:

      Indeed. So with this Arab-type spring we might be anticipating the push back from particular interests…Those which propped up the degredation of our time and energy in this VFX field wont relent to simply watch their monkeys team up and make them look like the idiots they are! This is a good fight here…VFX soldier is a good fighter! Much respect to his every effort in this noble fight to regain our sovereignty!

      Nice to hear the comparison and recognition of the similarities between any of this worlds current uprisings and the one that took place after a brave man set himself on fire in Tunisia! Interesting to see men in suits scramble to retain their fading way of life…ABOUT TIME!

      I like many who participate, will or might in this battle to rebuild our world am not unaware that in the process of this fight that many studios will become memories.

      MAKE NO MISTAKE this is BIGGER than Disney, Its bigger than Imageworks and by all means its bigger than DD, Pixar , Dreamworks, ILM and even the entire state of California. Wait…Its bigger than even the great U.S of A is capable of reigning in.

      Ya want a safe lifestyle in VFX? Join the fight. Make your magic speak and if push comes to shove be proud and supportive of those who take the fight to the top. Be stoked to know that VFX soldiers are people who work for this cause in any of many different and vastly contrasting ways. The Arab Spring has given rise to so many new wonderful shades of green we havent seen in oh too long…New plants that are taking over the bones of fallen giants…Dont cling to the high limbs of these ginats as they are about to fall.

  6. edwardh says:

    What I don’t get about Sari’s story is how she was not able to “afford” to take the time off that she needed. Considering her age and if she really is a VFX “veteran”, I take it they don’t mean financially but because she was afraid she would lose her job. But also if she really is a veteran – I’ve never heard about experienced people not being able to find a job in the field.
    Hell, on more than two or three occasions I came across “experienced” people about whom I wondered how they did get the jobs they got and it is not really a secret that that’s because in VFX (depending on the company of course), connections tend to matter more than skills.
    So how is that even possible?

    • KM says:

      According to IMDB.com, Sari Gennis has been working in the film industry since 1979. I have over 15 years of experience in the business, have a Senior title, and am presently out of work. I’m looking for another job after, once again, moving to another country at a studio’s request and then getting laid off when the production ended. I know many people who have over a decade of experience and are looking for work, or know they are going to be laid off in the near future and already looking for their next gig The VFX houses these days wait until the last minute to hire for their crunch mode, work you as hard they can for 3 or so months and then lay you off, many times before any health care coverage even starts. They do tend to keep a few of their favorites and inexpensive rookies in between shows or during production ramp ups and downs. If you’re a rank and file artist though, you’ll most likely be laid off when the show ends. If you complain or make waves, they most certainly will not be keeping you around, nor will they consider hiring you in the future. At least Sari has the courage to put her name and face on the issue. This story will definitely not make her someone a studio will be eager to hire.

      Your comment below about health issues and poor work conditions doesn’t make a lot of sense. You say basically, if you’re treated poorly, you should quit. If you quit, how do you pay for health care, rent, or put food on the table ? It’s hard to make ends meet when you are out of work half the year, which is what me and a lot of other experienced people are encountering these days. I know people who are livid about what DD is doing in FL, but are still applying there. You know why ? They don’t have the money to pay their bills.

      • edwardh says:

        No I don’t mean one should quit. I mean one should look for jobs at smaller studios where things are more stable. At least it seems to me that there are quite a few smaller studios who look for staff long-term and that are aware that burning out their artists is not a good thing to do.

  7. edwardh says:

    Plus… you know, it’s not like there aren’t any companies that treat their employees in a decent manner. Maybe rare in feature film but the majority of smaller studios producing commercials and such that at least I have gotten to know have fairly regular working conditions. Personally, I don’t know whether I will stay in feature film although I don’t even face conditions THAT harsh and I sure as hell know that if I had a health issue, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to say “good riddance” to any exploitative company.
    Passion for something is fine and all but one really should be reasonable as to how much one sacrifices to do what one loves.
    Or at least – that’s my opinion. I’m sure there have been many people over the centuries whose questionable dedication for their work has cost them dearly and if they think it’s worth it, they should knock themselves out. I just wouldn’t advise/support it.

    • fred flintstone says:

      Im starting to think people in the vfx industry are the scraps of the successful business society. And with this opinion in mind, I am a moderate veteran artist. Its really simple to some degree why this environment exists. This industry is made up of competitive type A artists that don`t generate their own content. Grazers, per say. Artist cows out in the pastor waiting for the inevitable slaughter. Take a look at SPA. The creative content producers (writers, boarders, and so forth) are unionized. Yes, the chain of buttons you push is complicated, but it is teachable to almost anyone. So what I am saying is become an artist, a content producer, and you will be more valuable to yourself and others. Most importantly, don’t let these studios take advantage of you. The other day, I drove by a UHAIL, and they were hiring managers for 70k. So if you are a talented artist and except 40k a year, then your straight up dumb….

      • edwardh says:

        I have thought about that quite a lot. The problem is that I don’t have talent in any of these things (writing, drawing, etc.). And then you also have to consider that while being a “real” artist can pay off more, it is also a lot riskier. After all, one only hears about the successful writers, painters and whatnot.
        And IF I am going to become a commerce whore, I would much rather work on commercials in a way that I still enjoy (doing VFX) than e.g. write moronic slogans. Oh I can’t even begin to say how much I despise THAT shit. Reminds me of university exercises… I always did very badly at creating texts for ads. But then one day, the goal was to write a short story and mine was so wacky in a positive way that the teacher read part of it to the class.
        But… you can’t make money off of that unless you’re such a good writer that you can write whole screenplays/books AND you get lucky or have good connections. Always with the connections. I hate this world.

      • edwardh says:

        Oh and as for managers… management always tends to earn a lot more than it is worth. But it still comes with a price (depending on one’s morals). Because it’s usually either exploit or be exploited.
        And seeing as I have quite the conscience, I wouldn’t be able to stand earning more because I treat people badly. The weird thing is – I’m actually very misanthropic. Go figure.

    • VFXDUDE says:

      “Passion for something is fine and all but one really should be reasonable as to how much one sacrifices to do what one loves.”

      THANK YOU!!! I’ve been saying something along those words for a while: “I work to live, I Don’t live to work”. I may have not been doing VFX for that long mind you (about 4 years), but I already figured more or less what I wanted, but in all honesty I never thought things would get this bad (naive little me I guess). I get passion I really do, but a t the end of the day its a job. We have needs, some of us have families, and I know its optional, but then again why should it be? and besides getting old is not optional either.

      Benefits are not entitlements they are needs. Just to put things into perspective, my grandpa had some surgery not too long ago it was about 6k…. in central america…. my baby’s birth cost around 45k. After some weird discount it was like 11k which my wife’s health insurance paid for. If anything we should look into the cost of carpal tunnel corrective surgery with all the crazy hours at the computer.

      Personally I’m doing stuff on the side (non industry related at all) and working on switching industries altogether. I’ve been unemployed about 3 months now (maybe not as much as some people here and some friends I know) and it is total bullshit. In my opinion this “business model” is not sustainable for us artists. Things really have to change and it starts with us. Saying enough already with the BS collectively will help us all. I know it sounds like big words coming from someone who’s quitting the industry (my obligations with my family are above all), but trust me, I’m not leaving without a fight.

      • edwardh says:

        I’d be working on an alternative career as well. If I had the opportunity. Which is why I’m thinking about ditching the feature VFX path already. Because if you want to do something in your private life, you have to have a stable, 40h per week job. If you’re moving around all the time and work crazy overtime – how could you ever study anything?

  8. RonT says:

    What happened at the meeting today??? Anyone know?

  9. nvaleri says:

    Sari, Dave Rand, and all of the other hundreds of vfx artists i’ve worked with who are now at Sony and wherever else on the planet- I’m with you 100 percent. It’s been far too long and the time is now. Bring the fire.

  10. Pssst says:

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=corporations+attack+on+unions

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/blaming-capitalism-for-corporatism

    …the American disease spreads its hurt into every pore of society. Here is how I define it: an ideology based on a phantom idea called the “free market”, whose purity and virtue can only be realised by tearing down any regulation deemed “anti-business”, cutting every tax ever conceived and shovelling most of the wealth created in society into the hands of a few.
    The American disease has been wildly successful. It has killed the middle class, diverting 30 years of wealth growth from the people who created the value into the hands of the few. More people live in poverty in the US – 46 million – than at any time in the half-century the US government has measured that figure.
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/economic-epidemic-avoid-american-diseaselike-plague-20120420-1xcn1.html

    “The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, ie, to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.
    When I first received an invitation to take part in activities for World Social Forum, which took place in Couva and across the world on January 26, I was a little sceptical. I saw it as an anti-globalisation movement and I am still trying to work out in my mind exactly what globalisation means for societies like ours; whether it is a beneficial or harmful force overall.”
    Karl Marx had written about many of the changes that characterise the era in which we live over 150 years ago; a prophet of globalisation according to some. I would have thought that Marx, the father of communism, would have been opposed to the global free market and the perpetuation of capitalism that go hand in hand with globalisation as we know it. Surprisingly, though, Marx thought the process of globalisation was “inevitable and desirable”. Friedman quotes Harvard political theorist Michael J Sandel:
    “Marx considered it inevitable that capital would have its way — inevitable and desirable. Because once capitalism destroyed all national and religious allegiances, Marx thought, it would lay bare the stark struggle between capital and labour. Forced to compete in a global race to the bottom, the workers of the world would unite in a global revolution to end oppression. Deprived of consoling distractions such as patriotism and religion, they would see their exploitation clearly and rise up to end it.”
    http://www.newsday.co.tt/commentary/print,0,73018.html

    • RonT says:

      Don’t feed the moronic troll! :)

      • rasputin says:

        Better a moronic troll than an idjit incapable of connecting the dots between our tiny vfx ghetto on the far outskirts of a cottage movie industry to the larger forces at work in the real world economy of bread and butter.

      • RonT says:

        Not biting brainard… cya

    • jonavark says:

      get off of your capitalist created computer
      leave your capitalist design house
      give away your capitalist designed car
      get off the capitalist developed internet
      burn your capitalist clothes and get a uniform

      then.. wander off into oblivion… your brain is already there. Join it.

      • Paul says:

        You have it so wrong man, you think that all of this was “created” by capitalism or that it is even connected?! I’ll give you one example before you go hit the library and open [history] books : VW.

        Idiot.

      • Pssst says:

        (Liberal, Left, Hollywood documentary) Filmmaker Michael Moore Explains Coca-Cola’s “Fanta” Brand

      • jonavark says:

        Right Paul… great example. When you DO get to the history books you may want to learn exactly who it was that worked in those VW factories.. is that how you want it? You’re welcome to search again for a more pertinent example.. that doesn’t start out with concentration camp prisoners as workers. quite a fail my friend.. VW didn’t invent anything either .. so double fail.

        Yes.. it was all created by capitalists. Live with it.

    • Pssst says:

      You don’t read, it’s not capitalism, it’s corporatisation that’s the problem. Giant free market multi-national (media) companies more powerful than governments that report to shareholders not their (local) employees…

      “…the capitalist system has been corrupted. The managerial state has assumed responsibility for looking after everything from the incomes of the middle class to the profitability of large corporations to industrial advancement. This system, however, is not capitalism, but rather an economic order that harks back to Bismarck in the late nineteenth century and Mussolini in the twentieth: corporatism.
      In various ways, corporatism chokes off the dynamism that makes for engaging work, faster economic growth, and greater opportunity and inclusiveness. It maintains lethargic, wasteful, unproductive, and well-connected firms at the expense of dynamic newcomers and outsiders, and favors declared goals such as industrialization, economic development, and national greatness over individuals’ economic freedom and responsibility. Today, airlines, auto manufacturers, agricultural companies, media, investment banks, hedge funds, and much more has at some point been deemed too important to weather the free market on its own, receiving a helping hand from government in the name of the “public good.”
      The costs of corporatism are visible all around us: dysfunctional corporations that survive despite their gross inability to serve their customers; sclerotic economies with slow output growth, a dearth of engaging work, scant opportunities for young people; governments bankrupted by their efforts to palliate these problems; and increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of those connected enough to be on the right side of the corporatist deal.
      This shift of power from owners and innovators to state officials is the antithesis of capitalism. Yet this system’s apologists and beneficiaries have the temerity to blame all these failures on “reckless capitalism” and “lack of regulation,” which they argue necessitates more oversight and regulation, which in reality means more corporatism and state favoritism.”
      http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/blaming-capitalism-for-corporatism

  11. Jayne Feiner says:

    As the owner of a small VFX Business, I can personally say that providing union benefits to our employees would not put us out of business. I would also like to say the we have made several attempts to get the union to recognize us so that we could make contributions and have been unsuccesful. All of our employees are vested into the MPIPH plan, including myself having worked all of our vesting time while at the now defunct Pacific Title & Art Studio. All Employees had coverage either as an IATSE member or under a non affliate agreement. VFX employees at PT were covered under the non affliate, and most likely vested, however they have been unable to carry forward their vesting in other facilites. Our company has some of those artists, who are vested and would love to continue under tha NA agreement. My husband has 32 years, 77k hours in local 600 and also an owner of the business but yet we can not get an agreement. We have a member of the Producers Guild wth also vested time in over 20 years, but yet we can’t get an agreement. WE are more interested in the success of the MPIPH plan than most since we all have pensions, without contributions from companies,pensions are in jeopardy. This is broken and going down fast. When I met with MPHIP about an agreement and told them of my VFX people, they said maybe you could get them in the office workers union!

  12. adeblois says:

    There is a lot of fascinating information being presented in the story of Sari Gennis and I do hope she manages to get through this. We became friends a few years ago when I was still in LA. We didn’t work together for too terribly long but we did connect as women in VFX generally do and it pains me to know that she has suffered like this.
    There are also a great many valid discussions taking place in the comments… KM’s comments were especially good to see. Someone who gets it.
    But what doesn’t seem to be commented upon anywhere is the part of the story that hit me immediately-
    She is a 20 year VFX veteran, and she was doing what? 3D conversion work? I’ve been talking about this travesty for some time, and left LA to get the hell away, as far away from it as I possibly could.
    In my personal opinion it is career suicide for a compositor. It takes a compositor to do the job, and slowly they are eroding the pay for the work, justifying it as ‘well this isn’t compositing work after-all’, and in the end the artist has -nothing- no reel material, and no respect. If you try to get work elsewhere as a compositor with nothing but a year or more of 3D conversion work- you’re going to find it pretty tough.

    The studios are tripping over each other to get more 3D conversion work, the work isn’t respected, they want to pay you less for it, and it is taking the joy and soul out of compositors. If all you want is a job and you have no concern regarding what you do then you’re welcome to it. I know people who are quite happy to take the work as it is generally very steady paying work, but I cannot help but be concerned over where their career will be when the fad dies and all they have is several years of 3D conversion work and no compositing work at all for a resume, let alone reel material.

    Take care, Sari.

    • Paul says:

      Well excuse me but compositing as become so streamlined and generic that that too is becoming less and less creative and/or artistic. Saying that 3D conversion is not worth calling oneself an artist should and will be apply more and more to compositing and others. “Creative” VFX are really pushed to the very high end. Yes you are blue collars…yeah me too!

    • jonavark says:

      3D conversion is more of a technical process than a creative one. Breaking it down.. it is easier to get button pushers lined up by the hundreds to do the work. If you are a 20 yr. vet and you end up doing conversions it has to be demoralizing to say the least.

      • Paul says:

        People working on 3D conversion @ PrimeFocus know exactly why they’re doing it…and that is money! And lots of it. So the idea that it’s demoralizing is plain bullshit, no matter what you do most of the time it’s just grunt work.

      • jonavark says:

        For a senior compositor to work on conversions it is demoralizing. You’re bullshit Paul. Take a pill and settle down.. then.. if you can.. actually read the comments posted here and then.. comment. You have a bad attitude.. I get it. You think you’re owed something.. I get it.. but seriously.. you’re not smart enough to convince anyone of anything so settle down son.

  13. Exhausted says:

    Might be beating a dead horse here..but I have to put in my 2 cents.

    The whole “if I work 12 hr shifts anymore – it could kill me” A bit dramatic you think? Stop working 12 hour shifts. I’ve never worked at a company(and I’ve been to them all) that doesn’t listen to you if you pull someone aside and tell them your situation. (hr, manager, sup etc.)

    Also- this is my biggest beef with these articles. When “Veteran” artists (let’s say 15+ years) are going on record saying we need benefits, better hours, better pay, matching 401k’s. It’s makes you wonder what the hell went on in the mid-late 90′s. As a “senior” artist (whatever that means) We’re not stupid, we know what kind of money was being thrown around back then. Not to mention bonuses, 401k’s, vacations, STOCK OPTIONS. What the hell did you guys do with that opportunity? Did you buy a house? did you buy cars? Or were you complaining about the same thing? I get the feeling you were, because that’s the thing with money. You always want more, because you start getting used to what you’re making and you start living more expensively. Also, how are you still labeled as artists? Someone with that experience should be out of the trenches by now I would think. Look at the “senior” generation now. No vacations, no 401ks, no retirement, but we make our rate (and it’s a great rate.) Sure we can buy a house, but then we’d be strapped for cash and worried about the next gig. So all we can do is ride this bitch out and make our money until it’s ultimately dead. Comparing current times to 2003 in these articles is irrelevant. It’s no secret things have changed since then. So why do we keep bringing it up how good it used to be? We’re in the same boat as every industry nowadays. With outsourced jobs and artists willingly going overseas to work at these jobs, why should things change here? It cracks me up too when newish artists are backing the union for job security. If there’s an a job opening for say a lighter. It’s going to automatically go to the more senior artist just because it is in fact a union and it has to give it to that senior artist.

    I’m making my salary and I’m putting it away because I know this is all going to come to an end one day. (dire, yes, but truthful IMO) Do you know how cheap rent is anywhere besides LA in CA? If you’re unhappy about how much you make (which IMO is why so many people are backing this, not knowing it’s not really the point of the union) then find a way to make yourself more useful or stick out. It’s a competition just like any other job. I mean while people are getting laid off …I got offered some pretty sweet deals at both companies in question, and I would of taken one of them if I wasn’t bound by a contract. So you know they have the money. Maybe you’re just not convincing them you’re worth keeping around.

    • adeblois says:

      I can’t say I or anybody I know ever had a 401K, stock options, vacations or even a bonus.
      Perhaps a small select group of people who hold the topmost positions can say that applies to them but the general rank and file artists? no. The ones who are actually made to work sweatshop hours? no. The ones who, if they refuse to work the sweatshop hours find themselves out the door and out of work, replaced by two kids willing to do it for half your pay? no.

      I am lucky that have no debts- no credit cards, no personal loans, no mortgage, no auto loan, no student loan. nor do I have any alcohol or drug addictions that devour my income. I am 100% debt free, and save all I can while still trying to live a little.

      This does not, however, make me fabulously wealthy with stock options, vacations, bonuses -and certainly no retirement plan. How do you even get that when you work contract to contract, sometimes month to month anyway?

      I also have no home of my own, no car, no retirement savings and constantly have to be on the lookout for the next job and have relocated from one country to the next more than a few times now, which always takes a bite out of whatever savings I had.

      Perhaps you are confusing how long one has been working with any kind of assumed power-position that provides incredibly high salaries and bonuses, etc.

      • Exhausted says:

        Like any job…the idea is to move up over time. Take police officers for example. Starting position : Deputy – 55k a year. Do you really want to be a deputy for your entire life? Ofcourse not – well, maybe some do, but maybe some do because they don’t want to push themselves any further. That’s fine, but when it’s not fine, is when you’re expecting the same benefits, the same pay as someone that progressed past you. I mean we all know what positions pay getting into this field. For example, a Matchmover isn’t going to make much more than your average manager position at Target nor are they going to get a job for probably more than a couple months. I would say the same for animators, but what if now you want to be a Lead Animator? Ok, now we’re talking..progression, moving up, rubbing elbows. Maybe to do that, you have to go to a smaller place for a bit to prove yourself. That’s fine, it’s still moving forward. It’s all about how you sell yourself. The general consensus in human nature is to do the best you can and be the best you can be, atleast I hope, but maybe that’s going down the drain with the overall laziness of America. My point is, if you’ve been doing this for 15+ yrs and you’re still complaining about the same things, (money, retirement, health) then something isn’t right there, especially when rates were so high in the early years. (my point before.) And when is this whole “be replaced by 2 students” line going to disappear. Seriously? have you worked with two students? they’re horrible. So horrible that 2 would make it worse than just having the 1. Again, you make your own luck and your own worth. I’ve had a very different experience with vfx. I’ve been treated great because I know what I’ve gotten myself into. So how could I have such a different experience? It wasn’t up to me nor you. It’s just natural selection. The way the world works.

    • >Not to mention bonuses, 401k’s, vacations, STOCK OPTIONS.

      Not sure what places you’re referring to but there was actually very little of that. Did it happen at some places? Possibly but I think people tend to hear one story about one person and immediately assume it was the same for everyone.

      Sure it’s gone up and down but but I find many of the newer workers assume everyone who’s been working for a few years in this industry is rich. And anyone who’s not rich and hasn’t socked away millions for retirement was just foolish.

      It’s very easy to assume the money will keep coming in at that rate and to invest or spend with that thinking. That happens with most vfx people. The reality is it doesn’t last or there are 6 months of non-work between projects. That $ suddenly becomes < 1/2$ in a hurry when you work less than 1/2 a year. 1 night in the hospital can cost $20,000. If you're not fully insured any health problems will quickly drain savings you have. And many in vfx are not covered or are not covered all the time. Even with coverage you still have to pay 20% or more out of pocket.

      People also forget that costs rise faster than wages for the typical person. They assume if someone is reasonably paid then they should be loaded with money by the time they're middle aged or retiring. Life happens. Medical issues come up, unexpected children issues, housing, etc. It costs 100k to send someone to college today. How much will it cost in 20 years and what if you have 3 children? That sucks an enormous amount of money from what you've saved. How many young people are saving every dime they make and investing heavily in 401k and other things? 30 years from now they're going to be in the same position they are now. Many young people don't have many required expenses beyond basic eating and rent. That all changes as they grow older and start families.

      And don't think think money flowed like waterfalls in years gone by and don't think it was easy to jump in a make a lot of money and rise to the top. Any spikes were for specific projects and tended to be short lived.

  14. Pssst says:

    London studio looking for 10 new people.
    Due to expansion this studio is looking for 2 modellers/lighter and 2 animators (Maya), 2 after-effects designer, 2 compositors (Nuke), 1 head of studio (animation speciality), 1 junior data wrangler. All roles are permanent.
    Please send your CV as a Word doc, indicating which role you are applying for and salary expectations
    -
    Hey!! I have the exact team setup up in Mumbai with an up and running setup. Do you wish to outsource some jobs to us. We are a registered studio in India.
    -
    Or you could help your home economy by creating 10 new jobs right there in London. Better, yes?

  15. [...] you know much of this was re-ignited this spring when SpiUnion came online to help rally Imageworks employees to join TAG and just like I suspected back then, spring leads to green shoots: resurgent growth in the [...]

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