People Power: #VFXTownHall

Thank you to everyone who participated.

Soldier On.

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216 Responses to People Power: #VFXTownHall

  1. Sean Afshar says:

    I wish I could participate. However, I had to work today. Could we please hold future meetings on a Saturday? I believe we are going to have a much bigger participants.

  2. Paulo says:

    you’re fabulous, thank you

  3. oz says:

    This is great !

  4. VFX_Reckoning says:

    This was an awesome meeting! Thank you everyone! FYI, concerning the Facebook question regarding new students devaluing the industry. Personally I believe places like The Art Institutes and the other “degree mills”, indeed DO devalue the industry. Those places DO NOT properly educate their students, and therefore, those are the most likely candidates willing to work for pennies because they have shitty work and are willing to do anything to get in. The VFX shops know this and take advantage of it.

  5. VFX_Nacho says:

    Awesome meeting indeed. Thanks VFX Soldier

  6. CG Joe says:

    Could anyone who watched it all provide some times to jump to when key people spoke? I know I’m not alone when I saw I simply do not have 3 hours I can spend watching the whole thing. If there were some key speeches I’d love to know where in the vid to find them.

    Thanks in advance!

    • VFX_Nacho says:

      I’d say watch the whole thing. Its really good….My fav part 0:50:50 when Dave Rand calls John Textor a “d*ck”

    • Definitely watch Scott Ross’ speech at 1:21

    • vfxmafia says:

      Last night in a nut shell….

      Standard talk of union….

      The VES got booed…

      But Scott Ross got a standing ovation……

      he mentioned that the 6 studios get together once a month and discuss the industry….why dont the VFX companies?

      Scott Ross weighed in on International Trade association …..(basically getting all the higher management from ALL the VFX companies to get together and start a dialouge with the heads of the studios) especially to reform the bidding system….and potentially address the subsidies….and calm the market.

      Scott also added that we have tried everything else why not try a union? (it will help give leverage with studios). He went on to add that he managed two companies ….one union (ILM)…and one nonunion (DD). He said the union shop will naturally cost more money….but will offset the costs by potentially drawing better talent from all the perks….

      Scott’s work already is amazing….he has laid the groundwork for a international voice for VFX artists to talk to the studios…

      Can’t say enough about Scott Ross…..

      Also there mention of the lawyers (which must remain secret for now) that we bought are stil doing an evaluation of a lobby…trade association etc…

      the lawyer council will take time……

      Also great asessment speeches by Scott Squires and Gene Warren Jr….

      great turnout….and alot of work into live simulcast in like 5 countries

      • Mark H. says:

        “He said the union shop will naturally cost more money… but will offset the costs by potentially drawing better talent from all the perks…”

        Some interesting points, but this statement is simply not true. All academic and government supported research clearly demonstrates that unionization has a net negative effect on companies. This isn’t to say that unionization doesn’t confer other benefits to workers and their work environments, but they are indisputably a drain on corporate competitiveness.

        http://www.nber.org/digest/may09/w14709.html

        If the goal is to help sustain a healthier industry, with larger profit margins and keep companies like RnH and DD to remain competitive with more aggressive VFX studios, unionization will put additional strain on the finances of those companies.

      • tazzman says:

        Mark H, the unionization will likely not happen in a vacuum. It will be coupled with a trade association at the company level.

      • Mark H says:

        I have to say that I don’t see the relationship between an industry-wide trade association and the impact of unionization on VFX studio finances. Are you suggesting that a trade association, like an MPAA for VFX would somehow lower labor costs?

      • tazzman says:

        No, they wont increase the profit margin automatically but will set minimums. That’s a big improvement.

      • polyphemus says:

        Mark H,

        Not all unions are the same, if you lump in IATSE to UAW and public sector unions, which is comparing apples to oranges.

        I was a VFX worker for 12 years and went to a Union shop [Dreamworks] which has been great. There’s no internal union interference in the day to day operation of the studio, and with them the employees covered under TAG you see some form of profit participation with the 2 pension system, and the portable health care and hours bank. The health care plan is shared with other Hollywood unions.

        If I had worked my entire career here I would have been already fully vested in the health plan until 65, but unfortunately most of my work has been at non-union facilities.

        The big big thing that a VFX studio won’t like about being unionized is the minimum wage per job category goes up big time. That’s a win for us, not so much the VFX studio but it does raise up the bottom floor what a facility can charge for work.

        The downside for me, the only 2 big places that are under IATSE at the moment is Disney FA and Dreamworks, hopefully that’ll change in the future. It would be great if you could cycle between 4-5 large studios and carry benefits.

        If not, I plan to sign rep cards at any future facility I wind up at if I leave or get laid off.

    • There’s not a lot going on visually. I played it in a tab in the background. Have a listen to the audio while you work instead of music.

    • vfxmafia says:

      To Mark H:

      Subject:
      National Bureau of Economic Research and Unions…

      The National Bureau of Economic Research is a well known conservatively funded think tank. Martin Feldstein, who was chairman of NBER 1978-2008, was chief economic advisor to Ronald Reagan…….these are the same people who bring you “trickle down economics”…and anti union rhetoric. As you know Reagan loved busting unions and fired the air traffic controllers who striked…..1981.

      The National Bureau of Economic Research brings you steaming piles of stats to support such dandy stories as “The economic recession ended in 2009!”

      http://stfuconservatives.tumblr.com/post/1158065211

      or…

      “New Study finds Democrats Fully to blame for subprime mortgage crisis!”

      http://www.humanevents.com/2012/12/22/new-study-finds-democrats-fully-to-blame-for-subprime-mortgage-crisis/

      I can proudly say Im neither Democrat or republican…..nor do i have any ties to the union…..but …..

      Please take this Tea Party Sh*t somewhere else.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Also Mark H…

        subject: Unions

        Your quote:
        “This isn’t to say that unionization doesn’t confer other benefits to workers and their work environments, but they are indisputably a drain on corporate competitiveness.”

        Really?

        IATSE is one of the USA’s oldest unions…..coming up on 100 years old….if they were such a drain why is the studios profits doing better than ever?

        The first film union in the United States was organized by theater projectionists in the first decade of the twentieth century. IATSE—the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees—arose as one of the most independent and comprehensive labor organizations in Hollywood. Originally organized for projectionists, IATSE came to represent many other crafts as well.

        IATSE’s best moment came in 1933. As a consequence of the Great Depression, the studio bosses insisted on across-the-board pay cuts of 50 percent for anyone making more than $50 per week, though no one saw these moguls mortgaging their own Beverly Hills homes. While most other sectors of the industry—actors and directors, for example—accepted the cut, IATSE did not. Instead, it threatened to send its people out on strike. The producers backed down but did not forget this negation of their authority. In the meantime, a few months later, writers got together and formed the Screen Writers Guild. Writers became some of the most activist workers in the industry.

        you can read more here…..

        http://www.infoplease.com/cig/movies-flicks-film/unions.html

        Unions can help put leverage on the studios to give wider profit margins to the VFX houses. Scot Ross goes into the speach how a union could only give a trade association MORE leverage in changing the bidding process.

        ********I do have to add that Unions dont solve ALL the VFX workers problems…..******************

        1. The Union can’t negotiate against subsidies…..

        2. Unions can’t effect workers in ALL countries….and truly unite VFX artists

        3. The Union can’t negoitate with the studios unless the studio owns the VFX company…..

        Which is why Scott Ross’s trade association approach to organizing the VFX companies to talk with the studios is a great idea. And Scott Ross is very clear that unions will cost more…..but the real problem is these “canned VFX bids” that companies put together…..needs to stop….

        Scott Squires speech REALLY covered this…..

        There needs to be a “Blue Print” for VFX budgets…..with proper padding…..the industry is also so offet by the subsidies…..the stability of the industry needs to be returned.

        As much as I think we need unions ….it is only a incomplete answer to the problem of the global economy and foreign currency. Unions aren’t perfect……but there is a reason the rest of the film industry is unionized for close to 100 years now.

    • vfxtownhall says:

      Thanks to fxguide:
      (http://www.fxguide.com/quicktakes/town-hall-photos-and-notes/)
      0:00:00 – 0:15:26 Mariana Acuña – Introductions and pop around to various cities
      0:15:26 – 0:23:45 Dave Rand Introduction and History
      0:23:45 – 0:46:07 Scott Squires – State of the Industry
      0:46:07 – 0:55:39 Dave Rand
      0:55:39 – 1:00:19 Steve Kaplan, IATSE Local 891 Animation Guild
      1:00:19 – 1:02:35 Dusty Kelly, IATSE Local 891 Vancouver
      1:02:35 – 1:11:32 Gene Warren, Jr. Fantasy II Film Effects (Visual Effects Oscar for Terminator 2)
      1:11:32 – 1:21:51 Mike Chambers, Visual Effects Society
      1:21:51 – 1:34:26 Scott Ross
      1:34:26 – 2:48:29 Q&A from remote locations and Los Angeles

  7. Devin Fairbairn says:

    The grilling of Mike Chambers was very counterproductive.

    • Andreas jablonka says:

      I agree it was off timing but there was a point: the ves might donaclotbif stuff, but it does not announce it publicly. They should be more transparent especially now that they are fire.

      Thank you everybody for coming this was a great meeting! Awesome to see Wellington, London and Vancouver as well as the Bay Area there too! It’s an international issue and I think we have proven that yesterday!
      Go to vfxunion.info and sign your rep card!

  8. sdf says:

    Any results?

    • vfxmafia says:

      Here is the recap…..Last night in a nut shell….

      1. Standard talk of union….
      (but yes it needs to happen)

      2. The VES got booed…

      3. But Scott Ross got a standing ovation……

      he mentioned that the 6 studios get together once a month and discuss the industry….why dont the VFX companies?

      Scott Ross weighed in on International Trade association …..(basically getting all the higher management from ALL the VFX companies to get together and start a dialouge with the heads of the studios) especially to reform the bidding system….and potentially address the subsidies….and calm the market.

      Scott also added that we have tried everything else why not try a union? (it will help give leverage with studios). He went on to add that he managed two companies ….one union (ILM)…and one nonunion (DD). He said the union shop will naturally cost more money….but will offset the costs by potentially drawing better talent from all the perks….

      Scott’s work already is amazing….he has laid the groundwork for a international voice for VFX artists to talk to the studios…

      Can’t say enough about Scott Ross…..

      4. Also there mention of the lawyers (which must remain secret for now) that we bought are still doing an evaluation of a lobby…trade association etc…Gene Warren Jr. and VFX soldier are hammering out a movie with them.

      the lawyer council will take time……and a plan is being worked out….please stand by

      5. Also great summary speeches by Scott Squires and Gene Warren Jr….

      6. Dave Rand called John Textor a “Dick”.

      (and was funny and inspirational as ever….. a very unbiased voice in all of this)

      7. great turnout….and alot of work into live simulcast in like 5 countries. REALLY well organized. I was very impressed.

      I probably missed something….

      • vfxmafia says:

        * sorry about the typo ……..”Gene Warren Jr. and VFX soldier are hammering out a (*move* not movie) with the lawyers……”

      • Scott Ross says:

        Thanks…. I appreciate the kind words… hopefully we can get some traction. And btw, the VES should be taken to task… it’s been quite awhile since the VES 2.0 and that CA subsidy letter was way off base. The VES is however an awesome honorary organization and throws a great awards show… they should stick to their knitting!

      • Burlington Bertie says:

        We do need some coordination and consolidation of the main tenants of these rolling discussions – actions speak louder than words etc.

        Individual VFX artists are signing up to the affiliate unions.

        Scott Ross is endeavouring to get the largest VFX facilities to a ’round table’ on forming a Trade Assoc. (Please let us know if the ‘London’ shops are also willing to get involved!)

        VES is working on some further initiatives (unspecified at this time).

        Importantly Gene Warren Jr. and VFX soldier are in talks to get legal representation to lobby Washington directly over the ‘kick-backs’.

        As Scott Ross said ‘The Digital Spring’ is underway – with the momentum coming from the grass roots – we all need to maintain focus and try not to be side-tracked into verbal squabbles over conjecture – stick to the facts guys, always.

        Sadly VES has been caught out – in that like it or not, it is currently the only ‘official’ body that purports to ‘represent’ the VFX community of artists. And because of that, the community naturally was expecting more, rather than the toothless pussycat we have at the moment. VES – please ballot your members for a change of statue so that you can have more of a meaningful say in the current debate. Seriously, you could be more than ‘Gentleman club’ in these matters.

  9. Antonio Neto says:

    I think it’s clear today that even if you are not inside the fire,
    you are certainly smelling the smoke and you probably know someone out there,
    if it’s not your best friend that is in flames.

  10. A Voice says:

    I like the part that since we have less unions across the country, we also have lower wages.

    • vfxmafia says:

      That is a nasty fact. In the 1950’s Unions were the highest in the US… I believe more than 50% of the workforce….so were middle class incomes.

      Today Unions make up only 6% of the work forces..and the US middle class is looking at extinction……

  11. That was a great and informative meeting. It was inspiring to see artists come together from so many different companies and countries. We are in this together. It isn’t my vfx company against yours. We are all artists and we can make the industry better for all of us.

  12. sam says:

    What about the U.K?

  13. I loved this entire presentation. Thank you. I’m a 3D Animation student in Edmonton, Alberta and this scares me about the industry and the way it’s status is currently.

    I’m a strong believer in the creed “F*** you pay me”. I have been digging into possible work and all I have been able to uncover are unpaid internships. Unpaid internships with the promise of experience. Personally, this is a copout. A copout to take advantage of the artist. To receive free labour in exchange for ‘experience’? I can receive the same amount of experience being paid, too.

    I get told that this is the way it is and I call shenanigans! If companies offered paid internships, even minimum wage, then the intern would receive not only the experience, but payment for their hard work.

    Before I came to school I used to tell myself that I was willing to do anything to get work. Even work for free to get experience. I was an idiot.

    It can change! Companies have to stop taking advantage of people and in turn people have to stop wanting to work for free. I want to get into the industry. I really, really, really, really do. But, I’m not willing to jeopardize my financial stability and health for unpaid work. To cover the costs of moving wherever, to cover my bills for the duration of the internship, to work my butt off because I want to be the best…only to receive a pat on the back and a handshake.

    It’s not right.

    • Rob says:

      Actually, I have made it into the industry without an unpaid internship. Hell, even without working for incredibly low wage.
      The chances may be lower but feature film studios will occasionally give people with TV/commercial experience a shot. And as far as I experienced, chances to be paid (and paid better if one already has a little experience) are higher in those areas.

      Although I do want to give a shout-out to Scanline, where I did a paid intership. It wasn’t much but at least something. Don’t know how they do it these days though and whether it varies based on the particular location.

      So, one can do it and should definitely try to do it. Because letting yourself get ripped off by greedy bastards is – as you said yourself – simply not right.

      • Rob says:

        I just realized that technically, I did work for incredibly low wage during that internship. What I meant was that aside from that half year, once I left university, I never again had to work below minimum wage.

    • wb says:

      “I’m a 3D Animation student in Edmonton, Alberta”
      They don’t tell you this at school…unfortunately….

  14. mclovin pizza says:

    To me all the speakers were invaluable. They offered a real perspective. VES guy should not of been booed. Some want to make him the bad guy. But thing is he’s not the bogeyman.

    Rather than booing the guy, folks should present options.

    The whole internship arguement is weak. There have been all kinds of internships in careers since the beginning. Like film internships at lucasfilm would probably yield less results for the intern than an internship at ILM. Just sayin. Its really not a great arguement. But at the same time I get where the arguement is coming from… How do we stop the intern abuse and make this “fair” (if there is such a thing)?

    • tazzman says:

      To be fair though, I think the VES didn’t help themselves to the international crowd by coming out and asking for more stateside subsidies.

      • Ymir says:

        True, the but international community has not helped itself by saying subsidies are okay for them but not CA. Again, it goes back to a level playing field, everyone should have the same amount of subsidies, whether that amount be zero, or whoever’s currently offering the highest. Rather than being CA-centric, I think the VES’s message was let’s just level the playing field for everyone, regardless what that level is at.

      • Jen says:

        @tazzman – I think the VES didn’t help themselves to the international crowd by coming out and asking for more stateside subsidies.

        I think the people who booed loudest were artists working in Los Angeles.

        I am a VES member working in Los Angeles. I do not want California climbing on board the sinking subsidy ship.

      • tazzman says:

        Jen, yes you are right they were the loudest. I suppose that’s because you are seeing the results of subsidies first-hand in LA. But there was also some ire from the intn’l crowd when the VES sent the letter out.

      • VFX Worker says:

        Ymir: It’s incorrect to say the international community thinks subsidies are ok for them but not ok for CA. Most people would say, if you get subsidies that’s fine. They just don’t want an organisation that they’re members of lobbying for their competitors. It’s not for the VES to decide who needs help and who doesn’t.

      • Ymir says:

        @VFX Worker, in the main thread on this issue, there were those that said if CA were to increase their subsidy program, they feared they would lose their jobs, which would imply they feel the subsidies that give them their jobs is okay for them, but not for CA.

        I don’t live in CA, so it’s not my tax dollars going into corporate owned studio coffers. I would much rather we have a level playing field of no subsidies. I think everyone should support the fight against subsidies that is one of the goals of this blog and it’s founder. I disagree with the notion that if you get subsidies, that’s fine as that is the status quo, and the status quo is a messed up industry. Even Californians have said they don’t support California increasing its subsidy program. That’s like saying if you’re in a 100 yard dash and you get a 50 yard head start over your competition, that’s fine.

        The VES open letter said as much as well when they said if there was a magic button to make them go away, they’d press it. The message there is the creation of a level playing field. And if the playing field isn’t going to be at the no subsidy level, then it should be at the level of the highest subsidy. And here, I agree, is where the VES went astray and asked CA to up their subsidy program. What they should have suggested is have everyone up their programs, IF nobody was going to do anything to eliminate all programs.

        If you read Scott Squires’ excellent blog Effects Corner, he published an open letter from Van Ling, that sort of says the same thing, except that he says all subsidies should be kept local to build local film and vfx infrastructure, rather than buying work from the studios.

        http://effectscorner.blogspot.com/2013/03/ves-board-member-thoughts.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EffectsCorner+%28Effects+Corner%29#.UUXk5aWE7vg

  15. mclovin pizza says:

    Hands on internships…bad? Vs. internships where they can’t work on anything and really learn?

  16. vfx_vet says:

    I think all this dialog is great and I hope it leads to something down the road that we can all be proud of. But one issue that’s been missing from my point of view is the rot within the VFX houses themselves. Upper management has been a big part of this problem, and long before I was feeling the pinch from subsidies, I was feeling the pinch from producers that would never shy away from squeezing the artists on their shows. When dealing with the clients, the producers trip over themselves to say ‘yes we can!’ no matter how unrealistic the request. Then when the artists and leads raise issues, ask for more time, or try to get a dialog going within the production, it’s ‘no no no!’. It was incredibly frustrating.

    It’s not just Us (vfx studios) vs Them ( Studios/clients)…it’s also Us (artists) vs Them (management) and I personally haven’t seen a shift in this idea over the last few weeks, even with all the green support we’ve been seeing on our FB pages. Question – how many folks on your FB pages that are managers or producers in VFX have changed their profile pic to green? I can say 0 on my page.

    Let me reiterate…I think it’s excellent what’s going on. But we are ignoring a big part of the problem. The ones actually accepting the studio terms on projects.

    • Time to act says:

      That’s a good point, but unionizing would help with that. Before a show even starts the Union will have already setting up terms and rules that all producers will have to follow. It will become the VFX facilities shop rules, no longer will there be show rules.

    • Time to act says:

      granted it wont directly stop crazy deadlines and long nights, but it will force workers to charge and get paid for overtime.. which will indirectly force producers to have to start thinking. Working at a union shop I found it very comfortable to say i will need more time, or over time to complete something, which would then be answered with ok, or no we will just push that shot.

  17. Compbrat says:

    DAVE RAND nailed it..PERIOD

    Just spoke with him about last night.

    Having worked in Montreal with him and grate full for his work in recovering the million bucks owed us form those freaks at Discovery (yes worth 8 billion).

    Then we watched the practices ignored by government of that piece of crap American owned shop spread like a cancer through Montreal, I guess they figured the law don’t care and the artists don’t give a shit ..making bounced paychecks, no paychecks, going BK and opening under a new name, shafting the same artists repeatedly, DAMN fx, Red fx, Fake Studios, and now New Breed shafting artists bouncing check regularly. We watched the movie biz leave over bad business practices and unresolved labor problems…… and the game companies fill up the spaces paying us 1/2 of our already lower wages….while HR depts colluded to bring our wages down here!!

    Now the incentives have been jacked even higher….so Frame Store is in town..

    I say we prevent another malignancy before it starts….

    check out http://www.vfxunion.info on organizing Montreal once and for all~

    That bald dude from ILM must be a studio pimp or something. I mean “creative solutions” Ironic he’s standing at the very facility that colluded with local Pixar to bring the areas wages down and got busted by the feds…so if you think a trade association is all we need and the work force will be happy with iPads and a bonus for Christmas (heck that is creative eh?) Think again……

    Yeah creative solutions that don’t involve unions….I’m sure those iPads got nothin to do with the recent acquisition of ILM by a highly unionized shop Disney!! Nah that ain’t nothing.

    Timing??? How about the fact the rest of those names that ALWAYS get paid AND a credit way above ours and not crammed into a high speed wall of text figured out the “timing”

    70 yrs ago!!

    We are at the bottom of two list —the credit list and the creditor’s list.

    GET REAL …GET ORGANIZED

    The plantation owners complained they’d go broke too… if Lincoln got his way.

    • Compbrat says:

      Oh I left out Lumiere….the shop that magically was born from the ashes of meteor two weeks after it closed…..two years later…shafts the same people…the same way!!!!

    • tazzman says:

      compbrat, that “bald dude from ILM” is, in fact, fx producer Mike Chambers…………….doesn’t work at ILM. He’s on the BoD for the VES.

    • Dave Rand says:

      Thanks for the support Compbrat. Stephen Rosenbaum is actually not a pimp though. He’s a good guy and I had a great experience working with him. It’s good to hear the alternative viewpoints even if we disagree, helps build a better presentation and a more modern effort.

      • Scott Squires says:

        Yes, Stephen is an VFX supe who worked at Ilm, Weta ,etc. Not in management. (Mike Chambers was the one at the LA event and is an independent VFX producer and VE executive board person)

      • wb says:

        …Montreal sucks!

  18. Caleb says:

    I am very encouraged by last nights gathering. I honestly hope the momentum just gets stronger. Never has there been a more clearer reasoning for a Union. The couple comments or questions regarding “alternatives” to a Union where without weight and I am glad they fell flat. Kudos to the gentleman standing in for Jeff Okun and the VES, he was put in a difficult spot. Jeff should have been there. The VES deserves to have it’s feet held to the fire. Mr. Okun spoke up about the issues thus putting the VES in the mix. Having an honorary society in such a depressed industry is a really hard sell. Financially speaking, it would be interesting to see where all those membership fees go. Of course there is a reason for the 501c3 status. Memberships should be free, and it should operate on donations.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501%28c%29_organization#501.28c.29.283.29

    • Ymir says:

      Caleb, the fees are similar to the dues charged by a union. There is a small office staff that is paid to handle the business of the society. Everyone else on the board and the committee chairs and committee members are all volunteers. Fees would also be used to pay rent on the VES offices, rental spaces for the various events held, etc. it’s not a non-profit like a charity. And the society does ask for ‘donations’ from the fx facilities, studios, software vendors, etc. in the form of the ‘Power Group’.

      • Ymir says:

        Sorry, just checked the website, that’s ‘Power Circle’.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Hey Ymir,

        Perhaps, this is an error, but it appears that VES has the highest overhead of any similar organization such as ACE , MPSE or others. Why aren’t the financials including Eric Roth’s deal made more public, and what do the members get for the money spent other than the Awards Show and DVD’s? How can the other organizations do an equal amount or more for their members and community for what appears to be so much less? Hopefully, as a member, you can shed some light on this.

        Speaking of the VES Power Circle, it appeared to take a serious hit from participants shortly after publishing its Bill of Rights and other industry statement materials. Perhaps, it is just a new bookkeeping process, but the power circle has gone from roughly three dozen (36) to only 8 listed with logos on the VES home page.

        Can you explain this? One would assume as a VES Member
        you have some insight and knowledge regarding this? And, making statements or just guessing is not fair to VES, so please, let us all know how this does work so we can all have an accurate understanding about VES in regards to its funding and expenses from the member’s perspective and knowledge.

        BTW – Does being a partner in the Power Circle still buy access to the VES board as indicated in previous Power Circle benefits?

      • Ymir says:

        GRS,
        Since you knew so much about how the VES was created (heck, you sound like you had a hand in the creation) you probably already know the answers to your insinuating questions.

        Phone: (818) 981-7861 VES office number. Call them. For some reason you have mistaken me for the keeper of all knowledge on things VES.

        I would be glad to try to offer my opinion if you could cite info to your assertions that the ACE, MPSE, or others concerning each org’s overheads. Please provide financials and be specific.

        “what do the members get for the money spent other than the Awards Show and DVD’s? How can the other organizations do an equal amount or more for their members and community for what appears to be so much less?”

        If all you know the VES does is the Awards Show and DVDs, how can you say the other org’s provide more for less? Again, please cite financial evidence of organizations mentioned with financials for evidence. As for what the VES does offer, they have a benefits page off the main web site.

        Power Circle drop off? Who knows? Maybe something to do with the financial collapse back in 2008?

        I’m not sure what ‘buying access to board’ means. Cite reference, please, as opposed to asking leading questions which I guess you’ve already formed an answer to?

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Ymir,

        It appears that every time someone responds or asks a question, you have so many detailed answers except for those you cannot or will not address.

        You are the VES member…I am not. And I was around when VES was formed so many of my observations and questions are from that perspective.

        Today…on VFXSoldier…as a very active participant on VFXSoldier…you may or may not have knowledge which would shed light on the discussion as you have been making extensive posts for some time often in great detail while carefully stating you do not speak for VES. This I acknowledged many posts prior to today.. As such, I thought you were an active, involved and highly (but selectively) informed VES member, who like members and non members together, share a deep concern for the state of the industry. Secondly, I did not cause the uproar about VES at this time, and I am only one of many with questions seeking clarification with details.

        And, for the record, ACE has an awards show (the best); LA and NY Editfests; a 5013c education arm; intern programs, dvd’s, etc. And, I know that their salaries and overhead far are less than VES.

        MPSE has an awards show, does presentations, has had a golf tournament, and done other things with NO paid executive director (unless hired within the last year). Their elected president manages MPSE, which is way too much for anyone to do as a volunteer especially while working. I do not believe this level of work should be done only on a volunteer basis. What is paid for such services is a worthwhile question, however.

        In any case, I believe the tone and details of your response provide the answer to my questions

        Thank You

      • Ymir says:

        “It appears that every time someone responds or asks a question, you have so many detailed answers except for those you cannot or will not address.”

        Ditto. I’m still waiting for an answer to a question I asked you twice in our last discussion, which was “What is your solution to the subsidy issue?”
        You did reply that Craig Barron would be a qualified representative to speak for the vfx industry, and I concur, he is an intelligent, passionate member of our industry and puts a face directly on those who have been hurt due the state of the industry.

        Yes, I am a member of the VES. I have also been a member of a lot of different organizations. But I am not a spokesman for any of them. As a VES member, I’m a happy member. A lot of your questions seem to have had a disparaging tone to them, as if your goal was to impart an ill impression of the society. A lot of your responses have also been rather detailed in knowledge of the early days of the society. I am only offering a counter perspective and for some reason you seem to have put me in your crosshairs because as a happy member, I challenged the impression you were trying to impart.

        I will take your word on what the ACE and MPSE offer for benefits. Again, I’ll point you towards the the VES website for all the benefits they offer. The VES also has an education committee which stages a number of events throughout the year.

        I would have to ask you, how do you know what the financials are for the various organizations? I take it you are a member of these organizations and have some specific knowledge, as you accuse me of for my VES membership?

        If you are not a member of the VES, how do you know what the office staffs’ salaries are? And if you know this, why are you asking me? Again, it seems your line of questioning, taken in conjunction with our previous discussion, is designed towards a negative point of view. Odd, especially for someone who says they are not a member. I just don’t share that view. To each their own, I guess.

        You’re welcome, and thank you, too.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Ymir,

        How do I know about these other organizations? I know because I have worked extensively with both of them. I also am a member of three organizations of a similar nature.

        If I had an answer for how to handle VES or the current industry problems…I would, indeed, be a very wise man.

        What I do know is that “actions speak for themselves…it is when the motivations for these actions come into question that problems will arise”….Jon Erland, Most Distinguished Founding VES Board Member.

        And thus…the lesson hath ended.

      • Ymir says:

        Far be it for me to question Mr. Erland’s wisdom and your motivations.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Last comment.

        On the surface after so many exchanges…one would think that both of us are motivated by the same reasons…to promote and enhance the dialogue seeking truth, direction, focus, understanding, detail and organized solutions to many problems impacting the visual effects industry, and more recently, VES.

        That’s it, Ymir.

    • vfxman says:

      @Caleb: What purpose would it due to hold the VES “feet to the fire”? Too me that is wasted energy. They are not the problem. The studios, subsidies and a bad business model are the problems. As much as the VES are either loved or hated by people, we are going to need all the support we can get for this battle. We need to show total solidarity.

    • tazzman says:

      Caleb, the VES is a 501 corp, a non-profit, that prevents it from doing much of anything beyond having an awards show, job fairs, and other things strictly industry-based.

      The membership fees go to the awards shows, job fairs, and other VES meetings. Plus, staff pay. All 501’s have expenses.

    • Scott Squires says:

      . I’m on the board and a number of committees. As Ymir pointed out it’s an all volunteer board members and committee members. (i.e .none of us get paid and none of the authors of the ves handbook get paid) It’s everyone giving their free time volunteering. There is Eric Roth and a small staff to deal with all of the issues like any non-profit and they are paid.

      VES has almost 3000 members worldwide. The ASC has about 300(?), most in US. The VES usually puts on at least 1 or 2 educational events a month. The VES actually has done quite a bit for the vfx community. The awards show may not sound like much but it does allow our members to view breakdowns and award people who would never be up for major awards. It also brings up the image of vfx artists in the film community.

      As Pam Hogarth, Look Effects who has been on the board, spoke up last night. There are a lot of things in the works at the ves. Much of it not ready to announce. There was a group looking into health care for a year but in the end they just couldn’t make it happen to get better rates. You need a lot of people to get any type of discount and there’s issues even between coverage in different states. That’s where a union classification helps.

      The VES held a union panel this last fall and did host multiple meeting with companies to see if the companies would be interested in a trade association. The larger companies had no interest.

      The VES is bad about their own PR and accomplishments. (White papers, tech standards in the works, etc) Also in the works mentioned at the annual meeting where meetings with the software publishing companies (forget the name of org) They certify companies for using purchased software. The intention is they can review vfx companies. Certification of companies and people also among things being explored.

      With regard to the California incentive request – the ves executive committee felt that trying to stop all subsidies would take a long time and be problematic. They thought that at least if California increased theirs at least a little then it would in some way help to balance the playing field. Not my particular viewpoint but that was what they were attempting to do.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Scott,

        You are a great artist and dedicated VES board member. More importantly, you are so dedicated to making things better. You have my deepest admiration.

        Over the past several years, VES with all the ‘best’ intentions, has published several ‘outspoken’ documents such as the Bill of Rights. I fully understand that elected officers and boards and governments make huge decisions without contacting their stockholders or constituents. My question is: “Did VES, at any time, during the past years issuing these statements and now subsidy decisions EVER consult the membership of their honorary society regarding these specific actions by their society… where being a member is a badge of honor?”

        A common thread throughout many post about VES is that its leadership is out of touch. No one questions the integrity of its members.

        So, again knowing that VES is under no legal obligations to go through this process with its general membership…do you think morally this what an honorary society does?

        The question is not what can it do? The question is not is it doing it legally. The question is: Is the membership even aware of any of this prior to it being released under the VES banner? Shouldn’t the ‘voice’ for visual effects have some sort of majority or consensus or, at least awareness, prior to announced actions at this level?

        Again, I truly applaud your efforts and commitment.

        Best of luck to VES, but more importantly, to the wonderful artists who comprise the visual effects landscape.

      • Scott Squires says:

        Personally I don’t see the Bill of RIghts as an outspoke document. I think it simply lays down what we all hope to expect vfx workers to be treated.

        In the past the VES was always non-political. As an honorary society we didn’t get involved in the business aspects but it was obvious there were major business issues brewing and people were getting frustrated that the VES wasn’t helping to try to correct the business aspects. It was hard because we are global society and honorary society by a couple of years ago the board decided it would be a good thing since neither the unions or trade association was happening at that time. That’s when VES 2.0 was announced.

        The question comes in how much feedback to get and for which questions. As you can see for any and every issue there are a lot of different and conflicting views. And confusion. After the bill of rights came out 50% of people said they thought it was great we were becoming a union. 50% wrote in and thought it was great that we were becoming a trade association.

        My personal view is the VES has to gather the facts , make presentations and get a major backing from it’s members for any large policy changes. I don’t think we’re taking as much advantage of the social networks as we could and the hope is the website will be reworked, yet again, to make it better for members.

        Regarding the subsidy issues that was an executive committee decision, not the regular board. (ie I wasn’t asked about it before it was released)

        We have a board meeting next week and i’m sure this will be a topic. If people have specific things to pass on the board you can send it to me although I suspect they’ve gotten enough feedback by now.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Scott,

        You are the essence of VES at its best. Thank you for your most candid and thoughtful response.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Hey Scott,

        One more thing, please. Everyone (I hope) understands and sympathizes and empathizes with VES being the focus for more help in troubled times…although there have been other troubled times as well. As Jim Morris so aptly put it years ago, “You might call visual effects an industry, but not a business.” (Quote is from memory…might vary).

        In any case, what people forget is that VES is what it is not by accident, but by purposeful design of some pretty impressive people. And, to the best of my recollection, VES brought together great and qualified artists to share and honor and give back and to commemorate and support the up and coming, yet always conflicting visual effects landscape. It was not by error that VES chose the path it took, and became a successful, respected part of the Hollywood and global community. VES put visual effects in the game.

        VES knew then, and built itself accordingly so that its future was not one of the political or business environment empowerment. Without much solicitation VES grew to almost 1000 qualified visual effects artists It was what it was designed to be…an honorary society.

        And, I guess the essence of this response is your candor stating that the VES Board was not consulted on the subsidy statement…it was an executive committee decision. Scott, maybe…just maybe…it is not too late. Either be a true honorary society and savor that role like ACE, MPSE, ASC or continue the path where it appears that a very few people (executive committee 5/6 people) are acting in their own words…as the ‘global voice for visual effects’.

        This is a really critical moment in the visual effects experience, please, take to the board meeting these thoughts.

        Thank You

      • Scott Squires says:

        I think the VES can still be effective in all of this. I think it can call for voices to be heard and for there to be discussions just like they did with the union and trade assoc meetings. That’s part of educating the members and looking to improve visual effects. It can’t necessarily back a particular political stance but it can help facilitate dialog and spreading of information. What the VES members take away from it will be up to them.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Scott,

        If VES is going to take positions on these issues…what VES members take away, for me, is less important than what they giver/contribute to the process.

        If VES is their voice…they should be a major part of the organizational process issuing statements on their behalf…in my humble opinion.

      • Scott Squires says:

        I agree regarding the VES. There needs to be more bidirectional communication with members.

      • Bob says:

        Amir sounds exactly like Jeff Okun?

      • Ymir says:

        Bob, I’m assuming you’re referring to me? Sorry, but I’m just an unemployed trench artist.

    • Bob says:

      You can see what the VES membership dues are spent on. Its on the website and you have to search to find it. You can also call the VES office (818) 981-7861 and ask for a copy of the general ledger. By law they have to show the members what the money is spent on. The society brings in on average 1.3 million. Of that, Eric Roth is paid $215,000 a year and his staff and offices cost $530,000 a year. They make a nice profit of $225,000 a year. Not sure what they do with that. Maybe they fly first class around the world signing up new members.

  19. Caleb says:

    Oh and big UPS to Dave Rand! Really good to have a voice with some passion and truth behind it. We need a LOT more Dave Rands in our biz that use the word “FUCK” more often.

    Thanks Dave!

    cro

    • VFX_Reckoning says:

      I totally agree. People should be passionate and angry about the situation. That poor guy has been screwed over more times then anyone should and I also give him props for keeping a level head amidst it all. Some of us would have snapped and went on a shooting rampage after the third time. It’s nice to have all of these people to look up to through all of this.

  20. A face in the crowd says:

    Ha ha, that was one of Dave Rand’s quotable quotes. However I do think the word he used was “dick”.

  21. Great Job says:

    Not to divert but this feature talk but we are saying this is a “VFX” fight.

    What’s most odd to me is…the gaming industry is not really speaking up.

    Gaming studios are imploding. Seems to me, game makers are totally bleeding and have been for a while. Worse than film. I think on average they make less and grind as hard. And the publishers vs game makers war tends to have the flat bid problems as well with revisions dragging on.

    Each with controlled interests/leverage:

    *Publisher vs Developer/VFX Shop

    *Ad Agency vs VFX Shop

    *Film Studio vs VFX Studio

    I’m seeing people miserable on twitter, the trending is full of aweful stories. Misery. Burnout. Fear. Uncredited. Invisible. People.

    • Dave Rand says:

      Please forward and information to me. If there are any VFX professionals that would like their story told at the next conference…told by themselves, or by the panel, on or off the record, I would be glad to help.

    • A face in the crowd says:

      Two contributing reasons come to mind — game vfx workers tend to be younger and on a learning curve about their rights — and game companies tend to hire more full time staff thus they don’t suffer the same degree of instability.

    • Jeffrey says:

      The game industry is having a hard time right now as well. However their story is a bit different. Their whole industry is having trouble right now. People are buying fewer games, sales are down. Money all around is much less.

      The big slap in the face to the people working on movies is that the film industry is having record sales while the companies that did the work are going out of business.

      That’s not to say that things don’t need to change for the gaming industry as well. EA a few years ago was practicing some very shady busness practices which eventully caught up to them with a huge lawsuit due to unpaid OT to it’s employers.

    • Scott Squires says:

      Don’t most in games work for the people actually making the game? Just curious how much 3rd party companies are inbetween artists and company making the sales. Like the difference of an animation company with their own IP and an animation service which simply does the work.

      • Great Job says:

        The model is you have the publisher/IP Holders (who people think made the game)…who is the studio of the equation. Think EA, microsoft, cap com, activation/blizzard, etc). They market the hell out of the game once it’s done. Really more of a bloated marketing dept just like a film studio.

        Then you have the developer side which is like the production co/vfx shop (Mill/DD/Method, R&H, etc). They manage mo-cap stages, tons of cg artists, designers, illustrators animators. Coders. Similar to a hollywood VFX feature shop.

        From my experience, those places have very young people (23, etc) designing the game, with a few older guys, probably kept around just to train the new guys.

        When they “finish the game” they submit to the publisher who can say, actually, we want more revisions. Repeat. Until their satisfied so they can release payment. Just like a film studio and a vfx house.

        I’ve heard this can be a problem with “certain publishers” more than others. I’d love to see a list of who sucks at that and who doesn’t put developers out of business.

        Furthermore they are experimenting with outsourcing games to be built in romania, etc. And they come back looking like pure crap.

        And many of them… they aren’t even making money at the end of the day. It’s a mess.

      • Scott Squires says:

        Thanks for clarifying.

      • Great Job says:

        Also whats sad is those 23 year old game designers are kept in the dark when it comes to recognition. They aren’t always great public speakers. Sometimes they are. So, when it comes to the release of the game, the publishers take stage for the team’s hard work. Then again they also take the criticism too when a game sucks. And in that case the developer is also “discovered”.

        You also have companies like Rockstar Games which are both developer and publisher. There’s also alot of acquiring going on…it’s complicated, not sure how well they hybrid model works. The games are going to mobile too, but they’re hit and miss.

      • Great Job says:

        update: Rockstar Games is owned by Take-Two interactive actually.

        From wikipedia under “video game publisher”.
        “As businesses go, video game publishing is associated with high risk…etc…games are getting more expensive to produce.”

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

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

        Wow! See the wikipedia above about the quality of life at a developer. Note, they are talking about best scenarios when they do discuss perks.

        And…to me the perks are like perks in a jail. Even jails have perks and recreation for the good inmates. ;)

      • Great Job says:

        Imagine also. The games are being made 4 times. For Playstation, Xbox, Wi, iPhone, etc. It gets complicated and bloated on an IP level too.

  22. wb says:

    If VES is a honorary society, what do they do here?
    I know couple of members (companies owners)who repeatedly are breaking the Bill of Rights. Not the producers, or the governments.
    As soon as they can get some money squishing people , they will do it.
    And they are members of VES – a honorary society.
    Recently VES came out with a shop – (tshirts and caps) . Who needs tshirts now?
    Bullets – does VES have bullets? It’s war time.
    And why , as a honorary society, he came out with a letter – Call fro Action!!!

    • Ymir says:

      The Bill of Rights that the VES released is not a legal binding document that anyone has signed. It does represent a fair amount of research into the concerns that face all segments of the VFX puzzle: the studios, the facilities, and the artists. Should there ever be a union or a trade association, the Bill of Rights does present a lot of ‘legwork’ already done. It’s not a perfect document and there could be more concerns that need to be addressed. Are the company owners breaking any labor laws of your location? If so, they should be reported.

      Suppose the studios (hypothetically) came to their senses and decided to play fair before the golden goose is killed. They would want to know a list of what needs to be addressed. With members that cut across the full spectrum of the VFX industry, the VES can say they’ve polled their membership and here’s what they came up with gathering opinions of artists and facility exec. members. With the lack of a union or a trade association, who else has come close to collecting and presenting that kind of information? The VES can’t bargain collectively, but it can be a focused voice for the concerns of the visual effects field based on what it hears from its membership.

      Bullets – have you tried to find ammo lately? Unless you’re DHS, good luck! ;-)

      • tazzman says:

        lol

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        “…VES can say they’ve polled their membership and here’s what they came up with gathering opinions of artists…”

        What was the level of membership participation or even the board of directors regarding the “Call to Action” subsidy statement? According to Scott Squires BOD member, he was not consulted and clearly stated this would be addressed at the VES BOD Meeting this week.

        What I would give to be a ‘fly on the wall’ at that meeting.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        The VES Bill of Rights and 2.0 and other statements are presented by VES as the ‘global voice of 3000 members’…but perhaps, these statements may be only rendered by just a few on the executive committee. Certainly, the most recent Call to Action and VFX Congress were the sole actions of the VES executive committee confirmed by a post from a VES board member. Apparently, neither the board or membership were involved in this decision.

        “…with members cut across the full spectrum of the VFX industry…”

        Really?

      • Ymir says:

        “That’s it, Ymir.”

        Evidently not.
        Seriously, man, are you going to bird dog every every comment I make for a chance to take a shot at the VES? Your fixation on that is rather suspicious, considering that you are no longer a member. Get over it. Move on with life.

        And my comment was obviously about the Bill of Rights, not the recent call to action. But nice attempt at trying to promote your disparaging views on the VES. We get it.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Okay, Ymir…if you are stating the the VES membership participated in the Bill of Rights and/or 2.0 in their development…I stand corrected. Because as a member you would then have been participated in the VES framing of these issues, and as such you would know.

        Again, if so, I humbly apologize.

        But, you do accept the fact that the most controversial VES statement of late regarding a Call to Action for subsidy support was made at the executive committee level only.

        You need not defend VES, because I am not and have not been attacking it. I am just dumbfounded that none of this behavior appears to bother you at all…a very active member…probably the most outspoken on this site.

        Personally, I believe it is a very bad day when a Vice Chair of VES receives ‘boos’ and cannot provide specific answers about VES and its plans. I feel sorry for Mike Chambers having to go through that, and worse that VES and ‘boos’ could be connected in the same sentence. That was something I never imagined I would ever see.

        And, Ymir, don’t start getting in my face about this. Just read the story about the Town Hall in the Hollywood Reporter or watch the video.

      • Ymir says:

        GRS, I am an American. That doesn’t mean that I always agree with the actions of my government. But I’m grateful that I live in a country where I can participate to try to make things better. Nothing is going to get better unless people participate. So as a member of the VES, I do. I take my membership seriously, and I’m glad to be a member of an organization that includes many of my ‘heroes’ as members. Sure, it’d be a lot easier to just sit on the sidelines and make statements and ask leading questions designed to elicit a desired answer. But it’s my opinion that being actively involved is the way to make real progress.

        I could be wrong, but I can’t recall many (if any) posts from you that weren’t VES-centric, and those predominantly negative in tone. Since you are not a member, I am dumbfounded as to why what the society does bothers you at all. At least I’m a member and participating in whatever way I can to try to make things better. The sense I get from you is the kid sitting in the back of the classroom shooting spit wads at the people trying to do something.

        We get the government we vote for, and the same goes with organizations such as the VES. The VES has done a lot of good things for its members over its history. In my opinion, I’m not ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater over this one incident, just as I’m not going to expatriate because I disagree with some of the decisions of our national leaders. My solution is to be involved to the best of my abilities to make things better.

        As for getting in anyone’s face, I believe you set the discordant tone to our ‘relationship’ back when you said “Okay Ymir, you asked for it.” I was perfectly willing to let our discussion lie with your well stated “last comment” sentiments about us both being passionate and concerned members of the vfx community. But I guess you feel there’s still some flesh on this dead horse left to flail.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        Ymir,

        When did I EVER suggest that you throw “the baby out with the bath water”, nor have I EVER suggested, wished or desired VES to continue to suffer under the present circumstances…cause by themselves.

        This is not about me. It is about VES and the current problems it has apparently created. These problems have caused VES, in my humble opinion, to lose much faith and credibility.

        I do agree with your point that people get the government they deserve. So, I guess at the end of the day…this is the real point of our debate.

        As a VES member, you should be content with your management and leadership as under this scenario…it is what you deserve.

        Sadly, I believe visual effects folks truly deserve better, and I hope VES, a union, trade organization or whatever is achieved will represents the artists in the best possible light.

        That is all I have ever worked, hoped and cared about for visual effects artists for over twenty years.

        Don’t worry, I am sure another issue will soon replace this one drawing new thoughts and comments from interested parties.

        Until then…..

      • Ymir says:

        “This is not about me. It is about VES and the current problems it has apparently created. These problems have caused VES, in my humble opinion, to lose much faith and credibility.”

        Then I would respectfully suggest that it be left to the VES (its EC, its BoD, and its MEMBERS) to discuss on how to solve this problem internally, and to decide how to best move forward.

      • Get Real Soldier says:

        That would be the same VES Executive Committee which unilaterally came out with the “Call to Action” and the subsidy agreement without consulting the VES BOD or its members.

        Absolutely, what a great idea. Let’s see what else these most respected and ‘elected'[ leaders do for VES and the industry at large.

        It is in your hands…now…in the past…and, in the future.

        You have your wish. Now, let’s us all see what happens leaving this in the hands of Eric Roth, Jeff Okun and the others on the VES Executive Committee.

        “Actions will speak for themselves…it is when the motivations for these come into question…that problems will arise.”

        I am sure that VES with the support of members like you will act in the way representing your interests as outlined in your many posts.

        Good luck.

      • Ymir says:

        “Good luck.”

        Thanks, Tom.

    • Brother VFX says:

      wb,
      The VES is not allowed legally to do anything except be what they are, a honorary society. Are the vfx companies breaking the VES bill of rights owned by companies in India or China? These companies do not have the same laws as we do in the USA and therefore the VES bill of rights is worthless :)

  23. Dave Rand says:

    For the first time in my 18 year career as a vfx artist the client, a studio, hosts our overtime lunch. This comes two weeks after the Animation Guild hosts our overtime lunch. Everyone is just getting so friendly!

    Can you see what happens when there’s balance?

    • Great Job says:

      Brother I do see. You’ve taught me a serious life lesson.

      I first had to learn how to “see” as an artist. Only to realize the business is a 5th dimension required to be great as a commercial artist. Now I can “see”. Fuck.

      A little late as I feel like I’ve lost half my life already. Better late than never.

    • Paul says:

      You must be joking or being sarcastic right?!

  24. Rob says:

    I just stumbled across a slightly older but still relevant article on crunch time. Which is an issue that rarely seems to be talked about openly (though it was mentioned two times during this meeting, I believe – if only briefly because of course issues of e.g. not getting paid at all are even more important), yet clearly stresses a lot of people. At least the people I got to know who either thought about leaving the industry or actually did certainly didn’t do it because they felt underpaid or didn’t enjoy working on the projects.

    The article is about the video game industry but it of course applies just as much to the VFX industry. I especially enjoyed this part about how the employees themselves support that treatment. It’s just so familiar:
    “This “culture of fear” isn’t something overt, but rather is a subversive, almost jock-like attitude found throughout the industry. It’s a sense that if you’re not working overtime, you’re not part of the team.”

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/05/the-death-march-the-problem-of-crunch-time-in-game-development/

    • Scott Squires says:

      There were a couple of other crunch and overtime articles indexed on Facebook.

      Added at end of OT post

      http://effectscorner.blogspot.com/2011/04/overtime-and-misc.html

      • Rob says:

        Great!
        I find it funny that one of the other articles also refers to that old study done by Chapman.

        As for Facebook – to me, that doesn’t count as public discourse. Instead, I see it as a conglomerate of nonsense where it is mostly the most inarticulate who bother communicating and are given attention.
        Seeing what bloggers in the industry write about, what was talked about at that town hall, the comments on blogs, discussions people have at work and so on – all of that is what qualifies as public discourse to me. And that is where I’ve seen relatively little talk about overtime. In fact, quite a few comments usually either defend overtime or at least dismiss it as an issue. And I believe that has a lot do with that attitude that article mentions. People don’t want to seem lazy, so they don’t dare to criticize overtime policies. When it’s really not about being lazy but simply living one’s life! It feels like one would have to teach people that it is OK – hell, even healthy – to also care about other things in life besides work.

  25. wb says:

    Regarding the MPC’s recruitment campaign around the globe :
    (https://ch.tbe.taleo.net/CH04/ats/careers/requisition.jsp?org=MPC&cws=1&rid=1567) I think it is very similar to this :

    Child Catchers…

  26. One important thing that was only lightly addressed was us as creators building our own IP and I believe that should be the intermediary/protective layer that provides the last line of defense.

    The thing is…I’m sure movie studios are beginning to feel the rumbling that’s going on, especially after the demonstration at the Oscars. I’m sure they haven’t turned a blind eye to the new Union VFX chapters that have shown up. Studios are going to accelerate the rate of transition of top level VFX artists/technicians to overseas locations to train faster and train more people to do exactly what many of us are afraid of. Definitely those people over there will begin to demand the same things US workers are demanding, but how long will that take 5 years, 10 years? I don’t know. How long is the litigation to end international VFX subsidies going to take and is there a decent chance of winning? I don’t know. If all of these things do push a significant amount of work out of the States what are we supposed to do in the mean time while waiting for the dust to clear? I don’t know.

    What I do know is that there needs to be an additional part of the plan that’s designed to be a contingency for the worst case scenario. If we own some property and use the collective power of social media to promote and the collaborative power tools of the internet to organize and crowd fund I do think a collective silver lining can be built. There are so many tools available for creative entrepreneurship it seems foolish not to collectively take advantage of it now.

  27. Does anyone else feel like there’s no way IP ownership shouldn’t be a chunk of this plan moving forward?

    • Pi says:

      Is there anyone stopping you from creating and promoting your own IP?

      • Great Job says:

        One of the things about IP.. it is very legally complicated.

        It’s the wild west out there.The laws have not been updated and need to be…wherein things get confusing and expectations misaligned between parties. .

        IP Companies need lawyers. Try $450-500/hr lawyers. On the cheap you can get advice, but it rapidly get expensive when it gets to intellectual property and licensing. Imagine trying to compete with the studios in that. I think yes over time but…they have lawyers and lots of really really good ones!

        You could easily need to enforce the IP if someone else steals it. But good luck on recovering it.

        Legal power is leverage too. Hence why studios have contracts in their favor and lawyers to follow up on it.

        Without that, stuff stalls and then waits in limbo to get take course legally. They could shut down your next Batman lookalike even though it’s an original concept. It’s not what’s fair. It’s leverage. And this is the nature of tyranny gained by best legal departments in the biz.

        I can easily see that the bigger studios would really try to make it difficult with cease and desist attacks. That would suck if they got pissed. Like pissing off an elephant in a small room. ;)

      • No, I’m moving forward on my own IP. I was just wondering why there hasn’t been more discussion about getting organized on a larger scale with it.

      • With it being as legally complicated as it is banning together in numbers to pool resources seems to make a lot of sense to me, so we aren’t all picked off one by one.

      • Pi says:

        @Edward (Butch) Arri
        Banning together to create IP may be as simple as having 1000 cooks in one kitchen. Who makes the creative calls? Says who?

      • What I would be interested in is having a large superstructure under which several smaller groups operate cycling through individual projects for a set period of time until all of the projects are complete.

        As to you comment on who decides what and when…You know, I don’t quite understand why it’s such a problem for some people to take direction from other people that are in the same boat with them, but it’s quite alright to take marching orders, criticism and accept general derision from people that don’t know a NURBS surface from a Polygonal surface and constantly have an eye towards wanting to pay you less or not at all, but whatever. Hopefully others will think differently moving forward.

      • Pi says:

        @Edward (Butch) Arri
        Who gets paid in the large superstructure? Only the people at the top? If so, who decides who is at the top? Where does the money come from? Or is it all volunteer work?

      • Ok…obviously if I stated that everyone would individually completely own their finished projects giving up a small portion of the revenue to pay for people that worked on the projects and for legal services is one way I would see it working. Probably a break that would seem logical to me would be 70/30 for as long as the indie owners would be part of the group.

      • (I made a mistake in writing) Ok…obviously if I stated that everyone would individually completely own their finished projects that means that there would be someone waiting to collect all of the money at the end that didn’t do any work on any of the projects.

      • Great Job says:

        Butch,

        It’s not impossible. I never say never. But I think one of the hidden problems for many vfx artists is they want to be the autuer of the entire piece. They would constantly dog you and tell you you are incompetent as the director. Brothers Strauss are hated. What director isn’t hated. I dunno man.

        While a novel idea, I think it still doesn’t solve the problem.

        VFX Artists don’t like their jobs. They really want to direct. And if they can’t direct, they get really embittered. I think there are major issues with the flat bid model, OT, etc. But underneath all of this discussion, VFX folks got into the business to be the next director down the line. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is a serious topic that is ugly, but nevertheless a reality.

        Trust me, I’m one of them. I don’t want to be credited down below craft service. I want to be at the top. ;)

      • Scott Squires says:

        Actually I think most vfx workers got in because they loved what they did. I certainly did. I think many animators, physical modelers, matte painters, etc all enjoyed what they did by and large. Not everyone wants to work with actors and put up with all the other things. Many like to focus on creating things directly.

        Certainly there are some throughout the film industry that would like to be directors, and I’ve done a bit myself. For people who’s only real focus is on directing the vfx route is probably one of the worst methods of getting there.

      • Pi says:

        @Edward (Butch) Arri
        Who funds these projects? Does everyone who works on these projects get paid?

      • Great Job says:

        To Scott S. Agreed. I was a bit extreme in my definition of it. Artists being artists. Mileage varies. I think the talented artists out there should be able to blossom into directing. You were fortunate. That’s good to hear.

      • @Great Job I agree with Scott. I went to film school and then later got another technical degree in VFX essentially to not be an ignorant director knowing that where we are now with VFX was just down the road. The thing is while doing the Master’s degree I discovered that the work itself, on the VFX side were just as gratifying as directing, but just in a different way. I like both equally and I can’t really see there being that many people that just hate working in VFX for the reasons you stated. It doesn’t seem like there are many people interested in this so I’m not just going to keep discussing it like there are after this.

        @Pi Seriously? If you interested in starting a laundromat with a partner would you would you ask the partner how you were going to get a regular bi-weekly check right from the start? I feel like that’s basically what you’re asking.

        Realistically you look at like any other small business you would start…FIRST you have to be a person that’s interested in building your own business. After that it’s a matter of working at it in your spare time, probably turning it into a kickstarter project to get seed money, having the larger group promote the hell out of the projects via social media and eventually doing more targeted promotion whether the final destination distribution network is Netflix, Steam, the iBook store, the App Store, the Android store, amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Major Movie Theaters etc.

      • Pi says:

        @Edward (Butch) Arri
        Developing your own IP, or small business, on your own time and dime is one thing.
        Developing IP that belongs in part to a larger organization of 10,000 people on your own time and dime is quite another.

    • vfxmafia says:

      IP has has been discussed….but mainly concerning what The brothers Strausse has done with Skyline.

      The brother’s made money but i dont think any off the back end went to the VFX artists on it…

      Problem with IP is funding…you need the $200 million for transformers….

      • vfxmafia says:

        Pixar does have a business model…its a 5 YEAR process.

        1. 2-3 Years for the writer/director to flush out a script. Usually the writers a literaly given a house to live in that is close to Pixar studio. Countless revisions and testings….are done…

        2. 1-2 years of actual VFX production

      • I don’t know that shooting for the $200M budget project right from the start is particularly productive either from a motivational standpoint or financially practical even if the money could be raised. I do think that taking on smaller projects, book projects, children’s book projects, television projects that can be syndicated/distributed through a variety of channels at a much lower cost that continue to generate recurring revenue for owners over time and then moving into higher cost projects is a more logical progression.

      • Mclovin Pizza says:

        Butch…VFX studios already do this now. It’s the wild west and either via the label of advertising or “branded content”. People are making amazing films. Direct to client stuff, etc.

        They just have a hard time marketing them to be paid for beyond free vimeo viewings or advertising a brand. Unless it goes to sundance or cannes.

        Independent film, last I checked was not doing well fiscally. I dunno, you tell me. I could be wrong. Does anyone get rich in indie film of any kind? WIthout studio help that is?

        The studios truly dominate via tyranny. They’ve spammed the world so “indies” can hardly make a peep.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Mclovin Pizza your right…

        I have produced my own IP…..long story….i gave it up years ago. I have tons of friends in the Indy game doing sundance stuff for $5 million type shit….alot documentarys etcs….

        Those guys are complaining getting theaters bumped do to the big block busters…..got own the distribution as well as the IP….

        eh what do i know …its easier to make $ on stocks than it is in movie IP

      • @Mclovin Pizza I’m not simply talking about a bunch of VFX people getting together making an Indie film, crossing their fingers and hoping for the best…that’s pretty much where we are now. I’m talking about pulling like 10,000 people together, having them broken up into groups of five or ten or whatever cycling through their subgroups to build shorts, games, graphic novels etc. in their spare time but consistently (like most small businesses are built) and coming up with creative ways for 10,000 people to promote all of the projects via social media as they are completed.

        I would find it hard to believe that there wouldn’t be a couple of projects that couldn’t come out of an organization like what I’m talking about and get the work on Netflix,in the App Store, on Steam etc. to start and actively promoting them to get more viewers/users to be able to demand more money for the next slate of programs and then move to other distribution networks and do the same thing.

        To me, as I said I don’t see it as a replacement for a job I just view something like this as complimentary and as a hedge against whatever response may be coming from the studio system. Don’t think for a second that they’re just going to rollover and acquiesce to the call for bringing more jobs back to the US, paying fair wages, benefits etc.

      • Pi says:

        @Edward (Butch) Arri
        I’m all for developing your own IP.
        So who owns the work of the 10,000 people? Do you distribute the profits among the 10,000? Is it only the people who actually did the work?
        If its only the people who actually did the work that benefit from the profits, how is that different from starting your own small business?
        And I do think that starting your own small business is a very good idea.

      • @Pi the IP would be creator owned and it would be building a small business, but within a network of other businesses and IP. The difference is that with numbers come advantages in production, negotiation for distribution, promotion. If you look entrepreneurial immigrants in many countries many have used this method so clearly it works it’s just a matter of one being able to subordinate ego until their project comes up to be collectively worked on. The other business model I can think of that’s similar to what I’m talking about is Image Comics where the company itself owns no intellectual property, but the individual creators benefit from the collective publishing power of the single company.

      • Pi says:

        So you want to own your own IP and have your own small business? Sure. Why not?

      • One way I could see the revenue break down would look like this:

        Creator owns IP

        Revenue
        Creator – 60%
        Direct Contributors – 25%
        Larger Company Overhead – 10%
        All other members – 5%

        10,000 members = (roughly) 200 Sub groups

        My guess is the way current business runs is something like this:

        Studio – 85%
        Post Production Employees- 15%

      • It probably would make sense to take percentage out of all of that put into a Health Benefits fund, but generally it’s just an idea of how the revenue might breakdown.

      • beauty says:

        butch, i’m beautiful too … can i be a character in your graphic novel?

        i like what you wrote @Yaris_Sanchez … Also I’m about to send you and email about being a muse for a 3D creature character in a graphic novel.Hope u participate.

        i also like that you wrote @kiss_meliss Your gorgeous! Would you ever consider collaborating (as a character) for a graphic novel?

      • @beauty …anonymous stalkers are creepy.

      • beauty says:

        you mean stalkers named butch aren’t creepy?

        by the way, did kim kardashian ever respond to your tweets?

      • No thanks! says:

        @ButchArri
        If you want to collaborate with gorgeous gals on graphic novels, go right on ahead.
        But don’t come to this site expecting artists to join your merry band of 10,000 collaborators, so we can make 25% of the profits of your brilliant ideas.
        No, we are not interested in “subordinating our egos” to you.

  28. David Murallo (@metroeastd) says:

    Maybe I am simplifying the problems too much but I would think that if the VFX houses change from a fixed feed bid to something that will account for the additional work that seems to come up during production (maybe a cost plus bid?). If the studios don’t go for the idea, then VFX houses have to run the risk of not doing the work. VFX houses need to diverse. Film is not the only potential client. We need to expand and look into additional revenue streams.

    Digital Domain was one of companies that didn’t shy away from vfx for television as soon as it was doing film work. Don’t but all your eggs in one basket people.

    VFX houses also need to not get pressured by the studios to relocate to take advantage of subsidies. That is like the facade of a western town that is being held up with a few two by fours (http://www.retroweb.com/40acres/40acres_western_town_bison_03.jpg). Subsides were designed to create new sustainable businesses, not relocate workers for temp employment.

    I think once these things are done, I think the union has a better shot at working with the VFX houses and the artists to get better working coniditions, healthcare, benefits and the respect that they deserve.

  29. illuminated1. says:

    just listening to Dave Rand for 5 minutes made me want to vomit. So here is a former stock broker that made a mint on insider trading and everyone laughs… WTF is wrong with you morons?!? this is the kind of person you want in charge???

    • vfxmafia says:

      To Illuminated1

      Anytime you want to put your credentials on the table…oh mighty illuminated 1 please tell us the light……

      • vfxmafia says:

        To the illuminated1

        this is forum trying to solve serious problems and have serious discussions. Please keep your posts to an 8th grade reading level.

      • illuminated1. says:

        well i guess i ruffled some feathers, but seriously dave, do you think bragging about your thefts in the stock market is doing you any favors? If you would prefer the three syllable words, i am more than happy to oblige. but whatever you do, dont debate the issue at hand, which is your hidden agendas.

      • vfxmafia says:

        to Illuminated1:

        and what hidden agendas does Dave Rand have? Dave has done nothing but inspire and unite artists. Seriously what is your vendetta against Dave and why do you continue to make adolescent posts on this forum? You speak in such criptic and vague terms you make no sense ….other than to character assasinate a respected member of the VFX community.

        Dave’s anecdote is so harmless…..that it pains me to respond to your post.

        Seriously whats your point? Here’s a sugestion….how about you comment on VFX Townhall? Why dont you share your expirience in the VFX industry? A simple and well thought out question would do as well? You must realize alot heavy duty VFX people are reading this forum dont you? Why dont you try to illuminate us oh illuminated1?

      • illuminated1. says:

        mafia, your ad hominem and strawman attacks as well as your argument ad populum only serve to further your digression and poisoning of the well. the fact that, by your very own admission, you cannot understand me, is in fact evidence to your ignorance, though your rail against my assertion with no evidence what so ever. i am not seeking to be the ring leader of these worthless pawns, and it is not i who boasted about my wall st. roots.

        in summation, you have not addressed anything for which i bring to the floor,which is; the boasting of, not only theft, but having been a member of the den of thieves. So please continue to make this about me and not those who piously taught their philanthropic lifestyle at the waldorf on venice beach.

      • Mclovin Pizza says:

        To Illuminated: Sure Dave has an agenda:…healthcare, pension, respect, balance, leverage. It’s the same thing pretty much every artist on this board wants.

        Filmmaking is a pretty expensive career. It costs money. It costs time. It costs health. The investment in being a creative person takes sharpening my saw, almost everyday for the rest of my career.

        Good Luck.

      • Dave Rand says:

        I usually don’t respond to the anonymous heckler of these pages, but I feel it should not be the task of others to defend me.

        I left the brokerage industry to follow a career in art. If you’ve just woken up to the fact that Wall Street is corrupt, I woke up to it in 1995 and left after my training. I don’t recall stating I profited from any insider deal, I was however asked to put my clients in ideas that were both contrived or destined for failure and I wanted no part of it.

        I’ve had many careers before that, most lasting 3-4 yrs until I found visual effects. Now I care enough about it to fight for it….

        I merely offer my experience from all careers as it pertains to this industry and my 18 yrs. Most importantly when I’m offering a critique of someone’s actions I feel it’s important to have the courage to use my real name and stand behind what I say. If I’ve twisted, even by accident someones story, I promptly apologize.

      • illuminated1. says:

        dear dave:
        I usually dont waste time with futile exercises like trying to get a sociopath to understand my point of view, but you arent the only one reading this are you?

        If you are just waking up to the fact that the public is on to you and your boys, and not nearly as ignorant as you lead yourself to believe, you might want to get used to it. In fact I remember the S&L scandal of the 80s. so if transparency is something you are really interested in, why dont you share with the class how much you made back then? If you are really into making demands like the police, then tell us how much you made on the alias sale, and be honest, there are documents.

        how bout you tell us how many wall street buddies you still run with?

        I have, not once, accused you of never helping anyone. nor have i made any kind of accusations of anything other than the words you yourself spoke, so boastful on camera like an actor on stage.

        i can hear your condescending dismissal in your written voice; so what? in your world this is all about a popularity contest? i can assure you, i have no interest in wasting my efforts on people I have no respect for whatsoever.

        I have, on multiple occasions, set my career and reputation on the line in this great state of california for causes far greater than this.

        it is peculiar how your career is in no jeapordy whatsoever. How bout, like mitt romeny, you present your 2008-2012 tax returns? honestly dave, there is no such thing as random, and this is no where near left field. the world turns in a vaccum, but hollywood does not.

        ./endOfLine

    • Scott Ross says:

      In unity there is strength… Dave Rand is a warm hearted, compassionate, decent human being. Back off…..

      • illuminated1. says:

        scott, you and dave are simply different sides of the same coin. i would mind what i say from here on out if i were you… but i am not … am i?

    • Andreas jablonka says:

      Illuminate1: you are attacking one of us for a previous life, you accuse him and yet you don’t even have the balls to dobso with your real name! Back off and leave this blog, we don’t need your contributions, I am not gonna sit here and let one of the warmest, most honest and selfless artist we have in Vfx be insulted by an annymous Internet troll! We all owe Dave Rand so much, you should be ashamed of yourself!

      If you feel like fighting this out, you see my name, google me , find me and see if I have the balls you lack.

      Leave Dave Rand alone. Now!

      • illuminated1. says:

        Andreas, do your best, ive taken all the beatings they had, and i am still standing, you want your turn. BRING IT DONT SING IT!

      • Andreas jablonka says:

        Well you keep yourself hidden cowardly , must be nice to insult people from behind that cloak of anonymity.

      • illuminated1. says:

        well ill be honest, your opinion counts all of jack shit in my world. stay in your cubicle where people pretend you matter… otherwise ill see you in the streets, i guarantee…

      • McLovin Pizza says:

        Guys the passion is evident. But lets not turn this thread into a place where people make physical threats.

        That said, offline, if you do…make sure you get it real good on video and be sure to put it on youtube! ;)

        Title it: VFX vs VFX.

        Luff Ya,
        Mclovin

      • Dave Rand says:

        No problem guys. I was a trainee making 30k/year salary when that deal came through. I was the only trainee at the time that Lehman ever had. I was a broker for a short time afterwards. I made nothing off the Alias/Wavefront deal and yes people knew SGI was going to take them over and that rumor was pretty much built into the stock on that secondary offering. No one got hurt, quite frankly most people had no clue what the deal was about.They needed to increase their float to get enough shares out there for a takeover vote…, their was no scandal worth mentioning other than in some anecdote leading up to why I left the business. It just was not for me. The final reason I left was a couple years after that I helped bring a deal to the table for my former employer and they got screwed. That was enough for me.

        Mr Illuminati has demonstrated for all of us that we are succeeding at shaking up the opposition. I look forward to being entertained by your next anonymous heckle, rant, or other less than brave remarks.

        Thanks for letting us know we have shaken the tree.

      • Thank you Dave says:

        Dave, VFX Soldier, Scott, and Scott, thank you for bringing us together.
        From his/her comments, its clear that illuminated1 isn’t one of us …

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        So Illuminated1 has chosen to take the strange way of a linkedin introduction through a high profile recruiter I am connected with. To Challenge me to a fight…*facepalm*
        An off way and waste of time but it gives us a name:
        Ari Ashkanazi

        This is a very unprofessional way of contacting me with your macho hatemail. But at least now we can reveal your true identity on the blog. Lets hope you dont get hatemail..

        What is your beef with Rand? he is such a nice human being, we all owe him a lot. I see you worked at dd/spi/r&h you might even know Dave in person then. what fuels you? He has since responded to your accusation. So a grow a pair and apologize to him on the blog!

        cheers,
        Andreas

        On 3/21/13 3:17 PM, RECRUITER wrote:
        ——————–
        Andreas – Ari has asked me to introduce you two….for a fight? Lord.

        Here you go.

        On 3/20/13 6:20 AM, Ari Ashkanazi wrote:
        ——————–
        hi Andreas Joblanka has called me out for a fight, i was wondering if you would introduce us so we can get it on.

      • McLovin Pizza says:

        That illuminated guy is quite a piece of work. He could of simply contacted you directly through your website.Your phone number and email is clearly there. What a total nut bag. Seems like a psychopath.

        Andreas please don’t fight this man. As much as I love (!) to watch fights on youtube, fighting is pointless. No one wins bro.

        Both of you…maybe take a porn break or somethin. ;0

        Luff Ya, LOL!!
        Mclovin

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        He seems crazy yes. And dont worry I dont believe in fights as solutions, he has no interest talking to me or telling me why he hates Dave so much and I have no interest doing a brawl like your in highschool :) thanks for caring though Mclovin Pizza

      • Dave Rand says:

        I pity the fool that tries to fight you Andreas..thanks for defending me. We can’t go clobbering each other though… but I know a few studio execs that could be use some leaning on : )

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        hehe anytime Dave. Nice Mr.T reference there :)
        We need to UNITE rather than fight amongst ourselves I feel.

      • Mclovin Pizza says:

        Dave you’re the man. If anything when I heard about your banker days, I was impressed. I said to myself here is a man with vision, balls the size of churchbells and backbone that most don’t have. Good for you for pursuing your dreams in art. And nailing that. Indirectly a kind of a modern day Gauguin: Banker to Artist. Love that when people actualize their dreams in art from business. Which shocks people that a person who was a _________ could be a _______. I love that.

  30. ds says:

    A lot of the focus has been on subsidies and the union, so it’s good to hear the discussion of organizing the VFX houses, since a healthier industry will I think go a long way to addressing the problems of the workers. Maybe identifying points to apply leverage is a good way to start addressing the next question: If we get organized at different levels, then what. What steps will actually help improve our position. I want to offer a few suggestions:

    The Problems:
    Hollywood’s problems are the VFX world’s problems, and the VFX world’s problems are the worker’s problems. So if Hollywood can’t keep up with the times and figure out how to deal with new technology, then maybe they shouldn’t be the ones in charge. If their understanding of the process that accounts for upwards of 80 percent of the onscreen content amounts to one undifferentiated number in a budget, and no curiousity to hear about anything beyond that, no wonder movies have been falling out of their position as the primary culturally relevant art form. There’s much to be said in the way of providing stories that give guidance or suggestions about how to deal with changing technology, environmental change, all the contemporary issues. You don’t say things like that with video games or the internet; you say things like that as people always have, with good stories and pictures, and grappling with and taking advantage of all the latest technology to say something relevant to what people are experiencing now. That’s what good art is all about. Life of Pi does it. Battleship doesn’t. But if the people in charge are kinda clueless and fearful of this stuff, they’ll just keep trying to cover their asses, deliver some facile, outdated message, and reuse the twirly thing from Transformers again, hoping that no one notices.

    The elephant in the room as far as I see it is that visual effects is no longer visual effects. Visual effects is not digital effects either. Visual effects is filmmaking. If you’re coming up with the majority of your on-screen content as well as starring characters in visual effects, then that’s called making your movie. You capture the performance of your actors, and then when you’re done with that, then you go about the business of making your movie. So when Ang Lee says that visual effects is expensive, that’s correct: making a movie is expensive. And what we do should probably account for far more than 50 percent of the budget. If you have one big undifferentiated number in the budget, that means that you’re ignorant, and that is indeed a problem. Let’s try to get a better measure of what ‘visual effects’ is and does, and then we might have a better idea of how to apportion our budget appropriately.

    My specific suggestions for points of leverage and means to apply pressure are the following:
    1) First, let’s pull all the raw plates from Life of Pi, and put together the entire movie with no ‘visual effects’ (Working title: “Sorry, No More Pi”). Let’s see what this looks like, and see who’s willing to pay the same amount to see stuff like that from now on. A document like this will serve a number of purposes: it says very clearly who we are and what we do. In the contemporary sense, this is how movies get made; it’s time to recognize that and make some changes to deal with it.
    2) Trust between VFX facilities and movie studios is broken. When two go bankrupt and people are in bad shape, things go wrong. I think it’s been taken for granted that plates are such sacred property, and keeping a tight watch is taken as a given. Well, maybe it works so well that people have forgotten what they’re paying for. But when you’re ripping out the brakes to save a few bucks, and sending things all over the globe without much of a plan, then you may be setting yourself up for a wild ride. Manufacturing seems to be learning this (exploding airplane batteries). Hollywood is not. They’re just bleeding off all their capabilities for creativity of a contemporary sort, trumpeting their inability to compete. Introducing a stochastic element is a reliable means to root out frauds and fakes. The goal would be to target improper behavior and deal effectively with it, to reward what we like and punish what we don’t.
    3) We do such a good job of adhering to the schedule at the moment, so much so that we’ve forgotten the fact that if you’re the one making the stuff, your job is to go in to work, and make the stuff. We’re in no position to fight the political battles of the world; our real battle is closer to home. Whoever is in charge of getting money for us to do our work, they’re not doing their job. So let’s fire Hollywood and get some better brains in the building to let us do our work. We use technology, push the level, and it serves us very well. I think in that direction we can find allies with deep pockets who are capable of understanding what we do, have common interests in building things, and have a desire to tell a good story. No one, not directors, writers, actors, anyone, is a fan of bosses whose best idea is to hire more lawyers. There’s money elsewhere, no need to stick with the current situation if it’s not working.

    I’m a fan of the trade union idea. It seems like having a common platform and shared goals at this level will really help to push the level of the work and correct a lot of the current issues.

  31. illuminated1. says:

    while you all chant about ‘soldiering on’ Im quite certain veryfew of you have the intestinal fortitude of the steel workers. make no mistake children, this is war and the loser will be the one who is least prepared to engage.

    • David Murallo (@metroeastd) says:

      Maybe you are right about some. Some may leave the industry and look for other work. There will be those who are serious about the work they do. The ones who have been screwed over when their paychecks haven’t come in on Friday after completing weeks of overtime and lost time that they could have spent with their families. The same people that were protesting during the Oscars.

      I honestly think that studios, and the public in general, will not respond until they feel it in their wallets (like we have). If a studio asks a VFX house to do additional work and the VFX isn’t being compesated, then I think we as workers lose out. That is why I put so much emphasis on the way VFX houses are bidding for work. There is so little leeway when it comes to working with a fixed fee contract. The industry needs to come up with a way to bid competetively on work but also get compensated when additional work is requested. The days of going above and beyond for a client, and giving them free work is not helpful to anyone. It is not appreciated, in fact, the VFX houses let themselves be taken advantage of themselves that way.

      That being said, as workers and artists, we should not be giving our talents way for free. We should not have unpaid internships. This is still work. A person who wants to be a carpenter doesn’t haul wood, cut and hammer all day long just to get experience. Neither should we. We need to stop undercutting each other just to get the work. Doing so makes the race to the bottom faster and soon no one profits from it.

      On a side note:
      I saw your previous comments about Dave Rand I gotta wonder where you are coming from. I personally never met Dave before but I have listened to several lectures and interviews that he has done about his frustration during the whole Rainmaker/Journey to the Center of the Earth mess and his thoughts on the business of VFX. I can’t thank him and others enough for coming out and telling us about the business practices that they had to endure and knowing that this is an industry problem that plaques us no matter which VFX house you work at. When Dave spoke up about what is problems were with the industry you said this…

      “just listening to Dave Rand for 5 minutes made me want to vomit. So here is a former stock broker that made a mint on insider trading and everyone laughs… WTF is wrong with you morons?!? this is the kind of person you want in charge???”

      I don’t agree with the way he made money in the past, but that is not relevant here. It doesn’t strike me that even Dave wants to be in charge, but he does want to see things change. He is just one of the guys who has been vocal about it. If you want to lead the way to make a change Illuminated1, start now. Voice your opinions of what you think would help, but let’s not bash others who are doing the same.

      • What's your solution, O Illuminated One? says:

        @illuminated1
        Yes, unions are a good thing. Yes, we should all unionize.
        Ok, I’ll admit that I’m not crazy about Wall Street making heaps of money off our hard work, while DD and R&H go bankrupt.
        VFX Soldier, Dave Rand, Scott Squires, and Scott Ross have only helped rally everyone to make progress.
        If you have a better idea, what is your solution, O Illuminated1?
        And no, ButchArri style brain farts do not count.

      • illuminated1. says:

        my solution is a simple one. we petition to enact a peoples initiative in california. we get signatures to put the whole thing to a vote by the people of the republic of california, the 7th largest economy in the world. everyone knows we are f’d anyway, so why not stand up for our rights and really get this party started. I propose to outlaw any corporations residing in california from accepting subsidies, aka tax payer funded bribes wherever they may be stationed in the world. while it is obvious we cant enforce the law outside the borders of california, we can heavily fine the ones who are inside.

        or maybe you think the right to smoke marijuana is a more important law?

  32. VFX Voter says:

    Organization is most effective when there is a solid leader that can extract confidence in those he fights for and influence the ears his case falls upon. A charming personality with beneficial efforts that will help us all, who has seen not only the art side but the business side of our craft.

    Scott Ross, I vote you. Please be our voice in mass appeal.

    • Scott Ross says:

      Thanks for your confidence… unfortunately, or fortunately… if a VFX Trade Association were to become a reality, the members of the VFX Trade Association ( The CEO’s of the member companies would decide who would be the Exec Director) will determine who will run the Association. Personally, I think I would make the best candidate, but again, it’s not my decision. I just hope that they agree to start a VFX Trade Assoc!!!

      • vfxmafia says:

        Scott you have my vote too…..I can’t thank you enough for speaking out…..you , Scott Squires, Dave Rand, and Steve Kaplan…..I owe you guys a very tall martini one day….

    • McLovin Pizza says:

      I think each of them should be leader as they already are. They each represent a specific area…former shop owner, supervisor, artist, union guy, etc.

      While I agree that having too many leaders can sometimes complicate things, needing to have all parties approvals…

      Having that combined perspective from them all has shed light on the problem from their respective expertise. This has made the movement that much stronger. If only Ross were standing up there, the credibility for movement would be weaker.

      I think they all equally articulate apropos to their respective areas of position within vfx.

      Ross seems to be the business guy, and I think it’s great he’s repping the cause, but Squires and Rand have been very vital leaders too. Each represents a vital moving part of the equation.

      Supervisor, TD, Artist, etc. It’s great hearing from each department.

  33. Mclovin Pizza says:

    People on here have been talking about the power of IP when in the hands of VFX. Here’s an interesting one that is old news, but nonetheless interesting:

    Helmer, Guillermo Del Toro bought into Mirada (Motion Theory’s VFX Arm). What’s next?

  34. ETCentric says:

    [...] Francisco Bay area, Vancouver, New Zealand and Austin, Texas. (Video coverage is available on the VFX Soldier [...]

  35. This is an awesome flashback video to 1995. Regarding the internet being a pie in the sky. No pun intended.

    Admitedly a retweet I saw David Cohen make on twitter. I predict bandwith will increase allowing people to work remotely on shots with cloud licenses. Perhaps the artist can pay for their own software license or it can be temporarily handed to artists by vfx/design shop, etc.

    It’s coming and anyone who says it’s not, will be rudely awakened in a few short years. It’s already happening with screen sharing while talking on a cel phone or chat.

    • wb says:

      I do believe this is the future – CLOUD!.
      Everything is going into that direction….

      Once everything will be setup – people will work from home. Instead of buying plane tickets – just buy a decent computer and a licence.

      • Scott Squires says:

        Unfortunately subsidies will likely require the work to be done based by people in the state, region, country.

  36. Dave Rand says:

    Sad news for R&H …seems the studios won’t even throw them a bone…all’s the investors need to hear is:

    “Why yes we think there’s value in a shop that just WON THE OSCAR and yes we are considering letting them have the privilege of working on another one of our films”

    They were first in India, opened in Vancouver, and performed one digital miracle after another.

    Perhaps R&H needs to slaughter a calf or burn a bush, maybe bow towards Hollywood every day at 3pm.

    Question is all this great collection of talent, cumulative knowledge once again may be scattered to the wind adding to the dust bowl formed by our modern Popes.

    If only they realized how history records these gallant heroics as fallacy and failure. I’d love to begin a collection of names ..like the Fox executives who were wandering their conference rooms calling their project “Life of Poo”….then quickly taking credit once it became a hit. These reincarnated Popes set to ruin the second Renascence like they tried on the first only it run them over and leave them with a busted legacy, no one cares for the bastard Pope Julius that made Michelangelo blind, but everyone remembers and cherishes the works and life of Michelangelo.

    History repeats but it’s not too late to right a better version. What we need is a good collection of characters to anoint and watch.
    Watch and write about them.

    John Hughes made his shop last far longer than most, yet some try to vilify him? Guy’s a fucking hero. Was it his desire to create content that shook more screws loose downtown? Seems DD had plans there also….wiped off of the Florida map like a sand painting.

    Any way time to put some names and some faces to this and start the record, you know the one that last thru eternity.

      • tazzman says:

        He’s talking about the studio heads and how they’re screwing themselves as they screw the fx industry.

    • VFXLady says:

      I am also confused by this.

    • fellow_RnH'er says:

      I agree Dave… it stinks.

    • McNinja says:

      It was Michelangelo the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” that went blind.

      Different Michelangelo. Hahaha!

    • vfxmafia says:

      It means our worst fears are about to happen. It is VERY quiet out there in Los Angeles. And its looking like the studios loans wont go beyong August…..which will be the ultimate collapse of R&H…..and DD (if it doesnt get more shots than Dark Skies)…it will fall too…

      I agree the Dave’s posting is a bit cryptic….but maybe its not time for R&H eulogy just yet……August is coming.

  37. Tom Roffman says:

    I think its very sad whats happening at RandH and yes WB can be a pain in the ass but perhaps they also have reasons for pulling the work as they may have not been completly satisfied with the work. We have often seen where a shop has multiple shows going on that some shows get all the breaks with crewing and resources while other show struggle with less resources than needed and hence the client becomes sceptical of delivery even without this bankruptcy. I am not excusing WB but understand perhaps there show was not getting the attention compared with Legendary and Foxes films.

  38. VFXLady says:

    This was amazing to watch. Every minute so informative and I wish I could have been there. Thank you to VFX Soldier, Scott Ross, Scott Squires, Dave Rand, VFX Solidarity and everyone else who made this happen.

    I so enjoyed hearing from Scott Ross and his unique perspective. And he straightened me out a bit when it comes to vilifying the film studios, they are doing their job. I have definitely been guilty of blaming the film studios. But like Scott Ross educates me about what the Film Studios do, we need to better educate them about what we do. Create a better business model instead of threatening them, I think this is best. My thought process have evolved.

    What I am getting from the discussion, so far, is that change will come on a double front. A trade association through the VFX houses and an artist union or guild working together. We all need to get over the fear and do our part, the upper management and the artists. Biggest hurdle I think is a union. The 6 film studios have an association, 15 major effects houses are at least willing to talk, but getting the thousands of artists to agree to a union will be the hardest, simply because there are more of us! I think an event for the artists to discuss what it means to sign a union card and how it can effect us would be very helpful. I know I would like to be a part of something like that. And I have probably some fears that others have about it backfiring. (Again…fear. Always the devil on your shoulder)

    Anyway, after something successful happens, it always feels like people ask for more. So most importantly I would like to again thank the wonderful people who made this happen. A global VFX discussion. Really wonderful to see. Please, let’s keep going!!

  39. illuminated1. says:

  40. Tom Roffman says:

    So the question is any new Union Shops in town:)

  41. illuminated1. says:

  42. McLovin Pizza says:

    I wonder how many true Walter Whites will arise out of the ashes of people quitting vfx. LOL. Errrrm. Not so funny after all. :(

  43. McLovin Pizza says:

    Breaking News on Twitter: Superfad is closing it’s doors.
    Trouble ahead…

    • Meditating VFXdude says:

      I do think IP ownership/development within a large group that pools it’s resources makes sense.

      • No thanks! says:

        You sound an awful lot like ButchArri.
        Even if you’re not ButchArri, no, we are not interested in “subordinating our egos” to you.
        Feel free to develop your own gorgeous IP though.
        No one is stopping you.

      • McLovin Pizza says:

        I was thinking the same thing. I smell Butch Arri. No thanks Butch.

    • wb says:

      pizzaaaaaa!

  44. Meditating VFXdude says:

    I haven’t seen anything about SuperFad and they haven’t sent anything out on twitter yet, or changed their status or anything. Are you sure they are shutting down?

    • McLovin Pizza says:

      Yes. I’m sure. There’s a reason why no one is posting otherwise. I confirmed this via someone who works there. All offices are closing.

      Think about it. There are plenty of people that work there. Why wouldn’t one of them tweet that it was not true? Trust me. It’s kaput.

  45. [...] VFX Soldier – People Power – VFX Town Hall [...]

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