Keep Digging

December 6, 2014

I was contacted by some in the media. The reporter admitted they lack the technical abilities which many of you VFX pros have to actually find out what’s out there in the Sony hack. This made me realize something: VFX pros are the only ones in the film industry with the ability to find the truth of everything we’ve ever wanted to know in these files. What many of you are already finding is amazing revolutionary stuff. I was notified by some of you last night that another 100GB was released. There may be a smoking bazooka in there. Keep Digging.

Soldier On.

Update: a 4th 118GB batch has been released according to a mashable reporter. https://twitter.com/film_girl/status/541423775666171904


Sony Hack Reveals Croner VFX Animation & Games Industry Wages

December 3, 2014

croner

Yesterday 25GB of data in the sony hack was made available for download. The data unfortunately contains extremely sensitive and personal information. If you worked at Sony it’s pretty safe to say your private information including your ssn have been compromised. What’s even more devastating is it’s just the tip of the iceberg as reports show the hackers have claimed to have TBs of Sony Pictures data that continue to be released.

siggraph

This past summer Sony Imageworks used the paper above to advise young VFX recruits at Siggraph in Vancouver not to share or ask about salary information. The fear companies have is recruits having good knowledge of wages and therefore less likely to accept a lowball salary offer. That advice however doesn’t seem to apply to the companies that employ VFX professionals. As you know there has been an ongoing and expanding class action lawsuit of wage-fixing and collusion with some of the biggest animation and vfx companies here in the US. The companies openly shared wage info and allegedly tried to prevent wages from increasing by agreeing not to try to poach each others employees.

So I had a chance to look at some of the data in the sony hack and was curious to see if a certain piece of data was available: The Croner VFX survey. I wrote about the Croner survey years ago. Basically it’s the holy grail of US VFX wages:

The Croner Animation and Visual Effects Survey is the benchmark survey of the animation and visual effects industry.  For 8 years, the Croner Survey has provided up-to-date competitive compensation information about positions in companies that produce animated feature films or develop animation and/or visual effects for feature films, television and/or software games.

In 2014, 11 companies representing approximately 3,500 employees in the U.S., participated in the Croner Survey and are using the data to understand current market trends and to establish rational market compensation levels in their organizations.

This is the most accurate piece of information of wage information at these companies:

2014 Participant Companies:
Activision Blizzard, Inc.
DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.
LAIKA, Inc.
Pixar Animation Studios
Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc. (SCEA)
Sony Pictures Entertainment
The Walt Disney Studios
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Twentieth Century Fox Filmed Entertainment
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

I won’t post the actual file but for anyone wanting to see it it will be named. You’ll have to find and download the released sony hack data which is out there. Or ask around for this file:

Location: ./HR/Comp/Surveys/2014/Croner/AVE/Results/

Filename: 2014_Croner_AVE_Compensation_Data_Results.xlsx

I’ve said if the contents of the Sony hack are true and available they would be a game changer. The game has changed as far as salary negotiations in the VFX industry starting today. Going forward nobody will go into negotiations without having reputable information concerning wages.

Soldier On.


Sony Hack May Reveal Sensitive Imageworks VFX Info

December 2, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 7.06.05 PM

Just arrived back to the US after a trip to Australia and as many of you know, there was quite a big story concerning a data security breach at Sony Pictures. A text file was released containing a huge list of names of file the hackers claimed to have and it seemed to be pretty legitimate. Names of various employees over the years were in the file (including mine as I was a former Imageworks employee).

I’m not posting the file but you could probably ask around and get a copy. Anyone with simple linux skills can grep through the file to search the file names. If we are to assume the file names describe what kind of information is in there then it seems the data breach is incredibly serious as personal and private information for Sony Picture employees concerning immigration, pay roll, social security, deal memos, evaluation, and so on are included.

Even sensitive corporate information is in the list of files which reaches about 40 million by my count. Over 5000 files refer to the term tax credits. Over 10000 files refer to the term Imageworks. Those files include meeting notes, executive power point decks, and all kinds of financial information.

The question is do the hackers really have the files in question? It sure seems like it after today it was revealed that 25GB of data are being shared by the hackers and it included compensation info of Sony employees. The hackers are also claiming they have TBs of more information. All I’ve heard that Sony is doing in the face of this so far is offering current employees free identity theft protection services for one year. Not sure if former employees are getting the same. I’ve posted the email sent to employees above.

Soldier On.


Variety’s MPC Puff Piece Reveals VFX Industry Woes; Few Solutions

November 6, 2014

mpc

Technicolor, owner of London VFX house MPC, is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary. Variety has come out with a series of puff pieces to showcase the company and one piece was on how MPC values it’s artists:

Moving Picture Co. Finds Valuing Artists is the Best Effect

Given the reaction in the comments section, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I snickered a bit reading the article. While I have never worked at MPC, many people have constantly expressed to me that it is one of the worst VFX companies to work for amongst the top tier VFX companies. I occasionally get an email from someone showing me an MPC contract that violates local labor laws by not paying overtime or I hear a horror story of someone who was wrongfully blacklisted or fired for really stupid reasons.

In my view MPC is sort of the Walmart of the VFX industry: It’s a powerful company that treats it’s workers just poorly enough to where they can get the most amount of work out of them. They’re pretty good at being really bad and I have to admit I’m regretfully impressed at the amount of work they can do at good quality while treating their workers so poorly.

So I read the comments on the thread about the bad conditions and can’t help but ask at this point. What do you want to do about it?

Read the rest of this entry »


Where Are The Women In VFX?

October 22, 2014

victoria-alonso-marvel

Marvel’s Vice President of Post Production Victoria Alonso was a speaker at this week’s VES Summit where she asked “where are the girls?” and called for more women to work in VFX.

In Variety’s report, she spoke about how lowering the gender gap would help bring balance to the industry. She also pointed out obstacles that make it more difficult for women to make it in VFX:

  • Subsidy-induced cycles of global displacement.
  • Long 16 hour work days.
  • Maternity leave dampens the ability to get back to work.

While I agree with her on the problems that cause a gender gap, I can’t help but ask the same question Scott Ross asked:

Why would anyone want to encourage anybody, woman or man, to join the tumultuous VFX industry as it currently is?

Read the rest of this entry »


VFX Artist Michael Scott Seriously Injured

October 1, 2014

VFX Artist Michael Scott has been very vocal about VFX issues on twitter. Michael was seriously injured after he was hit by a car:

During a break from work, Michael Scott was walking to get dinner when a car jumped the curb and pinned him to a concrete wall. He has a lot of internal damage as well as broken bones and a fractured skull. His color is good though, and his pulse ox has climbed. He will remain on paralytics until he can fully stabilize then further address the internal damage. He is currently at Cedars Sinai in critical condition, after undergoing emergency surgery last night.

He needs our help.

Anyone that can, please make a donation for his medical care and rehab.

Thank you all for your support.

There has been a donation page setup and I strongly encourage you to donate. Michael’s donation to our effort 2 years ago was the final donation needed to put us over the top and get our feasibility study going.

http://www.gofundme.com/fafe9s

Soldier On.


Deluxe Entertainment “Currently Vulnerable To Default”

September 10, 2014

If you work at Stereo D, Method Studios, Encore Hollywood, or Iloura (list updated per comments below) you may have been aware about some recent news concerning parent company Deluxe Entertainment’s credit rating being downgraded by Standard & Poors:

The $605 million of loans to Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc., which Perelman controls through his MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., were quoted at 88 cents on the dollar Aug. 26, according to Markit. That compared with an average of about 98.3 cents for the broader market. Last week, Standard & Poor’s took the rare step of cutting Deluxe’s credit rating three steps, to a level that implies the production company is “currently vulnerable” to default.

Read the rest of this entry »


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