I was sent a link to a site dedicated to VFX artists in Vancouver. It’s a great resource and I agree with the author’s sentiments:
As you can see there is a lot going on in Vancouver, but unfortunately with the good comes then bad. All the newly arriving studios have been going to Vancouver for the tax breaks and with the idea that it may be a cheaper place for labor.. But what the studios don’t realize is that Vancouver is not a cheap city. It is more on par with San Francisco prices for living, and with the USA dollar so weak, it makes the Canadian prices even higher when you convert the price of living, food, gas, and transit. The Canadian senior artist pool is also lacking, since most Canadians leave to work in USA, London, New Zealand and Australia in order to work on the big named films to build their experience and resume.
There’s no doubt about huge boom in VFX work for facilities in the UK, NZ, and Vancouver. US Facilities are rushing to Vancouver while facilities in the UK are either opening up shop or going through major expansions. In NZ, Weta Digital stands mostly alone with really no other major competitors for miles and miles and manages to get a huge amount of work.
Here’s what’s so odd to me. The wanna-be economist in me would conclude from the facts above that Vancouver and the UK would be going through huge wage booms for vfx talent: So many facilities competing with each other. While NZ’s Weta Digital would probably have lower wages since many VFX artists want to work on their projects and they’re the only game in town.
Anecdotally speaking, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the artists I know. Weta seems to pay rates that would make California artists jealous! On the other hand, I ran into a Canadian artist who works in Cali. We talked about the huge boom in his hometown Vancouver and if he was thinking about moving back.
Most of the boom in Vancouver has been for students graduating from VFX schools and the wages are quite low. He is paid very well in Los Angeles and has found relatively stable employment. But some have alluded that there may be some collusion going on between facilities in the UK and Canada. Of course we all know that never happens!