I came across an article (paywall) that reported San Diego 3D conversion company Legend3D has approached the mayor of San Diego to lobby for tax incentives. The hope is to attract 5000 (yes, 5000) VFX professionals from LA and other locations to convert various studio film libraries into 3D.
The mayor has put together a task force to look into the possibility. However as much as I’m sure many VFX professionals would love to soak up the fun and sun in “America’s Finest City”, I have to be incredibly skeptical about this.
First off, the current subsidy race is incredibly expensive. Even California which supplies film subsidies to lower budget productions, has been criticized for being uncompetitive:
California’s program is uncompetitive with locations such as New York, Louisiana and Canada that offer $400 million to $500 million per year in subsidies, have no caps and offer much higher percentages.
Furthermore, Legend3D’s business model is pretty risky. According to the article they offer to convert the studios’ libraries for free with the promise they get a portion of the revenue on it’s release. In this biz, it’s expected that the backend deal is a suckers bet.
The lofty goal of luring 5000 VFX professionals is admirable but in a cyclical industry, people need to be able to jump to other places and San Diego doesn’t have that. That was sort of the problem with Sony New Mexico.
Finally, it’s important to note that Legend3D has also had a partnership with various facilities in India to employee over 800 workers to help in the conversion process. If VFX is supposed to go all to India why is there such an ambitious attempt to get 5000 workers to do it in San Diego? Perhaps because even supposedly trivial tasks like conversions require well paid artistic and technical professionals?