Amidst all the DD news there was a bit of VFX related news coming from the UK.
British film producer David Heyman says that he cringes when he looks at some of the visual effects in the early Harry Potter films.
Speaking on a panel at the British Embassy’s Creative Content Summit, he said Tuesday: “The visual effects industry developed substantially over the 11 to 12 years of making the films. I look at some of the first film [made in 2001] and want to cringe. Then I look at later films and I’m really proud of them.”
He explained that in the first films, around two-thirds of the effects were done in the United States; however, by the final three films [made between 2009 and 2011], between 90 percent and 95 percent of the visual effects were done in the United Kingdom. This was partly because of the consistency of the 2,500-strong team that worked on Harry Potter. This provided an “apprentice system” for many U.K.-based staff members, giving them an opportunity to “learn from the best” and rise up the ranks to move into post-production or become art directors.
You can view the full comment above at the 6 minute mark above. I argue that most of the work was done in the UK because of huge subsidies offered by the UK government. Eventually WB required that the work be done in the UK for the subsidies.
That being said I’ve always found the nationalist view in VFX quite absurd because the industry is incredibly diverse as I’ve argued before.
Interestingly enough, a report by the British Film Institute made a surprising admission of how much production were to shrink without subsidies:
The report also underlines how vital the Film Tax Relief is to sustaining the global competitiveness of film production in the UK, estimating production would be around 71% smaller without it The Film Tax Relief not only provides fiscal stability but has also helped promote the UK as a highly attractive inward investment location for film production. With the Film Tax Relief costing HM Treasury around £114 million a year, this means it generates about £12 in GDP for every £1 invested. Without it, national GDP would be reduced by approximately £1.4 billion a year and Exchequer revenues by £430 million a year.
The problem with these film commission reports is they never show their exact source for calculating these numbers and they are paid for by the parties that benefit from the subsidies the most. California and many other states in the US try to do the same thing.
Even with the subsidies, there seems to be an unusual lull in VFX work in the UK as mentioned by a few UK VFX vets.
I believe the larger subsidies in Vancouver, Singapore, and now New York are beginning to play a role. For example, the bulk of Double Negative artist openings are in Singapore. Most openings for Framestore are in NY, and surprisingly they just opened an LA studio.