The Mill TV Closed & Imageworks LA Layoffs

The Mill TV Closed

The Mill announced it will be closing it’s TV VFX division. Back in 2002 The Mill announced it would exit the volatile market of VFX for films. There’s a very good interview with an exec for the Mill about their reasons for exiting VFX for film and focusing on commercials instead (paywalled unfortunately).

Imageworks LA Layoffs

Layoffs are nothing new to the industry but VFX Solidarity broke news of a number of layoffs at Sony Pictures Imageworks. What makes this round particularly notable is that this was mostly long-term supervisory and senior talent. According to VFX pro Thad Beier:

Reports of extensive layoffs at Sony Culver City today. I have heard that they have been “strongly encouraging” everybody to move to Vancouver…

First the subsidies came for the entry-level artists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t an entry-level artist.

Then the subsidies came for the mid-level pros,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a mid-level pro.

Then the subsidies came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Solder On

 

180 Responses to The Mill TV Closed & Imageworks LA Layoffs

  1. AnonForNow says:

    This is The Perfect Storm, people. What the heck are you waiting for? Sign your rep card RIGHT NOW.

    • andrei gheorghiu says:

      I was asking fro one in Montreal, but there is nothing here in Montreal.

    • againstSubsidies says:

      In what way will a union help the continued loss of jobs to low cost countries or countries that continue to offer subsidies. Im not going to state if Im for or against a union, but if you do not have the work, the jobs, then you have no union. The mass exodus of work leaving the states has to stop. Or you will find yourself with useless union cards.

      • mike says:

        You may get fired earlier from your job from relying on a union card instead of trying to make yourself more valuable to the company…that’s one way I see a union can “help” an artist.

      • McCookie says:

        If it indeed becomes a cheap commodity. Let it.

        But if it (the industry beast) wants quality, then there will be a meritocracy. Which it will seek quality enhancement atleast some of the time. Quality is a virtue.

        This is why I see it leveling out slowly rather than any over night run to vancouver or anything like that.

        Who ever can do it the fastest and cheapest and the best…is the best though. That’s a fact that won’t go away no matter how much denial.

      • Dave Rand says:

        It will take solid demonstrations of a better way to work creatively , where directors direct their movie, all of their movie..especially the VFX and eye to eye. Most artists get this…the wasted versions due to client absence, second guessing. If it takes 20 versions to get it right when it should only take one then paying someone 1/20th of your wage even further away and to do it now 40 times begins to seem meaningless, as do subsidies. Without leverage from a trade assoc and a union we lack respect as has been demonstrated of late and we have no say…even on these smart ideas.

        The imbalance will not last, many jobs will return as most of these new economies are either too fragile and dependant on the whims of politicians or merely experimental relying on outsourcing a broken business model to undeveloped talent and making thing s worse.

        We should act as if we are simply improving our own business habits. In business you never surrender all the leverage to the other party unless your plan is to lose everything.

    • andrei gheorghiu says:

      already contacted M. Lemay…I was getting in touch with him I think there is one month
      The link for the rep card is from BC I think….
      From where did you get your card fido?
      If I have to fill up that one , I will do it with pleasure…

      Just let me know guys.

      • Dusty says:

        Yes BC got your online form which I have forwarded to Christian, he will take care of you🙂

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        thanks Dusty! its great seeing IATSE on their toes nowadays in responding and helping people online. thank you guys!

    • someguy says:

      Then the subsidies came for me,
      and there was no one left to speak for me.

      Its tough to have sympathy for the people who screwed me over, This is exactly as I predicted years ago, the Seniors reaped what they have sewn, chickens finally roosting, how does it feel?

      • fukem, fukem all says:

        You need to clarify what a Senior is. A non Junior artist? A non mid- level artist? A supervisor? A lead artist?
        I’ll make an example- When MPC hacked away at their crew thirteen months ago, they started by getting rid of the people who were paid the most, first- and started with the visa-people I might add- thereby destroying a lot of people’s lives – especially those who had just arrived from overseas. I’ve been a Sr. Artist for many years but I have never been afforded a ‘lead’ or ‘supe’ role, my leads were always kids half my age with 1/4 my experience. I was always just one of the grunts, despite being a Senior artist. they all ‘want’ talent, they ‘want’ experience but they don’t ‘really’ want that, what they want are warm bodies filling up seats cranking out shots, getting paid for a 48 hour work week but working 100+ hours a week.
        When shitty management just hands over junior work to a Senior artist and months later at a performance review, bitches that they are not getting their value for their money, whose fault is that? The high-paid Sr. who was repeatedly assigned shit cleanup and roto and the most basic junior comp shots or the crap management who aren’t clever enough to assign work according to skill level?
        Since clearing out the talent, MPC found itself with a glut of low paid highly skilled workers who were never given their due and a lot of juniors getting paid even less while a tsunami oftheir only remaining high skilled artists left for Double Negative. Now their reputation is so deep in the sewer it’ll take a miracle for it to recover and they did that to themselves.

        So let’s be sure who you are having no sympathy for when you make a statement like that, that these Seniors h’ad it coming’, so to speak. I know when it comes to MPC London, its management are definitely making their own beds and when the time comes they need to know it was their own doing and not ‘these tough economic times’. When that hellhole burns down I’ll be celebrating for sure but when they got rid of their Seniors and top artists last March that wasn’t exactly an example of the chickens finally roosting, as you say. They got rid of people who were part of the abused masses not the ones who were part of the problem- starting with Senior artists.

  2. Does it make sense to sign a Rep card if you are not currently in the industry?

  3. Dank says:

    It does suck that SPI is letting people go, but I do know of artist that where hired in Culver City in the last couple weeks. That included some senior artist they let go last summer during the big Vancouver push.

    • VFX_Boom says:

      Here is the biggest problem with Sony and Subsidies, unlike contracting studios that are in heavily subsidized areas, SONY directly profits from displaced workers/artists. That’s money in Sony’s OWN pocket. Not the workers/artists. The workers/artists get to keep the honor of working for the same company.

      In case you missed it, I’ll say it again for folks in the cheap seats aka Sony Vancouver………

      SONY directly profits from displaced workers/artists.

      They have nothing but incentive to threaten it’s workforce to move to increase it’s own bottom line.

      I’d say everyone should refuse to move, but it’s looking like the lack of backbone has already shown up in large numbers for Sony. Until you believe in yourself, very little will change.

      • Larry Gritz says:

        Margins for VFX companies in subsidized areas are as slim as ever. The VFX facilities aren’t pocketing the subsidies for huge profits, it just gets passed directly to the film studios in the form of lower bids. (I’m not defending subsidies, which I think hurt the industry, but it is a misunderstanding to think it’s about profits for the VFX facilities.)

        As for the “backbone” comments… some people prefer L.A. and move because they feel threatened. Others move voluntarily, happy for the chance to trade California for Vancouver as a step up in quality of life for themselves and their families. Still others are Canadians finally able to move back to (or stay in) their home country, or are from other countries and have an easier time getting work permits in Canada than in the US. It’s inaccurate and oversimplifying to paint everyone in Vancouver with the same disdainful brush stroke.

      • VFX_Boom says:

        I really should have clarified, when Sony is working on Sony films, THEN they pocket the kickback cash. With Oz for example, Disney cleaned up in Michigan and Vancouver kickbacks. But, considering the amount of Sony work SPI does in Van, it’s mostly pocketed by the parent Sony Pictures. (Spidy, MIB, Cloudy, Smurfs, Hotel T, etc)

        Larry, you are correct that “It’s inaccurate and oversimplifying to paint everyone in Vancouver with the same disdainful brush stroke”. I was quick to judge that harshly. My comments were aimed at those that under value themselves in this industry, and allow others to dictate how, and where they live their lives.

      • Cold Water says:

        Larry Gritz said: “The VFX facilities aren’t pocketing the subsidies for huge profits, it just gets passed directly to the film studios in the form of lower bids.”

        The first half of your sentence is true, the second half is not.

        Subsidies do *not* get passed off to studios as lower bids. The bids stay the same but they also come with a negotiated guaranteed rebate amount which goes directly from the foreign government (Canada, UK, etc.) to the studios. If the rebate amount does not hit the guarantee the the vfx company is liable for the difference. (Although to my knowledge that hasn’t happen yet, at least not to any sizable amount.)

        It might sound like a subtle difference to untrained ears, but the difference is huge.

        For one, US companies which offer to match bid-minus-subsidy are *not*, in most cases, considered. The studios very bady want the subsidy in particular even if the net result on-paper is seemingly the same. There are a number of reasons why, mostly all related to shady tax and financial reasons. For one they can borrow against it and use that loan (a loan essentially guaranteed by a note for payment from a foreign government) to get money up-front to help pay for the film. Also the subsidy may end up coming in higher than the guarantee, which is pure windfall. On top of that there are all sorts of tax loopholes that make the subsidies very desirable for the studios. All this has created a whole secondary market of studio producers who get bonuses based on how much they arrange in subsidies, furthering the pressure to get subsidy-backed work.

        The subsidy system is far more insidious than a simple discount.

      • Cold Water says:

        Ha, just noticed the post below from “Tax Credit Producer”. He also mentions a lot of what I just said.

      • Larry Gritz says:

        Yes, thanks for the correction, I oversimplified the mechanics of how the money is handled, while making the point that it’s not the VFX facility that has high profits as a result.

        I see what you mean about how the parent film production company can profit from lower costs of the VFX subsidiary, but not sure what to make of that observation. As far as my daily experience, it doesn’t matter whether it’s SPE or WB or Disney who profits.

        The pedant in me is still not fully comfortable with the language employed here. I didn’t grow up in California, I went there because that’s the only place where the jobs were. Did that make me a “displaced worker?” Did all of the companies I worked for in California therefore profit from displaced workers any time they employed somebody who moved from someplace else to take the job?

      • Scott Squires says:

        ” I didn’t grow up in California, I went there because that’s the only place where the jobs were. Did that make me a “displaced worker?” Did all of the companies I worked for in California therefore profit from displaced workers any time they employed somebody who moved from someplace else to take the job?”

        No. You weren’t displaced. You chose to enter a field that has a few hub areas. If you wanted to do big broadway musicals you would probably move to NY. If you wanted to surf then Hawaii or California would be likely candidates. If you wanted to wrestle alligators Florida might be a better place. If you wanted to be a dairy farmer you might move to California or Wisconsin. Skiing would be Swiss Alps, Colorado, etc. Clothing design – Milan, Paris, New York. Wall Street banking – Wall Street, london, etc.

        Some types of industries and businesses develop, grow and cluster where there are natural conditions or evolution that are beneficial to them. That may be the weather, local resources or simply an inspiration of interactions.

        Look at Silicon Valley. It was a big draw because there was a lot of synergy between people and companies. That intermix of a wide range of technical people and business people helped spur new ideas and industries.

        Hollywood developed because of several things. The weather made it possible to shoot outside year round. The location allowed for shooting beaches, city, rural, mountains and deserts. It was a large city with variety of workers and companies and transportation. An additional reason at the time was issues with Edison patents on cameras.

        So that development enabled a large number of like minded people to congregate in one area. And that’s a big deal for an industry, especially if it’s based on project work. Actors, directors, writers, visual effects artists, etc. all in the same general area,living and working. That means when you have a project you can assemble a group of highly skilled, talented and experienced people. They are readily available. From the worker stand point there are multiple projects and studios they can go work for. And it also means that there’s a lot of inspiration and cross pollination. And that’s good for workers and the companies.

        I came from Indiana. Could Indiana have a thriving film industry? No. Should it try to take work from Hollywood? No. If an area can support their own small industry and people want to work there knowing it’s a small industry, then that’s fine. Just like there are local live theaters around the world. Indiana even has some skiing. These smaller industries have developed on their own so they are balanced. They are the goldfish that grows in accordance with the amount of room they can grow. Nothing wrong with that.

        Now take Vancouver. I like Vancouver as a city and there are great companies and people working there. But take a step back and consider if it would be a natural film hub of it’s own making? If left on it’s own it would probably have a thriving small film industry. But the weather and some of the natural limits means that it would have been very unlikely to be as large as it is without the subsidies. I can see how Canadians may think that’s a good thing but it’s built on a house of cards.

        If an industry in a given location doesn’t grow based on it’s own resources then it will not be self sustaining. And everyone working at that location are at risk.

        It’s like taking the goldfish and changing the size of his environment frequently. he didn’t grow to the correct size but outside forces conspire against him.

        Would it be smart for Florida to give money for free to a ski company? Sure, they could build a ski hill and lifts. The people actually working there would like it but is it a sustainable investment for the state? No. Obviously they’d have to pay every year to keep the thing running.

        In the end the subsidies are causing displaced worker because they truly cause people to have to move somewhere else to continue doing the same thing. You choosing to move because an industry is naturally located somewhere are not a displaced worker. You may not have grown up there but you weren’t displaced.

      • Cold Water says:

        Larry Gritz wrote: “I see what you mean about how the parent film production company can profit from lower costs of the VFX subsidiary, but not sure what to make of that observation.”

        His point is this: because vfx houses don’t directly benefit from the subsidies, they only need to move as much of the company as necessary to a subsidized area to secure shows at all. As long as they are booking enough shows (which are likely all spanning locations, like R&H, DD, ILM, Scanline, etc. do with their shows) because they can offer the ever-so precious rebate, the original location doesn’t have to go away. Perhaps all future growth is in the subsidized area, and perhaps the competition to offer a bigger and bigger rebate check will tend to decimate the non-subsidized location anyway over time (that remains to be seen), but all in all there is a balancing act with at least a few factors favoring the side of the non-subsidized location.

        But if the if the vfx house IS benefiting from the subsidies because it’s a subsidiary of the studio, nearly all factors in favor of keeping the original location go away. The only real one left being: can they staff enough core/key talent in the subsidized location to keep the place going? (i.e. make enough people move.)

        To put it another way, the rebate negotiation of the vfx contract becomes completely controllable by Sony/Disney because they can get it as high as they want. Out goes the process of them seeing that the 2 or 3 houses they’re negotiating with won’t go higher than a certain rebate.

        I’m not so sure that I agree we’ll see this happen with Sony and ILM, but he does make an interesting point.

      • Scott Squires says:

        Some studios now put in their contract that they expect $x back in subsidies and if that target is not hit the vfx company has to pay the difference. That means vfx companies have to be very careful about how much work they send back to the mothership.

        All vfx companies like a LA office of some type. Even the UK companies and others have offices here so they can look international, provide directly link to studios and directors.

        vfx companies over time will try to shift as much of their workers to a branch location in subsidized area, especially if they think it will stay subsidized and be worthwhile in the eyes of the studios. Witness Sony and other companies telling their own workers they will be laid off or can move.

        We will shortly end up with just business offices and possible screening room in LA for many companies. From a pure business standpoint, especially if profits are extra tight, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to hold on to a large space and people in LA if you’re not allowed to bid or use most of them. The added overhead isn’t helping.

      • Baz says:

        Vancouver is a pretty sweet place to live compared to L.A. So for some people, the opportunity to move there might actually be nice.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        there is a difference between the opportunity to move vs being force to move or lose your job!

      • Larry Gritz says:

        Thanks, Scott, but you needn’t have typed so much. I was not confused about the history of how LA came to be a movie hub, nor do I think that was a bad thing, and for the record, I’m completely against subsidies.

        I was objecting to a double standard that it’s ok for “them” to move, but uniquely tragic for “us” to move, which I get a whiff of frequently in these discussions. You seem to split it along a different axis: that it’s ok for people to be forced to move at the start of their careers, but not later. Fair enough, if that’s the distinction you wish to make. IMHO, the tragedy is not the location at all, but that too many jobs now aren’t permanent positions, so people are threatened with having to move frequently and not be able to put down roots.

        I ‘m dubious that the good shooting locations and easy circumvention of patents that led to LA being a hub 100 years ago in any way implies that it by rights ought to remain so forever. There’s no geographically better or worse place for us to be in front of our screens and keyboards.

        I think I can be against government subsidies, tentatively pro union, and in favor of a more sane business plan, while simultaneously cheering the new worldwide distribution of VFX hubs.

      • Scott Squires says:

        “that it’s ok for people to be forced to move at the start of their careers, but not later.”
        I’m just saying some areas have already been established for various reasons. Anyone who wishes to get experience and start a career will likely have to move somewhere else just like they might have to go somewhere for college. That’s purely by choice and depends on what you want to do. I moved from Indiana to California to do so. If someone is happy where they are and there’s enough work of the type they’re interested in they can stay there. I wouldn’t say you’d be forced to move. If you wanted to be a pro surfer there are limited places. No one is forcing you. If however you’ve spent years in a field and built up a career, maybe settled down and the jobs are moved from where they naturally have occurred to other places due to politics, I consider that a forced move. The choice at that point is do you want to continue to earn a living (forced move) or do you change careers (forced change). It’s not because there’s no work of that type and it’s not like the natural resources in that area stopped being there.

        There was work in UK and other places pre-digital so I have no issue with vfx work being done anywhere as long as there is a logical reason for it to happen and as long as it results in something long term. Neither of those applies to subsides.

        With computers we can do the work just about anywhere but it’s best for most if they can truly interact with co-workers and the director. And that is one of the reasons why people tend to congregate some industries so that people aren’t forced to move to keep working. The same or similar work continues on in that area with multiple companies.

  4. Tom Roffman says:

    As i hear it is people who do not have shows as they have bloated crew. Facilities cannot carry crew when no films are in production look where it got other studios in town. Even with work in Vancouver they would have too many supervisors for shows as there are fewer greenlit shows in production. Even in house films are not greenlit past cloudy 2 and smurf’s 2 if you read the trades.

    Everything else people are saying is pure speculation to fuel the fire and create more unrest.

  5. vfxmafia says:

    Do we have an exact number of the people laid off?

    • Anon at SPI says:

      I think it’s around 20-30 people across the whole company. It’s tragic, but nothing like the hundreds that have been laid off recently at each of DD, R&H, or Dreamworks. It appears to be primarily about adjusting staffing to match the amount of work that’s booked for the coming year.

  6. VFX_Reckoning says:

    Whatever, If you happen to be in the L.A. area and between contracts, you’re screwed. Find another career because “change” from the formation of a union or trade organization, isn’t going to happen fast enough to save people.

  7. Scott Squires says:

    Lessons learned:

    Submit rep card while you’re employed. If the shop gets unionized, especially multiple shops, it will be good for you because you’re more likely to have health coverage and you can move from project to project and continue that and your pension.

    Don’t assume you’re on staff and you will never lose your job.

    Visual effects is just like the rest of film production. Ultimately it’s project by project and it should be obvious if any company doesn’t have work for you to do then it’s likely you will be laid off.

    Now some companies may be able to scrounge up other work or internal work that needs to be done or in some cases they know something is coming in soon so are willing to float you until it comes in but by and large almost everyone working in vfx is freelance.

    There are reasons you and most film people are paid above average for what you do. And part of that is because it’s not a normal, permanent job. That’s why it’s crazy when people both outside and inside the vfx community complain about the high wages it’s obvious they don’t understand it’s to help you get through the slow times.

    ILM would typically be very slow during the summers and lay off a large % of the crews.

    There have been a number of years that vfx at some companies have been able to keep steady work and therefore the workers continued with steady work but that’s more of rare than you think. So the world isn’t coming to an end because a company isn’t booked for the next 2 years with projects.

    But this does show the devastation of subsidies. More people are employed in changing locations than they can truly support. It also shows the problems of compressed schedules and over expanding. If a company sets up 2 branch offices and their work force bulges due to a few large projects, that will have to taper down at some point.

    • againstSubsidies says:

      Im still stumped at how a union is going to help stop this mass exodus of vfx work. Prada is saying that they will now outsource to mumbai 80% of the work that R/H brings in internally.
      How is a union card, going to help this situation. It wont, it will push more work overseas. We no longer have any leverage on our side in the states, as long as you have third world countries that pay people $2 a day to set at a desk. Those people are NOT going to go union. People in third world countries that are some of the poorest in the world, are going to work for $2 a day. No matter what. Those in communist countries, will never have the right to unionize. And unionization of the companies in the states will only push more work to those poor saps that work for $2 a day. What good is it to go union at this stage of the game, if we have no work and no companies left to be union or unionize. I do not and will not see the logic in unionization at this time. The time, effort and money, spent on unionization, needs to be put into stopping studios from using countries with illegal subsidizes.

      • The Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

        Lol. We have leverage?? Without a union??

        And…how is NOT having a union helping right now?

        To me this sounds like the tired old arguments shop owners tell their employees to strike fear in their hearts and keep them from sending a rep card.

      • Scott Squires says:

        Subsidies- Ok, so how are YOU going to stop them? vfxsoldier is having this legally reviewed. For all those now complaining about subsidies I hope you chipped into the indieagogo fund. Hopefully that legal review will be positive and the next steps outlined. If that’s the case everyone concerned about subsidies should kick some money in.

        Your other option is to get the word out to the tax payers in those areas. It’s costing them a bundle with nothing to show for it and most don’t even know it. If the tax payers got sick of them then the politicians would back off.

        Unions- No the unions can’t magically fix all the worlds problems. But just suppose people actually took the tiny bit of effort to fill out a rep card and submit it. Now. Today. Imagine that the majority of workers had enough courage to do so. R&H, DD, Sony, ILM, etc. here in the US and all the related companies in Canada took a stand. Imagine if the UK workers finally got fed up with not being paid overtime and they demanded to be paid.

        Do you think every tentpole vfx movie could instantly be done in China and India tomorrow? No. Even if a large slice of US vfx were unionized tomorrow there’d be little option for the studios to get all of that done elsewhere.

        Don’t forget with a union you’d at least have some indirect linkage to the rest of the film crews including the actors and directors. That might account for at least some power in this struggle. What power do you have as an individual? None.

        Is cost a factor? Yes, but it’s not the only factor. It needs to be of high enough quality and low risk enough that the studios will not want to mess around tomorrow with finding a lone company in the far east to do their entire project.

        A union would be the biggest push for the vfx companies to get their act together and form a trade association. Why have they been dragging their feet? What would prompt them to light a fire under them to get a move on? A union.

        Unions aren’t perfect and won’t solve every problem. The jobs are going and will continue to do so even without a union. You as an individual have very little say in any of this with one exception – a union. An officially organized group of like minded people striving for the same thing. Combined with the contractual obligations that can make for a pretty powerful group. VFX workers have to realize we are the ones doing the work that make the studios profits. We have a large amount of power but we’re squandering it. What if we truly got organized and focused?

        The biggest obstacle the vfx industry has is made up fear. Fear will cause everyone to cower in the corner until it’s too late for anything.

        So what are you going to do? Bury your head in the sand? Walk to the docks and wave your job goodbye? Or are you going to try to organize as a group and do something about it?

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        very well said Scott!

      • againstSubsidies says:

        Read again, there is no leverage now. Period. Not now, and not when you start a union. Subsidies is and are what is attracting work to other countries, and leaving the states. Let me make this very clear, Im not a shop owner, Ive been in this business for 20 years. And I can see with an educated vision, that if you have a union, prices go up at the VFX shop, demands are met through the unions, and the jobs leave to those countries that cost $2 a day per seat. Having a union will not stop this. Again, I did not say Im against or for the union, but if you have no jobs, no work, no vfx houses, then you have no union. Its as simple as black and white. This is about subsidizes and how they are destroying the vfx industry in the states. Unionization at this very point is going to do nothing, but push those jobs RIGHT out of the country.
        And if I were from Canada, India, China, Bulgaria, I would get on every site and preach how good a union would be, simply because it will benefit them, and not anyone in the US, at this time and point. Go ahead, let those countries take more of your jobs, make you move to there country, and pay you less than working at McDonalds.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        You do realize the only way for vfx shops to have a chance is by joining a trade association right? they will only do it if they are forced to do so. guess what can make that happen? artist forming a union to gain leverage. it will send a message to the owners that we want to survive and work in good conditions and if you want that too go do your part and join the trade org.

      • tazzman says:

        It will stop the mass exodus if the artist pool is unionized. You make it sound as if all of the work overseas is done by people in nation of origin.

        Wrong. Many people are traveling abroad to do the work.

        A union will have a domino affect. As more people sign their rep cards and more shops are unionized, then a floor is established across the board of basic minimums.

        A trade association formed by the companies will then be able to put the companies in a better position to compliment their unionized workforce rather than at odds with it. They will then be able to go as a unified front to the studios and present changes in fixed bids, contract structure, pay per change, etc etc.

        So first: union. That will put pressure on the fx companies to form a association. An association will then put pressure the on the studios to accept a unified industries demands for change. It’s a trickle up affect.

      • Scott Squires says:

        Your jobs are leaving- now. Even without a union.

        Just how low in wages are YOU willing to go? Minimum wage? No benefits? Because that’s where it’s heading. How many more years do you think you can hold on while you’re wearing your hands down with worry? Do you think the studios will say, hey, let’s keep all of this work here simply because they’re non-union? Do you think the work will remain here another 10 years simply because you didn’t unionize.

        Do you think ILM, DD, R&H, Sony, etc are all the cheapest place in the world? Some how, some way they keep getting work. Maybe, maybe it’s because quality and complex work does in fact need to be done. Maybe it’s because there isn’t enough capacity in the rest of the world to make up for these places.

        Strength in numbers. Now. Sorry but I feel like many are simply Eeyores worried about their tails. Get up and actually try something. You might surprise yourself rather than trying to dig deeper into the sand of fear.

      • againstSubsidies says:

        Scott, I slightly agree with your explanation of how a union will help. But its tossing a coin in the air, and hoping for the best.
        R/H now owned by an Indian company, will now ship more than 80% of its work to india. And getting the other unions to stand behind us in the event we are striking for whatever reason, well, have any of them posted or come to support us to this day. And I ask that question in a genuine manner. Has any of the other unions say, yes, we support your efforts we will back you.

      • againstSubsidies says:

        And anyone thinking that being unionized in the states will carry over to someplace like India or some communist country, is just dreaming a dream. Unions will work for you here, and only here in Canada, UK, or the USA. Unionization of third world countries, some of the poorest, will not happen now, maybe in ten to twenty years. But to have it happen any sooner will not happen. Its a pipe dream. It may not happen at all, if ever.

      • Scott Squires says:

        R&H was already sending out 40% and was considering sending out more even before being bought.

        Can China or India do the Tiger and the key shots from Pi tomorrow? Do you think what we do is of no value and can easily be copied? Do the India and China have the same aesthetics as we do?

        Do you think India and China wages are stagnant.

        We’re not tossing a coin in the air. We’re taking action. It’s those not taking the action that are allowing corporations to turn the coin to the side of their choosing.

        So for everyone who’s living in fear that their work is going to a distant land you’d better start looking for work in another field because not going union is not going to save your job.

      • tazzman says:

        against subsidies, you continually marginalize the value of an individual artist when you reduce him/her to a price tag(ala cheapest wage).

        Go ahead, try to do some of these massive fx tentpoles the studios are currently profiting from in low skill countries like China.

        Let’s see how good they turn out.

        Sometimes the cheapest is just cheap.

      • tazzman says:

        againstsubsidies, you say R+H will ship 80% of their workforce to India……well what if they’ve signed their rep cards?

        You gonna hire them? What if all the people you want to ship overseas are unionized?

        If India and China were capable of doing big tentpoles they would be doing them. But they’re not doing them because they cant.

      • VFXartist says:

        Whats important is that what work REMAINS in LA be sustainable & profitable. A union sets a bar for the cost of doing business in LA, hopefully a trade org can help companies define their value.

        Make no mistake, there WILL be work in LA, just not like in the big imageworks/DQ/DD/R&H factory style that was never sustainable, even in the film days. But what work that does happen here should be a premium service that does not compete on price, but on how FAST and GOOD you can get it done locally. And the that work should be union because THATS HOW THIS TOWN DOES BUSINESS.. Si capisce?

        CA can never compete on price… those who want insist on competing on price, let them die. They do bad business. Unions and trade orgs are TOOLS for labor and industry respectively. USE THEM.

        Every objection to any organizing here is to suggest the same tired ideas that we HAVE been doing for the past two decades will somehow start working. Its like kicking a broken machine in hopes it will start working again, –

        Look at animation.. it went overseas as well, but what animation IS done here in LA IS union.

        Wiseup if you think continuing the status quo will somehow keep the work in LA. It never has nor will it in the future.

      • Dave Rand says:

        It will take solid demonstrations of a better way to work creatively , where directors direct their movie, all of their movie..especially the VFX and eye to eye. Most artists get this…the wasted versions due to client absence, second guessing. If it takes 20 versions to get it right when it should only take one then paying someone 1/20th of your wage even further away and to do it now 40 times begins to seem meaningless, as do subsidies. Without leverage from a trade assoc and a union we lack respect as has been demonstrated of late and we have no say…even on these smart ideas.

        The imbalance will not last, many jobs will return as most of these new economies are either too fragile and dependant on the whims of politicians or merely experimental relying on outsourcing a broken business model to undeveloped talent and making thing s worse.

        We should act as if we are simply improving our own business habits. In business you never surrender all the leverage to the other party unless your plan is to lose everything.

    • againstSubsidies says:

      Could India or China, do a digital tiger, in the same manner and way that R/H did. Um, yes, Easily. An indian company now owns the company that did it. They now own the tools. They now own the people. The now have the leverage they were looking for. All the have to do is implement what they own.
      And I believe that China is able to do this also. We do not have a lock on talent, technology and knowledge. It does exist elsewhere, and those people will do it for bread and water if they have to. Its no different than that of some recent grad or intern that will work for free on star wars. The reason so many jobs are leaving the states, is simply due to illegal subsides. And until this becomes more politicized, and something is done on a government level, we will never have a chance in hell to keep our careers. With a union or without a union.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        they DONT own the people. they do have workers. but not the artist that created Richard parker. Sign a rep card, take a stand, dont go to india to train them. all they bought is a brand name and some propiotary software. they dont even have work awarded yet and I doubt the studios will just believe will function as usual with 80% Mumbai work.

      • tazzman says:

        An Indian company that now has inherited a gutted R+H. Dream on.

        And “all they have to do is implement what they own”.

        LOL. Yeah, that’s a bigger challenge than your sentence suggests.

        Getting fx artists to achieve that kind of artistry doesn’t just happen with the push of a button. And it sometimes doesn’t even happen with the same team on a different film. You know how hard that is?

        It isn’t just about buying the name, the tech, etc, or even having the same exact team on board(which they wont by the way).

      • vfxPEON says:

        You’re so right! All they have to do is hit R&H’s proprietary “Create Tiger” button and they’ll be finalling shots in no time! It’s not like it takes talent or experience to do this stuff!

  8. Andreas Jablonka says:

    Also keep in mind your signed rep card is VALID for 90 days AFTER you have left the facility already!

    • tazzman says:

      That’s why it’s so important that more fx artists sign their rep cards. They take their representation with them(at least for 90). And as more and more shops become unionized, a global floor of basic minimums is established.

      The studios will run out of places to go because the labor force will be unionized in every direction.

      I guess they could go to China……but they’re not going to be working on any 1,000 shot count tentpoles….unless you’re Empires of the Deep.😮

  9. S says:

    There have not been extensive layoffs at Imageworks. You should get your facts straight. Some pipeline peeps who working on maintaining legacy software were let go and a couple cg supes who were not attached to any show. This is all pretty normal. Extensive is the wrong word especially when the total is less than 20.

    • P says:

      I dont think you have your facts straight, Stereo Pipeline, Katana and ACMan were NOT legacy software…. The Supes that were let go just had finished OZ….

  10. BrrrrrapBrapBrap says:

    From Twitter:

    Emma Hubert ‏@emmahubertxo
    I really don’t like vfx teams. Theres no specific reason why, I just don’t.

    • BrrrrrapBrapBrap says:

      I don’t have a twitter account. Someone please tweet that little bitch back!

    • mike says:

      She’s entitled to her opinion. Shouldn’t bother anyone.

      • BrrrrrapBrapBrap says:

        pussy

      • WhoCares? says:

        If it matters so much to you then join twitter. Does she matter? never heard of that girl before. She doesn’t seem to mater to anything.

      • McCookie says:

        I was kidding. Geeze.

      • Shouldn't Bother Anyone says:

        She is the reason why VFX people get listed beneath craft service and catering. And the people that defend people like her deserve what they will get. She even admits its purely based on ignorance. And people defend that? What are you monks from 1000AD?

        I wish she would refrain from making such hateful remarks. She is acting like a little snob making fun of VFX plight.

        Come on guys. Really?

    • deanareeno says:

      @BBB, Did you even look at her Twitter feed? She has no relation to, and isn’t talking about, the visual effects industry.

      She’s talking about volleyball. Specifically, VolleyFX, who go by the shorthand ‘vfx’. ‘VFX strives to be the premier girls volleyball club in New York State’.

      You are an asshat.

  11. tazzman says:

    This type of business structure has to have a “brain drain” impact on the industry too. With people out of work, they might change careers and switch over to another line of work where their skill sets can be used more consistently.

    Very troubling.

    The only hope I see at this point is for a unionized artist pool globally and an international trade association. But they need to happen soon.

    I said it before: vfx are carrying Hollywood on its back right now. Vfx are supporting Hollywood.

    But who is supporting vfx?

    No one right now. A union and trade association will at least put a floor underneath the industry to give them some support.

    • Scott Squires says:

      Agreed.

    • scathie says:

      I said it before: vfx are carrying Hollywood on its back right now. Vfx are supporting Hollywood.

      But who is supporting vfx?

      Governments. What do you think those tax incentives are for?

      • tazzman says:

        “Governments. What do you think those tax incentives are for?”

        The studios. The fx industry hasn’t benefited. Their margins are still slim to non-existent. And all its done is forced the companies to open new locales to chase these subsidies, cutting their margins even further.

      • Scathie. says:

        “The studios. The fx industry hasn’t benefited”

        What are you talking about? Just a decade ago there were maybe a dozen VFX studios. Now there are thousands. Yeah, a few big old fish that can’t keep swimming are getting drowned, and it IS bad for those individual studios, but for the industry as a whole, it’s never been larger, with more artists and managers working in it than ever before.

        Just go to Siggraph, it used to be a very niche event of a few nerdy old guys talking about technical white papers, now it’s a huge industry-wide party and schomze-fest. That is NOT because the industry is contracting, it’s happening for the exact opposite reason.

        If you graduated from film school 15 years ago and wanted to go into VFX, you had a hell of a long shot of ever making it to one of the few studios in LA that could have employed you. Now, you can easily get in all over the world. You’re going to have more competition for sure, but hey, it’s not the 90s anymore.

      • tazzman says:

        If you are suggesting the fx companies are making money off of subsidies, you are blind. They’ve never been in a worse position. That’s why theyre going out of business! The current subsidy model is unsustainable.

      • Scott Squires says:

        Digital caused a growth in vfx effects. But the subsidies have caused uneven growth in the vfx companies. The vfx companies do not benefit from subsidies. They may get a better chance to bid in a given area but they do not get the money itself and they still have to underbid and compete. The subsidies have caused more large companies (over supply) and more people in vfx (more over supply) leaving both workers and companies with little leverage and leaving many of them with 1/2 of a career.

      • Look at the big picture says:

        Scathie:

        “Just go to Siggraph, it used to be a very niche event of a few nerdy old guys talking about technical white papers, now it’s a huge industry-wide party and schomze-fest.”

        Huh? Siggraph is a shell of what it was 15-20 years ago. There’s hardly any reason to go anymore.

      • tazzman says:

        Look at the big picture, I think scathie meant 40 years ago.😉

      • Tax Credit Producer says:

        I have been reading and following these VFX issues for a long while and can no longer avoid comment. No matter how well intentioned, NONE of you VFX people seem to grasp the (albeit complicated) understanding of what a tax credit/subsidy is and how the studios use it. I have worked as a creative executive and as a producer for twenty five years and have seen the tax credits mushroom and change the industry.

        Not that many years ago, even the most liberal tax credits came with restrictions. Lets take the Canadian credits as an example: they had to be applied for through the local facility, workers had to show residency for a particular period of time before they were a good spend and as a result, they really could only be used as a discount against services provided by a local vendor and local labor. They required the studios to provide lots of documentation like chain of title affidavits and only the copyright holder was allowed to fill out the paperwork and then there was an 18 month wait for the proceeds. Despite the discount, many studios only chased the tax credit when productions were underfunded, when they needed a coupon to get the work done.

        Then the credits were made “transferable”. It is critical that you understand this concept. Once transferable, banks like the National Bank of Canada and independent tax credit services stepped in. Since the credit was transferable, the studio could transfer to a bank or service for a small percentage and collect the money up-front based on the final green-lit production budget as part of the financing of the film.

        TAX CREDITS NO LONGER HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE MONEY SPENT ON PRODUCTION OR AT A VFX VENDOR. IT IS ALL ABOUT FREE MONEY TO HELP FINANCE THE FILM. PERIOD.

        Once the tax credits were made transferable it made the situation worse for the VFX vendors even the local ones, as the studios no longer say we have a million dollars in VFX that we will get for 400,000 dollars. Instead they say we got an extra 600,000 dollars to finance the film based on a VFX line item in the budget, and now we want someone to execute those VFX in that tax credit jurisdiction for the 400,000 dolars in cash we have left assigned in our budget.

        That is a bit oversimplified but accurate, Once you understand that tax credits provide paper money to finance the film and actually rob hard cash from the VFX line items then you can start to understand why they are doing so much more damage to your business now than they did just a few years ago and why Canadian facilities and workers are in no better shape than anyone else.

      • Thanks TCP, that was very educational

      • Shouldn't Bother Anyone says:

        Sounds like a gottdamn tsunami. This is very dangerous stuff. Even if the studios tried to fuck around short term, LA would crumble. And then they’d come bak and people will be at breadline levels of wanting work. And thinking the whole job that they won’t ever work again if they don’t buckle down to tutorials.
        Ang was right. Most of us are know it alls. It’s tough working in a team of 1000 know-it-alls on top of chasing all the work.

        Hardly sounds like fun.

        Like they say in the Shark Tank. And for that reason, I’m out.

      • scathie says:

        “If you are suggesting the fx companies are making money off of subsidies, you are blind. ”

        I never said that at all, nor did I mean it. What’ I’m saying is that one of the primary effects of government investment in the sector is that it has rapidly grown from a localized niche industry to a large, international one.

        “Digital caused a growth in vfx effects”

        Maybe. Or even probably. It has certainly help lower the barrier to entry in the sector.

        “But the subsidies have caused uneven growth in the vfx companies.”

        Yeah, anything governments do does.

        “The subsidies have caused more large companies (over supply) and more people in vfx (more over supply) leaving both workers and companies with little leverage and leaving many of them with 1/2 of a career.”

        I’ll buy a bit of this. I’d disagree of the effect of subsidies on workers, unless those workers are only employable at one given company. I actually think that talent as a whole are better off now than ever in this industry, who will find their mobility options increase as the sector becomes more diffuse. Where things may get tricky are with less competitive talent (and probably this means older talent) or workers who are tied to a specific studio. I think the “1/2 of a career” comment flies right in the face of this; indeed, it’s allowed careers to exist where they otherwise wouldn’t have, and created more flexible options for in demand talent.

        As for subsidies causing more large companies. Yeah, I think they’ve helped promote sector growth as a whole.

        I won’t get into anything that “Tax Credit Producer” wrote. I’ve never worked with a legitimate studio that has asked a VFX house for money up front. It happens all the time, but with indie guys who are looking to help finance their film, not real studios.

    • Scott Squires says:

      Scathie- I think you’re confused about a number of things.
      ““Digital caused a growth in vfx effects”

      Maybe. Or even probably. It has certainly help lower the barrier to entry in the sector.”

      A large show pre-digital was 200 shots. Once digital hit 2000 shot shows were possible. Wirework, rig removal, even roto became easier and prevalent. It’s not necessarily that it was cheaper to get started, it was because they became more feasible to do. Try do in many of the things we take for granted now such as fixing makeup but using opticals. Instead of having a few people doing stop motion you can have dozens of people animating.

      The quality level, variety and the possibilities exploded with the usage of digital. Look at still photography. How much retouching was there in pre-digital days. Some. Now everything. Same with films. visual effects in films were limited to cross dissolves for majority of hollywood films until digital became available.

      Digital is now in every hollywood film and most independents. So the number of shots with vfx has increased by a magnitude. This is a larger market place.

      “I’d disagree of the effect of subsidies on workers, unless those workers are only employable at one given company. I actually think that talent as a whole are better off now than ever in this industry, who will find their mobility options increase as the sector becomes more diffuse. ”

      Some people miss the very obvious so I will state it.

      In every industry there is a certain size of market. And that will only support so many workers in that field. The world could not support 1 billion doctors. How would they earn their living if they only had 5 patients each? The world can not support 1 billion shoelace makers, or gardeners or anything you can name.

      So how many workers can vfx actually support? It can support many more than it could in 1970 due to digital. But it can’t support 100,000 people.

      Film subsidies do not create work, they simply move the work.
      Look at the number of films made each year. Just because films are being shot now in Vancouver, London, Prague, wherever, does not mean the number of films have increased. So if there are 200 Hollywood films a year and each employ a 100 person crew (made up numbers) Then we could say that 20,000 will be working on film crews for the year. Worldwide on Hollywood films. Now suppose you entice Hollywood to shoot in the Congo with huge subsidies. Some of those same people will travel to the Congo to shoot those films but a certain amount will be supplied by locals. So the 20,000 people that were supported primarily in California is now smaller. People lose their jobs here for every job added that didn’t simply move a person.

      In the UK and Vancouver the vfx industries there are pushing for education of students and enticing them to enter into the field. And they’re employing many of them. So now the number of workers is increasing but the work is has not. Those BC workers who entered into the film world are now finding they are losing their livelihoods because Ontario and Quebec are offering better deals. And there will be a push of new workers in Ontario and Quebec. They will be out of work as soon as the wind of the subsidies change again. So now instead of having approximately the number of workers to do the work we’ve probably doubled the number of workers. Which can not be supported. India and China are busy training even more people. To do what? There are only so many films and tv shows made a year. Youtube for all it’s wonder will not support the scale. Because the fact is there is a limited market place for people to have the time even to watch the product.

      So yes, that makes vfx less unsustainable because there are too many companies and too many workers. Pre-subsidies there were places in around the world that did vfx. London had a handful of places that di the Bond films, Alien,Terry Gilliam films, etc. There might have been a couple of places in Vancouver but the size and number of companies and in turn the number of workers was driven strictly by the marketplace. If the market couldn’t handle a new company then it would fall. If suddenly London made a number of vfx films then the market place would grow there in that time. But by and large is was self regulating by evolution. Those entering film schools knew that there were limited slots available. We’ve now trained many more vxf artists, some of them at the urging of local governments, than can find work.

      More workers than can be supported means – more unemployment for those workers, lower wages, less leverage, etc. And when Vancouver vfx industry falls (because most of it is based on subsidies) and when the UK industry reduces (because 75% of it it is due to subsidies according to Framestore) there will be a flood of these people in the breadlines just as there are in LA. Because the subsidies are purely a greed component controlled ultimately by corporations and politicians and they are constantly changing. The vfx industry and the workers have no control over this.

      ” will find their mobility options increase as the sector becomes more diffuse.”

      So for you the big win is mobility. Right, because everybody wants to spend every year of their life moving from one location to another. Because nobody should want to have a more permanent home with a spouse and family and friends in one place. Because it’s easy to move. And the 80 hrs you spend in your cubicle is so much more worthwhile in subsidized Congo than it was in London. I’m sure every single person having to move to India or China is thrilled and wished they had left sooner for these places.

      When I started the film business for the US (and most of the world) was Los Angeles. So that’s where I moved to. I made that commitment because I knew that’s where this type of work was. And you know what, I did’t hear a lot of people saying they’d rather keep moving around the world working long hours in offices. I didn’t hear workers asking their bosses to setup an optical house in a far off location so they could leave their wife and children.

      Because here’s the huge difference people are missing. You are forced to move, it’s not you choice where to work. And I say forced because you will have to follow the work if you still want to be employed. And the studios don’t care whether that’s in the Congo or near a fish factory on a lone island.

      If people wish to travel fine, that’s up to them. They can go on vacation or they join the army. And for a few they may choose to move to a new location to work IF that place has work available that they would like.

      And your income isn’t keeping up with the expensive places you are required to work in.

      ” Where things may get tricky are with less competitive talent (and probably this means older talent) or workers who are tied to a specific studio.”

      I can tell that you’re young and ignorant to equate older talent with less competitive. Experience is a great teacher. You might consider it sometime. I’d much rather have solid experienced people on a project that non-expereinced people who thought they knew everything. Because the older workers have seen and done a lot they know the drill. They’ve seen just about everything and they’re adaptable at problem solving and creative choices. Research shows to get good at something you have to put in at least 10,000 hours. If I had to do a 2D animated film I’d rather have the 9 old men of Disney if they were still alive. You’re certainly not going to know that coming out of any school. An artist continues to grow and develop their eye.

      ” I think the “1/2 of a career” comment flies right in the face of this; indeed, it’s allowed careers to exist where they otherwise wouldn’t have, and created more flexible options for in demand talent.”

      I’ll say it again – too many workers means that many will not be able to survive in the industry. That includes all of these ‘new careers’ that you’ve given people. You’ve now trained then in a specific industry and gotten them existed and some experience but that will be thrown away as soon as the jobs move, not due to low demand, but simply because a lobbyist talked a politicians to be more generous with their tax payers money.

      Flexible options – How is being told the company is closing due to lack of subsidies, you have to move to a specific city half way around the world more ‘flexible option’.

      You act as if everything is permanent and that there are jobs in all of these cities all the time. That any vfx person can just hop on a jet and live where they choose.

      Think again.

      • scathie says:

        “A large show pre-digital was 200 shots. Once digital hit 2000 shot shows were possible.”

        Yes, in terms of shot count, I absolutely agree. But in terms of expansion of the industry itself, I wouldn’t go as far to say that technological advancement caused the expansion of the industry per se. Movie studios are simply buying more VFX, and they’re now doing if from more vendors. Had the paying audience for movies collapsed, then it wouldn’t matter what kind of technology changes had happened within the industry, there’d still be no market for VFX.

        “Film subsidies do not create work, they simply move the work”

        Well, it depends what you mean by film subsidies. If we’re talking government tax credits, which I think you are, I wouldn’t claim they do either. What they do do is relieve VFX studios from part of their labour costs. This translates into a very strong comparative advantage against studios which do not have them.

        “Digital is now in every hollywood film and most independents. So the number of shots with vfx has increased by a magnitude.”

        Again, I don’t agree that digital has in and of itself created more VFX. It has certainly made it possible, but there are more customers for VFX products, and that is the ultimate driver behind the industry.

        “So if there are 200 Hollywood films a year and each employ a 100 person crew (made up numbers) Then we could say that 20,000 will be working on film crews for the year.”

        The market isn’t fixed. There is no quota system for the industry.

        “In the UK and Vancouver the vfx industries there are pushing for education of students and enticing them to enter into the field. And they’re employing many of them. So now the number of workers is increasing but the work is has not. ”

        Do you have numbers to back this claim?

        “that makes vfx less unsustainable because there are too many companies and too many workers”

        I don’t buy this at all, and think it’s a rather silly argument. The sector itself is currently sustainable and expanding. True, this rapid expansion is forcing companies and workers to be more competitive, but the industry itself is growing flatter. As as a result, there is now a large demand for motivated talent. Why the chronic talent shortage in this industry never comes up as a topic in these discussions is beyond me.

        “And when Vancouver vfx industry falls (because most of it is based on subsidies) and when the UK industry reduces (because 75% of it it is due to subsidies according to Framestore) there will be a flood of these people in the breadlines just as there are in LA.”

        This implies that you can see the future. Do you have a specific date and time this will occur?

        “When I started the film business for the US (and most of the world) was Los Angeles. So that’s where I moved to. I made that commitment because I knew that’s where this type of work was.”

        But now you don’t have to move to Los Angeles. You don’t even need to get a US Visa, which are getting harder and harder to get. If you’re from Edmonton and you want to work in VFX, you can move to Vancouver, there’s no waiting for years for maybe getting paperwork and that first job. And paperwork to get into the States is getting harder and harder. Now VFX is popping up all over the world. The industry is becoming democratized.

        “You are forced to move, it’s not you choice where to work.”

        I haven’t never met anyone who was forced to move in this industry.

        “Research shows to get good at something you have to put in at least 10,000 hours.”

        No, it doesn’t. That’s just an assertion from Malcolm Gladwell, who’s a just a (rather good) self-promoting journalist. He wrote a good book, but it’s not science.

        http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121114-gladwells-10000-hour-rule-myth

        “You act as if everything is permanent and that there are jobs in all of these cities all the time. That any vfx person can just hop on a jet and live where they choose.”

        There aren’t permanent jobs in any cities all the time anywhere.

        What you can also do now, is start your own VFX company, build your own client base and go into business for yourself from almost anywhere in the world.

      • Scott Squires says:

        Quite frankly I don’t know what to say when people avoid facts and figures. When they ignore logic.

        “I wouldn’t go as far to say that technological advancement caused the expansion of the industry per se. ”

        So if all we had were opticals there would be just as many vfx today? And that the growth of vfx market had nothing to do with digital??

        “Well, it depends what you mean by film subsidies. If we’re talking government tax credits, which I think you are, I wouldn’t claim they do either.”

        Are there any other forms of film subsidies?

        “The market isn’t fixed. There is no quota system for the industry.”
        Yes, the market is fixed. There are a limited number of films that the public will pay to see. The studios will not be releasing 10,000 films a year. There’s no point in a studio releasing 10 movies themselves on the same weekend, they would just hurt their other films. The studios have cut back in the last couple of years because they had to much product. Just like any other market place, each has a natural size and if you expand beyond that you lose big time.

        “Do you have numbers to back this claim?”
        Look at the number of schools and universities in those areas offering vfx training. Look at the fact people (and vfx companies in UK) were pushing the UK government to do more to help educate vfx students.

        Me: “that makes vfx less unsustainable because there are too many companies and too many workers”

        “I don’t buy this at all, and think it’s a rather silly argument. The sector itself is currently sustainable and expanding. True, this rapid expansion is forcing companies and workers to be more competitive, but the industry itself is growing flatter. As as a result, there is now a large demand for motivated talent. Why the chronic talent shortage in this industry never comes up as a topic in these discussions is beyond me.”

        Sorry, what time/space are you living in? In your world there were no layoffs at Dreamworks, DoubleNEgative, DD, R&H, etc. That the job listings go unanswered all over and there’s a chronic need for even more people. Motivated talent? I guess all those saps who trained in vfx were not motivated. Those that choose this field were not motivated. I goes everyone in vfx is lazy and unmotivated according to you. Step aside everyone, there are even more motivated people who will take you jobs.

        “This implies that you can see the future. Do you have a specific date and time this will occur?”
        I can see history repeat itself. I saw BC and UK losing work to Ontario and Montreal. I saw Michigan closing their studio. I see Louisiana congressmen and tax papers now seeing that they get less than 16 cents on the $1. Look at history and look at the political climate and the finical wreckage and it shouldn’t take a genius to look ahead. Nor does it take a genius to thin at some point while the subsidized areas are playing their fiddles their work will slip away to India and China and other even lower cost areas.

        ” The industry is becoming democratized.”
        No, the industry is becoming subsidized for the moment.

        “I haven’t never met anyone who was forced to move in this industry.”
        ??? Maybe you should meet people in the US sometime. Or people in Vancouver or in the UK. Not sure where you live. The projects I’m offered are out of country. Quite a few of my friends are in other countries not by choice, but because they need the work.

        So you’re saying every student coming out of vfx training has all the experience they’ll need and that they’re just as ready, more so according to you, than people who have been doing this for awhile.

        “What you can also do now, is start your own VFX company, build your own client base and go into business for yourself from almost anywhere in the world.”

        Sorry, my forehead has already gotten pretty flat this last year from slapping it.
        Please go ahead and go into business! With your vast knowledge and the fact it’s easy to get clients anywhere and there so much work, go for it! Put your money where your mouth is.

        Ignore all those companies going out of business. Ignore the fact that most vfx work is ultimately controlled by 6 gate keepers, 1 for each studio. Ignore the fact they don’t know you from adam and don’t care. Set up shop in the in Afghanistan. See how much business you get.

      • tazzman says:

        scathie,
        “Movie studios are simply buying more VFX, and they’re now doing if from more vendors.”

        Yes, and theyre doing so because of, as Scott stated, the ascent of digital technology.

        Back in the photochemical days you had a small handful of people who had the experience in optics to actually do that kind of work. Much of that equipment had been around for years but the knowledge base was dispersed. There was not a concentration of these optical experts in one place who could do a large volume of work…..until ILM. And that “large volume” to an optical house was about 200 shots per show(as Scott alluded to earlier).
        It was also a process where you had to start over if there was a mistake….or leave it in. So, it was not a simple matter of cranking out shots at whim.

        Plus, the equipment was very specialized and expensive. You didn’t have huge companies like SGI and Apple manufacturing tens of thousands all the time….and troubleshooting them constantly.

        When digital started, it took place on SGI workstations and Macs. Macs were preexisting and had been troubleshot for years. SGIs were more high end but they were still had wider applications than an custom-built optical printer. Now there are other platforms of course taking the place of SGI.

        PCs and Macs also had a large presence in universities and colleges around the world. So, people were more schooled in the universal traits of a computer.

        So digital absolutely is the reason the fx industry has grown. And the reason they’re ordering 2000 shot shows is because of the advantages that digital gives them in time, a larger pool of skilled artists in the field, and because the shows have slowly grown larger over the last 2 decades since Jurassic Park.

        Coincidence? I think not.

      • scathie says:

        “Quite frankly I don’t know what to say when people avoid facts and figures. When they ignore logic.”
        Really? Coming from the guy who wrote this?
        “So if there are 200 Hollywood films a year and each employ a 100 person crew (made up numbers)”
        “Are there any other forms of film subsidies?”
        Sure. If we take Canada alone, in the 1990s, when they’re dollar was trading at 60-odd cents to the US dollar, that was a huge subsidy to the Canadian industry vis-a-vis their currency position. Canada also has a government run health care system, which relieves companies of health care costs. Are those “fair”? Probably not, but that’s business.
        “Yes, the market is fixed.”
        Uh. WHAT?!?! Exactly how many movies/commercials/TV shows/video games cinematics are made each year? WHAT IS THE FIXED AMOUNT, AND WHO IS SETTING THE QUOTA? OH WAIT, NOW YOU’RE AVOIDING FACTS AND FIGURES AND MAKING UP NUMBERS AGAIN.
        This time, you aren’t even supplying the numbers! Because you have no clue what you’re talking about, here is an example of a mechanism designed to fix a market: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_quota
        “Do you have numbers to back this claim?”
’Look at the number of schools and universities in those areas offering vfx training. Look at the fact people (and vfx companies in UK) were pushing the UK government to do more to help educate vfx students.’
        So: no. You could have just said no.
        “In your world there were no layoffs at Dreamworks, DoubleNEgative, DD, R&H, etc.”
        How does the number of layoffs compare to the number of employed workers? If 500 workers were laid off in a given year, but 2,000 workers were hired over the past two years, what does mean for the industry? Have any FACTS AND FIGURES about the number of people working in VFX now compared to 5 years ago? Do you know what that number is projected to be in another 5 years? Can you please at least make something up?
        “I can see history repeat itself.”
        So again, no. You could have just said no.
        “Quite a few of my friends are in other countries not by choice”
        No, they had a choice. Stop being so melodramatic. These people had no choice: http://immigration-online.org/uploads/posts/2011-01/1295201862_african-forced-migration.jpg
        “Ignore all those companies going out of business.”
        Companies go out of business. That’s what companies do. VFX has just been around long enough and is large enough that some of the companies that pioneered the industry are now old, uncompetitive and dying. THAT’S BUSINESS. Is the banking industry “on the ropes” or about to collapse? No, yet look at all the banks that have failed: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/banklist.html
        We’re in changes times now in VFX, and the industry will hit rough patches when the industry becomes disrupted due to new, more innovative entrants into the market, but I categorically reject the view that VFX is in “crisis” anymore than any other industry is. It simply isn’t the free ticket for a few companies it was in previous decades.
        DD failed? Too bad. But that’s what happens when your CEO is taking home $20 million+ a year while the company itself had $50,000 in the bank at the time of bankruptcy to cover expenses. Ever thought that maybe they deserved to fail? How’s that for facts and figures?

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        you really dont know how to have civil discussion dude. what is choice? if you have to chose between having now job or a minimum wage job cleaning the toilet then you chose that job but i highly doubt you would say he did not have to take that job!

        you clearly dont work in this industry as the problem that persist seem to not phase you. do us a favor and stop commenting if this is the only kind of “throw a wrench into” style you know, we dont need this this kind here. thank you. of cours eyou are going to attack me now and tell me all these things nobody will read anyway, so just skip it please.

  12. Caleb says:

    Why are people not planning a walk out? The town hall, the uproar, the “sign cards” etc., has done little to send a clear message.

    Nothing is going to change until the work force says something tangible. By the time anything happens there will be no industry to change.

    • tazzman says:

      a union is tangible. so is a trade association.

      They’re not the sexiest options sure. But a walkout, when you have no union rep now, is asking for it. It will only hurt individuals and fx companies in very precarious positions financially who have no leverage and collective impact by force of law.

      So put the walkout dreams on hold for now and sign the rep card.

      • Caleb R. Owens says:

        While the VFX work force drags their feet, the studios push on, the subsidies push on. The execs make more and more money and you make less if you are lucky to have a job. All though I’ve signed my card, I for one am not waiting for anyone else anymore. While I still have one foot in the biz, I’ve been working hard to get out. I’m getting out not because I hate it, but in part because there is zero community support as a whole. I’ve been speaking about it for years and years. I’m not sure how to make the community tighter or better, not sure it is possible.
        Until people stop thinking they are smarter than everyone else and they drop the “I got mine” attitudes, this industry will fade in to oblivion and never return.
        My track record of ” I told you so’s” is pretty damn good. DD, I told you so, SPI, told you so, Union back the first time around, “nope” told you so. Union now? God I hope, but I fear that it is way to late.
        People have to be better organized and more serious than JUST signing a card. You HAVE to be ready to walk, cause the other cats are running… ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK!

      • tazzman says:

        But it’s not just “signing a card”. It’s the beginning of a process to end all this negative stuff you know all too well.

        And once you have a union shop, just one, I think you would be surprised how fast others will want on that bandwagon. People underestimate the power they have collectively.

  13. BrrrrrapBrapBrap says:

    Life is like one long render. Stopping and starting. False starts. And ultimately success. Get out there and sign those goddamn cards!

  14. BrrrrrapBrapBrap says:

    Signing the card you only gain. There is nothing to lose. If it goes away, it was going to happen anyway.

  15. tazzman says:

    But other people overseas and in the anglosphere signing means those countries likely wont be seeing those jobs. And that’s a good thing. Because those places hold the most skilled fx artists. So, the studios want the top notch talent, they will have to accept a union shop in the states, Oceania, UK, Canada, etc.

    So where will they go? India and China. Okay, so what collective force of artists in China can do a big fx tentpole and do it spectacularly well? Not one or they would be cranking out Life of Pi, Avatar, and The Avengers already.

    Those folks in those countries are heavily supplemented with a dose of skilled workers from foreign nations(like the states) to be able to do even the most basic work well.

    • McCookie says:

      Don’t provoke them. You’d be suprised what people can do. This is the part of the arguement that won’t hold up long. You’re better off focusing on the reeducation aspects. I like that the unions will help secure their industry that way too. Let’s face it. I don’t care how good an art you are. If you are a basic comper, modeler, dynamics, or any other type guy you will need to keep up with the softwares every month for the rest of your career.

      • McCookie says:

        And when I saw they I mean don’t provoke the people overseas. They may not be able to do it today. But that can change my boy.

      • tazzman says:

        Oh absolutely. My knock isnt on artists in China and India. But, there are simple facts of mass artist skill sets that are currently lacking. And so the argument that unions will ship more jobs overseas is hogwash. They might in the short term, but long term they will not. And were not even talking about the change towards unionization that could come to China as its middle class continues to grow.
        So yes, unionize globally. And that starts by signing your rep card.

  16. Why is everyone so afraid of signing those rep cards? Educate your selves with all the amazing documentation out there, stop living in fear, you know by the time it has taken you to write those rants about “all the work is leaving, and it will be done by artists that get 2 dollars a day” in that same amount of time you could have filled out your rep card already! It’s anonymous, nobody will even know that you did that unless you tweet about it! And rest assured, that if right now ALL THE VFX in the WORLD could be made in either China or India or Vietnam at their cost of living, ALL THE VFX in the WORLD would already be done there. Because no subsidy in the planet can compete with those prices. It’s simple and I don’t mean this with any disrespect to the artists in Third World Countries being from one myself: To put it in simple terms the difference is like eating at a really good local sustainable foodie type restaurant vs. a fast food chain, yes it was fast, yes it was cheap, but was it better? Plus most of the high end work is done in Canada, Australia, NZ, the UK, places where the standard of living is anything but cheap. If bad economics can have a negative global effect, why can we try to push the scale and bring some balance back? Don’t forget the famous quote “Divide and Conquer” we need to UNITE, what do you want to fight together or die alone?

    • McCookie says:

      Love you Mariana. It’s good to see women in the industry, let alone fighting at the top. Great work my friend.

      • Thanks McCookie, now if I could only convince everyone to sign those damn rep cards.. My best friend has been in the camera union for 10 years! It’s not perfect, they still work a ton of hours, but the Union fights for them, he has amazing Motion Picture health insurance, great pension.. I think at this point if you are not willing to fight, then you deserve what’s coming your way.

      • McCookie says:

        Exactly.

    • jonavark says:

      ” if right now ALL THE VFX in the WORLD could be made in either China or India or Vietnam at their cost of living, ALL THE VFX in the WORLD would already be done there.”

      But how long of a time is ‘right now’? It doesn’t take a lifetime to learn the craft and there are talented, creative people everywhere. If the cost of doing business is low enough then efforts to train people will be accelerated. It isn’t the first time this has happened.

      I don’t think it is something to be feared because it is a natural process.

      I can’t see how unions can stop or slow down that process. I’m trying to understand that as I read these articles.

      • tazzman says:

        They can slow it down by unionizing the workforce globally. No one is suggesting jobs wont be available overseas. They will. No one is suggesting that China’s ongoing liberalisation of the work force will stop with unions. It will accelerate. But a union will benefit EVERYONE across the board, regardless of country.

        In fact, a unionized workforce in the entire anglosphere(North America/UK/NZ-Aus) will put pressure on non-union regimes to at least “consider” acceptable terms.

      • jonavark says:

        There is no cap on the pressure though. So when you put that pressure on they just move out of the area of pressure and set up shop elsewhere.

      • tazzman says:

        There wont be any other areas with the talent pool to do the work

  17. tazzman says:

    It’s now or never folks. That statement by Jules at the end is most telling. She’s basically saying Tippett is all but shut down at the end of the year.

    So please, for your own value and worth as artists, sign a rep card.

    The fx industry goes, so goes Hollywood. The big summer tentpole, fun, entertaining fx spectacle Hollywood anyway.
    I dont want to live with a Hollywood that is pre-Star Wars again.

  18. vfxmafia says:

    Tippett Studios VFX House Lays Off 40 Percent of Workforce

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tippett-studios-vfx-house-lays-431762

  19. gg says:

    Perhaps its time to move to a more work friendly country. At least then we can say adios to sallie mae!

  20. Milka says:

    Sign cards, get a trade assoc and let’s get rid of subsidies . I am fine as long as you realize this will create less jobs globally as the studios are going to make less VFX driven movies and just make the dead certs to return a profit . They will fill the rest of the slate with cheaper comedies that often have higher cost to return ratios .

    The good will be those in work will get what we all wish for but we will see a huge downsize in the industry to cope with the lower number of films being made. If you are great you will be ok the others need find new work.

    Again I am happy for all 3 to happen so some of us will benefit

  21. annonLM says:

    Is it wrong to think that all the vfx houses need to stop all work and send back all the plates without the vfx work? It is pretty damn obvious that the studios are trying to be pricks about the whole thing. (Funny how just by their actions can tell you all you need to know about how guilty they actually are.) Are the studios just going to stop making movies? Interesting . . .

  22. annonLM says:

    By the way vfx have been in films for a very long time. However, I find it highly unlikely that people are going to go back to cutting film with a razor blade to do wire removal.

    • tazzman says:

      However, I find it highly unlikely that people are going to go back to cutting film with a razor blade to do wire removal.

      Industry implosions can surprise you. How about we dont take that chance and just organize?

  23. annonLM says:

    I think people need to realize how much their entertainment is actually worth. Movies, shows, music, continue to make money for the big studios and companies year after year. It is nothing but profit for them. However, because of the whole wallstreet nonsense everyone started taking their cues from big oil and get subsidized. They are trying to make as much free money (Only for them) as they possibly can before they run everything into the ground again. Look at how many products people consume everyday because of product placement. I don’t think very many people realize how much the products they help to make are really worth to the companies. . .

    • tazzman says:

      Thank you. What gets lost in all of this sometimes(although Scott Squires mentions it often) is the total cost to the taxpayer and the market distortion that occurs with these subsidies. And it points to a larger problem, probably beyond what we can do here, is the notion of what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is also mine.

      There is very little done for the common good of society with these subsidies because they pick winners based on size, lobbying ability, and influence. They’re not based on what people actually need.

  24. McCookie says:

    Stuff’s hard to keep up with. Geeze.

    • tazzman says:

      That’s what concerns me. When events start moving this fast, they have a momentum all their own. So the time to unionize is yesterday. It needs to happen now.

      • McCookie says:

        Tippet is trying to backtrack on his previous statements. Sounds like PR bullshit to me. Guy is sweating bullets. He just wants to appear robust to keep clients coming in the door.

      • tazzman says:

        So he’s taking back his PR release? That looks even worse. It comes off as a divided shop. I hate this. These are artists who should be thinking of creating, yet they’re spending so much of their finite energies just trying to survive.

        And yet, in spite of all this, deadlines will be met, fx shots finished, and people will still be wowed this summer by the work done throughout the fx industry.

        And that’s with all this other stuff going on. Imagine what could happen in a more positive working environment than the current state of affairs.

  25. Mike says:

    Caleb is right, there’s plenty of blogging, but nothing is happening….partly because many of the leaders are either talking about an industry organization, which may have a trickle effect on the workers, or signing rep cards, which could take a very long time to organize workers…personally, I think we could create a union without the companies, by just organizing a union from vfx workers, creating a set of bylaws, a prototype contract and having vfx workers join the group. Later, the union could be folded into one of the present organized unions….anyway, we should create an entity now….and people need to be ready to walk out if these unfair labor practices persist…..

    • tazzman says:

      Why create an whole new entity when one already exists? You say organizing will take a long time but you suggest creating a new union of sorts, which will take even longer.
      You can literally join a union without a company. You just sign a rep card.
      If enough do it, then the shop is unionized.

      Simple.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Correction: by signing the card you show your intend to be represented. you dont JOIN the union. if a majority is reached in a company a vote will determine if the unions has to be recorgnised as bargaining agent. only then is a contract negotiated with the company which then will be approved by you guys( another vote) then you join the union.

      • RnH artist says:

        Can you give advise on how VES can help us in union effort.

      • Scott Squires says:

        VES can provide education events regarding unions, trade associations and other possible solutions. The VES did have a Union panel this last fall with pro/cons of union. The video is at the VES site if you’re a member you can watch.

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      You should talk to Bob Oedy of IBEW about this. I have a feeling you could have a good conversation with him bob@unionorganizer.com

      • RnH artist says:

        If RH is a union company will the artists in India also be union? Prana can be union too?

  26. tazzman says:

    Sorry, yes that is correct. But, signing a card puts the process in motion to at least decide to unionize or not.
    It can’t happen on its own. And you don’t need to wait for a trade association to do it. You can do it now. Start the wheels moving now not later.

  27. P-Fi says:

    I would like to make a prediction. If RH does not rise from the ashes as a Union shop then the entire California industry is doomed. If RH cannot band together under these circumstances then what hope does it have for any other jobs in California.

    Once California falls the rest will fall one by one in suit. Vancouver, you think you’re safe??? Notice the new owners of RH will take 80% of the work to India. What percentage does that leave for Vancouver?

  28. Josef Bloomfield says:

    Open question for Steve Kaplan.

    Once R&H legally becomes a new company sometime next week. Do we have to sign a new union card?

    • skaplan839 says:

      Indeed. There are people inside with cards, or fill out the online repcard form and we’ll mail one to you.

      I know the cards have been slow getting out. I’m handling it myself and I’ve been slammed with other Organizing responsibilities on top of the VFX work. They’re in the mail and will be to you shortly.

  29. Tyler Durden says:

    Let’s not form a union, because doing what we’ve been doing is working out so well. (That was sarcasm in case you couldn’t detect it.)

    Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

  30. Vuks says:

    I really don’t understand how anyone can say “what good will a union do?” and iscompletely ignoring what is happening now. Look the motion picture industry has theMPAA and Chris Dobbs working very hard at figuring out how to maximize profits. Remember Mr. Dobbs tried to also pass SOPA and PIPA which would have destroyed the internet, luckily the tech companies have deep pockets and could successfully campaign against the bill. So who is campaigning for VFX?No one, and how is that working out? Weare getting the living shit kicked out of us on every front. It’s massive, it’s real and it will NOT get better. Until we can negotiate with the MPAA things WILL GET WORSE. If you don’t believe that you are living in a dreamworld Neo….

  31. Vuks says:

    Typo I meant Dodds

  32. […] afectada por la crisis del sector de los FX (en buena parte por la política de subsidios), podría ser Sony Imageworks (The Polar Express), a la que se ha “recomendado” el desplazamiento de […]

  33. Shouldn't Bother Anyone says:

    Okay…so there have been many things established that I was afraid of…like the subsidies are mearly bragging rights to bring a film into town.

    But my fear of do they check the workers out? That confirmation is scary. They need to police that. If they do they can help make fairness more a part of the equation.

  34. NorcalPracticalVFX says:

    Hi All, just have to weigh in here. As way of introduction, I am “Sean” the last speaker from the VFX Town Hall meeting from Nor-Cal. Specifically, my name is Sean House, and I am one of the owners/co-founders of 32Ten Studios, an employee owned Practical VFX company (formerly the ILM Model Shop two iterations ago). We are a Union shop. There are no other union Practical VFX shops, so we are an island unto ourselves. BUT WE SIGNED A UNION CONTRACT! And we are still alive.

    At the beginning of my address to the Town Hall community, I stated that we don’t have to form a union. THE UNION IS ALREADY IN PLACE! (Yes, I am shouting) I got stage fright, and didn’t iterate my point completely. I started saying that we would join the same Union that the Grips are part of, that the electricians are part of, then I stumbled, and said that the stagehands are part of. This last part is true, but it is soooooooo much more; The Make-up artists, the Art Guilds, the Hair Stylists, The wardrobe, the caterers, the construction crews, the FX and Pyro crews, the Prop Masters, the Set Decorators, the Video Playback folks, the AC’s, and on, and on!

    What I said then is what I will repeat with more clarification now is (feel free to share this), if we join a Local, or form a new Local, 113,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry represented by IATSE will have our back!

    Scott S. is completely correct in everything he has said thus far (in my way of thinking)

    As a supposition, if we were to Unionize VFX at Sony, and stage a walk-out/strike, EVERY Grip, Electric, Make-up, Wardrobe, FX, Construction person etc working for Sony in the US and Canada, on ANY production; would be OBLIGATED to not cross that Picket line! In addition, we would most probably receive support from every other Union/Guilds (Teamsters, DGA, WGA, SAG/AFTRA) in the industry. They cannot move that many jobs that quickly overseas.

    This is the power that comes to bear from the strength in seeking representation.

    There is no perfect time to Unionize…period. Yet there is a perfect time, and that time is now! Should we have done it 20 years ago? 10 yrs? yesterday? Yes!

    But looking back (like regret) is living in the past. We can only secure our future. Or we can go on with the status quo. (because that’s doing us a lot of good LOL!).

    Here’s where I am going to rub a lot of fur the wrong way;
    For all the Naysayers such as “AgainstSubsidies” (Sorry dude or dudette, nothing personal at all)

    SUGGEST SOMETHING BETTER!

    I was in the U.S. Navy for eight years. I was taught that anyone can complain, anyone can point out the faults, anyone can take issue with someone else. It takes creativity and courage to propose a new way of doing something differently than has been done before. It takes an awareness of self, not self absorption, to realize that the good of the many, benefits the good of oneself. We have toiled to long as individuals working together, to let our craft be torn apart by market forces.

    Banding together as a whole, we can lift up our section of the industry and establish equality, and equanimity.

    This may sound like a RAH-RAH for unionizim, it’s not. It is merely history repeating itself, this time in our arena.

    You can fight for equality in job title, race or ethnicity, sex, sexual bias, or political beliefs. But you must FIGHT!

    Unfortunately, It’s that simple.

    Or you will not even be a footnote in history.

    Go Scott S. and Scott R.!

    -Sean

    • Mike says:

      exactly, there’s already a union we can be part of…we need to support the idea, and make conscious moves to get everyone actively aboard….we can create a vfx union now….but we must actually do something instead of just blogging…we created a movement through the 500 person protest and the town hall….now we must follow through and have everyone join the organization that will be beneficial to us all…..as stated when we join the union, we will have the other guilds supporting us, we won’t be alone….

      Cheers

    • annonLM says:

      Thank you for highlighting and reminding of important points.

    • tazzman says:

      Great to hear the perspective of a person already part of a union shop.
      Also great to hear from someone working at a portion of the old Kerner facility. Now go blow some more stuff up on the slab please.

  35. Omar says:

    we are too kind with major company… a strike in their faces will stop big films and they will change their post of view ! because they need us

  36. Geeze just another day in Visual Effects. This is alarming.

  37. The All Seeing Eye says:

    Since there is little comment on THE MILL, I will mention this. The Mill screws over the freelance artists they hire by pretending they are not the actual employer in order to dodge tax liability. They force the artist to be represented by Yurcor, a “payroll service” that the artist has to pay a fee for, as well as all other taxes the employer should be paying for. If The Mill wants to practice Tax Evasion, they should at least have the balls to pay the artist by as a 1099 independent contractor.

    Companies like the Mill deserve to go under.

    • Yes, Logan and a few other places also use Yurcor. I’ve heard Yurcor has a big stranglehold in New York too.

      However I’ve worked at Logan very recently and NONE of the freelancers I talked to actually use Yurcor; they all have their own LLCs. I recently opened mine. It’s a big pain in the ass but I sleep better at night knowing my money isn’t going to those parasites.

      As soon as my LLC gets finished I’m going to go after Yurcor; if we band together we can kick them out of our industry like those MBO Partners scumbags….

      Eric

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Please talk to Steve Kaplan about yucor as he has helped artists do a lawsuit against yucor before. Not quite sure where that stands now.

      • tazzman says:

        This is another reason people need the collective shield a union would provide.
        All this bull**** would go away in the negotiated union contracts with studios and when an association is formed.

      • TimeToAct says:

        The Yurcor Lawsuit is still in progress..

        The Mill(LA) still uses them. They seem to be a little more open about the process but yes you can loss a lot of money if you don’t understand the process.. Which is bullshit.

  38. vfxmafia says:

    “Most significantly, Kuther told TheWrap that Pixomondo, based in nearly a dozen cities worldwide, is moving away from Hollywood projects because of the challenges facing the visual-effects business.

    “We are revamping the whole thing, moving on,” Kuther said. “We are taking our business further from here. The feature side will be part of it, but we’re moving on.”

    http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/vfx-house-pixomondo-shuts-shanghai-moves-away-film-exclusive-83341

    • yap yap yap…but will they succeed

      • vfxmafia says:

        to yap yap yap…

        its a pretty big deal when Pixo says its changing its business model……and going back to lucrative Euro commercials……over Movie VFX a year after winning an academy award.

        Pixo was one of the few houses that went from small studio to handling 5 movies at once……..and emmy for Game of Thrones…..not many companies cans say they have done that……(even though they are out of the box studio)

        the point of the posting is that there isnt any money left in movie VFX…….better to go back to commercials with a 50% mark up

  39. VFXslugger says:

    No one will take any of the artist’s concerns seriously until they flex a little muscle. If, for example, at 9:00am pst every VFX artist set their mouse or input device down and just walked away for the day the studios would listen – but until such time as we all pull a Norma Rae move like that they hold the upper hand.

    • Scott Squires says:

      Sign your rep cards.

      When the union can announce a company (or companies) has a majority of workers that want to unionize, then we will have their attention. Because at that moment enough visual effects professionals would have said enough is enough and be willing to take themselves seriously. That they themselves are done with ignoring or cowering and are taking a stand. Then those workers will have the ear of the companies and the studios.

      If vfx professionals only knew how much power they actually hold if they choose to use it.

  40. Scott Squires says:

    For those that think there is a limitless market for people in any field, including visual effects, check this out:

    Law students can’t find work. Sue schools

    Each industry has a limit to the number of people who can work, even lawyers!

    • Jackadullboy says:

      Interesting article. I did face palm at the final paragraph being presented as a positive:

      “Both deans said there was huge unmet demand for legal services for the poor and middle class, and the next generation of practitioners might be able to fill that demand. The state bar agrees.

      “Across the country, the need for legal services among those who cannot pay or have limited ability to pay has never been higher,” the bar report said.”

      Sheesh.. Signs of a healthy society I don’t think….

      • urizen says:

        Lets not sound the alarm bells just yet.

        In the 21st century serf economy, I’m confident that there will be ample niches to be filled by lower level lawyers, doctors, money lenders, and undertakers, who will make it their specialty to service the needs of the nouveau permanent underclass.

        Yes, there may be fewer opportunities at court for practitioners of these trades, but for the genuinely well connected, this should hardly prove to be a serious obstacle to advancement.

        In any case, the restoration of rational order after our ugly and obnoxious flirtation with middle class democracy will be well worth any incidental pain inflicted on the unfortunates who may happen to fall by nature’s wayside.

      • tazzman says:

        Wow. I know the U.S. is a litigious society, but that was…. reminds me of what has happened to the MBA and other degrees. There’s simply not enough jobs. The market is finite.

      • Blacklight says:

        One part of that article that stood out to me was how many law jobs have disappeared due to automation. Unionizing and fighting to end subsidies in VFX is all well and good, but what good will that do when “James Cameron’s E-Z DIY Home Avatar Mocap Kit” or some other technical innovation comes out that makes an entire hyperspecialized sector of VFX completely obsolete?

      • Shoulda Coulda Woulda says:

        Agreed. But maybe it will mean less overtime and same pay too. But yeah automation will be a game changer. Thing is, software keeps changing. Sites like Digital Tutors have thousands of hours of training. There will just be thousands more to learn as automation changes the formats.

        Motion graphics industry doesn’t have a clue. Automation is coming to them too.

        And so are the zombie apocalypse VFX folks who can outmodel, render and design them at their own game. One can learn enough about typography in a weekend to be fully employed as a designer these days. Guys coming out of gnomon can blow anything away. Make fun of them, say whatever. And even guys in china or anywhere else are making really convincing photoreal humans and creatures. CG forums. We’ve all seen it.

        Automation. Exciting yet scary stuff.

        If you were born after 1960, retirement age for you is projected to be 67 according the SSA. The scary thing is many artist are banking that they will be toiling away on tutorials until they are 67.

        VFX, games, and motion graphics animation are going to be an industry more like soccer where it takes more stamina, youth and flexibility (in this case, no kids etc) to be able to play the game. Any further questions?

      • Scott Squires says:

        Blacklight – Yes, as computers and software advances it will reduce some of the lower level and more time consuming processes. Automation now means you can paint 2D cels very quickly but you still need an animator to create the animation. Same issues will apply to vfx. There will still need people with the creative know how and experience. If all people are bringing is their technical knowledge of one software package or a very limited skill set, then they may be replaced.

        In the days of opticals there was a dept of line up people. They would take the count sheets and work with the film to prep it for optical printing. Those jobs went away when digital happened and those workers were retrained in digital compositing. Camera assistants were used to working with film and now deal with digital. It’s about adaptability.

        But remember that is not today. There will be no tomorrow for if we don’t make it there with a working business. SO before people start worrying about tomorrow or the future, maybe we should fix the issues affecting us today? That’s why the trade association and union are

      • Shoulda Coulda Woulda says:

        sure scott but if those camera assts don’t learn software and technology they fell behind. not disagreeing with your theory. just that it has more moving parts.

      • Shoulda Coulda Woulda says:

        (cont) …and adapting is easier said than done long term. Adapting used to mean every 10-20 years. Now it means next quarter, even next week. Hell even means tomorrow.

  41. Image Artist says:

    Framestore NY layoffs as well. Industry is clearly contracting.

  42. […] VFX Soldier – The Mill TV Closed & Imageworks LA Layoffs […]

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