Sony Hack Reveals Croner VFX Animation & Games Industry Wages


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filename: 2014_Croner_AVE_Compensation_Data_Results.xlsx

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

Soldier On.

93 Responses to Sony Hack Reveals Croner VFX Animation & Games Industry Wages

  1. Good choice of not posting the file. It’s not hard to find of you google.

    The only caution about the data is this is Sony data. Not all wages from all companies. I can guarantee you that many companies don’t pay what sony pays or shall we say used to pay.
    It’s valuable info to have. But it’s also difficult to combine the reality that many houses cannot or willnot pay as high in certain cases.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      actually the survey results are from wages collected by the companies listed above. Let me know if you find otherwise.

      • vfxer23 says:

        This is definitely not the sony data file. There is another data file for vancouver and la that lists wages like this too. Sony salaries are higher. If anything this is an accurate benchmark.

    • rfk says:

      Actually, it compares Sony data to industry averages from the companies listed.

    • Joe VFX says:

      I think Andreas is confusing this survey data with the fact that the leak also contains a spreadsheet of current (and possibly recent?) individual employee salaries. Two different things.

      • I realize both are different things.
        I nearly cautioned artist to walk into salary negotiations with this new data and demanding sony salaries. That’s all. It was enlightening to read what peers make. An open wage discussion is encouraged!

  2. Easy says:

    My God! The PowerPoint decks are spectacularly terrible.

    The fact that this is an acceptable level of design says volumes about the head muckity-mucks they are made for. No wonder most movies suck.

  3. Poor jusgement says:

    So if VFX Soldier downloaded this and is now looking at data I question his integrity to run an organisation like ADAPT.

    If you have then you are holding stolen goods that do not belong to you. Would you use a stolen car? Or spend money from a stolen wallet?

    Anyone who downloads the data are as bad as the hackers handling what is basically stolen goods.

    • Disgruntled says:

      Stop trolling…
      Either that or you’re just an idiot.

      News organizations are downloading and reporting on this information. Its out there. There’s no putting the gene back in the bottle.

      • Poor jusgement says:

        Im not trolling.

        Would you buy a stolen car if it was knowingly stolen and “out there” as you put it.

        These are stolen documents. End of.

      • Lonely says:

        Hang on a minute, no need for name calling, i think it’s a valid question and comment.
        This is an extremely serious situation, not only peoples livelyhood is at stake ehre but peoples actual lives, with that i mean identity theft is a major issue and showing any (specific) info is just stupid and if you don’t think so..then please post your passport photcopy, SSN, SIN, bank statements, rental agreement, drivers license info and we’ll see how fun it is…

      • Jackadullboy says:

        As has been said, the data’s out there. My name is on there.

        I can assume everyone can and will look at the data… Soldier hasn’t ‘stolen’ anything.

        He can’t ‘hand it in to the authorities to be returned to its rightful owner’..

        Do not shoot the messenger…

      • Lonely says:

        Pretty irresponsible messanger, lets hope more people also get hacked and their private photos/info gets released online, because everyone looooves gossip…

      • Image Ghost says:

        Would you download a movie someone else pirated since they already did the dirty work? Would you look at child porn just because someone else posted it? Noooooooo. News organizations posting this material will get there’s one day. Poor Judgement is not a hack, he is calling a spade a spade. Sorry if that truth hurts your agenda to hurt big VFX companies cause you below the line laborers can’t get your shit together and organize to get what you are worth.

      • JonMeier says:

        I think it’s important you have SOMEBODY looking through that data who you can trust to tell you what’s really in there. Because it’s your goods that have been stolen, and you don’t even know what was stolen.
        Again, Daniel is doing the hard work of finding out how you have gotten pinched, and informing you. Thanks Daniel.

      • Jackadullboy says:

        I would not even have heard of the file except by word of mouth, and this blog.

        So… no thanks to Sony (who have yet to contact myself and other ex-employees despite repeated emails) I am no longer in the dark, and aware my details have been almost certainly been compromised.

    • BridgeBurner says:

      Troll. End of.

    • rfk says:

      Wait, looking at Jennifer Lawrence’s tits online is morally equivalent to hacking her account?

    • VFX Soldier says:

      reminds me of this guy.

    • bobby says:

      “Anyone who downloads the data are as bad as the hackers handling what is basically stolen goods.” Says who? the delinquent?

    • SPInsider says:

      I don’t often use such direct language: but this is the most utterly moronic comment I’ve heard.

      You’re not supposed to feed the trolls, but can you smack them?

      VFX Soldier doesn’t act in the interest of mega-corporations that employ us, he acts in the interest artists and our livelihoods. There is information in those documents that can benefit every last one of us; Why should we remain willfully ignorant based on some naive corporate moral ideology when this opportunity to peek behind the curtain has the potential to radically improve our disposition?

      • many people like this industry says:

        He acts for a trade organization. So is adapts charter one that encourages breaking the law, company espionage and trading off stolen property.

        I thought his big thing was being on the right side of the law.

        obviously not.

      • animcoop says:

        Well look at you, after all the time you spend reading this blog you finally found a reason to hate VFXSoldier.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        shit… thought I finally had a fan. Hey I’m also (regretfully) a VES member now. You should get them to kick me out if your serious.

    • bobby says:

      i always have a certain level of “admiration” for trolls! They are able to present the bad things as they are good and inverse.
      They might be washed-brained as well.

    • thaddeusbeier says:

      The Croner survey data is different from the personal salary data, SSNs, and other internal documents that I agree should not be shared. The Croner survey data is certainly shared by a long list of VFX companies; and the list was longer when there were more of them in California. To say that data is secret is to say that these companies are colluding illegally. Surely you’re not saying that, right?

  4. zeb says:

    I’m a bit confused about the problem with the Croner survey and how different it is from the Guild survey for instance. Is this data anonymous and giving wage ranges by general position ( TD, Lead, Supervisors for FX dept for instance) or is it more detailed ? If this is a general survey that offer a broad view of the wage I guess it can’t be really seen as collusion (would make sense because this survey is publicly known). I believe collusion would be based on sharing the wage of a particular individual. Am I completely wrong, Can someone elaborate ?

    • rfk says:

      The survey is not collusion (or, at least, it’s not illegal collusion). However, it is useful data your employer has and you don’t when it comes time to talk dollars and cents.

      The TAG survey is helpful, but nowhere near as detailed.

    • Jackadullboy says:

      Information asymmetry.. Sold to the highest bidder…

    • thaddeusbeier says:


      Thanks for pointing out that the Croner survey data is available for a small fee. I had no idea that it was that easy to get.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        When Steve Kaplan of the Animation Guild learned about the Croner survey from me he actually contacted them to purchase it. Croner asked him why and he said the Guild runs a wage survey every year and it would be helpful to membership to know the rates. Croner refused. We thought the reason why is because the studios and facility would no longer participate in the survey if it got into the hands of the workers.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        they refused???they do realize its leaked right? morons!

      • VFX Soldier says:

        this was 4 years ago.

  5. Roxboro says:

    @RudyHavenstein: To be fair, things could be worse. #oops

  6. Cockneyed says:

    Wage collusion is rampant in London, too

  7. SPInsider says:

    Effing brilliant. Thank you Soldier for taking the time to dig through this and make some good the situation! Any general information we can gleam about industry wages practices is incredibly important to us lowly artists in this industry.

    • bobby says:

      so, now you know, what are going to do?

      • SPInsider says:

        For one, I’m going to share the information with as many people as possible because I believe that everyone deserves the right to feel confident about their wage and to know whether they’re being given a fair offer or being taken advantage of.

    • anonVFX says:

      Fuck the VES. Do they ever do anything but blow the studios? Why does anyone join them? For free screeners? And why did you join Daniel?

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Scott Ross and I recently joined with the intention of running for some of the board positions. It became pretty clear to us that given the non-profit nature of the organization there really is nothing that can do. By law they are a non-profit charity which means they can only advocate for education.

        In order for them to actually be able to legally do something effective they need to be a non-profit trade organization. This is why was formed. It’s legally a trade organization.

        Sent from my iPhone


      • michelin says:

        I am still in VES for free screeners, but this might change due to recent data flow. So once they don’t send them any more…bye VES!

  8. CZ says:

    Belgrad and Osher Indiv Perf Summs for Kato-san April 2014

    Look for that one, it’s a goldmine…

    Bob has accelerated the transition of Imageworks’ production and technology departments to Vancouver so the Company can continue taking advantage of the 58.4% tax rebates that save the Company $20-$25MM annually. He also closed our facility in Chennai, India to focus on lower-cost outsourcing alternatives for VFX work;

    Because of Bob’s extraordinary focus on cost management, Imageworks is expected to generate $7M in EBIT (before restructuring) in FY15 despite a 30% reduction in revenue.

    It shows Imageworks losing over $30M USD in FY 08 and 09

  9. animcoop says:

    I don’t have enough free space to download the whole thing, but I would *LOVE* to see a copy of the files:

    Belgrad and Osher Indiv Perf Summs for Kato-san April 2014

    If you have a copy and are feeling particularly Robin Hoodish, hit me up:

  10. Bearcheese says:

    Anyone have any luck finding a link? Spent around 2 hours looking, but to no avail.

  11. I just wanted to correct some inaccuracies in the post. The data was in fact available as early as november 29th and not yesterday as posted (maybe this is when you had obtained it?). The links for the download had been posted on the screen shots and made available soon after the original hack on sony. On “linkedin” for past sony employees only, the link was available 5 days ago. It may in fact have been earlier than that. I posted on VFX Solder on the previous post and I had already been able to verify the data was downloadable at that time.

    As I understand it this is only the beginning from all the warnings that the hackers have posted. No schedule as been made but the bulk of the damaging data will be released at an unspecified time. As I understand it this file named “spe_01” is a 3 or more part collection of data. This does not include the nearly 100-200TB of data that possibly contains many movies.

    As for the questions on legality, well everyone can access it, comparing this to child porn or someones nude body being posted thats a celebrity is nothing like this and has no comparison. I still suggest if you get a copy of the data you treat it as “at your own risk” and use it for informational only. Also do your best to purge the data if you do download it after you have verified you have been hit. People see “SSN’s” everyday, that is not illegal. If you use those to engage in illegal activities then you will be breaking the law. If you happen to stumble along a website containing the list of SSNs and only see them and never use them are you held liable? No. Simply put you can charge someone for looking at data its the use of the data that will get you in trouble. I keep going back to jobs such as a banker that has access to peoples SSN’s all day long. Do they get in trouble for viewing the data? No.

    The total number I have been able to gather from this first data set includes more than 15,000 SSNs. And not the original number of 3800 being passes around. These are actual SSNs as I have been able to verify more than 50 past employees have contacted me directly and verified their information is accurate for the name and SSN. The address however and other information is in question is it was not accurate for me and several other people. Only because people move and the data becomes irrelevant after a time period. For example if someone left in 2000 and is on the list it is reasonably safe to say there salary is not the same nor would it matter right now to new employers.

    For this article. For those who worked at the companies listed. This was known to employees and staff at the time it was done even at those other companies. So I do not agree that this information is of any use as much if it was already known. The only upside to the data as some have mentioned is to see if your position is in the ballpark.

    This is a PERFECT time for unions to form. As unions would solve the “low ball” wages, maybe not the upper range, but defiantly would normalize things. With the rising cost of health insurance that too is another reason to push for a union. As VFX Solder correctly pointed out, U.S.A. has laws for much of this stuff (sharing wages, price fixing, etc). But other countries pretty much don’t care. Those countries also don’t provide overtime pay. Many of them require you to work more than 50 hours and in some case upwards of 80 hours or you will be let go.

    Staying on topic for this blog, one poster said you “low wage” people can’t even form a union. That is very narrow sighted. Since each individual company needs a bunch of people to rally around signing a union card and the industry only holds onto employees for contracts that are 6-12 months. It is by design of the VFX houses near impossible to rally since people are not at there jobs long enough to make this happen. The only way to do this is to get everyone to strike all at the same time. When a few months pass and no work is being produced in all media (and I mean all) then and only then would the union begin to form. Several people do not want to take this risk as they are just trying to make a living doing some of the coolest jobs ever.

    Thanks for Reading,

    • Alberto Della Regina says:

      “well everyone can access to it”, Well that’s not really true, only if you go and search for it. A bit like most of the illegal stuff on internet.
      And you can’t compare this with with what a banker see at all, it’s a completely different thing. You actually give permission to use your data at a specific level, and the banker can’t share it with whoever he likes its.

      The only accepted reason for you to search the hacked data is if you worked on Sony.e.
      But what do I know, I don’t think like most of you, so I must be wrong for sure.

      I like how nobody have ethic culture anymore in these days.
      And also when somebody express different opinions, then they are named as trolls LOL
      I wish some of you would actually sign with your real name, so at least I would know people are serious.

      • Tom Craigen says:

        You really don’t need to search for it. People can send the information to you if you like?

        Joking aside, I was trying to make the point that this type of data breach has never happened. Maybe the banker is not good as an example. But all sorts of people have access to your SSN all the time. Its not just bankers. They “can” share your information if paid to do so illegally. You are putting your trust in the person on the other side to maintain that level of security you think exists. But in countless hacks on people the information at times has been obtained by bankers, creditors, even apple employees and handed to criminals.

        This data is very different than that. It was posted on several locations, servers, websites. People who are interested in the data are free to download the data. If you are a criminal you can even email the hackers directly to get the data. So that fact alone seems very different and not comparable to any situation. (my apologies for trying compare this to something else)

        As for my real name, I totally forgot that my display name was GeekTalkerTom. I have updated it just for you, so my name is in fact contained in all these documents.

        I have been posting on the ex-employees list with details of anything I find on myself. I have also compiled some larger more comprehensive lists to see how many total people are impacted so I can inform several of my past and current co-workers. I am trying to the right thing by letting people know they have been compromised. Mainly because several people have expressed droughts in the data. It is pretty safe to say if you worked at sony from 2000 to now you are on this list. As I have posted on LinkedIn. Out of everyone I currently work with and friends who have contacted me directly. Everyone (more than 30 so far) have all been impacted either by the “names” on the first list of files or the SSN being stored in the first data set named “spe_01”.

        I have been tip-toeing through the data only to see how accurate the information is for my information. Others have asked for copies of the data and I only gave them a “list of names” that are for sure in these files and contain your SSN. I plan to remove the data once I have compiled a final list. However, several other bloggers, news outlets, etc. Have already discovered that the data contains more than 47,000 SSNs. So at this point I will go no further because the information I wanted I have already obtained.

        Last note, I am taking a huge risk so anyone downloading should also know that they too are taking a risk. But the benefit here is I am now better able to inform friends who may not know this is even happening or are skeptical they have been hit.

  12. chexmix says:

    CNN reports that Sony executives believe the attack came from North Korea. LOL

    “Embarrassing memos. The hack has also produced some embarrassing internal communications, including memos that show Sony employees are fed up with the boring, unimaginative movies Sony keeps putting out. Among the criticisms: Sony has failed to deliver on its Spiderman franchise. As one employee put it: “We continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler films.”

    Unequal salaries. The world now knows what Sony employees make. The news organization Fusion spotted a major pay gap that runs on gender and race lines.

  13. artefactvfx says:

    There isn’t any ethical issue with VFXSoldier or anyone else downloading this data. For it to logically be considered theft Sony would have had to have property previously in their possession which is now missing, which is not the case. That’s where the stolen car analogy fails. Cars are a scarce resource whereas intellectual property (data) is not.

    For more on this you can google Stephan Kinsella on IP

    • Image Ghost says:

      Believe what you want. Protecting ideas provides incentive to create them in the first place. If VFX Soldier or any media outlet uses the information for personal or financial gain (like higher ratings or readership), it is a form of theft. And with your logic a VFX shot sent from London to the US would not be subject to a CVD because while it is in transit anyone has the right to grab a copy and exploit it and it really isn’t a scarce resource or good like a car crossing the border. One could say the Hollywood Producer isn’t buying the shot, they are paying the creator to make the shot available to be stolen by them.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        You can’t even troll right. Instead of commenting on my blog go to the police and report me to them.


      • artefactvfx says:

        “Believe what you want”

        We don’t get to believe what we want, statements are either true or false, including statements about ethics

        “Protecting ideas provides incentive…”

        This is a utilitarian argument and it fails because it can’t be universalized. “Protecting” ideas really means violating people’s right to property, i.e. doing what they want with their internet connection and hard drive.

        “…financial gain…it is a form of theft”

        again, it’s only theft if a party had property which they now do not. Financial gain is irrelevant.

        “a VFX shot sent from London to the US would not be subject to a CVD because while it is in transit anyone has the right to grab a copy”

        It’s up to the vendor to transfer their shots securely. Authorized personnel can’t just “grab a copy” because it would violate the agreement they entered into with the vendor

        “the Hollywood Producer isn’t buying the shot, they are paying the creator to make the shot available to be stolen by them”

        this is nonsense.

  14. Mike L Hunt says:

    Wow that wage scheme indeed worked. I saw a few samples of the data and was surprised to see the salaries were so low there for top folks in certain areas. My name is somewhere in there more than likely. So, I need a copy like ASAP. I saw a weird screenshot but the links looks sketchy. Afraid to visit those links. LOL. Safe links anyone?

    • Tom Craigen says:

      Safe links may become less available as time passes. If you really want to know whats in the data jump on linkedin and join the ex-sony group. Several people on that list have copies of the data and can tell you if you are on the list.

      Unfortunately this dataset is only the start from what all the media is saying. I am not sure if the hackers information can be confirmed. Honestly, if its one person and the FBI finds them then you can expect that no more data will be released. Though I am skeptical it is one person and more likely a big group in this case.

  15. gulliman4 says:

    I like the old show to find always an new enemy, to fear the
    low iq people in a country, to solve further military actions.
    wauooooooow. the fear now nORTH KOREA.
    To say it in mathematiques:
    The chance, to be killed of an north korean nuklear head, some
    where in the usa, is about 100000.00000 times smaler than to
    be shot by a simple 9mm of an police officer, old woman, child with
    gun, gangster, mafia, hunter, redneck, amisch…and so on.

    So a funny MARKETING GAG to bring this one COMEDY in run
    and a poor wage, how idiotic olffashioned soembody use a computer.
    ON the other side, IF all VFX CGI- Artists would be one Front, every
    filmcomapny can lick its brown money ass, and fuck off..
    but.. we always have some slaves in the big big empire…
    funny to read the news from usa-stoneage-reporter..
    think in this country we have 45.000 bevor christ.. only
    the samrtphones are new… so oldfashioned and uncool….

  16. jammy jams says:

    I think (or hope, rather) that the majority of the people who are looking for the info are people in the industry, or students or hopefuls who are more interested in finding out what fair starting salaries are so they don’t get low-balled later on. Hopefully, that some of the people who have access to the info might pass it onto something like Glassdoor.

  17. vfxNerd says:

    I worked at Sony for nearly 4 years. The change in the vfx industry in LA has devastated me – financially. I have little, to no, retirement left. I continually have to tap in to retirement I had saved from a previous career.

    Now this.

    And to think they have access to my three kids information makes me ill. One just out of college. One in college. One in grade school. If something were to happen to them – I would be beside myself.

    I have worked hard – so many hours -to just provide – and everything is going to hell in a hand basket.

    I wish I knew the information they had so I could look. Just for the protection of my kids.

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