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Mr Rid
05-20-2010, 07:02 PM
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1990803-1,00.html

Nine of the 10 highest-grossing movies worldwide in 2009 relied heavily on special effects, and yet, "Fundamentally, visual effects is a crappy business," James Cameron

Titus
05-20-2010, 07:09 PM
John Knoll said a few years ago he was concerned after Pirates to not being able to meet deadlines and budget.

Ivan D. Young
05-20-2010, 07:31 PM
This is a simple thing to solve--The Disney Method: create your story boards for your movie, pitch your movie, refine your story and then make your movie off of your "Honed" template! Disney did that 70 years ago!!
All Cameron did was create moving storyboards a over simplification but essentially true! Pixar still does the Disney method! all Animation houses do some form of this!!
Irvin Kershner did this with The Empire Strikes Back! and many more examples!

It is time for Holllywood to realize that an effects laden movie needs to be story boarded and rigidly made or the end result is sorta sloppy!

Once you start getting rigid schedules it is easier to control costs and production. The one thing that the Time article does not mention is that in some cases production is so short now the outsourcing has to be done simultaneously because too much overlaps.

Dexter2999
05-20-2010, 10:21 PM
The simple thing is for talent to stop getting paid $20 million, the director getting $10 million, the producer $10 million (did I mention the gross points?)... and pay the CG talent in this hemisphere what they are worth.

Agents fight for higher wages for above the line (so they can get their percentage of these astronomical payouts) and it is destroying the system.

Instead they want to keep hoarding the money in the above the line positions (double dipping on the gross points and dvd sales) and farm out the CG to Inda and China where people work for $20 a day.

radams
05-20-2010, 10:54 PM
This isn't a simple thing...and it is only going to get worse.

More and more even higher end production work is being moved overseas.
If you even look at some of the larger FX companies...many are now owned by overseas companies...not here in the US. And those that are still here in the US...have shops also over in India, China and the Eastern block.

I had been asked to head a compositing dept. over in India...and the productions were going to be only coming from Hollywood. They needed experienced Supervisors and FX artists to train and manage the development of their departments. I declined due to not wishing to leave my family for two years. But that is where much of this business is going...also look at the eastern block countries and Russia...there are many FX companies there...in fact several are start ups that only work on US films. When I was the FX Supervisor for a EU film...we were looking at working with one of these vendors to help us out due to deadlines...and budget.

This isn't something that is going away.

Though I hope with some of the box office failures of star talent...that Hollywood will start to look more at story and its proper execution...including FXs and to bring more realistic time lines and budgets to the table...I was shocked when the Orphange went under...I knew several of those guys...including Stu. It was sad to see such talent go...and even the highend experimental companies that are now history.

We need these people and companies to help create the next generations of ideas, passion and creative technology...instead of cookie cutter conveyor belt shots.

Cheers,

Dexter2999
05-21-2010, 12:38 AM
District 9 (not American) but a great example of what happens when most of the money is put on the screen and not in the pockets of key personel.

Production costs of $30 Million and made 7x that much worldwide boxoffice.
That is a good model to follow. Or was that farmed out as well?

biliousfrog
05-21-2010, 04:32 AM
District 9 (not American) but a great example of what happens when most of the money is put on the screen and not in the pockets of key personel.

Production costs of $30 Million and made 7x that much worldwide boxoffice.
That is a good model to follow. Or was that farmed out as well?

I'm not sure of the current economy but South Africa was always used as a 'cheap' US for filming...many music videos have been filmed there because it looks like sunny LA but costs a fraction of the price. I'm sure that the low costs of D9 are partly due to the location and the crew...which backs up what other have said about using 'cheap', whether it was intentional or not.

Titus
05-21-2010, 08:47 AM
Remember Titanic, tha multimillion dollar movie was shot in Mexico, VFX done in LA. There's no easy answer.

shrox
05-21-2010, 09:04 AM
What will the first action/sci fi drama actually shot in space cost?

Lightwolf
05-21-2010, 09:13 AM
What will the first action/sci fi drama actually shot in space cost?
That depends on the tax incentives :D

Cheers,
Mike

biliousfrog
05-21-2010, 09:21 AM
Nobody would believe that it looks 'spacey' enough

shrox
05-21-2010, 09:38 AM
That depends on the tax incentives :D

Cheers,
Mike

Hey, you might be onto something there.

Larry_g1s
05-21-2010, 10:04 AM
I dunno, companies like Pixar & DreamWorks (American) seem to be doing all right and they pay their employees well. I think what it boils down to is 'do you have a good product' & 'have you managed it well'?

Lightwolf
05-21-2010, 10:07 AM
I dunno, companies like Pixar & DreamWorks (American) seem to be doing all right and they pay their employees well. I think what it boils down to is 'do you have a good product' & 'have you managed it well'?
Studios that just produce VFX for movies don't have a product though, they provide a service. Which makes a big difference.

Cheers,
Mike

Larry_g1s
05-21-2010, 11:04 AM
Studios that just produce VFX for movies don't have a product though, they provide a service. Which makes a big difference.

Cheers,
MikeI understand, but don't get technical on me. I'm talking about the same thing - i.e. what they produce. ;)

kfinla
05-21-2010, 11:24 AM
I understand, but don't get technical on me. I'm talking about the same thing - i.e. what they produce. ;)

No there is a big difference. Pixar, dreamworks, and some games studios.. OWN the IP of what they make. They can then make money on branded toys, shirts, sequels, and school bags. And ofcourse control the use and hold on to a huge percentage of the revenue. A VFX studio is like the guy I hire to make my schoolbags, I pay him 5$ a bag, and sell them for $20.

Lightwolf
05-21-2010, 11:31 AM
No there is a big difference. Pixar, dreamworks, and some games studios.. OWN the IP of what they make. They can then make money on branded toys, shirts, sequels, and school bags. And ofcourse control the use and hold on to a huge percentage of the revenue. A VFX studio is like the guy I hire to make my schoolbags, I pay him 5$ a bag, and sell them for $20.
@Larry: See, now that's technical... :hey:

Cheers,
Mike

Larry_g1s
05-21-2010, 12:41 PM
No there is a big difference. Pixar, dreamworks, and some games studios.. OWN the IP of what they make. They can then make money on branded toys, shirts, sequels, and school bags. And ofcourse control the use and hold on to a huge percentage of the revenue. A VFX studio is like the guy I hire to make my schoolbags, I pay him 5$ a bag, and sell them for $20.lol. Like I said, I understand. But take someone like ILM for example. At the end of the day they produce something. And they're in the same boat as a Pixar, or DW. They still have to produce something quality and efficient which was my point. :dance:

kfinla
05-21-2010, 01:02 PM
I'm not trying to drag this out, but I don't agree. ILM is just working on someone else's product, they don't OWN it like Pixar and DW own everything about the movies/brands they make (different boat). Does ILM get paided less if it delivers ugly shots, I don't think so. It might hurt future business ( Actually I have read in interviews that winning VFX oscars hurt the studio because staff and teams expect raises (rightly so) from the already tiny Margins). If ILM works on a movie and its a flop or is a blockbuster, does that mean less money or more money for ILM? I don't think it has any repercussions, or its a very nominal amount. If DW or Pixar make a flop, then ya they have lost potentially tens of millions in merchandising their new IP/brand. These days a movie or a game is just the tip of an iceberg of merchandising. Its just the initial add for the brand.

VFX studios need to negotiate deals that gets them royalties for the brand they are helping establish. At least that is my probably over simple solution to the issue. Currently they have no stake in the "product/service" they are providing.. so they watch the boat of cash they helped build sail away.

Larry_g1s
05-21-2010, 01:18 PM
I'm not trying to drag this out, but I don't agree. ILM is just working on someone else's product, they don't OWN it like Pixar and DW own everything about the movies/brands they make (different boat). Does ILM get paided less if it delivers ugly shots, I don't think so. It might hurt future business ( Actually I have read in interviews that winning VFX oscars hurt the studio because staff and teams expect raises (rightly so) from the already tiny Margins). If ILM works on a movie and its a flop or is a blockbuster, does that mean less money or more money for ILM? I don't think it has any repercussions, or its a very nominal amount. If DW or Pixar make a flop, then ya they have lost potentially tens of millions in merchandising their new IP/brand. These days a movie or a game is just the tip of an iceberg of merchandising. Its just the initial add for the brand.

VFX studios need to negotiate deals that gets them royalties for the brand they are helping establish. At least that is my probably over simple solution to the issue. Currently they have no stake in the "product/service" they are providing.. so they watch the boat of cash they helped build sail away.My question to you: does someone like an ILM, DD, etc. at the end of the day have to 'produce something quality and efficient' to do good business and pay their employees well? If the answer is yes (which it should be, lol) then that's all I was getting at. I'm not disagreeing with what you're saying. But my point was that, one can't expect to make money continually with out those two things.

kfinla
05-21-2010, 01:36 PM
Well, the whole point of this thread was that the VFX business model is fundamentally flawed. And that even if a studio delivers a quality product/service efficiently, there still is next to no profit made, that could be passed down to employees. So yes ILM needs to do good work to get future business, and it has to do the work efficiently so it can get a 4% margin instead of 3%. :)

Ivan D. Young
05-21-2010, 01:45 PM
Please never use ILM as an example! George Lucas has said and will continue to use ILM however he sees fit! he has never been overly concerned with ILM making a profit, he wants ILM because in his words it is too difficult to round these folks up if he wants to make a movie!
Lucas is worth about 4-5 billion dollars and probably growing, ILM is his playground. He will continue to fund it probably until he is gone.

The Other companies maybe they run at a profit maybe they don't, who knows. But I would guess there has to be some sort of break even proposition or they could not keep the doors open. As big as James Cameron is, he does not want to own or pay for such a large VFX shop. Only Peter Jackson with his Lord of the Rings success and probably friendly tax icentives in New Zealand is attempting a large VFX studio.

Again I think using ILM as an example of the industry is wrong. Lucas pays for that studio even when they go into the "red". No other VFX house can do that really. To this day I dont know if that many folks even know how much or what the finances of ILM even look like? It is George Lucas's company why should they.

kfinla
05-21-2010, 01:59 PM
Larry pulled ILM out of the air as an example. If you wanna replace every time it says "ILM" with "Lemonade stand" go right ahead, it is that pivotal to the argument.

Lightwolf
05-21-2010, 02:31 PM
Lucas is worth about 4-5 billion dollars and probably growing, ILM is his playground. He will continue to fund it probably until he is gone.

And him getting there is actually a lesson as to why products are important in the first place. In the words of that famous little gold fella "Moichandising".

If you do enough of that you'll end up with enough play money to run your own first class VFX "boutique". ;)

Cheers,
Mike

JeffrySG
05-21-2010, 02:33 PM
I've posted this here before but this is an interesting podcast about this subject.
http://www.fxguide.com/qt/2149/fxpodcast-an-open-letter-to-james-cameron
From FXGuide.com
A bunch of links on that page as well.

Lightwolf
05-21-2010, 02:36 PM
Larry pulled ILM out of the air as an example. If you wanna replace every time it says "ILM" with "Lemonade stand" go right ahead, it is that pivotal to the argument.
The point is though, the quality is there, that's not the argument (and you can get the same quality or to the least very close to it abroad). It's making a cut.
Heck, the local movie (as in corporate movie) producers I know add a flat margin of 20-25% on top of all their expenses (including their own people), that's their profit margin (almost). And it's considered fairly healthy. You'D want a RoI (return of investment: fraction of the profit compared to the investment into the company to set it up and run it) of at least around 10%-15%.
I've yet to see a vfx house that solely works on movies (as a service) to reach those numbers. At least in the past few years.

Cheers,
Mike