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thomascheng
09-22-2011, 11:39 AM
The VES just released their Bill of Rights for VFX Artist.

http://www.visualeffectssociety.com/visual-effects-industry-bill-of-rights

The current trend is that the VFX Industry is racing towards the Bottom. Adversely creating eroded working conditions for employees and barely making profit for employers. I felt that this is something worth discussing. Was wondering how everyone else felt about this.

Here more about VES and their movement towards better conditions for both employers and employees.

http://www.fxguide.com/quicktakes/ves-2-0-is-here-and-ready-to-lead/

Red_Oddity
09-22-2011, 03:20 PM
you should read VFXSoldier's blog (http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/), he's been going on about this for ages.

Celshader
09-22-2011, 04:25 PM
The current trend is that the VFX Industry is racing towards the Bottom. Adversely creating eroded working conditions for employees and barely making profit for employers. I felt that this is something worth discussing. Was wondering how everyone else felt about this.

I've been working in the Southern California VFX industry since 1999. Up until 2004, I remember VFX studios offering health insurance benefits, paid sick days, (given enough work hours) paid vacation days and severance pay.

These days at least half of my co-workers do not have health coverage. Of the insured, many do not have adequate coverage. I've known VFX artists who ended up broke, dead or untreated because they were uninsured or underinsured.

Paid sick days, paid vacation days and severance pay benefits are rare in VFX. If someone gets sick, they drag themselves into work and then the whole studio gets sick. The only assistance available after getting laid off is unemployment insurance, and this assistance is not an option for those who work on a 1099 basis.

It's a 10-hour day standard, but I've also seen VFX artists work for more than 24 hours straight to meet deadlines.

I've met VFX artists in their late 40's and mid-50's who have nothing saved for retirement. Many use up their savings and some go into debt when they are between projects or when they require hospitalization. When they retire, their sole financial support will be Social Security and the charity of friends and family.

I do enjoy my work. However, I would not drag a friend into the visual effects industry.

Cageman
09-22-2011, 05:12 PM
It really depends on where you live and work. Not sure if a games company counts, but where I work (Massive, Sweden), I have health benefits and insurance, pension, sick-leave payment, 5 weeks / year paid vaccation (we are forced to take at least 3 weeks vaccation / year), vaccation bonuses. I also have two months termination of employment, which means that if they want to fire me, they have to tell me two months in advance, if I havn't done anything severe towards the studio, which in such a case I could be forced to leave within a day.

Lightwolf
09-22-2011, 05:20 PM
It really depends on where you live and work. Not sure if a games company counts, but where I work (Massive, Sweden)
I think the main difference is short term or long term (i.e. proper employee) contracts.
Short term always sucks (which is why one should also earn more for the same work in that case).


I do enjoy my work. However, I would not drag a friend into the visual effects industry.
Hear, hear... I absolutely agree. It's either your life or you should try to get a real job ;)

Cheers,
Mike

Celshader
09-22-2011, 05:23 PM
It really depends on where you live and work. Not sure if a games company counts, but where I work (Massive, Sweden), I have health benefits, pension, sick-leave payment, 5 weeks / year paid vaccation (we are forced to take at least 3 weeks vaccation / year), vaccation bonuses. I also have two months termination of employment, which means that if they want to fire me, they have to tell me two months in advance, if I havn't done anything severe towards the studio.

That sounds much more humane.

Out here it's all over the map. I hear that some game companies treat employees well, and others abuse their employees.

Those working in the animation industry get a much better deal than VFX artists. In the animation industry, animators that work under a Local 839 contract get three pensions (http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/and-again-pension-thing.html) and superior health coverage (http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/battling-health-plans.html). This is in addition to paid sick days, paid vacation days, and severance pay.

Dexter2999
09-22-2011, 06:04 PM
The union for animators has provisions to cover VFX. But part of the problem is if all shops met union guidelines they would go out of business because Hollywood wont pay what would be necessary to make that viable.

With options in India and China they don't have to.

Also, unions push places like Sony Imageworks to look at moving shop to places like New Mexico, a right to work state.

Nothing about the situation instills confidence.

Celshader
09-22-2011, 06:25 PM
The union for animators has provisions to cover VFX. But part of the problem is if all shops met union guidelines they would go out of business because Hollywood wont pay what would be necessary to make that viable.

With options in India and China they don't have to.


Right now India and China cannot compete on a quality level because their finest artists and technicians keep leaving to earn better pay (http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/china-connection.html) in other countries.

If you have an example of film VFX from an Indian or Chinese studio that matches Digital Domain quality, though, I'd like to see it.

Dexter2999
09-22-2011, 06:57 PM
Sony Imageworks, PrimeFocus, and Rhythm & Hues have all set up a shop there.

And according to this
http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/digital-domain-partners-with-indias-reliance-mediaworks/

Digital Domain will be setting up a shop in Mumbai as well (a London shop is also mentioned.)

Celshader
09-22-2011, 07:40 PM
Sony Imageworks, PrimeFocus, and Rhythm & Hues have all set up a shop there.

And according to this
http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/digital-domain-partners-with-indias-reliance-mediaworks/

Digital Domain will be setting up a shop in Mumbai as well (a London shop is also mentioned.)

True, but I still don't see these shops as a threat to the Los Angeles VFX industry.

I do see poor treatment of VFX artists as a threat to the VFX industry, though. In the past 10 years, I've known seasoned VFX artists who have left the VFX industry for better pay/benefits in other fields like the animation industry (http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/and-again-pension-thing.html).

Greenlaw
09-23-2011, 07:36 AM
Clarification and a brief opinion:

Rhythm and Hues Studios (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhythm_and_Hues) (where I work) offers full benefits to artists and in some cases including long term freelance artists. I believe it's been this way here since 1987.

Rhythm does have facilities around the world, including India, Malaysia, China, and soon Canada, but its mothership has always been Los Angeles where it employs the most artists (almost a 1000 at peak) and where most of the work is still produced. Rhythm's overseas facilities do no compete with its US facility but rather work in support so the studio as a whole can produce work 'around the clock'--for Los Angeles artists this means we get to sleep sometimes. As far as I know, the company offers the same or equivalent benefits to artists in their overseas facilities.

All that said, I think Rhythm is becoming the exception to the rule.

In general, the US film industry obviously isn't doing a good job taking care of its visual effects artists, and artists may have to organize before things can get better.

What Rhythm offers its artists really should be the industry standard.

G.

geo_n
09-23-2011, 08:44 AM
The situation is no different in japan. Its normal to spend consecutive overnight when finishing deadlines. No overtime pay or anything and the pay would surprise foreigners who are desperate to get into the cg industry in japan.
I don't plan to work in this industry when I reach 40. But I'm still young and can do this work which I can tell other people that I like my work unlike some who just work.
Meanwhile someone at luxology forum is posting how the game industry sucks. Very interesting to read what's happening on the opposite side of the world.

robertoortiz
09-23-2011, 09:36 AM
I've met VFX artists in their late 40's and mid-50's who have nothing saved for retirement. Many use up their savings and some go into debt when they are between projects or when they require hospitalization. When they retire, their sole financial support will be Social Security and the charity of friends and family.

.
I have seen this too.

I bet you that 10 years from now the landscape for older employees in this industry will be appalling.

Celshader
09-23-2011, 10:02 AM
Clarification and a brief opinion:

Rhythm and Hues Studios (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhythm_and_Hues) (where I work) offers full benefits to artists and in some cases including long term freelance artists. I believe it's been this way here since 1987.

Rhythm does have facilities around the world, including India, Malaysia, China, and soon Canada, but its mothership has always been Los Angeles where it employs the most artists (almost a 1000 at peak) and where most of the work is still produced. Rhythm's overseas facilities do no compete with its US facility but rather work in support so the studio as a whole can produce work 'around the clock'--for Los Angeles artists this means we get to sleep sometimes. As far as I know, the company offers the same or equivalent benefits to artists in their overseas facilities.

All that said, I think Rhythm is becoming the exception to the rule.

In general, the US film industry obviously isn't doing a good job taking care of its visual effects artists, and artists may have to organize before things can get better.

What Rhythm offers its artists really should be the industry standard.

G.

I've heard many good things about R&H as a place to work. I have questions about R&H benefits, though. Does "full benefits" include a defined benefit pension plan, a lump sum at retirement and a 401(k) (http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/and-again-pension-thing.html)? Or does R&H just offer a 401(k) at this time?

I'm also curious how the R&H health plan compares to the MPIPHP health plan (http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/battling-health-plans.html), which covers those who work under 839 contracts.

That said, you're correct that R&H "is becoming the exception to the rule." Few VFX shops offer a 401(k) for the employees. Almost none of the VFX studios I've worked at since 2004 offered health coverage. One of the few VFX shops that did grant employer health coverage required that employees work 12 consecutive months to qualify for that health coverage. This is tough to do when most VFX projects last less than a year.

Celshader
09-23-2011, 10:10 AM
I have seen this too.

I bet you that 10 years from now the landscape for older employees in this industry will be appalling.

A parallel might be animators with 50-year careers who worked mostly outside of 839 shops and have little saved for retirement:


From http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/two-50-year-careers-two-different.html

...

A couple of hours after the lunch, I took a phone call from an artist who's had about the same length career as my dining companion. He's worked as an animator, board artist, t.v. animation director, you name it. Worked at a plethora of studios, both here and abroad. He called up wanting to know where work was, as he's waiting for payment for some freelance work and the little company who's supposed to cut the check is... slow. And he needs the money.

"Social Security, it doesn't go very far. I got expenses and I got to keep working. You work a long time and you end up nobody. Nobody knows who you are."

...

prometheus
09-23-2011, 11:19 AM
It really depends on where you live and work. Not sure if a games company counts, but where I work (Massive, Sweden), I have health benefits and insurance, pension, sick-leave payment, 5 weeks / year paid vaccation (we are forced to take at least 3 weeks vaccation / year), vaccation bonuses. I also have two months termination of employment, which means that if they want to fire me, they have to tell me two months in advance, if I havn't done anything severe towards the studio, which in such a case I could be forced to leave within a day.

Didn´t your company got awarded some year as one of the best worklplaces in sweden?

Same goes here, I got 5 weeks of payed vacation, but I got 3 months termination of employment, insurance, not company health care, but a bonus of 1% of sales every fourth month, and a sort of health care since we can train for free at certain gyms we provide machines for...or use our bonus money for our own medical controls.

payed sick leave kicks in after the first day of sickness and then it is 80% of the salery.

By the way mate....doe´s your company have a collective deal?
And what union are you member of ..if any?

My work doesn´t qualify for the vfx industry thou really, just product illustration.

Michael

lardbros
09-23-2011, 11:33 AM
Makes me feel very lucky indeed... I will try not to rub it in, but my working deal is pretty good too. Good pension, holiday, sick leave, etc, etc I do feel very lucky to be doing what I love in a secure working environment. Sadly, it's not the case for everyone.

I honestly thought things had changed for the better a few years back. I know for certain EA had to buck their ideas up 5 or so years ago, as they were losing staff all over the place, and went to a games conference here in the UK regarding poor treatment of staff. I think it still goes on during crunches, but it's more of a 'we want this to be a great game' rather than the 'you have to work 24/7 till this game is done!'

Seems the UK has cracked down a little on the slave labour thing at film and games companies, but then that's the larger companies... the smaller ones still have similar issues.

My brother works for a small design house up north in the UK, and he works such crazy long days! It's kind of expected, but so far he's done good work, despite being in a crunch and working most weekends too. But it really can't last forever, at some point you have to hit a brick wall!

Greenlaw
09-23-2011, 12:36 PM
I've heard many good things about R&H as a place to work. I have questions about R&H benefits, though...

I'm not sure how much I can express in a public forum but I believe it's just 401k now...I'll have to check on that.

BTW, R+H pays time-and-a-half for normal overtime and it pays double-time at some threshold, which is how it really should be in any business; I don't understand how other studios can legally get away with bending the rules against their artists but I know it does happen.

Staff at R+H also gets paid vacation and sabbaticals are earned over time. (I just received my second sabbatical; the first came in handy as it coincided with my daughter's birth.) The company also has an educational program for employees. I know in the past that included non-job-related education, which was actually encouraged. I don't know if this still the case as the rules did change a little some time ago (will have to check on this too,) but it does still cover job-related education.

I don't know how well R+H's health benefits stack up against other companies but in the 10 years I've been here, it's always covered everything my family has needed, so no complaints here. From what I recall, my health benefits kicked in when I joined the company; I think for freelancers, it's up to the discretion of the artist's supervisor and if approved it kicks in when the artist returns to the company after the first job. Something like that anyway.

Sorry, I'm not completely knowledgeable about these things. All I know is that when a company like Rhythm takes care of these things for the artist, it allows that artist to focus 100% and put in his best work. (This is the effect on me anyway.)

In my opinion, all this *should* be standard in any large business and it actually was at one time. I received similar benefits at the two major companies I worked at before Rhythm, and I was very loyal to them too. For example Pan Am, where I started out as an illustrator, provided free annual flights to anywhere around the world for any personal reason, and you could even upgrade to first class for $50, and this was a benefit for all its employees (meaning not just executives and management.) And when I worked as an illustrator for Computer Sciences Raytheon, I still got overtime pay even though my position was considered 'management,' plus six weeks of vacation which was separate from my 1000 hours of paid sick leave.

Sadly, the US film industry has allowed the value of its artists to erode in the past 15 years or so, and it will continue to do so so long as artists and the studios they work for continue to accept this as a normal way to do business. I think the large part of the problem is lack of awareness on the part of younger artists of what rights they have and what the true value of their work is.

Sorry, I'm not sure what the solution is for improving poor working situations at other studios (it will take a smarter and more committed person than me to figure that out,) but I will say that for a quarter century Rhythm has been proof that taking care of your employees can actually be a good thing for the company and good for business. Maybe there's a clue in there.

G.

robertoortiz
09-23-2011, 12:55 PM
Sadly, the US film industry has allowed the value of its artists to erode in the past 15 years or so, and it will continue to do so long as artists and the studios they work for continue to accept this as a normal way to do business. I think the large part of the problem is lack of awareness on the part of younger artists of what rights they have and what the true value of their work is.





THIS IS very true, and I firmly believe that schools have a responsibility to tell theirs students the realities of the Industry.
Warts and all.

Also organizations like the Animation Unions, ASIFA, and even SIGGRAPH have a responsibility to educate the students on what is going on.

(As head of my chapter the first thing I did was a meeting on Intellectual Property rights an artist has)

Greenlaw
09-23-2011, 03:04 PM
Paid sick days, paid vacation days and severance pay benefits are rare in VFX. If someone gets sick, they drag themselves into work and then the whole studio gets sick.
Which reminds me, a few weeks ago, Rhythm placed automated hand sanitizers outside the elevators on every floor and in 'common areas' in the building. Also, they are offering free flu shots in-house to employees next month. Again, IMO, this sort of thing really needs to be standard everywhere. It helps keep employees healthy and the company strong.

My intention isn't to brag about Rhythm's artist-centric philosophy, but maybe this will shame or, even better, inspire a less thoughtful facility into improving their working conditions. At the very least, may it initiate a productive artist-employer dialog at that place.

G.

Greenlaw
09-23-2011, 03:22 PM
By the way mate....doe´s your company have a collective deal?
And what union are you member of ..if any?
I know this wasn't directed to me but I thought I'd answer anyway. Rhythm is not a 'union shop' like say Disney or Dreamworks. But a union probably wouldn't affect Rhythm very much since the company already offers to its employees what a union would bargain for.

Okay, time to take my 'rah-rah' hat off and get back to work. :)

G.

lardbros
09-23-2011, 03:22 PM
Which reminds me, a few weeks ago, Rhythm placed automated hand sanitizers outside the elevators on every floor and in 'common areas' in the building. Also, they are offering free flu shots in-house to employees next month. Again, IMO, this sort of thing really needs to be standard everywhere. It helps keep employees healthy and the company strong.

My intention isn't to brag about Rhythm's artist-centric philosophy, but maybe this will shame a less thoughtful facility into improving their working conditions or at least initiate a productive artist-employer dialog in that place.

G.

Amazing!! Sounds like you've got it good there... any jobs going? ;)

Andyjaggy
09-23-2011, 04:17 PM
Well honestly does anyone offer pensions these days? That's pretty rare and I certainly wouldn't expect it at any job, let alone in the VFX world.

I think the 2 most important things a company could do is offer health insurance and paid overtime. Those alone would go a long way towards creating happy employees.

Celshader
09-23-2011, 04:59 PM
Well honestly does anyone offer pensions these days? That's pretty rare and I certainly wouldn't expect it at any job, let alone in the VFX world.


You may be right about the VFX world in Southern California.

It's better elsewhere. As mentioned in this thread, Cageman, lardbros and prometheus are earning defined benefit pensions at their workplaces.

Southern California artists working under 839 contracts get an Individual Account Plan, a defined-benefit pension (http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/and-again-pension-thing.html), and a 401(k).


I think the 2 most important things a company could do is offer health insurance and paid overtime. Those alone would go a long way towards creating happy employees.

True. A VFX artist recently wrote (http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/times-in-which-we-live.html) about his experiences working 17 hour days 7 days a week without insurance coverage. Poor treatment like this won't attract the best talent to the VFX field.

Intuition
09-23-2011, 06:45 PM
True, but I still don't see these shops as a threat to the Los Angeles VFX industry.

I do see poor treatment of VFX artists as a threat to the VFX industry, though. In the past 10 years, I've known seasoned VFX artists who have left the VFX industry for better pay/benefits in other fields like the animation industry (http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/and-again-pension-thing.html).

They are sort of a threat to the LA VFX industry. If you are a core team member you will be fine. But, if you are a freelancer well, then guess what? Your job is getting sent to another country.

VFX workers in other countries are multitudes less per hour in wages when you add up teams of 20-30 for completing pipeline shots that have been lookdeved by the main team in LA. At which point you send the prefabbed vfx work to another facility for assembly.

Been in LA. doing CG since 1995. Rode the gravy train and the early bird status in the industry but... the gravy train is moving out of the USA to other countries for the tax incentives, the lower cost labor, which in turn also means that the money spent also means a loss of tax revenue (for the democrats here) because the taxes are collected in the country where work was created.

I then realize when I am helping answer questions in the cgtalk forums about Vray to some kid in mumbai, I am probably training a replacement for friends of mine that are freelancers looking for work here in L.A.

DD has been taking a position of acquiring or creating properties so we end up in a similar scenario as Pixar. We create the IP and profit from it directly instead of bidding wars that are ever shrinking. I remember boutique houses bidding on jobs that were around 100,000k and thinking, wow, they barely have any money to do that gig. To see huge houses bidding on jobs like that just worries me.

Though we have had to send L.A. personnel up to our Vancouver office for QC quite a few times. The average world CG artist still has a ways to go to get to industry standards. But, if you need to save on roto or tracking the houses in India are really starting to crack the whip.

Anyways, I don't mean to paint a pic of gloom and doom but the rest of the world is jumping on any jobs they can. Including CG jobs. Stay relevant if you can. It is sad but most of these other countries will not be offering health, benefits, vacation, sick pay etc. But they will surely take your job anyways.

Celshader
09-23-2011, 07:13 PM
...the rest of the world is jumping on any jobs they can. Including CG jobs. Stay relevant if you can.

I'm cool with this. The same thing happened to the American animation industry, and it's fine:


From http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2007/01/animation-going-away.html

...when all animation production work was done in Los Angeles start to finish, there were about 1500 TAG members doing the work (and kindly note that almost all L.A. cartoon studios were unionized at the time.)

Forty-five years later, with union contracts covering 85% of t.v. and movie animation work in L.A., with 80% of television production work (animation, background, and layout) being shipped out of county), there are 2200 TAG members doing the work.

How can this be? Because the animation pie has gotten bigger. Way bigger. ...

...


The demand for VFX is not shrinking. The VFX pie's getting bigger, too.

Intuition
09-23-2011, 07:51 PM
Well, my current situation is really good to me and I think I will always be fine.

Even though there is a bigger pie I think most of the pie is leaving L.A. at the moment. Not that it won't return at some point in the future, but L.A. and California is cost prohibitive.

People were shipped to DD Florida and wages were a little less but ultimately its a gain because cost of living drops by 2/3rds compared to L.A. A down payment on a house here in L.A. county could BUY a whole place in many areas in Florida near DD.

But, as long as you stay skilled you will not have to worry because you'll be in demand.

robertoortiz
09-23-2011, 11:23 PM
this might be of interest:
ew York City's TV production surges to record level
Quote:
Arch-rival New York City is stealing the show from Los Angeles.

New York is experiencing a historic surge in television production thanks to its expanded film tax credit program, cutbacks in other states’ incentives and the weak U.S. dollar, which has made it more expensive to shoot in the Canadian cities of Vancouver and Toronto.

In the most recent TV season, New York City drew a record number of cable and network pilots: 22, up from only three the previous season. And in the coming year, the city is expected to also host that many TV series, including “Person of Interest,” a CBS drama from producer J.J. Abrams about an ex-CIA agent, the MTV comedy “I Just Want My Pants Back” and the HBO series “Girls” from producer Judd Apatow.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/06/new-york-city-tv-production-surges-to-record-level.html

And NY has started a very aggressive incentive program for post:

And here is NY Post production incentive program:

http://postnewyork.org/tax.htm


Rob note: Well it is interesting how things move in cycles. After all one of the first films studios was established by Edison himself in New Jersey. Decades ago, New York City had a pretty thriving animation industry that is not what it used to be (Blue Sky is definitively an exception, but they are in Connecticut.)

Danner
09-24-2011, 12:45 PM
It's not only China and third world countries that are a threat to our wages, there are millions of new 3d animation graduates desperate to find a job, in any country. They'll work for free just to get experience and make a demo reel. Our work line is very cool so it attracts a lot of young people but there aren't enough jobs available.

I can't think of any other job that requieres this much intelligence, knowledge, skill, creativity and hard work that people are willing to do it for free.

Except maybe World of Warcraft wich is not usually ajob but it sometimes feels like one. ;o)

50one
09-24-2011, 02:02 PM
Well, it's only VFX industry that is suffering - I think it's all creative fields, I've been working for a company based in Scotland(for the past two years as a Lead designer) we've got offices and factories worldwide(Eastern Europe, Asia and few here in UK) while the company make some serious $ - Automotive/Marine/Rail/Aviation related stuff(I've done work for Jaguar, British Airways for instance)- Lots of 'big names' in our portfolio I don't have any benefits/ pension scheme or anything and my pay is on the same level as graduate receptionist - no disrespect to receptionist! But it was quite hard for me to save anything after paying the mortgage / bills, etc.

Anyway, been trying to find a different job for the past 8 months and failed, mainly because I was looking in 'Web' design field - as I've got more than 8 yrs of exp. in that field / even tho I worked on quite big sites / big brands in the past, but failed due to fact that my web folio is bit 'outdated' and I work now in different field now:mad:.

Anyway started doing freelance work for some creative agencies for the past few months and it's getting better however, there's no way I can outbid a kid/student based in India or anywhere in the world, so the rates are not that 'great' however I now got different approach, you got what you're paying for:)

P.S: My pal works as a qualified electrician and he does triple more than me, sometimes I wonder, what the hell is happening and what was the point of that whole learning etc. where is the world heading to.

Anyway I started learning Mograph and hopefully this will be my 'future job'as it is something I really like doing / beside the Product concepts/automotive designs.

I guess you need to be quite good @ multitasking these days, or be freaking good at one thing and make the name for yourself.

Riff_Masteroff
09-24-2011, 02:23 PM
A bit off topic, but this clip of compositing circa 1937 ('Bringing Up Baby', with Katherine Hepburn-Cary Grant) may add some perspective to this conversation. That is, the special effects industry has been around for at least 80 years:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eeA8GR2on0&feature=watch_response

:) In my opinion, the major advance between then and now is the checkbox: 'unpremultiply by alpha' within LW & Fusion. :)

General Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_effects

I wonder if the VFX artists were paid better than now in 1937.

thomascheng
09-24-2011, 04:48 PM
I had a chance to become team lead on a past project last year. The first thing I did was look up some studies to see at what point will productivity decrease due to overwork/exhaustion. I like to share these links below with everyone. It is a case for working 8 hours a day vs. 10 hours a day. I guess we have to ask ourselves, are we really being more effective working 50 hour weeks vs. 40 hour weeks.

Here is an article that talks about why Crunch mode doesn't work.
http://www.igda.org/why-crunch-modes-doesnt-work-six-lessons

Another article on getting the most out of your time.
http://workawesome.com/productivity/productivity-path-short-hours-more-breaks/

In the end, short crunch time can be beneficial, but long crunch time doesn't seem to work.

Matt
09-24-2011, 05:03 PM
It's not just the VFX industry, I saw this all the time in industrial design sector (my previous job). Studios taking on jobs at a loss, or even doing them free if the client was deemed "good for the CV".

All that does is drive prices down, clients come to expect great work without having to pay for it.

Only one studio can ever be the cheapest, so focusing on quality and relationships becomes much more important.

Greenlaw
09-24-2011, 09:08 PM
...there are millions of new 3d animation graduates desperate to find a job, in any country. They'll work for free just to get experience and make a demo reel.
Reality check:

Any real production studio will never hire an artist because he is cheap or free. With tight deadlines (which get shorter every year,) and high quality standards to meet, most studios will always favor a professional with experience and a proven track record. If a deadline is missed or if quality expectations are not met, lawsuits will likely follow, so staffing up with free or cheap and mostly green workers is extremely risky. Also, studios that staff up on free and cheap labor are not likely to stay in business for long. They soon find themselves in a constant position of training a crew only to lose them once that crew decides they need to make an actual living.

Young artists (talented or not) who work too cheaply or for free don't stay in business for very long once they discover that: 1.) creating visual effects in a real production environment is difficult and stressful work, and it is rarely satisfying on a personal and creative level, especially when you are just entering the field, and 2.) you can't survive anywhere working for free, especially in a town like Los Angeles. No matter how much you think you love doing visual effects, you still need to make a living.

Actually, this holds true pretty much anywhere in the world.

G.

Greenlaw
09-24-2011, 09:21 PM
A bit off topic, but this clip of compositing circa 1937 ('Bringing Up Baby', with Katherine Hepburn-Cary Grant) may add some perspective to this conversation.
Wow! I purchased the DVD a few years ago and really enjoyed the movie but I never suspected there were so many effects shots in it. Thanks for posting that.

I just might watch it again tonight. :)

G.

robertoortiz
09-25-2011, 12:48 AM
Reality check:

Young artists (talented or not) who work too cheaply or for free don't stay in business for very long once they discover that: 1.) creating visual effects in a real production environment is difficult and stressful work, and it is rarely satisfying on a personal and creative level, especially when you are just entering the field, and 2.) you can't survive anywhere working for free, especially in a town like Los Angeles. No matter how much you think you love doing visual effects, you still need to make a living.

Actually, this holds true pretty much anywhere in the world.

G.

This is very true.
Iti s also a good idea to diversify areas of expertise.

Also another factor to consider is that more and more. out side the studio environments, in my opinion generalists are becoming the norm.

And not only generalist in terms on cg animation, but OVERALL generalist.

In the past fe years I have seen 3D artists involves in ALL areas in small studios.

From Graphic design, motion graphics, typography etc

etc
And this is a NIGHTMARE scenario for traditional graphics artists, since iti s easier to train a cg animator to do graphic design than to train a graphic designer to do cg animation.

erikals
09-25-2011, 07:06 AM
interesting healthcare overview...

http://forums.newtek.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=98342&stc=1&d=1316955955

probiner
09-25-2011, 07:58 AM
ROFLCOPTER at Orange over there /\

I won't go further, but... :foreheads

achrystie
09-25-2011, 08:28 AM
Well, having done the long hour things for quite awhile, 10 or so years ago. All I can say that it is no different in any of the other technical fields, unless you work a state or federal job, or for a company that has a well established system for hours. I'm inclined to say from the data presented earlier, that while efficiency may drop, efficiency is never the point for these types of hour crunches.
The problem is trying to get the whole project done for less than it actually costs, by a date that is set by external powers, often well outside the reality of the work required, while competing with economic systems that are "vastly" different (communist or developing nation expenses should never have been put in the same category as US or EU). While efficiency may drop to 10%, it's still within calendar hours that are "prior" to the deadline. If the deadline is a hard set value, hours simply can't be spent beyond that date so the argument of inefficiency becomes irrelevant.
Also, I don't know anyone on salary that gets paid overtime, so those that do, should be glad they get it.

The study on efficiency also makes me question whether or not a change in shifts would skew the data, something like a 5 to 6 hours on, 4 hours off, where rest, sunshine, family/friend time, and healthy meals are placed in the off time. I bet that would increase that efficiency value quite a bit, but then workers would still be working 10 to 12 hours, which is not what people want to do, fundamentally (and they probably shouldn't).

The bottom line is, the solution to this problem doesn't exist inside any given industry, but in our perceptions as a whole. We as consumers need to expect to spend more on things, and companies need to expect to spend more on things but also make less profit, and deadlines have to become more flexible and/or designed around the project better. This whole idea that we can compete ourselves to the last penny while making a few individuals incredibly rich, is fundamentally flawed, but any time someone brings up limits, you get cries of communism/socialism blah, blah, blah, and the discussion falls apart. Competition is good, killing each other for a few bucks so that a handful of executives, owners, and investors can turn 1 million into 10 million, rather than 5 million, (or billions), isn't.

jeric_synergy
09-25-2011, 11:34 AM
It really depends on where you live and work. Not sure if a games company counts, but where I work (Massive, Sweden), I have health benefits and insurance, pension, sick-leave payment, 5 weeks / year paid vaccation (we are forced to take at least 3 weeks vaccation / year), vaccation bonuses. I also have two months termination of employment, which means that if they want to fire me, they have to tell me two months in advance, if I havn't done anything severe towards the studio, which in such a case I could be forced to leave within a day.
Oh, but don't you know you live in a socialist hell?

All the above is what the right-wingers in "our" country are trying to "save" us from. :devil: Heaven forfend the billionaires might have to only have twenty instead of thirty Rolls Royces.

jeric_synergy
09-25-2011, 11:39 AM
Well, my current situation is really good to me and I think I will always be fine.
Dude, I'm happy for you, but for god's sake I hope you're accumulating a nest egg.

Cryonic
09-25-2011, 10:52 PM
A bit off topic, but this clip of compositing circa 1937 ('Bringing Up Baby', with Katherine Hepburn-Cary Grant) may add some perspective to this conversation. That is, the special effects industry has been around for at least 80 years:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eeA8GR2on0&feature=watch_response

:) In my opinion, the major advance between then and now is the checkbox: 'unpremultiply by alpha' within LW & Fusion. :)

General Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_effects

I wonder if the VFX artists were paid better than now in 1937.

I think some of today's "troubles" vs the 30's is that modern day producers don't, in general, have any idea how much effort it really takes to make a CG scene. They have a good idea how much it costs to do an effect with other methods (models, stunt doubles, etc...), but that is probably because they have practical experience with those or the costs are easier to breakdown (e.g. 10k for detcord, 50k for each dead car, 200k/day for location filming, etc...), but that same price breakdown is harder to see/feel when it comes to computers. But this is true for more industries than just VFX.
I do Bioinformatics work for a day job and most of my coworkers aren't even at a level with computers to be considered proficient. They can turn them on, start Excel or Word, but know nothing else about them or other programs or other abilities of the computers.
To them, most of what I do seems to be magic and are surprised when it takes me longer than 2 minutes to "whip up" a new application. Thankfully I have a boss that doesn't feel that way, but he's at least at a level that I would classify as proficient.

djlithium
09-25-2011, 11:52 PM
I think some of today's "troubles" vs the 30's is that modern day producers don't, in general, have any idea how much effort it really takes to make a CG scene. They have a good idea how much it costs to do an effect with other methods (models, stunt doubles, etc...), but that is probably because they have practical experience with those or the costs are easier to breakdown (e.g. 10k for detcord, 50k for each dead car, 200k/day for location filming, etc...), but that same price breakdown is harder to see/feel when it comes to computers. But this is true for more industries than just VFX.

You got that right. It seems there is a detachment when VFX is listed as a department and people see the costs. They don't understand what it is, why it costs what it does and why the labor isn't super cheap since its just a bunch of people in an office somewhere working behind a desk... I know production accountants who make more than me let alone PAs standing holding a sign on a corner somewhere saying "crew park" and producers never balk at that. Producers understood practical models and pyro blowing stuff up, and know that it is "cheaper" in a computer some times, but now many people feel its always cheaper in a computer to do certain things. It just simply isn't the case in all cases but for some reason producers are either unaware, misinformed or down right ignorant of the processes.
Maybe it would be good to have a VFX boot camp for producers in hollywood as a per-requisite for them to getting into the industry. If they really knew what we know as LWavers, they would actually save money and pay their people fairly! :)

djlithium
09-25-2011, 11:58 PM
I have a great idea for an ad for LightWave3D.

"Be able to Afford to Pay your VFX Artists, Use LightWave3D instead and save money that you can put towards more staff or pay your existing staff better and keep them happy!"

You then have a pic of a bunch of happy artists working on LW in a nice room doing neat shots and on the opposite side of the page a few guys on a picket line demanding unionization and all kinds of other hand outs - one of them of course wearing an autodesk shirt or something.
Above, the tag line would be "Horray for Hollywood! Take your pick."

jeric_synergy
09-26-2011, 01:02 AM
If VFX houses make bids that they know will drive them out of business, I don't see how that's the producer's fault.

archijam
09-26-2011, 01:48 AM
If you have an example of film VFX from an Indian or Chinese studio that matches Digital Domain quality, though, I'd like to see it.

I dont think it's that simple any more, there are some real talents out there.

If a firm in hong kong counts: http://manymany.asia/

I am not saying they are better than DD per se, but that the talent is all over the place these days.

Dexter2999
09-26-2011, 06:55 AM
This one is the "International Show Reel" for PrimeFocus. It shows up when you apply the "India" filter but I don't think that means all footage is from their India location merely that some shots in the reel are.

Says they have UK and North American branches as well. Don't know if North America means US or Canada, or both.

http://www.primefocusworld.com/work/showreels/international-house-showreel

In any event the effects for the India location are certainly good enough to take a bite out of the US Broadcast market.

thomascheng
09-26-2011, 02:36 PM
I dont think it's that simple any more, there are some real talents out there.

If a firm in hong kong counts: http://manymany.asia/

I am not saying they are better than DD per se, but that the talent is all over the place these days.

Last time I was in HK, i think the cost of living there is higher than the US. So I can understand how they can draw a lot of talent from different poorer countries in the Asian region. The thing that offsets the higher price in HK is the low tax (15%).

BigHache
09-27-2011, 01:58 PM
If VFX houses make bids that they know will drive them out of business, I don't see how that's the producer's fault.

I would like to think people like those that owned CafeFX felt responsible for those that worked for them and did what they could to keep the doors open for as long as possible. If producers want to get in the spotlight of their superiors by lowering the cost of FX, and the result is a low bid war of FX houses, then sure they have a hand in responsibility. It's entirely possible this was not seen as the new trend either.

jeric_synergy
09-28-2011, 09:48 AM
No, it's the BIDDERS' responsibility, not the tenderer.

"I'll do that for a dollar!" is just financial suicide. A producer is hiring the VFX company, which is supposed to look out for itself. If it can't make a profit, it's doing it wrong.

More broadly: if your business is not profitable, you are in the wrong business.

The Dommo
09-28-2011, 10:40 AM
This is an interesting, if depressing thread!

Lightwolf
09-28-2011, 10:43 AM
No, it's the BIDDERS' responsibility, not the tenderer.
It's both... if you endanger your project by hiring somebody who is clearly working below cost then that's not a sensible business move either.

Cheers,
Mike

Dexter2999
09-28-2011, 10:51 AM
No, it's the BIDDERS' responsibility, not the tenderer.

"I'll do that for a dollar!" is just financial suicide. A producer is hiring the VFX company, which is supposed to look out for itself. If it can't make a profit, it's doing it wrong.

More broadly: if your business is not profitable, you are in the wrong business.

This is the downside to a business run by an artist rather than a business person.

The upside to such a business is that the artist run business tends to be more concerned with employees having better work environments and better tools. Whereas the business minded owner may cut back on such expenditures.

Artists may also tend to carry more "dead weight" than they should in slow periods because they are more compassionate.

Personally, I can't stand when the "bean counters" run the company. But they are necessary.

A good company needs both and it's a balancing act.

jeric_synergy
09-28-2011, 11:42 PM
A good company needs both and it's a balancing act.
Absolutely. But, you can't do business if you're out of business.

xxiii
10-04-2011, 12:06 PM
A few comments as I've been reading through:

These trends arene't limited to just the VFX or creative (or Hollywood) industries.

Pension? Thats some mysterious word my parents and grandparents occasioally mention.

Paid overtime (including time and a half), mandatory in the United States for non-exempt workers (as someone I'm acquainted with rather painfully found out once). And there are requirements about what constitutes an exempt worker (I suspect there are probably a lot of violations of this; simplified version: if your boss is treating you like an hourly worker, then you don't qualify as salaried). There are also some implications for contract workers.

Does working longer hours really make you more productive? Not sure, but there was a study that showed that "multi-tasking" doesn't. You look more productive (and may even believe you are), but you're actually less. Unfortunately many metrics are based on appearance rather than actual. Also, happy and comfortable employees are more productive, so setting the air-conditioner to 85 doesn't really save you money (but since the facilities budget comes out of its own sub-pot, good luck with that).

I want to mostly avoid the political stuff in here, but I did recently hear a social-economic expert (sorry, don't remember who) state that currently one is more likely to obtain the "American Dream" if they live in the netherlands region, than the U.S.

Personally, I've worked with people I'm pretty sure are going to be penniless and probably in a lot of debt when they retire; which a portion of (but not 100%) is their fault. Its a lack of planning/failure on their part, but in a system that currently doesn't encourage and sometimes discourages the necessary planning. Scarily I've been contributing approximately 3 times the minimum recommended amount (according to retirement experts) to my retirement accounts, and I'm still not going to be anywhere near enough when the time comes (unless both the stock market and interest rates rise to what seems like unrealistic levels between now and then); or I die shortly after retiring (which I think a lot of retirement plans/advice are counting on (even though they say "people are living longer"), morbid as it sounds).

And I've had those jobs where people want you stay home when you're sick (as if I didn't want to), but you can't afford to, and/or company policy won't let you, even when my job can be done by telecommuting (which is another indication that this does not qualify as salaried) (again, they're measuring by appearance instead of actual).

robertoortiz
10-04-2011, 01:20 PM
Personally, I've worked with people I'm pretty sure are going to be penniless and probably in a lot of debt when they retire; which a portion of (but not 100%) is their fault. Its a lack of planning/failure on their part, but in a system that currently doesn't encourage and sometimes discourages the necessary planning. Scarily I've been contributing approximately 3 times the minimum recommended amount (according to retirement experts) to my retirement accounts, and I'm still not going to be anywhere near enough when the time comes (unless both the stock market and interest rates rise to what seems like unrealistic levels between now and then); or I die shortly after retiring (which I think a lot of retirement plans/advice are counting on (even though they say "people are living longer"), morbid as it sounds).



You remind me of my wife to be.
She started saving for retirement when she was in college. She is THAT hardcore. Abd my best bud has made it his mission in life not to have any debt. And this is a guy who went to NYU and University of Michigan waiting tables.

I agree that I can see a ton of people with no retirement savings AT ALL for their retirement.

Nangleator
10-04-2011, 02:05 PM
The people that are living longer aren't the ones who have to worry about retirement savings. They're raising the average for us all. Of course, an increasing average life span doesn't actually help the rest of us.

"Pension" = A promise of retirement money that will actually get harvested by some rich guys, some day, as a result of "belt tightening" or "fiscal responsibility."

"Retirement fund" = Money you set aside all career long, that will always be vulnerable to the growing set of tricks that bankers and traders have to legally steal it from you.

The good news in all this... you die some day.

xxiii
10-04-2011, 06:58 PM
The good news in all this... you die some day.

Naw, life-extension is just around the corner (and you thought the fight about social security is brutal now...)

:)

Mr Rid
10-05-2011, 01:35 AM
...Many use up their savings and some go into debt when they are between projects or when they require hospitalization. When they retire, their sole financial support will be Social Security and the charity of friends and family.

I'm there. And well before proper retirement age. My legacy is pixel porn for a bunch of disposably inane movies and commercials, while losing my health right when the depression started in May '09 (not a recession), burned thru state benefits, was denied federal benefits that I've been paying into for 30 years (hired an appeal lawyer today), with nowhere to turn, am watching the ground come up fast.

http://eslblogs.englishclub.com/english/files/2008/10/nosedive.jpg

I STRONGLY feel that the insane hours in the VFX industry need to be regulated way down closer to humane. I know too many people who accept 12 to 15 hours, 6 to 7 days a week, as normal (I've worked a few 100 hour weeks). At each new job, I stipulate that I will NOT work 7 day weeks (wish everyone would). Its absolutely unreasonable. Even GOD took a damm day off. All I have seen that happens on these grueling schedules is the artists slow down, make more mistakes, and goof off more, easily taking back the hours that employers hallucinate they are gaining anyway. Going into your 40s, you may grow really weary of this grind, especially if you dare to raise a family. But dont complain too much because there's always an endless supply of dedicated young nomads with cheap rent and no life, who will sleep under their desks and kill themselves for minimal pay to *gasp* 'work on a movie!' And a sick animator should stay the hell home. Not only do they make everyone else sick, but I've seen how the bug just continues to float around the facility until each of us gets sick again a few months later... and again... slowing down production that deluded management believes is gaining by having sick people work.

Upper management will let artists work until they collapse. They will never walk in and say, 'Hey, while I've been reaping most of the benefits and credit, I noticed you've been working really hard lately, and havent seen daylight or your kids in weeks, why dont you go home early, or take tomorrow off.' You have to be the one to give yourself a break. Resist eating takeout, junk and cokes all the time as too many animators do (I regularly brought organic fruit into my last job for the animators, instead of crappy donuts that management would). Organize a group, and go for a walk outside every day. Take care of yourselves. Get insurance, and pay into social security benefits (even 1099'ers may do). You may one day be as surprised as I was at suddenly needing them to survive.

Steve Kaplan
10-05-2011, 12:30 PM
Hello All,

Some of you may know me, others may have seen posts of mine in the CG Talk forurms. I'm Steve Kaplan, former Lightwave user and current Organizer for The Animation Guild. I've had the extreme pleasure of working with Mr. Rid and Greenlaw as well as meeting and befriending Celshader.

I left the industry to help TAG organize visual effects artists and bring unionization to the industry. For various reasons, the IATSE has decided to take the reigns on the organizing efforts and I am supporting them and their organizer, Jim Goodman ([email protected]), as much as I can.

The reasons I left are echoed in Mr. Rid's comments. Unfortunately, he is not my only friend who faces challenges that should easily be addressed through health coverage that the rest of the entertainment industry enjoys (provided by the collectively bargained contracts between the IATSE and the producers). As I rounded into my forties, I saw the challenges ahead and found out there was a way we, as artists, could work together to get the same benefits and protections the rest of the entertainment industry enjoys. When the opportunity to help facilitate that arose, I jumped at the chance to be that person.


Upper management will let artists work until they collapse [..] You have to be the one to give yourself a break [..] Organize a group, and go for a walk outside every day. Take care of yourselves. Get insurance, and pay into social security benefits (even 1099'ers may do). You may one day be as surprised as I was at suddenly needing them to survive.

Apologies to Mr. Rid for the editorial work to his comment. I did so to highlight what I believe his point to be. I would add .. there is an easier and more effective way to make these changes. Sign a rep card (http://animationguild.org/repcard/), get your colleagues to do the same and forge a collective contract (http://animationguild.org/contracts-wages/) that stipulates some basic workplace standards and conditions that will protect you. While it may seem that the IATSE is slow off the dime, they are well versed in these matters and ready to support your efforts.


The union for animators has provisions to cover VFX. But part of the problem is if all shops met union guidelines they would go out of business because Hollywood wont pay what would be necessary to make that viable.

Warner Bros. paid Imageworks an extra $9Mil (http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/JakeLester/news/?a=35947) to complete work on Green Lantern. The money is available, the talent is recognized here in Los Angeles. Bellieving that the extra $7 per hour/per employee that Health and Pension benefits cost signators to the contract is enough to push companies out of business is just buying into FUD arguments (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt). The cost can be worked into quotes and vfx artists can start getting some benefits.

thomascheng
10-06-2011, 12:37 AM
Thanks Steve for the response, but I think too many people are too scared or lazy to unionize. I was on the train the other day and saw this drunk lady slap (in the arm, thank God) another women. It would have gotten more violent, but someone said something to calm the drunk down. However, the whole time I was asking if I wanted to get involved. I like to believe that if it got worst I would have stepped in, but I knew it will take a lot of personal commitment. Such as police report, risking injury, missing a good night of rest. I feel like that is how some people view unionization efforts.

SBowie
10-06-2011, 06:40 AM
I feel like that is how some people view unionization efforts.The labour movement has always been a political and social hot potato, and perhaps in the extremely polarized society we live in today, super-heated by local and global economic debates and real problems affecting miillions, all the more so now. It is with this in mind that I raise the following cautionary note from the Forum Moderation Policy:



The following items are not considered professional or civil discourse allowed on these forums:

Off-topic and controversial subjects such as Religion and Politics


Political and socio-economic topics of various kinds can become contentious and divisive in short order. We saw quite that clearly with the discussion of health care schemes last year, and unionization is a similar matter. As much as this is to some degree a community of artists, making the topic relevant to many, these sort of things do clearly fall outside the purpose for which the forums exist. Generally rather broad allowance is made for off-topic discussions, as has been true in this thread. It's tone has been civil so far at least, and there is certainly no objection to providing information that would help those interested in such matters find relevant outside resources.

At the same time, a thread like this could easily devolve into a heated debate between those with strong views about the labour movement. Or it could be seen as a platform for those with formal agendas on either side to advance them, rally support, etc. This sort of activity would cross the line into moderation territory (as would, I might add, personally abusive language). By way of illustration, although many here might have an interest, it would be inappropriate for these forums to host what were essentially online Republican or Democratic rallies, abortion debates, or movements to legalize recreational drugs, ban the use of lab animals, etc., etc. I'm not suggesting anyone has done anything like this so far, or intends to. This is nothing more than a friendly cautionary note to help delineate the reasonable limitations of this forum, and implore members to use discretion and good judgement in hopes that the discussion not stray too far from the civil conversation it's been until now.

robertoortiz
10-06-2011, 07:24 AM
For those who want the skinny on the industry this is a great resource:

http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/

Thanks Steve for posting here.
-R

xxiii
10-06-2011, 10:45 AM
That is, the special effects industry has been around for at least 80 years:


There is a local photography group with a monthly competition that occasionally gets into debates about whether photoshopping (is this in websters yet?) should be allowed, and I end up having to point out that Ansel Adams was "photoshopping" his stuff all the time. He also made a statement to the effect of "pictures are taken, photographs are made".

p.s. When I found out how "bullet-time" was done in the first Matrix movie, I remember marveling at the realization that it could have been done 50 or more years ago (perhaps more wobbily though), but no one happened to think of it (to my knowledge).

Nangleator
10-06-2011, 01:54 PM
I'm a bit proud of myself I visualized it and tried it for an animation in the mid-90s, before I ever saw it on television. My execution was a bit clumsy, though.

When I finally saw it in a car commercial, I growled. Someone beat me to it!

Steve Kaplan
10-06-2011, 02:04 PM
Thanks Steve for the response, but I think too many people are too scared or lazy to unionize. [...] I feel like that is how some people view unionization efforts.

Hey Thomas,

I wouldn't call it laziness. Fear is certainly a factor. A lot of people believe being openly in support of unionization can be detrimental in getting or holding jobs. There are laws against such behavior, but there are ways around those laws.

Its also a difficult time to be in favor of unionization in general. The notion of unions has been under attack for decades as is evidenced by the decline of union membership. This parallels the adjustments being made to the American middle class and the struggles they are facing.

Unionization will only take hold as soon as artists understand its up to them to stand and be counted. The IATSE has a big task ahead of them to just inform and educate vfx artists on the purposes, capabilities and flexibilities unionization offers. With that information in hand, the law states its up to the artists to make the choice to sign a rep card and get the ball rolling.

Its a time consuming prospect, but one I feel has to happen in order to make our industry viable for long-term growth and happiness for artists.

Steve Kaplan
10-06-2011, 02:17 PM
Hello Steve,

Thanks so much for your thoughts. I posted in the forum under this topic because it seemed to be a lively discussion, links and mentions to our site and related material were made and I have a bit of experience and knowledge I can add to the discussion. I feel its of incredible importance to artists who read these threads and aim to continue an interactive and informative discourse.


The labour movement has always been a political and social hot potato, and perhaps in the extremely polarized society we live in today, super-heated by local and global economic debates and real problems affecting miillions, all the more so now.

You aren't kidding! These are indeed .. crazy times.



[A] thread like this could easily devolve into a heated debate between those with strong views about the labour movement. Or it could be seen as a platform for those with formal agendas on either side to advance them, rally support, etc. This sort of activity would cross the line into moderation territory (as would, I might add, personally abusive language). This is nothing more than a friendly cautionary note to help delineate the reasonable limitations of this forum, and implore members to use discretion and good judgement in hopes that the discussion not stray too far from the civil conversation it's been until now.

One only needs to see some of the discussions I've had in the CG Society forums to understand your concerns. As a pro-artist, pro-unionization advocate, I've had my share of "vehement clashings of beliefs" with members of the community over this topic.

Please understand that, as you surmised, I am here only as a resource and to continue the discussion. I am not in the practice of attacking opposite opinions or even bemoaning their existence. I only wish to educate, motivate and discuss.

If you find my behavior, language or approach not to your liking, feel free to do as you see fit with my posts or account.

Steve Kaplan
10-06-2011, 02:20 PM
For those who want the skinny on the industry this is a great resource:

http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/

Thanks Steve for posting here.
-R

Damn good to see you again Robert! Hope all is well.

xxiii
10-06-2011, 07:15 PM
[bullet-time]

Rest assured there have been uncountable experiments.

Thanks for the info, I knew about its various late 90's apperances but I didn't know about those others.

jeric_synergy
10-06-2011, 10:56 PM
It's hard to believe George Pal didn't think about it (bullet time) at least a couple of times.

Maybe Jim (??) Blashfield, in the '70s???

But I believe the rise of morphing tech allowed it to be smooth and convincing.

Kionel
10-11-2011, 01:16 PM
In the end, short crunch time can be beneficial, but long crunch time doesn't seem to work.

That's exactly the same conclusion I reached with the UNIX teams and technical documentation teams I managed. Heck, at the major German company where I worked as a Documentation Lead, we had the following phrase drilled into our head every week during project review:

"A knowledge worker only has about six hours worth of good work in them in a given day."

This didn't mean we only worked our writers six hours per day; far from it. No, it meant we scheduled them for 85% loading on their project schedules and only ever asked them to work more if there was no other option available.

I took the lessons to heart, and brought in my projects under budget and ahead of schedule.

Sadly, the economic downturn of 2008 seems to have erased a lot of the common sense management mentality from all forms of business. In a time where it's absolutely essential that all fields work smarter, people are instead just working harder. Bad choice, that.

For the VFX field, the lesson is simple: Don't burn out your talent. Sure, you might have a dozen kids waiting to take the job vacated by your last Rockstar, but you're still going to waste time and money training them up. My hope is that the industry will be motivated by those costs to finally change their practices.

Just my two cents.

xxiii
10-11-2011, 03:02 PM
Sadly, the economic downturn of 2008 seems to have erased a lot of the common sense management mentality from all forms of business. In a time where it's absolutely essential that all fields work smarter, people are instead just working harder. Bad choice, that.


The most successful companies seem to have a college recroom environment, the least successful appear to be designed by "efficiency experts", which is the difference between recognizing the way humans actually operate, and the way some people wish/think they should. (Not to imply that there aren't some efficiency experts who actually get it).

Cryonic
10-11-2011, 03:34 PM
Managing creative people isn't the same as managing the grunts of a factory. Creative jobs need outlets and let the artists have some control over how they do their work. Factory workers need to do the same thing each day, day in and out. Different styles of management for different kinds of people/jobs :)

Nangleator
10-11-2011, 03:47 PM
What's a factory?

;)

xxiii
10-11-2011, 04:01 PM
Managing creative people isn't the same as managing the grunts of a factory. Creative jobs need outlets and let the artists have some control over how they do their work. Factory workers need to do the same thing each day, day in and out. Different styles of management for different kinds of people/jobs :)

Maybe those jobs suit some people, I think they suit robots. Personally, I think I'd be in the loony bin before very long if I had a job like that and I don't see how other people do it.

In any case, I've heard of at least one factory that discovered they got higher productivity and fewer errors when they limited their "drones" to 4 hour shifts with frequent breaks, and switched them between different tasks each day, which was contrary to people claiming they would make more errors because of doing different tasks. When you are in "robot" mode mentally speaking, you stop paying attention.

Lightwolf
10-11-2011, 04:23 PM
Managing creative people isn't the same as managing the grunts of a factory.
Actually it is. It's all about managing people in the end. Or, more precise, finding a way to allow them to work as productively as possible.

And I bet that you find a lot more happy employees in well managed factories than you do in badly managed studios.

Cheers,
Mike

probiner
10-11-2011, 05:22 PM
And I bet that you find a lot more happy employees in well managed factories than you do in badly managed studios.

:agree: I would even extend it to field work. Chairs can be hazardous.

Dexter2999
10-11-2011, 11:05 PM
:agree: I would even extend it to field work. Chairs can be hazardous.

I know I posted this story a few years ago I think. A story relayed to me from a sales girl in an office furniture store.

It seemed that at the time Lockheed Martin was gearing up a new division for a new contract. The customer came in and said they needed 100 office chairs. She motioned for the mid-range chairs but the buyer said, "Just give me 100 of those $99 ones over there."

A month later they came back and purchased better chairs. It seems the cheap chairs were uncomfortable and also not rated for long periods of use. So the engineers were suffering back pains and finding reasons to get up and walk around instead of sitting at their stations working.

Don't underestimate the importance of good chairs my friends. I used to suffer from back pains until I shelled out the cash for a used Aeron Chair.

Mr Rid
10-13-2011, 01:54 AM
Yes, the right chair is very important, that you will spending most of your waking life in. I worked at one place where management would hand each new employee the company Staples card to go pick out any chair they wanted. :thumbsup:

98655

prometheus
10-13-2011, 02:03 AM
A month later they came back and purchased better chairs. It seems the cheap chairs were uncomfortable and also not rated for long periods of use. So the engineers were suffering back pains and finding reasons to get up and walk around instead of sitting at their stations working.


It´s better to get up and do some work standing or walking as a relaxation, the Swedish work environment institute has created laws for this, the employer needs to make sure the staff is able to work both sitting and standing at some point, as an employee.. you are not allowed to work all the time with monotonous tasks.

Michael

prometheus
10-13-2011, 02:07 AM
Yes, the right chair is very important, that you will spending most of your waking life in. I worked at one place where management would hand each new employee the company Staples card to go pick out any chair they wanted. :thumbsup:

98655

You know...I think this guy knows what his talking about in this case, In fact Ivé been saying that alot about many things uttered by this wise man.

Michael

Mr Rid
10-13-2011, 02:23 AM
...
I don't know how well R+H's health benefits stack up against other companies ...G.

They stomp a**. I've had a lot of dealings with various insurances, and RnH's was a dream with the most coverage and zero hassle.


It´s better to get up and do some work standing or walking as a relaxation, ...
Michael

Some places (like RnH) have desks that adjust height and some artists opt to stand, while also having a stool. I'd really like to have that at home. CG animation was the first job I ever had where I was allowed to sit on my butt all day. My posture and overall fitness suffered significantly ever since.

erikals
10-13-2011, 04:42 AM
the body is meant for moving, not too sit still for 8+ hours....

(great Lama quote btw...)

reminds me of the other one,... days went by, little did i know they were life...
 

bazsa73
10-13-2011, 04:45 AM
Sure, I have a right to stand up and walk down to the closest bar for a beer midday.

erikals
10-13-2011, 04:55 AM
what about...

"i have a right to leave the bar and..."
 

hydroclops
10-13-2011, 07:40 AM
...The IATSE has a big task ahead of them to just inform and educate vfx artists on the purposes, capabilities and flexibilities unionization offers. With that information in hand, the law states its up to the artists to make the choice to sign a rep card and get the ball rolling...


Don't neglect to inform and educate the studios. working in live action years ago I was surprised, as a management representative, to find out that working with an IATSE crew was both easy and less expensive than I expected. Day rates, hours, etc. were negotiated with one person, not everyone. The cost was something like $30 added to each person's day rate for health and pension benefits.

We got a great crew and the crew was happy.

robertoortiz
10-13-2011, 10:25 AM
This might be of interest:
The latest vfx scam: Artists paying all the taxes
Word from the westside of town is artists working at The Mill in Santa Monica are paying their share of taxes .. as well as the employers.

The Mill has engaged Yurcor to act as the Employer of Record for the artists they employ. Officially, artists work for Yurcor and are "loaned out" to The Mill. Yurcor is therefore responsible for the reimbursement to the artists for their work time at The Mill.

The Mill explains this has allowed them to:

"meet compliance requirements and improve administrative support to [their] valued freelancers.

By using Yurcor’s services you gain W-2 status and many of the benefits and services of a full time position while keeping all the career freedom and tax savings of a 1099 freelancer."

A full-time employee keeping the "freedom" of a freelance employee sound to good to be true? It should. Its also illegal.


http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/latest-vfx-scam-artists-paying-all.html

Steve Kaplan
10-25-2011, 07:50 AM
Yes, the right chair is very important, that you will spending most of your waking life in. I worked at one place where management would hand each new employee the company Staples card to go pick out any chair they wanted. :thumbsup:

98655


Those were the days, weren't they?

Steve Kaplan
10-25-2011, 07:54 AM
This might be of interest:
The latest vfx scam: Artists paying all the taxes
Word from the westside of town is artists working at The Mill in Santa Monica are paying their share of taxes .. as well as the employers.

The Mill has engaged Yurcor to act as the Employer of Record for the artists they employ. Officially, artists work for Yurcor and are "loaned out" to The Mill. Yurcor is therefore responsible for the reimbursement to the artists for their work time at The Mill.

The Mill explains this has allowed them to:

"meet compliance requirements and improve administrative support to [their] valued freelancers.

By using Yurcor’s services you gain W-2 status and many of the benefits and services of a full time position while keeping all the career freedom and tax savings of a 1099 freelancer."

A full-time employee keeping the "freedom" of a freelance employee sound to good to be true? It should. Its also illegal.


http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/latest-vfx-scam-artists-paying-all.html

Thank you Robert for posting this here.

If any of you have worked at The Mill, or under Yurcor, or any EOR that forced you to pay employer-side taxes as well as the standard employee responsible withholdings, please contact me at the Guild.

We are assisting artists in recovering lost wages from Yurcor in California as well as measuring the possibility of taking this to a class action suit across the country.

Andyjaggy
10-26-2011, 01:40 PM
That's downright illegal what that company was doing, being forced to pay your employers taxes as well as your own. Scumbags.

Why is it so hard for companies to understand that happy well treated employees produce better work, and produce it faster? I suppose we have no one to blame but ourselves for putting up with it for so long.

Mr Rid
10-26-2011, 02:36 PM
Those were the days, weren't they?
Yes, with benefits, pizza & beer Fridays, and a helluva tax break. They once sprung to take us all to Vegas for the weekend at Xmas, individual rooms at the Luxor, a $100 each spending cash, and even a trip to the brothel was offered.

Nangleator
10-26-2011, 02:45 PM
Now we have to watch out for the day the managers realize they can save on heating by burning the building you work in. While you work. (Why not? They probably have life insurance on you already.)

This shortsightedness has not reached rock bottom yet.

probiner
10-26-2011, 02:54 PM
Now we have to watch out for the day the managers realize they can save on heating by burning the building you work in. While you work. (Why not? They probably have life insurance on you already.)

This shortsightedness has not reached rock bottom yet.

With all this economic crysis that happened case of third parties making insurances on other and then working for their crash to collect the benifits was a quite shocking revelation.
My question is, it's easy to inform yourself is somone else has an insurance on you other stuff that's yours?

robertoortiz
10-26-2011, 03:00 PM
The irony is that this race to the bottom is not limited to the US.
In Canada there is an epidemic of VFX studios closing down so they dont have to PAY their employees.
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118023071



What scares me is how little value a lot of this corporations assign to their workers.

When people tell me aout the good old days I think of this:

"The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. It was also the second deadliest disaster in New York City – after the burning of the General Slocum on June 15, 1904 – until the destruction of the World Trade Center 90 years later. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or jumped to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three;[1][2][3] the oldest victim was 48, the youngest were two fourteen-year-old girls.[4] Many of the workers could not escape the burning building because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits. People jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.

"

erikals
10-26-2011, 04:05 PM
Yes, with benefits, pizza & beer Fridays, and a helluva tax break. They once sprung to take us all to Vegas for the weekend at Xmas, individual rooms at the Luxor, a $100 each spending cash, and even a trip to the brothel was offered.

not trying to ruin that, but, um...
...did you ever think they could just have increased your salary instead...?

(see it from this point of view, they stole your money and then gave it back)

i wouldn't suggest it though, partying is a healthy, socializing, company-policy...

but yeah, things were cooler in "the days"... :\
let's bring those days back!! \:] :P

 

erikals
10-26-2011, 04:21 PM
The irony is that this race to the bottom is not limited to the US.
In Canada there is an epidemic of VFX studios closing down so they dont have to PAY their employees.
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118023071"

this is actually common practice in all fields & countries...
illegal, but common...
 

erikals
10-26-2011, 04:23 PM
good quote...


I told her she was proceeding from the false premise that people start vfx companies to be business owners. Most people who go into vfx do it for the same reason people become actors: They love the work. But when they fail as businessmen, the result is too often misery.

JonW
10-26-2011, 04:42 PM
We had a real estate agent in Sydney closed down & reopen the next day so they didn't have to pay all the employees & suppliers. "Phoenixing"

Mr Rid
10-26-2011, 05:40 PM
not trying to ruin that, but, um...
...did you ever think they could just have increased your salary instead...?

(see it from this point of view, they stole your money and then gave it back)

 

In that situation, favors ran both ways. :D For one, I didnt have to pay taxes. My rate now is generally $600 more a week than in the good ole days, but my net is the same now after withholding. Accumulated raises in pay rate according to experience, are canceled out by current cost of living. So I view that $600/wk in withholding as a fee my employer directly pays the government for the privilege of hiring me. I dont ever get any of that money until I need benefits, which are now being denied to me by the powers that be. No one seems to know where social security went. I am speaking to a lawyer about it again today, but I preferred the option to take care of myself instead of being forced to throw income away on alleged social programs that dont pay back.

I call it the ***hole gene. No matter how good a system you come up with (macro or micro) there's always at least "1%" of greedy ***holes in the mix that decide they deserve more, and have no qualms whatsoever about screwing over the rest who are trying to play by the rules. Then you realize those rules you were playing by were written by the "1%." :stumped:

erikals
10-26-2011, 06:07 PM
1%...?

u gotta be kidding me, here it's more like 15-20.... :]

Mr Rid
10-26-2011, 06:48 PM
'1%' is a general Occupy Wall Street term for 'da man.' Your mileage may vary.

My hood definitely relates. "We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent."

erikals
10-26-2011, 06:52 PM
welcome 2 the world,... hehe... :]

Mr Rid
10-26-2011, 07:11 PM
Someone recently commented on my reel "I bet you earn alot of money!" Hmm... why do I earn the same, whether I am a supervisor on a movie with a budget of $750,000 or one with a budget of $75,000,000, but on the $75,000,000 movie I dont have benefits and my cost of living is higher?

Dexter2999
10-26-2011, 07:28 PM
Someone recently commented on my reel "I bet you earn alot of money!" Hmm... why do I earn the same, whether I am a supervisor on a movie with a budget of $750,000 or one with a budget of $75,000,000, but on the $75,000,000 movie I dont have benefits and my cost of living is higher?

Because...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jo-piazza/occupy-hollywood-why-its-time-celebrities_b_1028190.html?ref=mostpopular

And it isn't just the talent that is the problem. It is the Producers, and Directors taking home record numbers. All of which is being negotiated by the Agents who do so because they work on commission so it is in their best interest to negotiate the highest payments possible.

Add onto this that these "above the line" positions are now "double dipping" by taking ludicrous up front payments as well as negotiated points of box office and ancillary markets.

The system is broken, dude.

erikals
10-26-2011, 07:29 PM
might have to do with competition,... harder competition these days.

you need the boss, not the other way around, that is the root to the problem...

Dexter2999
10-26-2011, 07:35 PM
I will fault human greed over abundance of talent any day.

xxiii
10-26-2011, 08:21 PM
Why is it so hard for companies to understand that happy well treated employees produce better work, and produce it faster? I suppose we have no one to blame but ourselves for putting up with it for so long.

I've been asking myself that for years. I suspect because the cause and effect are not immediate, the connections between both positive and negative effects are not recognized by the less enlightened.


They probably have life insurance on you already.)


Corporate-owned life insurance (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate-owned_life_insurance) and within the U.S. apparently there are six states that do not require that this be disclosed to the insured.

One of my prior employers did this, but at least they made half the amount payable to a person of the employee's choice. The insurance company also came in and gave everyone HIV tests (and I suspect anything else they could detect from the samples).

Nangleator
10-27-2011, 06:45 AM
Corporate-owned life insurance and within the U.S. apparently there are six states that do not require that this be disclosed to the insured.

I wonder if this motivation was behind this atrocity (http://www.huliq.com/3257/stop-giving-your-co-worker-cpr-get-back-work-time-warner-cable-supervisor)?

Steve Kaplan
10-27-2011, 07:07 AM
Yes, with benefits, pizza & beer Fridays, and a helluva tax break. They once sprung to take us all to Vegas for the weekend at Xmas, individual rooms at the Luxor, a $100 each spending cash, and even a trip to the brothel was offered.

Either I left at the wrong time, or we're talking about a different place. The Brothel trip makes me thing the former.

Steve Kaplan
10-27-2011, 07:08 AM
Now we have to watch out for the day the managers realize they can save on heating by burning the building you work in. While you work.

So you've heard about DD Vancouver?

stiff paper
10-27-2011, 08:30 AM
So you've heard about DD Vancouver?

Ha ha ha. Ha ha. I know I shouldn't laugh, but man oh man. I don't think I even want to know.

I worked at DD in LA, years back, so a) I'm willing to believe anything at all about their behavior, and b) nothing you say could possibly make my opinion of them as an employer any lower than it already is.*

Having said that, they have in theory been bought by new owners in the intervening years, so who knows, maybe they're all angels now.

* Edit: I should note here that, plainly, plenty of people love working for DD. So, that'd be just my opinion up there.

Greenlaw
10-27-2011, 03:09 PM
Either I left at the wrong time, or we're talking about a different place. The Brothel trip makes me thing the former.
It was a different time. No brothel for me though...I was just too sweet and innocent. :)

Oh, and we got really cool jackets too.

G.