View Full Version : Overworked and Underpaid?

05-11-2013, 08:20 AM
Just read this (http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/22397980) report on the BBC website, and as someone looking to get back into the game found it quite interesting. Is it a problem, or just a BECTU puff piece that the beeb picked up on?

stiff paper
05-11-2013, 08:41 AM
Some threads about the vfx biz:



05-11-2013, 12:28 PM
Thanks for the links.

Hmm, depressing. Almost as bad as the pro audio business I'm trying to get out of.

05-11-2013, 01:12 PM
Another source of information on VFX comes from our sister industry, animation:

...and Scott Squires, who's worked in VFX for decades:

05-11-2013, 01:29 PM
I have decided to start producing model rockets again. I had a 2 year no competition agreement from the model rocket company I designed for, and it's up. I'll use my graphic and 3D skills for marketing them.

05-11-2013, 02:25 PM
I like the idea of diversification. I use Lightwave to product jewelry finding designs also I print GoPro parts and sell them, all designed in Lightwave. As well I sell stock images for advertising in Lightwave.

05-11-2013, 02:46 PM
I like the idea of diversification. I use Lightwave to product jewelry finding designs also I print GoPro parts and sell them, all designed in Lightwave. As well I sell stock images for advertising in Lightwave.

Yes, that is what I do. I use Lightwave for the packaging designs, instructions, fin and shroud patterns and nice renders of the models in space!

05-11-2013, 02:57 PM
Become a Plumber! (they are called heart surgeons in Australia)

05-11-2013, 05:10 PM
I think its bad everywhere, pinkmouse, because folks don't organize and define appropriate working conditions. Young talent gets lured to jobs like those in the gaming industry by being told that you get paid to do what you love... as long as you love doing it around the clock. Thats until your spouse doesn't love what you love to do, nor do you anymore. When you try to back out, or renegotiate, you realize you have no leverage. This is basic labor/business tug of war that is critical in labor intensive work. When the tug of war is lopsided, you have what you have now.

05-11-2013, 05:33 PM
Being a paid up pinko commie subversive, I have absolutely no problem with guilds or unionisation, but I do feel that the overtly trade protectionist views in some of those blogs are a little offputting, treating the symptoms rather than the cause. But, let's not go to far with that discussion, that way politics, (and madness! ) lies. :)

It's never really going to apply to me that much anyway, I'm a confirmed freelancer, can't stand working in the same place for more than a week or so. I'm realistically just looking to pick up some more skills so I can diversify a little and add another income stream for quiet times. After all, I did used to be a real world lighting designer, (lit the Avid booth at NAB and various places for years), so some of that experience should transfer to the virtual world. I was just surprised reading that stuff that conditions were so bad for employees in what theoretically should be a booming industry.

05-11-2013, 07:34 PM
Thanks Pinkmouse...

Well the issue of unionization isn't independent of freelancing, in fact its a possible solution for the fact that more and more jobs are now temporary, necessitating portable benefits. The use of the terms union and guilds are loaded with perception pretense, so lets focus on what the issues are:

The 30 year career is less and less likely, and as such the "american dream", which isn't limited to america, is compromised. The tools to build one's wealth (can mean a house, an apartment, putting kids through college or even just a comfortable retirement) have been removed and replaced with a sort of "blockbuster" mentality of getting rich quick through various schemes. lets go back a few steps, just using the States as an example.

To over simplify, our decline started in the 70's.. wages remained stagnant. You suddenly needed two incomes to support a family, and with that daycare or babysitter, a second car, etc... so that second income was spent. Then came creditcards for everyone and debt went up while savings went down, in order to maintain the same standard of living. Then came the bubble economy: Savings and loans, tech boom and bust, housing boom and bust, now the startup/evangelist entrepreneurism boom and likely bust for many considering how many new businesses fail on average. The american consumer and consumption, the only leverage we had to keep corporations invested in anyway in the america people, was replaced with raising foreign middle class. Consumption markets in india and china can now out perform america in many industries, so why pay americans.

If you look at the 30 year career, it coincided with the 30 mortgage. Now there's no 30 year career, maybe 15 years tops, but mortgages didn't get cheaper. Then so what you do for income after a 15 year career.. your 35-40, likely at your most leveraged with a kid or two, a house, a car payment.. Start your own business? become an entrepreneur? start your own start up? True, you now have a very marketable skillset, the internet levels the playing field when it comes to marketing your skillset or service. But it takes more than just a trade skill to run a business, and that where most people run into problems. In fact, I've read that some of the best small and independent business in the creative field were former marketing and MBA career changers that had always desired to do something else. The current environment is a playground for them because they were taught the tools to make a business. Most of us weren't.

Oh and healthcare... once that was part of your wage. now more jobs, professional college degree jobs, are defining workers and freelancers, permanence, independent contractors, wizards... these all sound flattering like you are some self sufficient "advisor" or "consultant" But more likely you are being misclassified to bypass the obligation to pay you overtime, unemployment insurance or even payroll taxes. You have basically surrendered what little rights you had as an employee while inheriting all of the risks as if you owned the business, but you don't. And now you have to pay for your healthcare as an individual, way more expensive with less coverage especially if you have a pre-existing condition... like breathing.

Trust me, if corporations had it their way, every employee would be a corporation themselves, effectively a sub-contractor. You know how many sub-contractor gets screwed because of a "bankruptcy" of the hiring corporation? i use quotes because often now, a business isn't built around long term sustainability, but an exit strategy. A means to bail with the least obligations to pay out the subcontractors. So instead of having Labor laws providing a deterrent, you are only as powerful as your legal team, which at the individual level is nil. And in that game, the bigger guns always win. Bankruptcy of your employer would put you at the end of a line that will never be fully expedited.

Then there's the issue of pension and retirement planning. Like healthcare, thats been passed on to the employee in the form of investing vegas style in the stock market. Again the perception of freedom, when there is no real guarantee that the money you invested in is actually yours. Ask anyone retiring back in 2008. And now they want to privatize your social security.

You can call it what you want.. the free market, capitalism, globalization. Fact is that multinational corporations have no borders or national allegiance. They just know one word. More. And who can blame them if the people have willfully surrendered control to let them run our lives. People do not vote saying that the government, an institution by the people, for the people that is to be maintained by the people, is useless, but have no problem handing their personal information (and their friends) to a private company like Facebook... a company founded by a bunch of amoral individuals as means to objectify and track women. So much so that you will invest your retirement money in like companies but not vote to better your community and life.

And free market lovers, if you want a taste of what a free market is? there is one great example on the planet.. Mogadishu. No regulation, no govt, no labor rights, just the free supply and demand market gone free reign. There, the biggest guns win, literally.

Look at copyright laws. Without them, photographers would have their work stolen all the time by large companies that are certain that the artist neither has the means, knowledge or stamina to pursue legal action. If you copyrighted your art via copyright.org, you will always win. Free market believers call that government intervention, and believe the market would solve those problems on their own. They don't. The big guns always win. Big guns are expensive.

We are still based on that post WWII model where you work in a career that pays your healthcare and pension. We aren't. yet there's been no national solution to the social de-engineering thats been going on since the 70's.

What union and guilds can do is provide new tools can be created so that people who work in trades and services can plan for their life without entering a lottery every time a mortgage or health care situation comes along. Instead of trying sell people that they can all be their own business, which is just unlikely for many, labor organizations should be formed that enable people of a similar trade or service to have a group purchasing option for health and pension. I know many waiters and bartenders who aren't offered any health insurance by their employer, who is a small business owner and would have a prohibitive cost addition. Fair enough. What if all bartenders and servers had a guild where collectively they could pay into a group health and pension plan. That would offer them far more purchasing power which results in a better more sustainable deal. The freelancers union is one such example...

Yeah this is brain purge but its also an attempt for folks to think a little differently.. the current culture of self has clouded people's heads into thinking that they can go at it alone. Yes the tools are there to do so, but once you get into your later years, unless you plan to live as you did in your 20's your whole life, its going to get harder to plan your life. Much like that copyright law, you need mechanism to balance out the power, now more than ever since corporations have gone multination and have no adherence to national allegiance or even to natural laws like conservation. Thats where those trade protectionist views come into play because its about protecting the value of the trade or service a community offers to the market, or else expect much of the US to look like detroit soon.

Fact is, as one poster put, those trade laws ensure the value of a trade. When those laws are compromised, both the producing nation suffers (usually in the form of labor & environmental violations) and the consumption nation in the form form of no sustainable local business. The multinational corporation wins by the disproportional profit it makes on a good that cost $15 in china vs $150 here to make but is still sold for the $200 price based on the original $150 price of the cost to produce. The domestic job is gone, the overseas worker sees pre-industrial era labor violations, the multinational corporation gains such unheard of profit that monopolies start to form, as Apple did when it gobble up component suppliers.

Again, the biggest guns wins, Mogadishu style.

05-12-2013, 02:50 AM
Thanks for your well thought out post, and I appreciate your feelings on the matter. I do disagree with several aspects of your argument, but this isn't the place to discuss it further, so I won't, (being a mod on another forum I truly appreciate what a wonderful thing "No Politics" rules are).

So, I'm going to get on with fixing the mixing desk I have on the bench for a client, then I might have another play with my swinging rope scene, and see if approaching it fresh from a day or so off means I can find out why my deforming Bullet objects aren't behaving! :)

05-13-2013, 08:19 AM
I think if you stay clear of the movie and TV side of VFX, things are pretty good.

05-14-2013, 09:21 AM