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erikals
02-26-2014, 01:06 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lcB9u-9mVE

Lewis
02-26-2014, 01:51 PM
Wow, what a sad story :(.

BTW is that Lino at 25:01 :)?

Greenlaw
02-26-2014, 02:27 PM
I got a final check from R&H about a month or so ago. Seeing it made me sad again because it signified that my long time association with the company I really loved working at (12 years!) had finally ended. :(

I haven't watched the documentary yet. I think it will just bum me out.

G.

erikals
02-26-2014, 03:27 PM
12 years.... dang, sorry mister... http://erikalstad.com/backup/misc.php_files/oye.gif

Waves of light
02-26-2014, 03:33 PM
Just seen this on Facebook too. My response was along the lines of... Terrible times for the VFX sector, certainly if this model continues to be adopted. I for one have been on the end of something similar. I worked for a company who promised pay, bonus, then half pay, then nothing over a 9 month period. I let them treat me that way and they got away with their conduct (and my comparison is the way studios treat VFX companies, not the way R&H treated their employees). And this is the problem... Whilst there is always someone who will do it cheaper, or some way of cutting corners to save money, it will never change. If only all VFX companies could stamp their feet and close their doors until something was done to correct this business model, then maybe, just maybe things would become sustainable again. But, as I said before, this wouldn't work, as there will always be another VFX house , somewhere in the world, willing to take on the responsibility.

EDIT: yer, sorry Greenlaw. Looked like an amazing place to work. I feel sorry for what you've been through.

geo_n
02-26-2014, 06:21 PM
Saw this at Lux yesterday. Yeah its not going to change. As long as artists think like artists disregarding the business side.
Sorry the company went bankcrupt GL. It seems like one of the most righteous vfx companies out there.

Ryan Roye
02-26-2014, 06:29 PM
Something that puzzles me is why we don't hear stories like this from game development companies... or is that not a valid comparison to make?

geo_n
02-26-2014, 06:49 PM
Something that puzzles me is why we don't hear stories like this from game development companies... or is that not a valid comparison to make?

There are mass layoffs from game companies, too. You don't hear them because the artists are not vocal enough and mostly in their 20's who are punching bags for abuse. Well as long as they are working on the next cool game they would do anything. Only when they step at age 30 are they thinking that they should buy a house, save money, have a life, etc.
The people I meet at polycount.com are mostly fresh grads and really trying to get in the industry and working for so little money or sometimes nothing. I stopped thinking that way when I talked to one of my collegues in his 40's that worked at a game company before and he had no savings, no house and his family living with his parents in chiba that's a bit way off from central tokyo. No way was I going to be like that at 40.

The Dommo
02-26-2014, 07:17 PM
Great video. Will have to download it.
And regarding the subject matter.... damn.

My dreams when I was 13 when Jurassic Park came out and 15 when Toy Story came out was that this was my calling, and I simply had to work in the film industry no matter what.
In the last few years I've been working on ways to stop needing money from clients who kill me, and hopefully one day soon only be doing 3D (and creative work) for myself.

Mr Rid
02-26-2014, 07:36 PM
It always comes back to this. 120494

JohnMarchant
02-27-2014, 12:48 AM
It always comes back to this. 120494

Its sad but you are right. However they cant blame the rest of the world for it. Tax breaks and wage differences in other countries is globalization. It happens everywhere in different industries, but you would think that in the USA as the entertainment industry is vital they would offer more tax incentives. Funny how much work comes to the UK and not just VFX work and yet wages and prices are similar, its the tax breaks in the UK that make allot of the difference.

akademus
02-27-2014, 01:33 AM
Yeah, I'm very sorry for R&H and all the people who use to work there. But I think its mostly issue of not adapting in time to the current environment. What I've seen so far any company who immediately relies on cutting on people or forcing them to work more for less money as a meaning of saving of patching up other (bad) business moves is somewhat doomed to fail and close. Its profit where cuts need to be made, but rarely, almost never are.

If we go from a premise where an employed artist usually makes 3-4 times of their salary, if you cut that artist out, you are not saving on his salary, but loosing 3 of his salaries. So you don't gain or save, you actually loose money.

In other case, if you force people to work overtime and don't pay them for that, not only you are creating bad environment, but exhausting people makes them not being able to focus clearly and completely on their tasks and that sort of crap piles up.

Both of these models are bad in my opinion and if you rely on them, things are just spiraling to the worse.

JohnMarchant
02-27-2014, 02:09 AM
Yeah, I'm very sorry for R&H and all the people who use to work there. But I think its mostly issue of not adapting in time to the current environment. What I've seen so far any company who immediately relies on cutting on people or forcing them to work more for less money as a meaning of saving of patching up other (bad) business moves is somewhat doomed to fail and close. Its profit where cuts need to be made, but rarely, almost never are.

If we go from a premise where an employed artist usually makes 3-4 times of their salary, if you cut that artist out, you are not saving on his salary, but loosing 3 of his salaries. So you don't gain or save, you actually loose money.

In other case, if you force people to work overtime and don't pay them for that, not only you are creating bad environment, but exhausting people makes them not being able to focus clearly and completely on their tasks and that sort of crap piles up.

Both of these models are bad in my opinion and if you rely on them, things are just spiraling to the worse.

Yes the business models used do suck and it never in the end saves money and you end up with a high turnover of unhappy people.

Problem is many years ago the VFX skills were mostly in the US as its industry wanted and used it more. Now VFX is used heavily in Europe,China,Korea,India,Middle East and many more. The skill levels have increased in these markets and of course as they tend to have lower wages, its cheaper to use these VFX houses than in the ones in the US.

The US in particular needs to look to outside and especially the tax incentives given for the way ahead. Look as an example at the UK, many so called blockbuster films are made here now that are really US films, the VFX is also done in the UK but also other places. The VFX skills i would say are not better in UK than US or the artists, its just cheaper a prime example is the new Star Wars film, the original 3 were made in UK because of tax breaks and incentives, the next 3 were made mainly in Australia because of tax breaks and incentives and now its back to the UK again.

Look at the budgets on US films compared to films from other countries, some of these budgets are eye watering and i would venture to say not justified considering the finished product. There are films that are just as good and sometimes better made outside the US on much smaller budgets. This is an industry wide problem not just a VFX problem.

akademus
02-27-2014, 02:19 AM
Well, the thing is you are just not allowed to cut on salaries and introduce unpaid overtime in most countries in Europe just like that. Mostly because of the way relations are set up, but also employee awareness about their rights is much higher. So employers and businesses owners have to look into other means of being profitable instead of squeezing the workforce.

JohnMarchant
02-27-2014, 02:49 AM
Well, the thing is you are just not allowed to cut on salaries and introduce unpaid overtime in most countries in Europe just like that. Mostly because of the way relations are set up, but also employee awareness about their rights is much higher. So employers and businesses owners have to look into other means of being profitable instead of squeezing the workforce.

Yes but you can then just up sticks and move to India,China,Malaysia where VFX work is even cheaper. In the UK they even have Zero contract hours, meaning you are not guaranteed any work or pay. Its far more than the way relations are set up.

akademus
02-27-2014, 04:11 AM
I don't that is a solution either. I think its better to pay a good senior person enough money and yield awesome results in smooth manner then to pay 10 newbies from India and struggle with their output. Cost of labor is not where the problem is.

Its greedy logic behind managers way of thinking. When profit lowers, they immediately think the cost of production is where the issue is. You write off equipment because in high(er) end production that's not that expensive in great scheme of things. Then only thing they come is we have too much people and or we are paying them too much. And that is where they cut to keep profit coming in.

When you see the amount of money invested into features and money those features earn there is huge profit between the two. Much bigger than in other industries sometimes. If you love what you are doing and if you are doing it for the people who are working for you, you should be willing to cut on profits, unnecessary luxuries and lifestyle quirks in order to continue doing what you are doing.

Waves of light
02-27-2014, 04:27 AM
Problem is many years ago the VFX skills were mostly in the US as its industry wanted and used it more. Now VFX is used heavily in Europe,China,Korea,India,Middle East and many more. The skill levels have increased in these markets and of course as they tend to have lower wages, its cheaper to use these VFX houses than in the ones in the US.

And that's it in a nutshell. It's not just the VFX market either... look at the downturn of car manufacturing in the UK and US. At the end of the day, it all comes down to money. If it can be produced, or manufactured, in another country for less then that is what will continue to happen.

JohnMarchant
02-27-2014, 06:25 AM
And that's it in a nutshell. It's not just the VFX market either... look at the downturn of car manufacturing in the UK and US. At the end of the day, it all comes down to money. If it can be produced, or manufactured, in another country for less then that is what will continue to happen.

Always will come down to money, especially when you have to deal with shareholders. We need to incentivise our respective countries to employ and use local people and facilities, even if it costs a little more. However companies are now global not local and only care about the money at the end. Hollywood in particular needs to produce more quality and less quantity.

I suppose this is no use to those at R&H and the likes who have already lost their jobs, but that is globalization for you, there are always going to be winners and losers.

BeeVee
02-27-2014, 09:41 AM
This is an interesting corollary to the story. While stopping subsidies is definitely the answer, so too is protecting the workers in the vfx industry and the MPAA might just have done it, despite themselves :D

http://pando.com/2014/02/25/revenge-of-the-nerds-how-tech-geeks-found-a-secret-weapon-in-their-fight-against-big-hollywood/

B

robertoortiz
02-27-2014, 10:20 AM
It always comes back to this. 120494

That and there is a fair amount of collusion and corruption going on.

For example here is a DOJ case against some of the biggest FX companies in
California doing collusion to keep salaries down.
And that is on the company side.
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/December/10-at-1467.html


There have been published reports on Variety about producer BOASTING about the amount of FX shops their FX monstrousites have brought down.

EDITED SOURCE VES society :
"By now almost everyone in the industry is familiar with the quote from a few years ago by an unidentified studio executive that if he ‘didn’t put at least one VFX company out of business on a show, he wasn’t doing his job.’"

robertoortiz
02-27-2014, 10:28 AM
I got a final check from R&H about a month or so ago. Seeing it made me sad again because it signified that my long time association with the company I really loved working at (12 years!) had finally ended. :(

I haven't watched the documentary yet. I think it will just bum me out.

G. I am so sorry. R&H had a rep of beign a great place to work. What the studios did to it (and I blame the studios) is a crime.

Greenlaw
02-27-2014, 11:39 AM
Thanks. It's okay though, I was actually laid off from R&H almost exactly a year ago and I'm doing fine these days as a freelancer. Getting the check from R&H, while appreciated, was a sad reminder of what happened to a fine company that was more interested taking care of its employees as opposed to pleasing shareholders.

What I miss most was the people I worked with for many years there. I'm still working with a few of my friends at different places, but some have moved away from Los Angeles to find VFX work elsewhere, or they got fed up and left the industry entirely to pursue other interests.

The upside to my own situation is that my partner and I have had more time this past year to develop and complete productions for our own little animation house, Little Green Dog. Even though our productions are small right now, it's very fulfilling to create work for yourself instead of for somebody else--I highly recommend it! Last weekend we released a cartoon short called 'Scareplane' (https://vimeo.com/87465384). It's our first 2D cartoon and it laid important groundwork for bigger productions down the road for us.

Maybe in a couple of years Little Green Dog will have its own staff of artists to nurture and inspire, just like R&H did for me. :)

G.

ernpchan
02-27-2014, 11:41 AM
That was a very well done documentary. Hopefully it helps educate people as to the state of things. It looks like the founders of RnH are really stand up guys and really set out to make a great company operate with their employees well being in mind. I hope everyone was able to land another job.

JonW
02-27-2014, 12:55 PM
And that's it in a nutshell. It's not just the VFX market either... look at the downturn of car manufacturing in the UK and US. At the end of the day, it all comes down to money. If it can be produced, or manufactured, in another country for less then that is what will continue to happen.

Australia is on the next wave of manufactures closing down. We are one of 13 countries making cars (small numbers) with some of the least amount of subsidies per car. They are winding down & will be gone in 3 years. If any industry can do any aspect of work offshore it goes overseas & is turning our country into administrators.

Residential, I live in a block of units, the amount of regulations & reports we have to do is getting well beyond a joke, many reports every year, more every second year, others every 5 years. Most of it is cover ars_ reports! The cost of simply living & complying with regulations is a joke & that's not even running a business. It's simply living!

No wonder western countries can't compete. We have to abide by endless rules, compliance with obscene level of expenses (a lot of the regulation is good by the way) & are supposed to compete against countries with expendable people who are working as slaves in levels of pollution that it is a surprise they aren't all dead yet, in buildings that collapse on them, well on their way with hugh increases in cancer and a myriad of other health problems. Living conditions so poor, in western countries we would be put in jail if we even remotely thought about treating a dog like that!

Our governments need to make a level playing field in labour costs, living & working conditions, & tax havens. Everything is spiralling to the lowest common denominator. There will be nothing worthwhile left to govern & then they have the gall to say it is all our fault & we have to become more efficient!

Australia has a good saying "A fair go". There is nothing fair & it is all going, if it already hasn't gone!

JonW
02-27-2014, 01:09 PM
The Australian tax office asked for 500 voluntary redundancies, 2000 people put their hand up, but 1500 people will not get redundancies & now will get grief counselling for not loosing their jobs!



Many years ago I worked for a company, they asked for 50 voluntary redundancies. 75 put their hand up. They fired all of them. Then they realised they had fired too many people. Some were reemployed with their full redundancy payout, having never actually left their desks!

digitaldoc
02-27-2014, 04:23 PM
Last weekend we released a cartoon short called 'Scareplane' (https://vimeo.com/87465384). It's our first 2D cartoon and it laid important groundwork for bigger productions down the road for us.

Maybe in a couple of years Little Green Dog will have its own staff of artists to nurture and inspire, just like R&H did for me. :)

G.

Loved it! Keep up the good work.

Mr Rid
02-27-2014, 06:25 PM
I think this article summarizes the issue well, and the best possible 'subsidy-busting' solution.
http://pando.com/2014/02/25/revenge-of-the-nerds-how-tech-geeks-found-a-secret-weapon-in-their-fight-against-big-hollywood/

The problem always comes down to greed. I find that when I look closely at any unfair social situation, it ALWAYS comes down to someone, somewhere making more profit by screwing someone over. And big business profits buy law enforcement, and presidential campaigns. 'Survival of the fittest' is probably too hardwired to ever re-code.

c.1
02-27-2014, 08:42 PM
This story is VERY interesting as we had the "Stay Calm and Save BC Films" campaign last year.(directly related to gov't subsidies) Now we have Siggraph 2014 coming to Vancouver in Aug this year. Hmmmmmm profit before people seems to be the new world mantra. That being said the sword cuts both ways, without huge corporate profit the "little guy" gets screwed so WTF is there any "middle way" where everybody wins? Or is it just corporate greed above all else?

dwburman
02-27-2014, 10:33 PM
I used to want to get into the VFX industry, but with the way things turned out, it's not very appealing now. The whole "digital VFX industry" is really only about 25 years old (some computer graphics in the 80's with digital compositing starting in the early 90's), so maybe some growing pains were inevitable.

I was ranting a bit, but decided to keep it short and say I liked that the video, and it did look like Lino Grandi (or at least his hat) in one of those shots. :)

geo_n
02-28-2014, 11:45 PM
VFX in Los Angeles – 100 hour weeks & homeless

https://www.fxguide.com/quicktakes/vfx-in-los-angeles-100-hour-weeks-homeless/

pauland
03-01-2014, 08:21 AM
I'm not really qualified to contribute to this thread - I'm not a 3D professional, just a dabbler with 3D since LW 4.0. Now mostly a lapsed 3D dabbler.

The film is excellent, sad and heartbreaking for those involved and clearly the industry in general. It's really about globalisation and maturing of an specialist industry into a commodity business - where talent can be acquired almost at will.

Seems to me that there are two elements at work here - chasing tax breaks globally to minimise production costs, and a second element that seems to have been bypassed in this thread - separation of 3D production from creative stakeholders.

I can't blame companies in any sphere for taking an opportunity to minimise the cost of production, nor can I be surprised that governments will offer tax breaks to attract employment ( even if it's a short term gain - it's politics ).

I think it's up to people in the industry to come up with a sustainable business model that can clearly show a better long-term cost of production than flitting from country to country. A tough ask.

I'm surprised nobody has really picked up on the second point in the film - that production costs are much higher than they need be because of the way that 3D production is organised. The film suggests that the hierarchy of 3D production contributes to high costs by being very inefficient, simply because the final approval of shots is so far removed from early production stages, causing a massive amount of reworking before the final product is approved by the main stakeholder. It seems to me that involving the main stakeholders very early on and during production would cut these costs greatly and is something that should already have been in place. The film also neatly suggests that the fixed-pricing of digital work just invites endless revision because the principle cost to the final production is time, while for those creating digital output it's time and money.

The extended approval chain is something I've fallen foul of several times. I don't work in 3D but I do produce digital content for websites or tablets - ranging from games to sales promotions of one kind and another. Often my freelance work is won on a fixed-price basis and things work out OK, but some projects are nightmares.

My nightmare projects are where there is an extended design agency chain of command. Often a design agency sells a concept to a client and engages me to make it happen. Often, their description of the project is 'sketchy' to say the least and can result in a game of chinese whispers between me and the end-client, causing multiple costly revisions. Because of the politics, my clients usually keep me at arms length from the end-client; not because I bite but because they want to retain control and be seen as the creative provider - even if they don't actually do the work.

I recently ditched a client like this because I couldn't face the endless revisions, wasting everyone's time and costing me money but not the end-client. Those kind of jobs just kill creativity and a positive outlook and they don't result in the best end-product for the client either.

Is the approvals process in the 3D industry as bad as suggested in the film? because if it is, that must have an equivalent value to any tax break and is something that can be streamlined.

I really hope the industry can find a solution.

Airwaves
03-03-2014, 05:08 PM
This is sad but very true. I wish the best for all those affected in the industry. I have always wanted to change the way things are done and if I ever run a studio like I want to I plan on doing things different. Best of luck to all those affected.

Mr Rid
03-07-2014, 04:21 AM
http://www.thewrap.com/noah-vfx-company-look-effects-loses-money

50one
03-07-2014, 04:55 AM
http://www.thewrap.com/noah-vfx-company-look-effects-loses-money

more info needed, as it looks like A) Directors, managers got some serious problems in managing the company or cashflow B) there's no managers, finance control whatsoever...

Mr Rid
03-07-2014, 02:01 PM
more info needed, as it looks like A) Directors, managers got some serious problems in managing the company or cashflow B) there's no managers, finance control whatsoever...

Did you watch the Life After Pi doc? The Pando article link in post 27 also sums the state of things well.

Greenlaw
03-07-2014, 02:24 PM
And it keeps on raining...

‘Noah’ VFX Firm Loses a Bundle on Biblical Epic (http://www.thewrap.com/noah-vfx-company-look-effects-loses-money)

In the article, it sounds like the company is praising the studio though--probably being careful not to 'bite the hand'.

G.

geo_n
03-09-2014, 07:25 PM
And it keeps on raining...

‘Noah’ VFX Firm Loses a Bundle on Biblical Epic (http://www.thewrap.com/noah-vfx-company-look-effects-loses-money)

In the article, it sounds like the company is praising the studio though--probably being careful not to 'bite the hand'.

G.

Fixed bids should be abandoned.

Another one.
http://www.thewrap.com/modus-fx-closes-doors-100-people-laid/

geo_n
03-09-2014, 07:53 PM
http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/03/06/disney-interactive-lays-off-700-employees

Disney Interactive Lays Off 700 Employees, SCEA also "completed a reduction in workforce" at Sony Santa Monica

erikals
03-10-2014, 01:28 AM
dang... :/

Shawn Farrell
03-15-2014, 02:21 PM
http://www.trustmedia.tv/270PI.JPG

It is my understanding that this symbol in hebrew represents the time that humanity exists on earth (forever) and in Lakotah Native American it stands for all mammals...:lwicon:

-Shawn:newtek:

roboman
03-15-2014, 07:03 PM
http://www.trustmedia.tv/270PI.JPG

It is my understanding that this symbol in hebrew represents the time that humanity exists on earth (forever) and in Lakotah Native American it stands for all mammals...:

Dam, changing economics and inflation suck. The Greeks downgraded it to just a letter in their alphabet and now we have downgraded it to the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, about 3.14159. So does that mean the answer to the meaning of life is less then 42?

erikals
03-15-2014, 10:27 PM
So does that mean the answer to the meaning of life is less then 42?

yes, but less is more, so it's all relative... http://erikalstad.com/backup/misc.php_files/yingyang.gif i think...

DrStrik9
03-16-2014, 08:23 AM
Wow, great documentary, very well done. I also just watched an old documentary on the WWII Kamikaze phenomenon. It seems being a VFX company is quickly becoming like being a Kamikaze pilot. Yes, you can get the job done, but you lose your life in the process. :-(

I know of few other lines of work in the creative world where companies are required to hard-bid each project and not be able to charge additionally for changes. It seems that if a company is required to bid a hard figure for "x number of shots" that every single detail of each of those shots should be hard-delineated as well. Then when changes come, additional money is part of that transaction.

But I know that's probably never going to happen in the current business climate. "Our project was a great success! We made hundreds of millions of dollars, and only put three long-standing companies out of business."

It's very sad, and it must change.

Mr Rid
03-24-2014, 03:39 AM
http://www.thewrap.com/lack-subsidies-big-budget-movies-cost-california-9-6-billion-economic-activity/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=contactology

erikals
03-24-2014, 06:57 AM
i rarely curse but,.... f*** didn't know it was that bad... http://erikalstad.com/backup/misc.php_files/aiwebs_001.gif

that's a lot of lost jobs...

erikals
03-24-2014, 07:15 AM
Disney was an artist, became a director, a pretty good one too. That doesn't mean he didn't step on all the artists that helped him to get to the top. Google it..! so, is that what all artists are supposed to do, pull each other down as they move up?! sometimes it's ok to complaint that a few guys at the top take all the cash, and this is one of those times. the problem is that artists these days don't complain enough, they don't strike, like the Disney artists did, so, maybe it's not bad enough, just yet, for today's artists... -erikals
people just don't strike any more...

JohnMarchant
03-24-2014, 08:53 AM
Yes it is, and i also didnt know that big budget films over 74 Million dont get any at all. Hollywood and the US Government really need to step up to the plate here. Of course as a Brit im happy to see that the UK is getting much of this work. This however is transitory depending on the government at the time and wont last forever.

http://www.thewrap.com/gallery/films-shooting-uk-95566