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View Full Version : Hollywood's Greatest Trick - a documentary about the exploitative VFX industry



samurai_x
02-24-2017, 01:30 AM
https://vimeo.com/201004189


Some of you may recognize Mariana Acună Acosta who is (or at least was) working for FOUNDRY. as a Creative Specialist, doing presentations on MODO, NUKE and MARI at NAB etc.
https://i.imgur.com/leEhfNO.jpg
"What is your solution to the problem?"
- "Get out of the industry!"

adrian
02-24-2017, 03:52 AM
Reading the article (couldn't play the documentary as it says file wouldn't load) made me feel glad I didn't spend all my life savings to go to the Vancouver Film School to study to become a VFX artist back in 2006. It didn't feel right then and the article sums up why. Very sad really as how talented are these artists? Unbelievably so and to be treated the way they are is just wrong. However it seems they (or the industry) is not helping themselves by being willing to work for next to nothing and no benefits.

I'm very grateful I have been able to earn some money here and there with video/VFX freelance work alongside my regular job(s) over the years and have a nice bungalow with a small mortgage to show for it. Still.... my dream job will always be to be a professional VFX artist! I'm sure I could get more work but I don't know diddly squat about marketing and quite frankly I couldn't care less about learning. I just want to do what I love.

Spinland
02-24-2017, 04:26 AM
Ugly situation. I would never lay claim to being in the same league as these artists who keep getting screwed by the suits, but I see the long term trend to be small freelancers such as myself teaming up ad hoc as part of what's becoming our "gig economy." I work with small, indie producers who appreciate what I do for them, and I appreciate their honesty about their budgets, and we reach mutually beneficial understandings or we smile over a beer or two and admit this won't work out.

I, for one, would not shed a tear if that entire industry (meaning "Hollywood") vaporized. IMNSDHO some of the best creative work on the planet comes from anywhere else.

kopperdrake
02-24-2017, 05:05 AM
It's the exact reason I came out of games development in 2004. Also hearing how the guys on the Matrix were treated a few years before that put me off any idea of working in film, though many friends did go that route. It all depends what you want from life and how your family would cope I guess. I always thought that if I were going to run myself into the ground, I'd rather do it for myself than some boss above me.

gamedesign1
02-24-2017, 05:07 AM
Every big company seems to always screw the people doing the actual work. I think staying Indie is the way forward, you will get more creative flexibility and you won't start hating your job.

Spinland
02-24-2017, 05:38 AM
Agree with both of you +1000% (don't try to work out the maths, I know that's an impossible number. ;D ). Note above I said "work with" and not "work for." I retain the majority of creative control and if a producer seems overbearing or a PITA in other ways I quote them a weed-out rate. If they balk, I dodge a bullet; if not, I at least get some compensation for putting up with them.

I've fired a client in mid-production before, after all other means of making him see reality were exhausted. He recently came back with an apology and a request to work on another project. Sometimes they learn. Try working that way under overpaid parasites in suits. :jam:

MichaelT
02-24-2017, 05:44 AM
Hmm, seeing things like UK is first with a union for VFX just isn't true. Sweden, have unions everywhere. So does Germany as far as I know. Probably other European countries as well. The problem seems to be more about studios playing the non union cards in countries that don't have it. Which is probably why you're not seeing many VFX companies in Sweden, Germany etc.. Or at the very least famous ones. I don't agree with the 'get out of the industry' mentality. Work in countries that DO have unions then. Or even.. set up companies there. Shifting the talent locale to safer grounds will force the studios hands eventually. Because even though they can get talent elsewhere, they won't get as good ones. Meaning they won't get that statue. Not all people ignore the VFX people however, a certain action by Keanu Reeves comes to mind. Remember this? : http://www.hellomagazine.com/celebrities/200305283652/keanu/reeves/matrix

Spinland
02-24-2017, 05:48 AM
I don't agree with the 'get out of the industry' mentality.

I do, but if I interpret "the industry" to mean the status quo. To me, breaking away and working for yourself (or founding your own studio) is "getting out." :)

MichaelT
02-24-2017, 05:53 AM
I do, but if I interpret "the industry" to mean the status quo. To me, breaking away and working for yourself (or founding your own studio) is "getting out." :)

That works too :) .. I was more about people trying to shift the power focus to steal the power from the companies hands. But it is an unrealistic thought. I know that too :)

Spinland
02-24-2017, 06:04 AM
I know, Michael, and I'm not arguing the point; I just have my own vision for how to shift that power and that vision involves grassroots building of competition. Organizing into unions is one method, I prefer to create a better alternative and let the potential clients see where their interests lie; incentive over coercion. Just my personal thang. ;D

50one
02-24-2017, 06:06 AM
https://vimeo.com/201004189


Some of you may recognize Mariana Acună Acosta who is (or at least was) working for FOUNDRY. as a Creative Specialist, doing presentations on MODO, NUKE and MARI at NAB etc.
https://i.imgur.com/leEhfNO.jpg
"What is your solution to the problem?"
- "Get out of the industry!"

You should mention that you copied this from The Foundry forums, as mentioning competitor product here seems to imply there is an agenda behind it.

samurai_x
02-24-2017, 06:44 AM
Will do SimonWu, anything for you. :D
http://community.foundry.com/discuss/topic/129761/hollywood-s-greatest-trick-a-documentary-about-the-exploitative-vfx-industry

P.S.
Only modo brings the angst. Understandable imo.
There's an ongoing houdini and blender thread around here with no newtek employee making any comments.

Oldcode
02-24-2017, 09:49 AM
That was a great film. When we were a lot younger, my best friend and I wanted to go into the VFX industry. Man! Did we dodge a bullet? No, we dodged an ICBM! :hey:

TheLexx
02-24-2017, 12:03 PM
Just as a cinema film camera used to cost well over $100,000 (body only) as a specialized item, so did the top VFX software, and this is partly where the industry gained it's power over the artist. However, the old business practices currently at the top have not caught up with new realities today, where hardware and software prices have plummeted (crashed ?), much more accessible to the individual and just more people around with the ability to use them. Consumer distribution platforms are diversifying by other relevant players looking to give "the industry" a bloody nose, and hungry for content, like even Amazon for example, or online film distribution sites where the makers get a better percentage deal and direct access to the profits (you occasionally see them on sites like nofilmschool). I think little independent movies and the types of people who make them are a sort of counter-culture which will eventually even out "the industry", and VFX will follow.

That's one reason I was a little wary of free LW licences for VFX schools, because I didn't want them to become powerbrokers or self-styled gatekeepers luring the starry eyed kid to pay $$$ on the yellow brick road to "the industry", only to get double-barrelled by both at the end. Those of you who do VFX but have escaped entrapment clearly have other abilities like business, marketing, social skills (including altruism and empathy), etc, so VFX artists are going to have to be increasingly streetwise like that. Just as conventional political opinion and news media have seen their established power bases increasingly challenged by the ability of the consumer to choose or cross-check what they see and hear, I hope some good will come as this filters more and more to people's entertainment consumption and changing habits.

tischbein3
02-24-2017, 12:23 PM
Well as said elsewhere, if you want to start in 3d biz, have a reliable exit strategy, or
even better a soft-exit strategy at hand to be not 100% reliant on that circus.

And as for people dreaming of the silverscreen credit fame: Participate in a indie/free
movie projects, result is the same, but pacing and fun factor can be much better.
(Also the learning factor, depending on the project)

erikals
02-24-2017, 12:35 PM
"What is your solution to the problem?"
- "Get out of the industry!"

hence my green Avatar...

shrox
02-24-2017, 06:38 PM
I've moved to doing still image work and gallery art, doing a single image is so much easier...three gallery shows already. Yes, this is Lightwave.

http://shrox.com/MarsUSASmall.jpg

erikals
02-25-2017, 02:25 AM
my advice,
have a less-stress day-job and do 3D on the side as a freelancer.

works great, and you can dedicate time as you please.


dedication required.

Surrealist.
02-25-2017, 10:11 AM
It is the old problem around forever.

It has to do mainly with the system of economics and the means used to facilitate production. And unfortunately, it is political.

Not sure how we can talk economics without being political. But another simple factor is exchange rate of currency. You add this into the mix and an already flimsy system of labor and production will crumble. And that is what happened.

It is unfortunate that the worker is always the one who bears the brunt of such systems. No new system has ever been introduced that solves it. So that should curtail political discussion. But a new system is needed.

Until then, Get out of the system and create your own.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WApcUBcVMos

roboman
02-25-2017, 10:59 AM
This isn't really a problem with the VFX industry, it's the way the world works. The animation stuff is a side job / hobby for me. For a living I do precision machine work, mostly making the machinery to mass produce things. I've had to move around to make good money and to really chase the bucks you end up bouncing around the world. When some one wants something they want / need it now, to not loose the market or hit shipping dates, so 100+ hour weeks can be the norm on a project that pays. At the end or when things go wrong or even sideways the multi day straight through push with no sleep is also almost a norm. When you are younger you think about opening your own shop and you will have made it. When you do, you find out that it's about the same, just in different ways and more risk is on your head along with more bills.

The real money is in making your own products. To do it right you need a shockingly large amount of up front cash and with only one product it's an all or nothing risk. Big multi national companies can buy their machinery and things any where in the world and having a few products fail doesn't hurt a lot, other products do well and there are all the old products they have that are still bringing in money. There is also the fact that they already have a known name and ins with the end retailers...

If you are one of the little guys in an area that takes a hit, likely because things just moved else where, you lave limited options. You can quit the industry and do something else, fight with all the other out of work people in the area for scraps that are left or move to where the jobs are. If you keep doing it, it's because you love it and can't imagine not doing it, so they have you and you dance to their game or stick your neck out and hope you can carve out your product line.....

shrox
02-25-2017, 11:02 AM
Many clients just don't understand what we do, last week a local wanted to transition from a Google Earth shot to a live action drone shot. They wanted photoreal transition beween them, and wanted to spend about 1000.

They're still trying to do it with Google Earth...

Surrealist.
02-25-2017, 12:35 PM
I think what it boils down to is some people just have a complete lack of respect for other human beings. It is not even that you are an artist and you love what you do. No matter what your profession in life, you should love what you do. That is usually the case. Be it carpentry or art or accounting. But some people just have complete lack of respect. And they treat their accountants the same way as they treat a guy paving their driveway or fixing their car or painting the house. And they will not treat you any better or worse if you are creating them an original work of art to hang in their living room.

It just comes down to humanity or lack of it.

The really great clients who don't complain much and pay well are far and few between. It is usually the clients who don't pay well are the ones who demand the most and complain the most. Funny how that works. And they act as if what little they are paying you is too much as it is.

So the only way an industry can go bad is that people have complete disrespect for other people. That is why trade unions emerge and all the rest of it. None of this would be necessary if people just conducted themselves in a dignified way and treated others with some respect. But alas, this is planet Earth. Like that is going to happen.

So at the end of the day it is up to you to go along with it. There is nothing to complain about if you agree to work the hours for less pay. That would be OK if you were dealing with people who were decent. But what usually happens is that effort goes unrewarded and more of an invitation for more abuse. And an endless cycle continues. And so people leave.

And an industry can fall apart. It is self destructive. Nothing in life should be so important that people become slaves for it.

jeric_synergy
02-25-2017, 02:36 PM
So the only way an industry can go bad is that people have complete disrespect for other people. That is why trade unions emerge and all the rest of it.
Capitalists will work you like a rented mule, given the opportunity. Unions emerge to combat that.

- - - Updated - - -


Many clients just don't understand what we do, last week a local wanted to transition from a Google Earth shot to a live action drone shot. They wanted photoreal transition beween them, and wanted to spend about 1000.

They're still trying to do it with Google Earth...
When they're done, be sure to send them a note and ask them if they saved time and effort by not hiring out.

Spinland
02-25-2017, 03:07 PM
Those of you who do VFX but have escaped entrapment clearly have other abilities like business, marketing, social skills (including altruism and empathy), etc, so VFX artists are going to have to be increasingly streetwise like that.

QFA. See, right now the market is rife with probably thousands of talented artists with killer reels. How do you stand out? If you want to get out from under The Thumb of those corporate vultures seeking to squeeze you dry you have to build a skill set that goes well outside the technical and artistic stuff. As the market shifts to this "gig economy" I keep reading about, folks are going to have break well out of their comfort zones and embrace some business-related concepts.

I didn't build this business on skills alone, though they help (duh). I went from someone nobody around here ever heard of, to a force to be reckoned with on the local small business council, and based on my vigorous advocacy there for the struggling solopreneur, I was recently voted to the board of directors of our chamber of commerce. I say that not to blow my own horn, but to underscore the level of activism and community engagement you have to tackle in order to break out of the herd and start getting noticed by clients who will trust you enough to pay what you're really worth. The process takes years (six for me and still counting). It often sucks, and I have days of black cloudy doom wondering if I made a huge mistake.

It's worth every bump, bruise, stitch and other fight metaphor. That much I can assert with complete confidence.