You probably all remember the green screen movement that took over twitter last year, right after Rhythm & Hues, the VFX company that pretty much made Life of Pi went on winning an Oscar 11 days after filing for bankruptcy. Everybody was in a bit of a shock: weren’t VFX the thing going on in all blockbusters and top grossing films? (i.e: shouldn’t VFX artist make big bucks?). And how can you win an Oscar and file for bankruptcy the same week?
It turned out that the life of a VFX artist in America has been pretty gloomy. At the end of the food chain, VFX has seen demands growing but only for less money as the world became global while the number of studios paying for effects remained the same.
Last April, vfx veterans Scott Ross and Scott Squire gave a talk at NAB that helped better understand what was the reality of VFX, and what were the contradictions the one field that should be rising in storytelling, between a rock and a hard place. There are many factors that have been pushing the VFX companies to file bankruptcy over the last decade (11 in the last 10 years), but the ones that always let me in shock are the fixed bids and the lack of profit participation. In other words, whatever you negotiate with a VFX company at the early stages of budgeting your film, the price will remain the same, even though –and as we all know– shots and needs will change.
In the same way, whatever millions of profits movies make, VFX companies perceive nothing, which can be understandable in a movie like, say Black Swan, where VFX blends within so many other components, but harder to understand for Iron Man, Life of Pi, Avatar, the Avengers and the long series of films that only exist because of VFX.
‘Life After Pi‘ is a 30 minute documentary that has just been released online and that recaps Rhythm & Hues’ journey and how it reflects the bigger problems that are at the core of the VFX industry. It presents the facts again in a simple and clear way, and add to it the real factor, the one we forget easily: the human factor. That visual effects are made by real people, who spend countless hours creating textures, movements, skins, hair, eyes etc. that never existed and yet, struggle to meet what many consider the minimum requirements for a good life:
not being treated like shit being paid for the work they are doing.
A must watch for (at least) everyone involved in the industry of telling stories with moving images. The story doesn’t end here, VFX artists are hoping to gain visibility with this video, so share it around to show your support and check the official website, hollywoodendingmovie.com to keep up with the latest news:
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