There’s been a lot of controversy about the VFX World and let me start saying that I don’t consider myself as a visual effects artist by any means, but I’ve work in such studios and companies. There’s always the problem which in my humble opinion is the same problem as one in the design industry, The Fix bid.
This same idea is applies to spec-work and what it does to the design industry by “making it cheap”. When we see adds for website design, business cards, posters, logos and any other design related asset for $50 (and sometimes even less) brings the idea of what I’ve heard many times from clients, “if you don’t do the job, I’ll find someone else to do it” at the same time that puts the artist in a position that, if I don’t do this job, I’ll get fired. But how many of us have been in the position to actually say no to working overtime? How many of us have been in the position where you can say no to a fix bid?
May be that’s the beginning for the answer, either we start saying no, or we just have to be realistic about the budget and put as much effort as we are getting payed for. Respect our time and not give it for free.
The VFX Houses usually have to work with a fix budget to create something out of nothing. They have to juggle between the budget, payroll and profit with very thin margins which are sometimes overlooked by the clients and people outside of the VFX cocoon, just to keep their business alive.
The artists that create the amazing elements that we see on screen (3D Artists, modellers, riggers, matte painters, etc.) and yet sometimes don’t even notice, are highly specialized, highly trained professionals that have a passion for their work. I remember talking to one of my peers when he was working for one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies and he said “I spent over a year working to make Davy Jone’s tentacle beard look good, I spent months working in one single tentacle at a time to make it perfect and I loved every minute of it”
It’s this same passion that some times drives these artists to work overtime and deliver such great quality and impressive renders the very same thing that is hurting the industry.
And yet, every story has two sides, in one hand he have the VFX Community demonstrating an impressive set of skills, passion and proud in their work, which requires long hours of hard work, cutting edge technology and equipment while in the other hand we have the studios with a “limited” budget to give these VFX houses.
We need to understand both sides of the story to make a somewhat informed opinion. This is not a problem that will be easily solved in a short period of time, maybe this issue needs to bring us together as a community and re-think the way we do business in general.
If these issues keep growing, this vicious spiral will keep hurting our industries if we don’t do something. I know that changing our avatars to a green solid won’t make the problem go away but I do believe that it is the beginning of something. May be we have to start looking at the way we negotiate; would a time and expenses model work better? Would asking for royalties after the movie has been released be a better way to deal with these limits? May be we should be looking at other service industries and see how their business models work to learn from them and adopt some of their strengths and improve our weaknesses.
This is a shared problem that needs a shared solution, it won’t get solved by the colour of our avatar, it won’t get solved by the VFX Companies or the studios alone. this is an issue that needs to be solved by both sides of the same story.