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July 15, 2008

Compositors Likely To Become Obsolete? VES says

"In "The State of Visual Effects in the Entertainment Industry," the VES's first-ever white paper, the org warned that the effects industry's talk of "magic" has turned vfx into a "black box" that few outsiders understand -- a situation that drives up production costs and undermines working conditions for digital artists."

Regarding Compositors, Matchmovers, and Rotoscopers becoming obsolete in 5-10 years... it's based on a artists taking on more and more duties or artists moving toward "Hybrid" tasks... The VES's prediction is that in the coming years many positions will be eliminated due to one artist performing the work of many. While some of this may be true, I don't think they are saying these jobs will go away all together, but the need for hundreds of these artists on a show will diminish. But...

I think the bigger issue here is with OUTSOURCING. The VES has failed to put an outlook and what impact outsourcing tasks will do to our industry. It happened with animation in the mid 60's when Hanna-Barbara started sending its ink-and-paint work to Manila, this kept costs way down to avoid production spending spiraling out of control and making cartoons impossible to manage. The result? big studios shut down, artists lost their jobs.

Who will be the first to go? Roto and Paint artists, then matchmovers. I hope to hell not Compers! I can see SOME basic A over B or combo roto/paintwork/comp going overseas, but with the amount of artistry, problem solving, and craftsmensip that goes into Compositing these days I find it hard to imagine comp will becoming a low paying, grunt work skillset, performed overseas sort of task. I can say the same for Matchmove. Roto is already being performed heavily overseas... India anyone? Just take a look at R+H.

You can check out VES's white paper below, and I'll say it again, I really feel they have failed to include the impact outsourcing will have on our industry. It happened with the animation/cartoon industry, it can happen in VFX. For a solid historical summary regarding all of this, check out The Animated Scene: Animation's Repatriation - and I'll post up in the Extended Entry the bits that support what I've mentioned above.

The Visual Effects Society released its white paper on the state of visual effects in the entertainment industry. Click here to read "The State of Visual Effects In the Entertainment Industry" White Paper Released

VES challenges effects industry
Org says 'magic' talk confusing for outsiders

The movie industry's effects wizards would do well to let everyone see the man behind the curtain, according to the Visual Effects Society.

In "The State of Visual Effects in the Entertainment Industry," the VES's first-ever white paper, the org warned that the effects industry's talk of "magic" has turned vfx into a "black box" that few outsiders understand -- a situation that drives up production costs and undermines working conditions for digital artists.

The paper, written by Renee Dunlop, Paul Malcolm and VES prexy Eric Roth, challenged vfx industry to get involved in production earlier and educate others about what they do.

"The need to clarify the digital visual effects process has never been greater," said the paper, noting that the misconception that simply adding more computers will solve vfx problems is helping create "what is approaching a digital sweatshop environment."

"We have never sufficiently explained that the 'magic' of visual effects has never resided in technology; it resides in the people using the technology."

The VES noted that about 20 of the top 25 all-time grossers are vfx films, and that vfx take up anywhere from 25% to 50% of a movie's budget.

If vfx pros are brought into the process sooner, said the paper, production costs should fall as effects pros can point the way to "better creative and production decisions and, therefore, a more efficient production schedule."

The white paper also had some ominous predictions for production jobs overall.

Entire job categories, even entire production departments, are likely to disappear over the next 5-10 years as digital artists take over more and more production tasks. Computer graphics techniques are likely to make matchmovers, compositors and rotoscopers obsolete and visual effects are usurping functions of other departments, especially the art direction, camera and costume departments.

"The situation we see today, when the technology of one department so directly impacts the potential future of another, is relatively rare," said the white paper. (Variety.com)

"But in the mid-’60s, with unions pushing for higher wages and better benefits, the animation machine came under a great deal of strain, and costs soon became too unmanageable for the studios to bear. Hanna-Barbara, rather than bowing under the pressure, started sending its ink-and-paint work to Manila, where costs could be kept way down. Many animation artists at that time were furious, seeing it as a cheap money grab, designed to put them out of work, so that a few top executives at the studio could strike it rich. But the studio heads had a much different story, of production costs spinning out of control, and the business of making cartoons simply becoming impossible to manage successfully.

Either way, it was a gut-wrenching episode in animation history, and all the studios and animation artists felt the crunch. Several of the big studios shut right down, and productions were reduced drastically at others. And so began the mass layoffs, particularly of ink-and-paint departments, as studios either downsized, shut down, or started sending their ink-and-paint work overseas.

The first thing to go was the ink-and-paint departments, the lowest paid of all the animation slaves, (largely made up of women, working in a still relatively male-dominated industry) but it was only a matter of time before the studios started sending their in-betweens to be done overseas, and not long after that they started sending animation. By the early to mid-’70s, the outsourcing of Saturday morning cartoon productions was the norm. Studios that used to employ hundreds of animation artists, now employed handfuls of artists in comparison. Storyboards, location, character and effects design packs, scripts, sound recording, dialogue breakdown and layouts were often kept in-house, depending on the production. More and more, as little work as possible was done in-house, and the more that could be sent overseas to Asia or India, the better for cost control." (awn.com)


Posted by dschnee at July 15, 2008 9:08 PM