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May 21, 2010

Hollywood's VFX Shops: Trouble in Boom Times

Wait, they said "Hollywood's VFX Shops" so were OK right? :(

A few paragraphs from the recent article from Time by Rebecca Keegan, you can read the full article here.

If you want to see the names driving Hollywood's growth, you have to stay for the movie's credits. The very end of the credits. After the actors and electricians — sometimes even after the people who serve the tacos on set — come the visual-effects artists. These are the people who make superheroes fly and cities fall into the ocean, and the effects-reliant films they work on, like Avatar and the Harry Potter franchise, are Hollywood's biggest moneymakers.

Their place in the credits says something about visual effects (VFX) artists' place in the Hollywood pecking order. Ironically, just as they are peaking in creativity and propelling box-office hits, VFX companies are facing a crisis years in the making. Thanks to fierce global competition, the hangover from Hollywood labor unrest and a lack of negotiating power with studios, many VFX firms are closing up shop or outsourcing to stay afloat.

The VFX business should be thriving. Nine of the 10 highest-grossing movies worldwide in 2009 relied heavily on special effects, making the industry more central to Hollywood's business model than movie stars are. As much as a third of the budget of the $200 million — to — $300 million movies that are the foundation of Hollywood studios' earnings are devoted to special effects. "It's no longer about Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise," says Ross. "It's about flooding New York or creating blue people."

But in the past 15 months, companies including Disney's ImageMovers Digital in Novato, Calif.; C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures in Toronto; and the Orphanage in San Francisco have shuttered. "It's pretty much an open secret in the business that you do feature-film visual effects for prestige — to get a great reel, to keep your artists happy — but they don't make money," says David Cohen, an associate features editor at Variety who covers the VFX industry. "If you're lucky, you break even on them. If you're not lucky, you're out of business."

Again, I encourage you to read the complete spread in Hollywood's VFX Shops: Trouble in Boom Times over at Time.com


Posted by dschnee at May 21, 2010 5:07 PM