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Tremors in the VFX industry

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When, if ever, has a client seen the value? More often then not, clients are actually asking to copy a certain style rather than going to the source of said style.

 

I can understand and agree with that mentality.

 

However, if you have a certain style/vibe/ethic then it becomes more of a relationship with your client and why they want to come to YOU vs 'outsourcing'. I'm sure you guys have experienced that at some point. Mind you that I'm not in the same boat as some of you as I'm not working with many teams for Nike or ESPN or whatever high end brands that I notice some of you deal with. So things 'up there' may be totally different when it isn't more personalized.

 

In addition, unfortunately you do have to adjust to changing times. In earlier times there were companies that sold beepers. Cellphones evolved and those companies had to adjust, or drop out and find something else. So is the case in many other things. Personally I'm not a specialist, but more so a very good generalist. I constantly strive to better myself in many areas, but other skills do begin to lack and then fall off. However, I adjust based on what I enjoy doing and try to 'keep up' while maintaining my enjoyment. With that being said, my clients come along for the ride and evolve as I do. Some jump ship, some new ones jump on. So is the circle of life.

 

 

If you cannot learn to jump from train to train sometimes, you will fall off once that train reaches the end. This world is getting smaller and smaller.

 

 

Sidenote: Working for 'someone' is just a means to an end. "someone" needs you for XYZ to reach their goal. You work for them to get XYZ(money,skills,networking, whatever) to reach your goal. Together you're just at a happy medium for however long that is. The days of working 20yrs at one company and retiring to collect SS or a pension are pretty slim to nil in these times so (unfortunately) there is alot of "me me me" happening vs loyalty with a payoff. Adjust and keep moving. (I'm not implying to NOT be loyal. Just keep things in perspective)

 

Now back on topic, I do think taking advantage of people is wrong overall. Not being paid for work is wrong period. Those VFX guys who put in loads of work and didn't get paid surely hurts my heart as a family man myself and I wish them a good outcome. I do think that something should be done and "we" don't just get shuffled under the rug as more and more companies will take advantage. The Gov't does have to play some sort of role in the resolution of the situation. It sucks because the cause and resolution is money. :(

 

I'm not really sure where I stand in regards to the whole situation as I'm in a different lane. Mograph/vfx just happens to be a couple of the things i picked up and i'm enjoying, but not my single point of income for my family. Just one of the skill sets that keep me happy and allow to continue to provide.

 

At the end of the day its about the decisions I make that help me do what I need to do to provide for my family.

 

Sorry for the rant. I welcome any personal opinions directed to my PM unless its on topic. I think you guys are awesome btw. Difference in opinions and all.. You guys are pretty great at what you do. I'm one of many that watch you guys from afar. I'm a fan of many of you. :)

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Highly recommend Mographers watch this too. Educating ourselves through VFXs mistakes is one of the easiest ways we can avoid headaches we've been having.

 

We should simply admit the fact that we are doing vfx every day, even if it is a still frame. Even if the app is illustrator. On a screen, to most people, it's still a visual effect created via the use of software.

 

I'm saying be proud of your Artistry and admit the VFX in your mograph. Don't live in denial. Much easier to be direct and upfront with one's self.

 

 

VFX Town-Hall 3.14

Edited by BoArlander

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Not sure what you mean, I actually agree with a lot of your points Kastro.

 

My main argument has always been, don't assume you can differentiate yourself so greatly with your design skills and creativity.

Market forces, as we all seem to agree, rule all.

And even if you manage to outskill Kyle Cooper, etc, that doesn't apply to the many people who are TDs, pipeline managers, animators, compositors, etc working everyday at real jobs.

 

This specialness about our abilities is pure denial IMO.

It's 'it will never happen to me.'

 

If the strength of your argument is that your work is what will save you, let me be the first to suggest that unless you're in the top global 5%, you are easily replaced.

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Your work will not save you... your ability to adapt will save you. Being a good person to work with will save you. The problem is the days of companies with massive overhead are dissappearing. I see this locally and nationally. Times change and business models need to as well. Adapt

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If the strength of your argument is that your work is what will save you, let me be the first to suggest that unless you're in the top global 5%, you are easily replaced.

What irks me about this kind of thinking too is the subtle racism implied (or maybe racism is too harsh a word but cultural snobbery or whatever). Are Indians not as intelligent, creative artistic as the rest of us, are they incapable of being anything more than roto monkeys...no...given the time for their industry to mature and develop the experience and expertise of the western countries they will also be doing the same creative work as us.

 

There will always be cultural, timezone and linguistic barriers that make it a trade off between convenience and cost for western companies looking to work with suppliers in developing countries and for sure as their industry matures their standard of living will rise and close the cost gap somewhat.

 

There will also be the fact that for creative work there is no replacement for physically being in the same room as someone, but really we are seldom in the same room anymore even if we are in the same city as the director....

 

To me all the focus on outsourcing seems kind of like a waste of time in this debate. We can't really control market forces so let's focus on the things we can control and work on. What does outsourcing even mean anymore in the global economy....

 

Human nature can help us though, people are lazy. If there is a company down the street that can do a job for a producer in the same time zone and it's easy to communicate they will be willing to pay a certain premium for that convenience (up to a point). You can see this happening a bit with subsidies sure the lower Canadian labour costs bring some US companies but there is still an inconvenience factor, the subsidies tip it for some where putting up with the inconvenience becomes worth the money.

 

We are never just competing on creativity, or cost, but a ton of factors. Creativity, cost, convenience, dependability, perception, cultural similarities, how pleasant and fun we are to deal with. Starbucks doesn't have the cheapest or the best coffee but they still manage to do OK:)

 

Anyhow that's my three cents.

Edited by anothername

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However, if you have a certain style/vibe/ethic then it becomes more of a relationship with your client and why they want to come to YOU vs 'outsourcing'. I'm sure you guys have experienced that at some point. Mind you that I'm not in the same boat as some of you as I'm not working with many teams for Nike or ESPN or whatever high end brands that I notice some of you deal with. So things 'up there' may be totally different when it isn't more personalized.

No offense, but are you just assuming that if said artist has a particular style/vibe/ethic that companies are more likely to come to you? Or have you experienced this first hand? By your last sentence, it sounds as if you really haven't and are just guessing that this should be the case. You're not wrong, some instances of this do happen, just maybe not as common as you might think.

 

In addition, unfortunately you do have to adjust to changing times. In earlier times there were companies that sold beepers. Cellphones evolved and those companies had to adjust, or drop out and find something else. So is the case in many other things. Personally I'm not a specialist, but more so a very good generalist. I constantly strive to better myself in many areas, but other skills do begin to lack and then fall off. However, I adjust based on what I enjoy doing and try to 'keep up' while maintaining my enjoyment. With that being said, my clients come along for the ride and evolve as I do. Some jump ship, some new ones jump on. So is the circle of life.

 

 

If you cannot learn to jump from train to train sometimes, you will fall off once that train reaches the end. This world is getting smaller and smaller.

 

 

Sidenote: Working for 'someone' is just a means to an end. "someone" needs you for XYZ to reach their goal. You work for them to get XYZ(money,skills,networking, whatever) to reach your goal. Together you're just at a happy medium for however long that is. The days of working 20yrs at one company and retiring to collect SS or a pension are pretty slim to nil in these times so (unfortunately) there is alot of "me me me" happening vs loyalty with a payoff. Adjust and keep moving. (I'm not implying to NOT be loyal. Just keep things in perspective)

There's no doubt we need to adjust to changing times, but are you saying that those artist at DD and Rhythm and Hues didn't adjust? Did they doom themselves by being specialists? Perhaps working at those companies was something they enjoyed...

Sidenote: In other articles i've read that R&H were trying to adjust to the times by opening shops elsewhere in the world to get tax breaks not available in the US, however, this was just not enough.

 

Now back on topic, I do think taking advantage of people is wrong overall. Not being paid for work is wrong period. Those VFX guys who put in loads of work and didn't get paid surely hurts my heart as a family man myself and I wish them a good outcome. I do think that something should be done and "we" don't just get shuffled under the rug as more and more companies will take advantage. The Gov't does have to play some sort of role in the resolution of the situation. It sucks because the cause and resolution is money. :(

I agree with you on this point.

 

I'm not really sure where I stand in regards to the whole situation as I'm in a different lane. Mograph/vfx just happens to be a couple of the things i picked up and i'm enjoying, but not my single point of income for my family. Just one of the skill sets that keep me happy and allow to continue to provide.

 

At the end of the day its about the decisions I make that help me do what I need to do to provide for my family.

 

Sorry for the rant. I welcome any personal opinions directed to my PM unless its on topic. I think you guys are awesome btw. Difference in opinions and all.. You guys are pretty great at what you do. I'm one of many that watch you guys from afar. I'm a fan of many of you. :)

Once again, you have a toe in this industry, but think VFX and Mograph industries have no parallels?

And yes, it is those decisions that you make that help you to provide for your family, but what if the choices were taken away from you?

 

I'm not quite sure what your company does. Is it video editing? Shooting? all of the above?

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I'm not ranting at anyone here directly... just hoping to keep this discussion going till we crack this nut. :)

Yes there are a few designers who are uniquely gifted. And many who are indeed talented artists. With all due respect, if anything, it moreoften takes less rocket science to be a motion designer making shitty network promos than a guy making the next CGI TIGER for life of pi. Animated characters, etc.

That said there are lots of varying degrees of VFX and motion design that we need to establish. Rather than grouping all artists into "gifted and protected" category.

Design firms have similar overhead to vfx studios: artists, computers, software, plugins, modules, rent, etc.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Motion Design IS a type of VFX. Or atleast a subset of "screen art". Anyone who says otherwise is likely in denial:

If anything the fact VFX is imploding, should be at the least relevant news to you!

It seems often hidden behind a guise, "well, I'm an artist or I'm a branding expert." Big deal. Branding, Foundation Design and Experience is no doubt important. But not rocket science when there are other people correcting your decisions in the process too, including the client. Foundation Design and Branding is pretty basic stuff. VFX artists brand a film. Similarities there. :)


So you are a problem solver that knows color theory, form, grid systems, illustrator, C4D. Wow. Big deal. If you can do it, someone else can too.

 

That's not going to save you from the coming global talent pool unless you are in the top percentage. And can do it fast. And you better stay there. If you get behind, stay out of the way, or you will be run over.

Edited by BoArlander

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Motion Design IS a type of VFX. Or atleast a subset of "screen art"...

 

It seems often hidden behind a guise, "well, I'm an artist or I'm a branding expert." Big deal. Branding is no doubt important. But not rocket science when there are other people making decisions in the process too, including the client. Branding is pretty basic stuff. VFX artists brand a film. Similarities there. I know, I know..."yeah but."

 

 

Sure we learned a few things about branding and colors in art school. But I could have learned those things on the net. It's all out there now and the world is creating work, not just art school snobs who want to think of themselves as "rockstars".

 

 

Many designers can't even illustrate. They want to group themselves in the same realm as illustrators, for pushing points around in an app called "illustrator". So you know color theory, grid systems, illustrator, C4D plugins and particle systems. Wow. Big deal. That's not going to save you from the coming global talent pool unless you are in the top percentage. And can do it fast. And you better stay there. If you get behind, stay out of the way, or you will be run over.

 

In short words: you've got no idea about what “designer” really means. Well i can't blame you for that - a lot of guys out there still think “typography” means choosing a typeface...

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In short words: you've got no idea about what “designer” really means. Well i can't blame you for that - a lot of guys out there still think “typography” means choosing a typeface...

Wow maybe some of what I said was lost in translation...since you seem to be a foreigner and my post was a bit wordy. I'll give you that.

 

Or maybe you are simply one of the people in that little category I listed. Unwarrantedly arrogant. Inflated ego. Defensive. Maybe you just drove home my point exactly with your quick quip. Exactly my point.

 

Sure, I could/should have used the phrase "problem solver" which is at the root of it all. I didn't feel the need to. I assumed we all know what i designer is, since many of us here are designers. My local haircut joint solves problems too when I walk in with a mop on my head. ;)

 

I don't own a type foundry, no. Make no mistake. I've been designing type as early as 14years old. And I went on to study typography after that.

 

I may not be the best, but I certainly AM a designer whose phone is ringing off the hook... at the moment. I won't let that make me complacent though.

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No offense, but are you just assuming that if said artist has a particular style/vibe/ethic that companies are more likely to come to you? Or have you experienced this first hand? By your last sentence, it sounds as if you really haven't and are just guessing that this should be the case. You're not wrong, some instances of this do happen, just maybe not as common as you might think.

I'm not offended at all. I welcome opinions/debates as it broadens my thought process. Yes I've had instances where I was explicitly requested although there were other people capable of performing the same job and if not 'better'. I had a certain presence that they wanted, but I just couldn't shuffle projects to accommodate. So I speak from personal experience and understand that it may not necessarily be a blanket statement. If we look at traditional artists, they sell their artwork. Why is computer based any different?(since we're on mograph here) It's an acquired skill as well as execution. "Do clients come to you". Well, yea? Do you not get people come to YOU specifically for something? I have yet to advertise outside a logo intro that I tag on some videos or my logo on event flyers that I may decide to be apart of. A majority of my clients come to me for various reasons. I've only reached out to a few, but again, I'm a small fish in this big sea. Nor do I try to look at the big sea 'cause it can be overwhelming. I just take small strides at a time.

 

In short, I'm in agreement with you that it's probably a small instance and not as broad as I envision.

There's no doubt we need to adjust to changing times, but are you saying that those artist at DD and Rhythm and Hues didn't adjust? Did they doom themselves by being specialists? Perhaps working at those companies was something they enjoyed...

Sidenote: In other articles i've read that R&H were trying to adjust to the times by opening shops elsewhere in the world to get tax breaks not available in the US, however, this was just not enough.

Interesting as I didn't know R&H was doing so. Which, now that I think about it, why? aren't we not trying to get to this 'outsourced' state? I'm sure there is a hell of a lot of information I'm missing, but somebody got paid. right? soooooooooooooo how come others didn't? :/ Greed? I'm going to say, yea, possibly. *again this is limited extensive knowledge of this specific situation. I think we're discussing VFX as a whole vs this one instance, just using it as the springboard for the discussion.

 

In regards to the artists enjoyment (which is what I said earlier) I can understand. I'm sure they all enjoy doing it just as we do and they didn't see it coming. But as an individual artist, did you not acquire any other skill? Were you a "roto monkey" and you didn't learn anything else? Recall the earlier post which I state that both company A and employee B are working together to reach individual goals. Don't feel as though you cant be replaced, because you will. So while you're @ company A doing a job, do that job well, but then think about your personal goals and what you need to do to get there. As BoArlander said - ..""problem solver" which is the root of it all." That's it. Acquire skills that allow you to be a good problem solver. Then it would be easier to jump from train to train (don't know what it is with me and trains >.<)

I agree with you on this point.

 

 

Thanks! :)

Once again, you have a toe in this industry, but think VFX and Mograph industries have no parallels?

And yes, it is those decisions that you make that help you to provide for your family, but what if the choices were taken away from you?

 

I'm not quite sure what your company does. Is it video editing? Shooting? all of the above?

 

Well in regards to the decisions, its that, your decisions. Your foresight to decide if you should stay in the right lane, or drift to the middle a bit. Need to think about where you're going and what you need to get there. Even if you're just driving and not sure where you're going, you should look around and see whats going on.

 

In regards to what my company does, I do 'all of the above'. :) In conjunction with other IT related tasks. I do hire others when needed though, but I keep my same mentality "I'm hiring you to do X to give you Y.(in short)" I try not to present myself as "HEY I CAN DO EVERRRYYYTHAAAANNGGG" because it would be difficult for a client to say 'oh yea, I know a guy'. So during dialog I'm (subconsciously) looking for your problem. If I feel as though I can solve that problem, I begin to offer some advice and then display how I can solve those problems. If I don't "see a problem", then I present video on a personal level for events. Everyone has a birthday or some sort of event they want captured. I throw that in if I cant find anything else.

 

Those clients that come to me have come based on referral of someone I did something for. Based on whatever they are talking about, then thats what I providing for them and try to 'upsell' as things progress. As well, I have the company forefront to disguise the individualism. shhhhhhh (on a public forum) :P Again, I do have a team should the need arise.

 

Also, I'm an easy going guy. I love life in its simplest form. I have 2 faces though, my professional face (ie: Red is red, black is black, I dont give a rats ass that you're waiting for so 'n so to pay you, you signed, pay me) and then my friendly face (ie: how's your health? hows the family? etc) I come across with the friendly till its time to do business. Then its very cut and A + B = C. Mind you, I've fallen trap to the being taken advantage of via my friendliness. But being that i've gone through that on many occasions, I can sniff it out and nip it in the bud.

 

 

I think i've rambled quite enough. Again, I welcome chats! Sorry to have derailed a little bit.

 

*curious how this is going to read tomorrow when I come back to see if I made sense or actually addressed 'questions'. or if I sound like an idiot. :P

 

Thanks again for reading.

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(other stuff just look up if you want to see the rest)......Wow. Big deal. That's not going to save you from the coming global talent pool unless you are in the top percentage. And can do it fast. And you better stay there. If you get behind, stay out of the way, or you will be run over.

^^ x2

 

:D

 

*edit.. and if you aren't in that top percentage, learn something else and keep moving..

Edited by Kastro

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Wow maybe some of what I said was lost in translation...since you seem to be a foreigner and my post was a bit wordy. I'll give you that.

 

Foreigners on the internet? What a funny thought :)

 

 

 

Sure, I could/should have used the phrase "problem solver" which is at the root of it all. I didn't feel the need to. I assumed we all know what i designer is, since many of us here are designers. My local haircut joint solves problems too when I walk in with a mop on my head.

 

Yes: a hairdresser solves problems, so does a jet-propulsion engineer and a janitor as well. What is the point? Does it imply that they could easily swap jobs?

 

 

Or maybe you are simply one of the people in that little category I listed. Unwarrantedly arrogant. Inflated ego. Defensive. Maybe you just drove home my point exactly with your quick quip. Exactly my point.

 

 

it moreoften takes less rocket science to be a motion designer making shitty network promos than a guy making the next CGI TIGER for life of pi. Animated characters, etc.

 

Earlier in this thread i already mentioned, that it's not about who's job is better, cooler or worth more - i'm just saying that vfx and motion design do require very different skill sets. Could i animate a CGI Tiger? Well maybe a very crappy one - probably as crappy as the on-air design tries a vfx specialist would end up with.

The fact that there is an awful lot of bad design out there proofs one thing only: there are a lot of guys out around, who think they are designers but in fact have no clue about what they're doing.

Peace

 

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Yes: a hairdresser solves problems, so does a jet-propulsion engineer and a janitor as well. What is the point? Does it imply that they could easily swap jobs?

 

Peace

 

Like I said I was in a debating mood. I get like that sometimes. Apologies. :)

We're mostly on the same page. I don't think vfx and design will swap jobs. And yes, there is a ton of need that won't go away.

 

My main point is the competition will be fierce...faster, better, cheaper.

 

I was also trying to make a case (fail?) that the models of the two industries have striking similarities at times. For example, my beloved hero Gmunk is often interviewed under the preface of "The VFX of Tron", but referred to as an art director at a design firm. He's doing the same thing...designing.

 

I personally think, the competition for the design firms (and individuals), could easily echo the problems of the vfx industry. The VFX shops aren't making money. The business models have similarities.

 

Flat bids are putting people out of business. Flat bids seem to be common with the design firms of all sizes, as far as I know. Can someone confirm this for your market? US/Germany/etc... flat bids where you live?

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Can someone confirm this for your market? US/Germany/etc... flat bids where you live?

Yes flat bids mostly for me in Canada. Problematic for all the reasons outlined by the VFX shops. Slowly over time I am figuring out things to put in my contracts to protect myself somewhat in terms of overages etc. but still it can be a battle to negotiate this stuff in.

 

If people had more of a sense the meter was running they would be more focused and accountable.

 

I don't know if a trade association is the way to go but it would be great to have a standard bid form so producers knew what info you wanted to do a quote and having certain clauses standard to contracts (kill fees, overages for going back a step after sign off etc.) would be less energy expended for everyone if it was more standard.

 

It drives me nuts when I am given a vague verbal or written treatment and asked to quote on that, or when a producer says well the client asked us to ad in X and we already said yes but we didn't ask for more money...

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My experience is that there are more motion projects but with smaller budgets these days. All this means for me at the moment is that there is less shooting and more graphics from scratch. In fact there's more work for me now, because instead of a some days for concept & storyboarding, a few days directing / supervising and maybe ten days of post-production - i get booked for 4 - 8 weeks of design and animation, which is still way cheaper than filming on 35mm or even video.

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My experience is that there are more motion projects but with smaller budgets these days. All this means for me at the moment is that there is less shooting and more graphics from scratch. In fact there's more work for me now, because instead of a some days for concept & storyboarding, a few days directing / supervising and maybe ten days of post-production - i get booked for 4 - 8 weeks of design and animation, which is still way cheaper than filming on 35mm or even video.

Our US ad industry is vast and there is definitely a genre for the animated mograph piece. But live action is here to stay. People like watching people. It's a powerful medium. US and European industries seem to have alot differing practices. I've worked with a few european companies and enjoyed it.

 

Clients are still shooting plenty here in the US. Besides, if they can't afford it, they'll just crowdsource it here. I wonder if crowdsourcing is as big in other countries as it is in the US. Just curious.

 

It drives me nuts when I am given a vague verbal or written treatment and asked to quote on that, or when a producer says well the client asked us to ad in X and we already said yes but we didn't ask for more money...

Exactly. This is a terrible trend.

 

EVEN ON THE GOOD PROJECTS there is always a bit of that toward the backend. "We already said yes but we didn't ask for more money." I'm laughing out loud.

 

We need to edumucate the youth about the perils of getting unnecessarily "baited" by clients.

Edited by BoArlander

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In short words: you've got no idea about what “designer” really means. Well i can't blame you for that - a lot of guys out there still think “typography” means choosing a typeface...

 

Choosing an appropriate typeface shouldn't be dismissed as an important part of typography. Just sayin.

 

-gl

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Choosing an appropriate typeface shouldn't be dismissed as an important part of typography. Just sayin.

 

-gl

It sure is - just wanted to point out, that a lot of guys seem to think it's the only part...

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