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Tremors in the VFX industry


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#1 SFBurning

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:05 PM

I'm curious to hear what you guys think of what effect our sometimes-sister industry's recent woes might have on the MoGraph side of things. 

A big part of the VFX industry's trouble seems to be a doubled-up surplus of supply, where there are too many VFX houses bidding for too little work who in turn abuse their workers-- of which there are also far too many. As Digital Domain Florida's awful pay-to-work student plan more than proved, there are a metric bazillion kids out there who will work for less than nothing just for the opportunity to get a name in the credits and a foot in the door. R&H's recent financial drama is only further evidence that a good reputation and a quality product isn't a guarantee of financial solvency.

 

I'd like to think that despite many overlaps in tools and skills, the Motion Graphics field is at least half-shielded from this type of problem. There's more demand for motion graphics work coming from more sources than ever, and the motion graphics industry is not ruled over by a few big studios like the VFX world. Still, I can't help but wonder if the same problems that have our VFX cousins in a pinch--too many newcomers willing to work for too little money, and the perception that they are somehow  replaceable parts instead of skilled workers and artists-- might not hit the motion graphics world just as hard soon enough. 

 

Thoughts?


Edited by SFBurning, 19 February 2013 - 02:15 PM.


#2 este.eri

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:19 PM

For a while it seemed like a natural road of progress, maybe learn nuke do some realistic 3D renders, doing film work seems like such a cool opportunity I wanted to tackle one day. Now it seems like a problematic cousin that has a drug problem, you still like him, but you just don't want to hang out. 

 

Motion design is probably in bigger shape, It's a bigger pie.



#3 J Montreuil

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:40 PM

Also, part of the race to the bottom of VFX is the interchangability of different positions. A lot of them are technical positions that I feel are more easily learned. A lot of mograph type stuff is designed based and although you may know how to push those buttons, if you don't have design skills, you are won't excel as well as someone who does.

 

Of course, globalization has done this to every industry, some people can and will work for cheaper. And corporations can and will take advantage of that. 



#4 anothername

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:07 PM

Mograph is very different business like you said, a lot bigger pool of clients. Still I think there are lessons to be learned from the VFX business and things to avoid.

 

The issue of underbidding and really thin profit margins to land projects is something that we in mograph ignore at our own peril (I see it all the time and I am also guilty of it).

 

It's nowhere near the disaster it is in VFX but still the effort to cut costs and squeeze out longer and longer days from people seems to push a lot of the more senior people out, I think looking at what's gone wrong in VFX could help us all think about ways to make Mograph a more sustainable industry longterm both for shops and for artists.



#5 mrTibbs

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:14 PM

I think the solution to both the VFX industry's woes, as well as MoGraph industry would be to form a guild or a union.  Overall it's seemed to work relatively well in the film industry with writers, actors, and directors.  



#6 vozzz

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:53 PM

I dont think the mograph industry has much to worry about. The problem with the VFX industry as i see it, is the huge amount of people who get into it after watching toy story and all they want is to work on the next big thing, and are generally quite well funded by their parents or other alternate sources of income. and combine this with the long deadlines of film. which means the employers can take more risks at the beginning of production in order to find the cheapest quality.

 

Whereas in our industry, we got tight deadlines, and employers generally can't afford to fuck around as much. Like if i need a freelancer for a job, i will take the guy that i know i can trust. Rather than experiment with a random outsourcing company. Even if the guy raises his rates. Because When there is a week or even month long turn around, its just not worth the risk in most cases. Same reason my clients come back to me, coz they know i will pull through and wont bail. I have some clients that wont learn, and keep coming back to me with half finished projects, because they keep trying to get it done cheaper and the guy fails. The wiser ones, don't experiment as much.

 

So i don't think there is much to worry about in the mograph sector. :)

 

woopie!


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#7 destro

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:03 AM

Anywhere you have a computer attached to a screen there is an opportunity for the use of motion graphics. It don't see any problems coming up with the demand for what we do.



#8 Cosmo Ray

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 03:24 AM

I think the solution to both the VFX industry's woes, as well as MoGraph industry would be to form a guild or a union.  Overall it's seemed to work relatively well in the film industry with writers, actors, and directors.  

 

This sounds like a great idea but the problem that always comes up is the globalization of the industry. Over all it seems like mograph leans less heavily on outsourcing than VFX, yet the same questions still come up. No regulating body could flex legal muscles all over the world, so what is the incentive for those who currently outsource to the undercutters?

 

The instances of outsourcing I've witnessed in mograph usually comes from a lack of artists, or a desire to work with specific talent, rather than out of financial "necessity". Like Vozzz said, it's a bigger risk to take due to those tight deadlines and smaller teams.



#9 vozzz

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 10:17 AM

btw im againsst unionising and what not. unionising is useful if what you do can not be differentiated. Factory workers and so on. unionising in an industry where you can easily go and learn new skills anywhere you have an internet connection and as a result start doing other work, seems kinda redundant.


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#10 anothername

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:45 PM

When you read up on what's going on in VFX it almost seems like the solution rather than a union is for the vendors to get together and create a standard contract they all use with the studios. For them all to insist as a group on spreading payments over the duration of a project to improve cash flow, and fixing how many revisions can happen before overages kick in.

 

I'm no fan of a union but I think for the people paying for our services sometimes it is harder for them to differentiate than it is for us in the know. Just stumbled on this the other day and thought it was interesting to see the point of view of the people that spend the money http://dennytu.wordp...electionin2009/



#11 vozzz

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:48 PM

well thats a totally different bowl of soup. At that level, it goes towards the same principles as most industries. who you know, who you drink with, who's your girlfriends dad. And that's not gonna ever change.

 

But as far as the VFX industry goes. I think that's just a dead horse. there is no way to pull it out. It will eventually become like any other production oriented industry and get totally outsourced. The creatives will stay in the west, and the production will go to asia.

 

its like clothing. and mograph is the small boutiques that still exist despite the abundance of cheap, mass produced, well designed clothes.


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#12 microdot

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 05:51 PM

. . . The problem with the VFX industry as i see it, is the huge amount of people who get into it after watching toy story and all they want is to work on the next big thing, and are generally quite well funded by their parents or other alternate sources of income. and combine this with the long deadlines of film . . .

 

That is some ignorant shit right there.

 

I wonder if the guys with families that get laid off after giving a company their blood sweat and tears would agree with you.

Or the ones that get divorced because of the long hours.

 

And Owners and workers are not 'looking for the next big thing.' They're being forced to innovate out of sheer competition and Hollywood's demand for cheaper, faster, better, on every show.

 

Stick to mograph, and leave the punditry to cable news.

 

And trust me, this industry is not as safe as you think.



#13 vozzz

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 08:07 PM

I wonder if the guys with families that get laid off after giving a company their blood sweat and tears would agree with you.

Or the ones that get divorced because of the long hours.

 

 

yeah and they get laid off for the reason mentioned above.

 

No industry is safe. There is no such thing as safe. There is more safe, less safe, but in the end anything can go to shit.

 

The rest of your argument sounds like you're disagreeing, but you're not actually saying anything.


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#14 microdot

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 05:01 AM

Well, for one thing, people like you seem to forget that you too once learned a skill, and adapted, and eventually became somewhat 'creative'.

You seem to believe that this innate human trait is exempt in certain parts of the world, and that the only competition will be from 'button pushers'.

 

So in ten years when there's a huge surge in creative shops in other countries that can 'out-create' you any day AND do it for half the price, and the only impediment to hiring

that shop is removed by near instant bandwidth for review and delivery, what power do you have left to avoid the same fate as the vfx and gaming industries?

 

Don't forget that the ability to hire out cheap roto and production work is a recent occurrence, brought about by many reasons, affordable software/hardware being just one.

Eventually those same forces will enable and produce the means for new crops of 'creative' artists, and potentially even whole new commercial markets, etc.

 

So I'm suggesting avoiding the hubris of thinking your 'creativity' will shield you, or anyone else, from the same waves that are currently rocking vfx.

In fact the commercial world, if anything, is more prone to covet the bottom line, at any cost.

 

And as an aside, not everyone in this industry is a pure designer. There are plenty of production jobs that are important and just as valid, and sometimes more so, than the designer.

You suggest that they are frivolous and losing them is 'not our problem.'

 

 

I'm only venting on this issue because it is important and your cavalier attitude about it to me is worrisome and laughable.

It's as if you drank the Kool Aid, believing that what we do is some 'magical' witch doctor shit, and only you can deliver the goods.

This is the attitude that will eventually catch you and all of us napping.



#15 vozzz

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:39 AM

you should go work for fox news.


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#16 este.eri

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:37 PM

If only there where a few laws created to tax the shit out of the stuff you outsource to at least level the game a bit. I came from a third world country. When you can live on $300 a month and have the skills, it's a no-brainer for suits to want to increase their bottom line.

 

It's already happening in motion graphics. I've seen it. Unions may be a good solution only if there is enough legislation in place. Hiring out of union would be a no-brainer too.



#17 vozzz

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 02:31 PM

you do realize, if you tax outsourcing. the price of pretty much EVERYTHING you buy will go through the roof. Starting at the price of your socks and ending with the price of your 30" LCD.


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#18 microdot

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 03:19 PM

you should go work for fox news.

 

You're in denial.

 

If by Fox News you're suggesting . . .

(I'm reaching now, bear with me. Just trying to build the impossible puzzle you've presented)

 . . . that I'm somehow fear mongering. That's a stretch and a half.

 

You're merely in denial of the very simple possibility of what I stated earlier coming true, and that somehow

our industry, deemed somehow magical, precious and invincible by you, could be affected

 

Any of these scenarios presented here are possible. I'm mostly contesting your hubris and ignorance in regards to the matter being discussed.

 

I'm curious of your age, actually.

I'm guessing young, and for your sake, hoping.



#19 levante

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 04:54 PM

So I'm suggesting avoiding the hubris of thinking your 'creativity' will shield you, or anyone else, from the same waves that are currently rocking vfx.

In fact the commercial world, if anything, is more prone to covet the bottom line, at any cost.

 

And as an aside, not everyone in this industry is a pure designer. There are plenty of production jobs that are important and just as valid, and sometimes more so, than the designer.

You suggest that they are frivolous and losing them is 'not our problem.'

 

 

Tight deadlines in conjunction with the fact, that creative tasks can not be as easily accelerated by adding manpower, makes it less easy to outsource creative jobs. 

 

(Disclaimer: Neither does this make our jobs bulletproof till eternity nor do i want to imply that production jobs are worth less.)



#20 anothername

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 07:06 PM

When the music industry went to shit the film industry had a chance to learn something and get ahead of the curve. Instead they said our industries are totally different video files are much bigger to download and the experience of seeing a film in the theater is ireplacable...and look at where they are now, trying to flog ultraviolet...

 

Pride goeth before a fall. Yes our businesses are extremely different and not everything translates but if we ignore what's going on in VFX we will get shafted. 

 

It's easy to see big differences when comparing your situation as an individual freelancer to big VFX companies, but when you look at the bigger picture and larger budget projects and mograph studios a lot of the same issues are there to a greater or lesser degree fixed bids, cash flow issues tied to payment schedules, working conditions for employees it trickles down to all of us to some degree.

 

We have a great chance to learn from others mistakes, pretty dumb not to take advantage of it.






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