Monday, November 04, 2013

Chest Thumping

Britain's the "go to" place.

... Napoleon famously said Britain was a nation of shopkeepers, but if he were to step into a multiplex now he might come to a different conclusion – we have become the go-to CGI guys for special effects.

Central London has become the hub of an industry created and sustained by generous tax breaks for filmmakers seeking a cheaper option than California, but value also comes with quality.

Companies such as Framestore, as well as Cinesite, Double Negative, The Mill and MPC, are household names in the field of visual effects, with several post-production houses often doing different work on the same blockbuster. Batman and Harry Potter were both touched up by British VFX workers before they were deemed dark and broody enough to make it on to the big screen. Gaydon said British effects companies have developed a reputation for bolder visions.

‘We always try to push the boundaries and we always try to create better ways of doing things. That’s one of the reasons why London is such a global leader in the visual effects industry.

‘We’ve come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Eleven or 12 years ago, there were probably less than 1,000 people working in visual effects in the UK.’

Now, the figure is about six times that, even if word hasn’t quite got out yet to careers advisors. Escape visits schools and colleges to tell students about the opportunities within the industry. ...

There are opportunities in a lot of different locations. Until the subsidies shift. ....

It's funny, but less than a half-dozen years ago, ex-pat Brits were telling me how there were minimal job opportunities in London, how it was all boutique studios who'd hire people on a shoe-string then lay them off when the project was done. (Can you imagine?)

In the past couple of years, conglomerates have taken to chasing the money that different governments have taken to waving at them, and the visual effects industry in Southern California has taken a decided hit. (Rhythm and Hues, not long ago a shining example of how to run a visual effects/animation studio right, is now bankrupt and selling off its computers.)

But here's the rub: visual effects artists are adaptable. They have to trek to Montreal, they'll trek. They have to fly to London, they'll climb aboard the big silver bird and do so. But a lot of this (expanding) work is transitory.

There are no geographical locations that can call their shiny new VFX studios permanent. The big government subsidies stop, much of the work goes away. International conglomerates are fickle. They will shift their allegiances and employees to the country and city paying the highest bribe in a heartbeat. And then where will today's "go to" localities be? Right back in struggling boutique land.


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