Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Windup

Others might disagree, but animation took a lot of awards at tonight's Oscars. Two for Frozen (best animated feature, best song) and then a bunch of little gold men for Gravity ...

Best cinematography, best editing, best sound editing, best sound mixing, best visual effects, best directing, and best original score.

If Gravity had won best picture, it would have been the first animated feature* to manage the feat.

As winning director Cuaron said:

Someone suggested we just call Gravity animation, but I don’t think we can because there’s a fair amount of live action. And it was really hard work for the animators. ...

Or maybe movie-making has reached a stage where visual effects and animation decorates so many "live-action" features that the line between real and computer generated imagery has been permanently blurred.


Sharon Forward said...

Right on!

Please see my comment on the previous post -- 'Green protest at the Oscars'. I said it all in that post but want to reiderate here: These brilliant and over-worked men and women are suffering. They can't cope with the 'non-recognition', outsourcing and uprooting of their families every six months in order to work. The professionals have to follow the work from one county to another just to feed their kids. Talk to one of them. You'll see.

And it's wrong.

Let's do everything we can to help them. We need a united front. These animators ARE the film. Egos in Hollywood won't give them their proper recognition. VFX studios, like Rhythm and Hues, are shutting their doors. It's not economically feasable to be in the red. They can't make it work. They can't pay their people!

The deals in Hollywood are made per picture. The VFX studios NEED the work. They can't demand that the director be on site, making decisions on the movie in the moment. No, the directors are too important for that! But with contract deals per picture, where the VFX studio has to bear the burden of paying its employees no matter how many retakes, with a set upon allotment of money for the job (lowest bid, of course.) the studios can't survive. I admire John Hughes and the animators at his studio. They are great and talented people. And they got the shaft.

A Hollywood producer can run rough-shod over a hired animation studio. With abdicating responsibility for cost overruns and a continued fly by night attitude toward theVFX community, the Hollywood execs literally give the VFX studios no respect. These artists are invisible. It's sickening.

Even at Oscar time. Remember Ang Lee last year? -
(more to come)

Sharon Forward said...

(more from Sharon, continued:)

Remember when Academy cowardly 'jawed' off the recipients of the Special Effects Award recipients for Life of Pi? Yes, dismissed just for trying to even thank the artists? I do, and I don't like it. No. Think about it: Even now TV execs from Sprout to Amazon, drooling, savoring the allure of sending the work overseas for a kickback, all the while being treated to a nice London vacation. It is ludicrous. 'But it's just business', they'll say. Well I say this: Dear producers and network execs being lured from here to Timbuktu: 'The BEST animators are here, in Southern California. In Marin County. They created CGI. They are CGI. And they can't make a living. They are leaving because they have to. Sure, there are great animators in London, Austrailia, India and China. Everyone is entitled to make a living. But stuidos pitting one country against another, execs chases kickbacks and incentives -- it disgusts me.

I'm not naive. I know it's always the bottom line. Things are expensive here. But this is going to backfire eventually.

Governor Brown knows we need his help in keeping jobs here. I plead with our representative to help us. I would also like all of us to be appraised of any bills in our senate, here in California, that are being bandied about regarding keeping work HERE. We need to know who to contact. Find out who your representative is and call them. If there isn't a bill, well, scream. Scream loudly. We have to start with legilation. I'm going to do that now.

And to Governor Brown: please hear our plea. If we don't work, you don't get tax money. Period. It's not good for you, the state, or anybody.

But we, I mean YOU, the gifted GREEN men and women who create the magic for Hollywood, YOU need to be united, now!

And to my friends, and co-workers in traditional animation, at Dreamworks, Disney, Nick, Fox, union or not, please don't discount this cause. It could be YOU in a few years. We never know.

Yes, you're comfortable. Maybe enjoying that nice paycheck. But wake up. It's a fast moving train we're all on. There are no guarantees. Please don't let the 'free trade' ideology get the best of you. That serves only one thing, and it isn't your job.

Have compassion for our brothers and sisters that labor long, for an uncertain outcome. Many work on a project and then can't get paid! Hear that: They do not get paid. It happens. All the time.

Lastly, these artists are in extreme emotional and physical pain. The burnout leval is astronomical. These artists probably have huge college debt to repay, not to mention the struggle just to keep their families together. And food on their table.

I am not making any of this up. I salute my brothers and sisters in this fight. But we can help you too. I want to help you. There are solutions.

Unfortunatley, they won't be easy. Hollywood is what it is. Even so, I believe there will be a bright side. VFX Soldiers: You NEED a great spokesman. Find a voice, a face, for your cause. Get that person on Ellen, on Good Morning America. Do it. Do it.

I'm begging you. Unite and win this. I know it can happen.

Warmly with profound respect,
Sharon Forward
Disney TV board artist

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