Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Vegas Union Meet

Kevin Koch, Yours Truly and several other Animation Guild members attended the IATSE District 2 convention in Las Vegas today. "D2" is the annual convention of IA local from four western states -- California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii (I've no idea why Oregon and Washington aren't considered "western," but they aren't). The thrust of this year's convention -- as it is most years -- is political... Most unions and guilds are fighting for their existence. The IA unions and guilds are more fortunate than most, as most of them are growing rather than shrinking, but they're acutely aware that they're living in perilous times. (As we've noted below, median incomes have been declining all across the U.S. of A.) Today's convention session was long; we heard a procession of labor activists speak about the issues and stakes of the November election. IA President Tom Short gave his usual stem-winder where he declared (as he has before) that the administration in Washintong was out to kill unions. Others followed in his wake with similar themes. In the afternoon, Kevin Koch chaired a meeting about new technologies in the entertainment industry. Cinematographers, editors, costumers and others got up to detail the challenges that the digital age is throwing at their respective crafts. (A director of photography related how scenes they shoot can be altered in the wink of an eye inside a computer -- colors changed and lighting brightened or darkened -- and how cinematographers often have little say about the new "look" an image takes on. As he was saying this I thought of the god-awful colorized version of "Casablanca" that graced video stores shelves a few years ago.) Just about everyone at the meeting agreed that anybody in traditional crafts who doesn't train in new technologies runs the risk of killing their career in mid-stride, and that nobody is exempt from the new work realities of the digital age. Not actors, not costumers, not anybody. Sobering, but the way the Brave New World is.


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