Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Changing the VFX Business model

Almost fourteen months ago, my lovely bride delivered our son into the world. He's got my curiosity and tenacity, which means he gets into everything and does it all the time. He's also got my wife's palette, which means if he doesn't like it, he's not going to eat it.

When my son was sick, it was all we could do to get some medicine into him. We knew that the amoxicillin the doctor prescribed was going to cure his ear infection. It didn't matter to him though. He fought it the twice-a-day the prescription called for.

It reminded me of the argument about visual effects studios and the business model they work under.

Variety writer David Cohen broke down the scheduling pattern of "tent-pole" movie productions in his recent article. He describes a process where essentially the cart is put before the horse, and when the idiocy of that becomes apparent resources emerge and more vfx studios are brought in to quickly complete shots that were either added or changed at the last minute.

Mr. Cohen's article highlighted this fact due to the recent addition of $9mil to the budget of Green Lantern in order to fund addition visual effects work to complete the film. While he only specifies the highest budget feature-length films in his article, the problem of compressed schedules and unrealistic budgets coupled with rising expectations of "Better Than Before" visual effects is prevalent in all aspects of entertainment. It also spotlights a very important fact .. when it comes down to getting the product out, the studio will find the money to do it.

In discussions on bringing a collectively bargained contract to visual effects artists, one of the favorite arguments served up was the fragile profit margins of vfx studios. It appears that argument has now been laid to rest.

Maybe the visual effects studio managers can finally learn to take the medicine that's being presented to them. They could change their business model and even use that same argument to help breathe some life into those margins. VFX studios can now inflate their costs to the production studios and claim union costs as the reason.

You're Welcome

Representation Card

Contact IATSE VFX Organizer Jim Goodman


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