Well, I'll just paste my comments from a Facebook thread on this very article...
A good summary of industry problems.
As someone who has argued that the VFX guys need to unionize since "Life of Pi," I'll note that the VFX studios are the only non-union cog in the Hollywood machine. The person stocking the crafy table with chips is getting $30/hr (plus overtime) while the crews who actually make films watchable get, well, chips from crafty!
One thing the article states is unionization would drive up VFX costs. I don't have a problem with this. VFX are a bargin. The article noted VFX can be a significant portion of a budget, but the article ALSO used Age of Ultron as an example. Great, let's stick with that movie. Ultron had a "$250 million" budget. If one looks up the actor's pay, and Joss Whedon's, one discovers the actor/writer/director salaries were $160 million of that budget.
Ultron is a $90 million dollar movie with some expensive stars... The seven principle actors and writer/director could have given up 10% of their (multi or tens of millions of dollars) pay and doubled the VFX budget.
Let's note that The Big Bang Theory--a studio sitcom with no VFX/special effects to speak of--costs significantly more per TV hour ($12 million) for seven actors than Game of Thrones ($10 million) which has a cast of thousands, shoots on location worldwide, and has extensive VFX.
So the studios can suck it... The VFX teams should be paid correctly and get proper lead time.
It would also help if resources weren't wasted creating finished shots for trailers never intended for the movie. I'm looking at Rogue One and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Two stories of bad VFX management, courtesy of Emmy-winning VFX supervisor Dan Novy.
Pluto Nash--rather than make Eddie Murphy sit around for half an hour to re-focus lights it was considered better to have VFX remove light reflections from faceplates of spacesuits in post. This was well over a month of removing reflections and patching in faces hidden by reflections. Still cheaper than a half hour of Eddie's set time.
Red Planet has a shower scene where the actress refused to do nudity on set (issues with co-star). Instead of going the route from the movie Splash--practical makeup nipples--moleskin was applied, matchmove was done, CGI nipples were modeled, lit and composited, then fluid simulation was calculated, rendered and composited. Again, this took over a month of VFX work. Still considered cheaper than doing a practical makeup on set. God forbid we reschedule Carrie Ann Moss!
VFX teams also get stuck dealing with "fix it in post" mentality, which causes issues. In both examples given finite VFX resources were spent on stupid things that should have been taken care of on set.
I remember seeing an article about ILM a few years ago. It featured a picture of an animation cube complete with a bunk bed. The animator looked like she had been up for weeks. Not a whole lot has changed except the volume of work.
@GodofThunder - I think that your thread deserves to have a title which represents it's content better.
That was a good read, also, @triem23 , I wholeheartedly agree with you. I'm not at all in the VFX industry anymore, and I was never working on any major blockbuster, but it's painfully obvious that something needs to be done about this. Any and all aspiring VFX artists should be aware of these working conditions, but it seems to never receive the attention it deserves...
I thought that Black Panther was a good movie, not a 10, but close to a 10. I don't generally watch a movie because of it's VFX, I'm just in it to watch something new. Also, I consider myself to be very critical when watching a movie which often leads to trying to figure out how they accomplished that scene in that way, etc. However, I pray to the VFX gods that Rhino's like that will never make a return...
@cnk updated title for you
I think the turning point was when Rhythm and Hues got an Academy award for Life of Pi, and during his acceptance speech, the VFX super announced that Rhythm and Hues was filing for bankruptcy.
A friend of mine, who did some animation for The Dark Knight trilogy, is working on a new career because Dreamworks wanted to send him to China on a two-year contract doing VFX at a rate too low to justify being stuck with it for two years plus moving to China.
So yeah, it's getting tough for VFX. The "fix it in post" mentality is getting worse rather than better, the budgets are getting squeezed, and the emphasis is on getting it done quickly rather than on making it convincing, except at a few shops like Double Negative and WETA Digital. It's not an encouraging trend.
What IS encouraging though is that nowadays all you need is talent and dedication; you no longer need a Hollywood budget to get your hands on Hollywood-grade VFX tools.
"When Harrison Ford broke his leg, principal photography... [on" The Force Awakens"]... shut down for almost two months while he recuperated. Some of his scenes had only been partially shot when the accident happened, and when he returned his hair had grown noticeably longer. Abrams needed to blend newly shot elements with the old, and in order to make the hair match he opted to give him CG hair extensions. I’d have thought a haircut would be cheaper, but what do I know."
Ok, seriously, Harrison, you got $25 million upfront, plus back end. Get the damn haircut. That was a total waste of time and resources that could have been better spent.
@Triem23 what's that quote from?