LIFE AFTER PI

CranialFans
CranialFans Website User Posts: 92
A really great video on how the vfx companies business model is making a lot of them bankrupt, well worth a watch...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lcB9u-9mVE
LIFE AFTER PI is a short documentary about Rhythm & Hues Studios, the L.A. based Visual Effects company that won an Academy Award for its groundbreaking work on "Life of Pi" -- just two weeks after declaring bankruptcy. The film explores rapidly changing forces impacting the global VFX community and the Film Industry as a whole.

Comments

  • spydurhank
    spydurhank Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,145 Expert
    Yup, nothing but politics... I feel bad for R&H but they agreed to those ridiculous contracts.
    Seriously?.. doing a ton of extra work without getting paid for it & they still have to worry about all of that overhead? Looks like the greedy movie studios forced them to make a lot of bad business choices. This is sad... truly sad. :(  
  • KirstieT
    KirstieT Staff Administrator, Moderator, Website User Posts: 1,085 Staff
    Really interesting documentary. I knew the VFX industry was in trouble (obviously) but it was really great to see a specific case study. 
    Hmmmmmmm........
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Interesting point about the squeezing of cinema profits, Tooshka. While I love movies, I very rarely go to the cinema these days due to a combination of factors - cost of tickets and extras and ridiculous amount of pre-film advertising primarily. Films will always remain popular, but the cinema as a venue is less and less appealing.
  • Daniloth
    Daniloth Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 52 Enthusiast
    I can't help but think we'll be seeing VFX companies looking for some percentage of gross, and doing more previs and stills or very short shots, especially when the editor or director of photography might be relaying things back to the main editor, who is then choosing/suggesting things weeks or months later.  Seems like a huge amount of time/effort was wasted.
    Whether some of the larger/more established VFX studios will be able to rebalance things more equitably, I don't know.  We may see a (continued?) race to the bottom between newer studios and the larger, which eventually will lead to some delays or film failures, which may finally get some more attention to the problems.
    Certainly, very sad to see ground breaking VFX work be part of the demise of the studio.  Invent new ways to do it properly, and kill the studio, or do it poorly and kill the studio a different way.  Had Richard Parker looked like  characters from 2-3 years earlier, there would have been no suspension of belief.  It would have obviously been a CG creature.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,791 Ambassador
  • MichaelJames
    MichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,034 Enthusiast
    Well that will be good to strengthen the VFX industry.  Honestly i think studios should just cut VFX studios into a profit sharing.  So after the 2X the budget is made then even getting a 2% of the 50% that the studio gets
  • HybridHalo
    HybridHalo Website User Posts: 56 Enthusiast
    edited March 2014
    It grates me that much of the progress and attempts to fix VFX as an industry, have actually been about bringing VFX work back to America and complaining about subsidies offered by foreign countries - whilst America heavily subsidize massively in other areas of industry.
    Something does need to change, as at the current rate even fixing subsidies, unpaid overtime and the bidding procedure - A real competitor is developing out in India, where labour is significantly cheaper. Sometimes it's hard to not envision a future where all/a vast majority of the VFX work is there.
  • MichaelJames
    MichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,034 Enthusiast


    America does subsidize other industries... but its local subsidies. We aren't stealing business from other countries.
    Labor is cheaper in India but there is something to be said for getting work locally done when available.  In Vancouver there is tons of productions which shoot up there and tons of work VFX work available up there too.
     

  • HybridHalo
    HybridHalo Website User Posts: 56 Enthusiast
    Yeah, I might have some idea about that...
    The Vancouver situation is subsidy driven, London was built on a subsidy and subsidies kept Lord of The Rings in New Zealand. The idea of getting work done locally is nice - but film studios are always going to pursue what saves them money on their investment.
    (This is why Framestore and Cinesite - companies with HQ's in London, now have Canadian studios too).
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Website User Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Just curious, but with this being such a hard business to thrive in, (that of Visual Effects) how has ILM managed to stay above water all these years?
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,791 Ambassador
    edited March 2014
    ILM was backed by George Lucas. His personal net worth was more than enough to keep them afloat, and, of course, ILM has massive R&D.
    Part of the Disney buyout was contractual obligation to maintain ILM and Skywalker and THX as seperate corporate entities, so that Disney can't just dissolve and enfold them. Nice clause. I must hand it to Mr. Lucas--he tried to ensure a future for his people before leaving them.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,448 Enthusiast
    Also bear in mind that ILM was essentially the first of the modern VFX companies, and has always been the top dog in that regard. It would take some serious mismanagement for ILM to get into too much trouble.
  • HybridHalo
    HybridHalo Website User Posts: 56 Enthusiast
    edited April 2014
    Also bear in mind that ILM was essentially the first of the modern VFX companies, and has always been the top dog in that regard. It would take some serious mismanagement for ILM to get into too much trouble.

    This isn't really the reason. Digital Domain were world class : Bankrupt. Rhythm & Hues were world class. Best animal work in the world : Bankrupt. Framestore, who just won the Oscar for Gravity were bordering on being in trouble not so long ago.
    The reason why ILM stay afloat is the same reason Sony ImageWorks and WETA also stay afloat - because their futures are tied to studios which reap the rewards when a film succeeds. The vast majority of VFX houses do not have this studio connection, and are employed as a service which sees no benefit from the success of the films they work on.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,791 Ambassador
    edited April 2014
    Mmmm.... Can't call ILM "backed by a studio" until a couple of years ago.
    On second thought, I defer to your resume. ;-)
    But "backed by George Lucas's pocket change" certainly helped.