From fellow VFX artist Rob Baldwin:
So, for those friends and family that are out of the VFX loop, here’s what happened at the Oscars last night:
There was a VFX march at the Oscars, to shine some light on what’s been happening in our industry.
My guess is word of that got to the directors of the Oscars and they got skittish.
As the awards for Best VFX were being presented, some jokes were made by the cast of the Avengers, either as an attempt to diffuse the situation, or to make fun of the nerds in the back room. I’m unclear as to which was the intent, but either way it was awkward.
Bill Westenhofer and the crew from Rhythm and Hues, won for Life of Pi. As soon as Bill started to mention R&H, the latest casualty in the VFX race to the bottom, they cut him off like so much a political activist, or anybody else using the bully pulpit of the awards as an awareness tool. He should have lead with it, as some folks might have interpreted events as, “Oh, he was just running over his time!” They played him off with Jaws. How cute.
He hadn’t. What was telling is that they cut his mic and cut away, first to the audience and then to a bewildered Seth MacFarlane. He had been silenced.
What’s different in this case, is that these guys had just won the VFX Oscar! Now they’re outta jobs and the FX facility is bankrupt and in danger of closing, like so many other FX facilities.
Directly because of the producers, directors, and studios IN THE ROOM. It’s deplorable.
Artists have been sent home WITHOUT PAY, and without any kind of benefits for them or their families. This time it’s R&H and yeah, they just did some really great work that just won the Oscar for the VFX and for the Director of the movie, so a light was to be shone on the situation. (The Director, by the way, failed to mention them, even though the Digital Tiger was a significant part of the film.)
It’s actually happening all over. Digital Domain, just had it happen. They’re still recovering, and who knows what will happen in the long run. Pixomondo (VFX Oscar, 2012) just shut down their London and Detroit facilities today. The Mill, Double Negative and even ILM are having staff laid off, transferring staff overseas and between facilities, and generally leading their artists, animators, engineers, technicians and programmers into a state of constant economic migration, and fiscally indentured servitude.
All because the people sitting in the room tonight, at The Oscars: the Producers, Directors, and Studio Executives - all feel that Visual Effects, the one thing in common with all of the top grossing movies of all time, are too expensive. The highly talented people who create these profit avenues for the studios are disposable commodities, and are not to be paid fairly.
It’s wrong. It’s got to stop.