Yesterday VES, the honorary society for Visual Effects Artists, announced its intentions to lead the visual effects industry as it faces myriad complex issues. From its Open Letter:
“It should not come as a surprise to anyone that the state of the visual effects industry is unsettled. Artists and visual effects companies are working longer hours for less income, delivering more amazing VFX under ever diminishing schedules, carrying larger financial burdens while others are profiting greatly from our work. As a result, there has been a lot of discussion recently about visual effects and its role in the entertainment industry. Many feel VFX artists are being taken advantage of and many others feel that VFX facilities are operating under unsustainable competitive restraints and profit margins. There have been calls for the creation of a VFX union to represent artists’ interests while others have pushed to create a trade organization for VFX facilities to better navigate today’s economic complexities.
As globalization intensifies, the process of creating visual effects is becoming more and more commoditized. Many wonder if the current business model for our industry is sustainable over the long term. Indeed, multiplying blogs are questioning why artists are forced to work crazy overtime hours for weeks or months on end without health benefits and VFX facilities are forced to take on shows at a loss just to keep their pipelines going and their doors open (they hope).”
This is an interesting development in the VFX industry, and may have echos in the Motion Design as change inevitably ripple through the VFX business. I’ve long advocated for some sort of artists’ organization in the Motion Design industry. The same labor issues affect our work – since we do much of the same tasks – just for different clients. Some issues are very specific to Hollywood – screen credit, residuals, etc. But they have echos in our world, where artists often have to fight just to show work on their own portfolio sites. It’d be great to see VES advocate for more business education and help with contracts, overtime, etc. for artists. But without the power of Collective Bargaining, how can they coerce companies to actually pay legally, on-time and fairly?! So right now it’s too early to tell if this is a solution or just a step in the right direction. But there are several reactions worth reading listed below.
Variety: VFX Org Bares New Teeth (I’ve found I can read these without a subscription by enabling the Reader tab in Safari – shhhhhh …)
FXGuide: VES 2.0 is here and ready to lead
Joe Harkins: VES 2.0ish
VFXSoldier: VES Ups It’s Game