An Open Letter To VFX Artists And The Entertainment Industry At Large Visual Effects Society: 2.0

As an Honorary Society, VES has led the way in promoting the incredible work of VFX artists but so far no one has stood up to lead the way on the business side of our business. No one has been able to speak out for unrepresented artists and facilities – or the craft as a whole – in any meaningful way.

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.

(Variety) The Visual Effects Society is morphing from milquetoast to militant.

The VES, founded as an honorary society, announced in an open letter Tuesday afternoon that it is changing its mission to focus on problem solving and advocacy for the visual effects industry.

The letter, titled “Visual Effects Society 2.0,” declares: “In the coming weeks and months, VES will shine a spotlight on the issues facing the artists, facilities and studios by way of editorial pieces in the trades and vfx blogs, virtual Town Hall meetings, a vfx Artists’ Bill of Rights and a vfx CEO’s Forum.”

(Variety) The visual effects budget for Warner Bros.’ “Green Lantern” has risen by $9 million, with new vfx houses recruited to bolster the team that’s been working overtime to meet the film’s June 17 launch.

The Warner Bros. pic will no doubt meet its date, but other effects-heavy films continue to scramble. In fact, the kind of sturm and drang that’s swirled around “Green Lantern” is actually par for the course on most visual effects-heavy tentpoles these days — and the problem’s growing.

Such pics now routinely fit the description of a “troubled” project, with “troubled” the new normal. And key players in the f/x biz say that with crunches mounting, it’s only a matter of time before some f/x-heavy tentpole can’t meet its delivery date — a nightmare no studio has faced since “Titanic.” Should a tentpole be forced to change dates, the ripple effects on a studio, its rivals, exhibitors and tie-ins will be widespread and injurious to bottom lines.

(Source: VanityFair) Eight-time Oscar winner Dennis Muren is the first visual-effects artist to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ahead of Encore’s November 12 documentary about Industrial Light & Magic—the visual-effects arm of Lucasfilm where he is creative director—Muren shares behind-the-scenes photos from five of his famous projects: Terminator 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Jurassic Park, and E.T.

WEB EXCLUSIVE November 11, 2010

(Source: vfxworld.com) Pixar Animation Studios today announced the release of RenderMan Studio 3.0 and RenderMan for Maya 4.0. Both new versions offer substantial gains in performance, enhanced workflows, and new state-of-the-art technologies for rendering visual effects and animation.

RenderMan for Maya 4.0 provides any user of Autodesk’s Maya with fast and easy access to the core rendering technology developed by Pixar and used to create the stunning visual effects seen in the majority of today’s feature films. This latest release delivers significant increases in performance from a host of core optimizations to the internal renderer, including the addition of unlimited threading. Additionally, RenderMan for Maya 4.0 includes enhanced interaction with Maya’s Render Layers, a new unified interface for RenderMan Controls, and support for Maya Fluids.

(Source: Variety) Darren Aronofsky will direct the Mandalay Pictures adaptation of Max Barry’s Machine Man, reports Variety.

The project, to be scripted by Mark Heyman (who co-wrote Aronofsky’s Black Swan alongside John McLaughlin) will adapt Barry’s story, which originally appeared on the author’s website in serial form with a single page released each day as it was written.

Machine Man, not to be confused with the Marvel Comics character, concerns a tech engineer who, tired of going through life average and unnoticed, replaces parts of his body with titanium upgrades of his own design. He then discovers that he isn’t the only one with plans for his new body.

(Soucre: modernghana.com) Craig Barron, Lisa Zeno Churgin, Caleb Deschanel, Randal Kleiser and Alex McDowell have accepted invitations to join the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Barron, an Oscar®-winning visual effects specialist (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), is head of Matte World Digital, where he has created effects for such films as “Titanic,” “The Green Mile,” “Zodiac” and “Alice in Wonderland.” In 1992 he earned an Academy Award® nomination for “Batman Returns.” Barron is an Academy governor representing the Visual Effects Branch and has been an Academy member since 1994.

(Source: nytimes.com) Warner Brothers agreed to keep Peter Jackson’s production of “The Hobbit” in New Zealand after the government promised to change local labor laws and offered extra financial incentives, Prime Minister John Key said Wednesday.

The deal came after two days of talks between Mr. Key and other government officials and executives from Warner and its New Line Cinema unit.

Filming of the two “Hobbit” movies, which is expected to start in February, had been threatened by a dispute over whether a New Zealand branch of an Australian union could engage in collective bargaining on the Hollywood films, which they have not been able to do in the past.

(Source: forums.cgsociety.org) When Warner Bros. production executives touch down in New Zealand next week they’ll get a welcome they’ll never forget, with lobbying planned from the Kiwi prime minister, cabinet ministers and producer-director Peter Jackson — an industry-wide united front and simultaneous rallies by non-union-aligned actors in five cities up and down the country.

Their desperate mission: keep the $500 million Hobbit films in New Zealand in the aftermath of a month-long, but now-ended, boycott by actors unions across the English-speaking world and amid reports that the studio is paving the way for a move to the UK.

(Friends at the march can be seen in this video)

(Source: scoop.co.nz)  Fifteen hundred film industry technicians, artists, computer graphics specialists, animators and actors gathered at one of Stone’s street’s film sets, at the behest of Weta Workshop founder, Sir Richard Taylor, to discuss the implications of recent demands for a collective agreement made by New Zealand Actors’ Equity, (a branch of Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance – an Australian union directed by Simon Whipp). Members of New Zealand Actors’ Equity. NZAE demands for a change in working conditions to be cemented in a unionised agreement, a departure from the historically contractual agreements practiced in the NZ film industry.The Hobbit films are a yet-to-be-filmed $660 million dollar, two-part prequels to the Lord of The Rings trilogy directed by acclaimed NZ filmmaker Peter Jackson. The production is likely to be moved overseas by its producers, Warner Brothers, with executives heading to New Zealand next week to oversee the change.

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