Just the facts ma’am.

Posted: November 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

Why are VFX artists more concerned about the bottom line of global corporations and increasing their respective shareholders’ returns than their own lack of benefits, retirement plans, and being paid for all hours worked?

We keep hearing that VFX is a losing proposition and that unionizing will be the death knell of the industry. All the work is going to go to India and China. We are about facts not myths not rumours not hyperbole. A little precursory digging retrieved the following FACTS:

Moving Picture Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Technicolor.

The following is excerpted from Technicolor’s Q3 2010 Revenues press release:

Q3 2010 Revenues in the Entertainment Services division of Technicolor increased by 12% to $419 million over Q3 2009

Creation Services Division

– In the third quarter of 2010, Digital Production activities continued to deliver strong revenue growth, driven by increased activity in Visual Effects (VFX) for high-end Theatrical releases. With the completion of Narnia 3 and Harry Potter 7 projects, a continued recovery of the advertising market, which led to ongoing market share gains in VFX for Commercials, as wells as ramp-up work in Animation on Nickelodeon’s TV series Penguins of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and Fanboy & Chum Chum( awarded during the quarter).

– Postproduction services recorded a higher level of activity during the quarter, driven particularly by success in the TV broadcast market in both United States and Canada.

“We are well on track to deliver on our 2010 objectives” Frederic Rose, CEO

This doesn’t sound to us like a business with financial difficulties.

Where are the facts that unionizing will cause a company to go out of business? Take note, GM and Chrysler are on track repaying their debt back to the government who are also getting a nice return on their investment.

And why isn’t Digital Domain going to India instead of Florida?

“Due to the growth and success of Digital Domain in California and Vancouver, Digital Domain Holdings has accelerated its hiring plans in Florida to provide additional capacity for both traditional and 3-D stereographic visual effects.” Business Wire

We will continue to bring you information based on facts.

  1. VFX WTF says:


    Can India Afford tax breaks like Canada and NZ shells out?

    Every VFX company in the world right now is housed with international artists. Are they going to want to move to Bangalore?

    What does an Indian Management team look like? No disrespect, but Are we going to export management or are they going to design that?

    VFX is just too complex to box up and ship overseas.

  2. VFX for a penny says:

    I’ve been working in VFX for the past 5 years in various roles and Im in my late 20’s and sometimes I wonder how I will be able to retire if I continue to work in VFX. We all work ridiculous hours and as much as most of us do complain about the hours, at the end of the project we are all happy with the outcome of our work and about a month or two later we are repeating the cycle of working long hours again.

    The film crews shooting the same projects that we all work on (film or TV), work just as hard as we do but the difference is they are compensated for every minute that they are on set and they have benefits and will have a pension when they retire. Why do VFX artists feel threatened that their jobs will be shipped away, do you really think a company will fold because you will be able to go the dentist or because you will have paid vacation time?
    VFX facilities will continue to underbid each other and artists will suffer. A Union will essentially make sure that facilities aren’t cutting corners and will have to bid realistically. This issue covers everybody in VFX not just the junior artists but also the Senior artist and even the Producers.
    If VFX as a whole is going to crumple because of benefits and overtime after 8 hours, than I guess I should start looking into another career.
    We are all specialized in what we do, someone cant replace you with 5 days of training, this isn’t McDonalds or Wal Mart!!

  3. Brian says:

    Here are more FACTS:

    Moving Picture Company has its largest studio in the United Kingdom where it can benefit from UK tax breaks.

    Moving Picture Company has a large facility in Bangalore where it can benefit from local talent and a lower cost of labor:


    @VFX for a penny: How can a union prevent VFX houses from underbidding? That would be the job of a trade association.

  4. VFX for a penny says:

    Thanks for the facts Brian.
    As VFX artists we should have the same protections as the crews that our shooting the projects we work on. And not just Vancouver or LA but all VFX artists working on a project shot by a union crew (which is a majority if not all the big features). Of course this will not happen overnight but it has to start somewhere. Correct me if Im wrong but the VES is the closest thing VFX artists have to a trade association and the VES has no interest protecting artists. Whether it be a trade association or a union, a 3rd party has to be put in place to insure facilities are following the labor laws of the country they are operating in. And at the moment unionizing seems like it could be the answer for all of us.

    I’m not a business major, I’m a Joe Six Pack vfx artist, so I would love to hear any suggestions you might have Brian.

  5. Capn-Canuck says:

    Actually, the gov’t is losing money by selling off their GM stocks so you may not want to use that as an example. ( Of course I can’t find the damn link now.sorry )

      • Dingo says:

        Interesting how you link to a paper in Thailand, and not one in North America.

        And while you’re at it, please, from that fabulous list of movies finished by MPC and Technicolor, how many of those were worked on in Vancouver? What percent?

        It’s no secret that MPC/Technicolor have studios in Asia. As well as DD, Rythm and Hues, ILM, and the list goes on. So please, if you’re going to report about the profitability of MPC/Technicolor, please report where the work is being completed in order for them to profit.

        To VFX for a penny: Unionization means that your employer has to pay an additional 15% (actually more) on top of your salary, and on top of fringe already being paid. I’m going to pay you less to make up for that. As many of my former artists WHO ARE ANTI-UNION have stated, they’d rather be liable for the dentists themselves than take a $6k/year paycut as a result of unionization (oh but hey, benefits, which people RARELY use!! pffft). Because if the union comes, they’ll actually earn a lot less.

        Also, is it mentioned that IATSE is inflexible on the number of hours in the workday. They demand the rates are for a 12 hour day. When I inquired about only working the artist an 8 hour day, I was informed I would still have to pay them for the full 12. So now in order for me to make a budget make sense, I have to work my artists 60 hour weeks, which I don’t want to do. Oh, thank the union….

      • iatse891vfx says:

        IATSE is not the employer. The employer determines the hours of work and rate of pay and can improve from the stated minimums.

    • steve says:

      GM will never repay the plain obvious costs to the US taxpayers, nor the much more significant institutional damage from the whole disgraceful episode: erosion of the rule of law; erosion of contract and bankruptcy law; politicization of economic decisions; moral hazard for future business decisions; and political-economic uncertainty (also called “regime uncertainty) that is now depressing any hoped-for recovery.


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