Over at FXGuide they have an interview with “Victor”, a young starting VFX professional traveling and working VFX internships in Los Angeles in shocking conditions.
Victor’s annual income is under $10,000. In Los Angeles the poverty level for a single member household is $11,490. He has healthcare because the Affordable Care Act mandates that he can stay on his parents plan, but that coverage is effectively limited to the Emergency Room.
Surely this isn’t the norm, but it is a testament to the recently plummets in the VFX industry that it’s become a bit of a flooded market in the US, and unfortunately several professionals are finding it difficult to get work in reasonable conditions.
Up in British Columbia, legislators are pitching a new film labor tax credit raise up to 40% that will “allow competition with other jurisdictions”. With a proposed cost per-film of $100,000-$120,000 paid by the taxpayers, there is obvious backlash.
But economists call it “corporate welfare,” and say B.C. should get out of what has become a “race to the bottom” with tax incentives.
“We know that we have the best crews in North America,” he said in one of his final rallies, where he was surrounded by close to a thousand supporters at Vancouver Film Studios.
“All they require is a level playing field and we will compete, and we will win, and we will bring jobs to British Columbia.”
ComputerGraphicsWorld brings us the news that on June 10th up in New York, there will be a VFX Town Hall moderated by Mariana Acuna (@vfxchick) to discuss the recent turmoils in the VFX space.
“The VFX Town Hall at COLLIDER promises to be a unique experience,” says Acuña. “There are so many vital issues at stake in our industry right now, and so many different opinions on the subject, that no two town hall gatherings are ever going to be exactly alike. Basing this discussion in New York will provide a distinctly East Coast perspective to the rest of the country and the world. This is an ideal opportunity to keep the conversation moving in the right direction.”
Iron Man 3 starts off the big movie summer with another VFX-fest full of explosions, armor suits, and death defying stunts. Geektyrant has a good collection of shot breakdowns showcasing some of the bigger VFX projects.
Regardless of what you thought of the story, the special effects ended up being really good as always. I enjoy watching videos like this that show the process of how they were completed. They always end up being surprising. For example, I had no idea that James Badge Dale wasn’t actually wearing the Iron Patriot suit in the scene they show in the video below.
Amidst the turmoil of closures and bankruptcies plaguing the VFX industry, it seems newsworthy to hear that Shade VFX in Santa Monica, CA is actually thriving and just moved into a new space doubling their size. What are they doing differently? Easy: Making good business deals.
Godwin admits that in some cases Shade has been outbid by firms in London or Vancouver that offer tax breaks for studios, but he said that being in California has its advantages. Producers have told him that they prefer being able to meet with artists in person instead of needing to have conference calls with visual-effects teams working in far-flung locations around the globe.
One of the big nail-biting scenes of the new Iron Man 3 is the “barrel of monkeys” freefall, where Iron Man has only seconds to save a crew of 13 freefalling from a now-crashing Air Force 1. At first glance, you may think it’s some amazing CG and bluescreen work, but the reality is far more impressive. Involving a full team of parachuters and multiple jumps, the entire scene was actually done in-air and then touched-up for final results.
“I’ve worked on movies in the past where we’ve done fake free fall sequences, with vertical wind tunnels, people on wires, but by actually shooting it, you get the visceral, kinetic camera work that comes with actual free fall photography,” said Digital Domain VFX supervisor Erik Nash, who is an experienced sky diver himself. “It’s something that’s incredibly difficult to fake — the high-frequency camera shake that’s inherent to free fall photography. If you start with something photographed, it’s real, it’s believable and even if you change everything about it you’ve got a foundation.”
VFX Soldier has a great piece on some of the recent discoveries in the ongoing Apple/Pixar/Lucasfilm investigation from the Justice Department. The allegation is that these three studios (and maybe more) had an illegal agreement to not poach each other’s employees in an attempt to drive wages down. Not only is this illegal, but it’s been a shock to many in the VFX Industry that saw Pixar and Lucasfilm as the ultimate employer in VFX.
Furthermore, consider how remarkable this case has become. Steve Jobs, Pixar, and Lucasfilm. For VFX artists these names are nothing but legends to us and could do no harm. Look at what the Justice Department’s investigation revealed. Behind our backs they colluded to drive wages down.
YouTube has a great video showing much of the behind the scenes motion tracking work that went into the new Adventures of TinTin movie. A huge mocap studio with markered actors and lots of virtual cameras and monitors all work together to make filming a CG movie almost identical to filming a traditional live-action film.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has finally hit theaters here in the US (It landed in European theaters a few years ago, and shows some fantastic VFX work ranging from the psychedelic title sequence to the more traditional color work and face-replacement. Over at FXGuide, they talk to Method and Digital Domain about their contributions.
“The vignettes with Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and Salander (Rooney Mara) had a base of motion capture for the body performances and then were enhanced bia keyframing,” continues Ross. “The performance capture helped us get the subtle nuances of realistic movement. The character’s facial animation is morph targets driven by performance reference of Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig which we shot here in LA during additional filming, it allowed us to capture them still ‘in character’.”
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