After my last blog post I was surprised that a few readers expected a clear defined answer to the question “Should You Quit VFX?” The highly pressured working conditions I described were no news to them and yet do not seem to be reason enough to quit. To me this just proves how much of an addicting challenge it can be to work in VFX. It seems to be so much of an addiction that even the words from The Mill chief creative officer Pat Joseph are no reason to get out:
“You will always have disgruntled people who feel they have to work long hours, but quite honestly, they should get out of it. We don’t make up the schedules and the budgets for the projects. We live within a commercial environment.”
Yes, Pat Joseph will not want you if you like to have “normal” working conditions. He can afford to say such things because he knows there are so many new recruits lining up who want – no, feel like they need to work for him. Ten years ago, VFX software was still relatively complicated to learn. VFX people needed years of training and even more experience. Today the VFX software is so easy that post-graduates can crank out shots straight from school. In Inside VFX I describe how modern VFX software is trending to become even easier.
It may sound tough to believe but such developments are actually good news for people entering and keep working in the VFX and film industry. It just depends what kind of wood you’re made off.
If you are seeking job security, a long term employment and a fixed income then the VFX industry is no place for you. There is no shortage of VFX artists anywhere in the world anymore. If you’ve heard differently, then this is most likely a fairy tale from a VFX corporation or school recruiter to lure you into the tiny, tiny VFX industry — and into a certain country. They do such thing for one simple reason: More supply of VFX workforce means that all VFX cooperations have it easier to control the price of VFX labour. It’s the same way how a country controls the cost of healthcare by making it easy for foreign medical doctors, even nurses to immigrate. It really is that simple.
But if you have an independent mindset, possibly that of an entrepreneur, today’s visual effects industry actually needs you now more than ever! Not only because there are new markets to discover like Virtual and Augmented Reality. Both technologies will open the gates to new ways of entertainment in the near future. But also because easier VFX technologies will enforce new and desperately needed business models. You can be on the front line of developing those. The truly independent artist will not only increasingly pressure those big Western VFX corporations but also the ones located in Asia. The VFX technology of the future will be so affordable, powerful and easy that it will enable independent filmmakers to catch up with Hollywood’s film studios – surely not with their marketing budgets but in terms of quality and spectacle. In Inside VFX I write about how the film industry is trending to go the way of the gaming industry which was turned upside down by the creativity of independent game makers. In the future, VFX has a real chance to be finally about art again and not just about technological porn and sorcery.
I am a strong believer that people should always do what they love most. Neither my blog nor Inside VFX are meant to discourage anyone from entering this exciting industry. Also, neither of them are meant to encourage anyone from leaving the industry. Especially not if it’s your true passion. But it is certainly now more beneficial than ever to know where your industry of passion came from, in which current state it is and where it might possibly be heading to – particularly if you want to enter the film industry since both industries are tightly connected.
The truth is that the future of filmmaking couldn’t be more exciting. Never before were filmmaking tools cheaper and as perfected as they are today. An entrepreneurial mindset combined with art never had it easier to turn vision into reality. Evermore digital distribution channels (Netflix, Youtube etc.) are bursting the door wide open. If the cost of VFX continues to come down while at the same time the quality improves — this really can be YOUR opportunity! And a threat to Hollywood’s current business model. This is not the time to go to your cubical and work for one of these big VFX cooperations. You can read here and here how much they are valuing you anyways. If you love VFX and even more so filmmaking, what better time to unleash your inner self than now?
Photo by Levi Saunders
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