Reflection: Oscars Snub at the VFX Industry

See this?
Yes… it is a big blob of green… or more specifically the green used for the “Green screen” for visual special effects.

But let me go back a bit…

One of the things that bugged me was the botched up (and semi-funny) presentation for the Visual Effects award done by The Avengers clan. At the moment I am sure a lot of us were just rolling our eyes, but when I started listening and relistening I realized something…

It felt like they were goofing and stalling… why?

The San Francisco Gate said it best:

Biggest Oscars snub: A shark attack on the VFX industry

What happened? Well according to the SFGate.
Well they turned on the light to the one thing that was bugging me during Bill Westenhofer’s thank you speech… specifically right when he was cut off:

Sadly, Rhythm & Hues is suffering serious financial difficulties now…. I urge you all to remember…

Not only that, but the producers of the Academy Awards cut him off using JAWS musical.

Sadly, I will admit it was rather funny in the moment… which was probably what the producers were going for… but in hindsight reveals something far more sinister.

Much of the work that would have been awarded to the Californian companies are now being outsourced, which in all reality (as my sister emphasizes) it is just business… and yes I agree with that. But in an industry that is significantly protected by various unions (producers, writers, directors, actors, stuntmen, musicians… the list goes on) it seems rather odd to me that the visual special effects division isn’t protected in any capacity.

From the Wall Street Journal

Hollywood studios ready to make a movie typically solicit bids from visual effects shops like Rhythm, Digital Domain, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Industrial Light & Magic (recently acquired by Walt Disney Co. as part of its purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd.), which attempt to complete the job for less than they’re paid.

That approach has never generated robust profits.

“A good year for us was a 5% return,” said Scott Ross, who co-founded Digital Domain in 1993 after serving as general manager of ILM. He left in 2006 after he and his partners sold the Los Angeles company.

So why do I care? I don’t necessarily work in the entertainment industry but I do have plenty of acquaintances that do and unfortunately most (if not all) are unfamiliar with the world of the computer-generated visual special effects…

So why do I get it?

I’m a geek, not just a geek, I am an engineer… I have taken the classes, I have friends that have dappled in the gaming, animation and programming worlds to know that the competition is crazy.

And it is a world that – again – most people in the producer, writer, acting, directing guilds probably know nothing about.

So if you happen to see any of your friends via Facebook, Twitter, etc with a massive green blob like the above… don’t think they’ve gone crazy, there is a reason for it. Even though I knew bits and pieces of what was going on, it was nothing like what was explained to me on Facebook via Bruce Branit.

For more information:

But really… the hard line on this (for me personally) is that this is America, and the idea of outsourcing is all a part of that wonderful word: capitalism.

However, what really irked me about all of the above, isn’t so much the business side of the spectrum… it’s the fact that the Academy was so tasteless as to cut off Bill Westenhofer with Jaws music….

At minimum the Academy must apologize for their desire to silence someone from shedding light on situation that affects the entertainment industry at large… and if not, well it isn’t American capitalism that needs help… it’s the American spirit that is broken… and I mean broken well beyond repair.

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