We’ve heard the term ‘Digital Dustbowl’ rolling around for the last few months in regards to the VFX climate in Los Angeles. It does feel a little like there’s no water (work) in sight. People are out of work left and right, large features are almost always getting work done out of town to where the tax credits are. The few shops that are here are laying off (See Disney laying off ‘Frozen’ artists) and there isn’t a lot of work on the horizon.
It really does feel bleak. Is it? Smaller and smaller shops and remote businesses are starting to populate the market. With the exception of advertising, there isn’t a lot of VFX work to be done by strongly qualified people. There is work though. There is television work from all of the majors that needs to be done. A lot of it will go to Canada because of the tax credits, but there are a number of shows that just don’t have huge VFX budgets and don’t really see the savings of a tax credit in Canada. It takes longer to ship the work up and have Jr. artists work on it and get it back than it does to have it done right locally.
So smaller shops and smaller work feel like the order of the day. Finding a way to make that profitable will remain the challenge. At least there is a challenge. What we have here in Los Angeles is a huge crew of hungry artists who are out to try and make ends meet. To pay the mortgage or day-care. No one is out to get rich working in VFX. Sometimes, if we make $60-70/hr It may seem like a lot to people coming into the industry or looking at the industry with outside eyes, but imagine you work a week at that rate once a month and you live in one of the most expensive markets in America. It’s really not much of a living.
Voices are mounting. There is talk of unionization, guilds, trade groups and all manner of tools to help the local VFX community. We will be on the forefront of feeding people the information needed to change to the ever-changing visual effects market.
Stay tuned and stay strong.
Why get your visual effects done in LA? Isn’t it all leaving for Vancouver, London, and New York?
Quite simply, it’s quality, speed, interaction with the team. With all of the major American studios being located in a 20 mile radius, and most of them in a 4 mile radius, it is really easy to justify having more, not less, visual effect artisans and studios in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, home to American film and television, accounts for a great deal of the economy in Southern California. It has a rich history full of experienced professionals who all learned from ‘someone who came before them.’ This is the power of the Los Angeles market, and to a similar degree, the San Francisco area. The people who invented the techniques and workflows that are so common today, did so while learning how to do it on scale and on budget needed for some of the biggest block busters in history.
It is this legacy that has translated down generations of artists and makes the quality second to none. Most of the artists that come to Los Angeles come to learn how to be great artists. They work in a competitive market and work with some of the best existing talent on the planet. This isn’t the case in the other markets and countries that now host a number of larger projects and production houses. Many other VFX communities have to work on developing their own workflows in their own ways that sometimes aren’t as successful. They have to import Americans, or Los Angeles natives to try and teach them how to be successful. At the end of the day, many productions are brought back to Los Angeles to save at the last minute because the work done elsewhere wasn’t the quality that the studio was used to.
The argument that we put forth is that it isn’t worth leaving the comfort of your own community of talent to get the work done. There is still an enormous talent pool here that can be drawn on to get top notch work done for the budget required by productions. Of course there are still giants like ILM and DD that will drive innovation and come up with the ‘next big thing’, but for the bread and butter effects required for features and television, the talent is here. The talent is more than qualified, and the talent is affordable.
more to come…
Welcome to VFX Los Angeles.
Started and maintained by VFX artists in Los Angeles, for the sole purpose of promoting the visual effects industry in Southern California and an attempt to reign in runaway visual effects production to other states and countries by focusing on quality and affordability of local talent.
This blog will focus on work done here by local artists and local companies, striving to provide effects of the highest caliber without resorting to sending work over seas and to Canada.