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Monday, February 25, 2013

The VFX Protest

So last night, just outside the Oscar ceremony, about 400 workers gathered to protest the shabby state of the visual effects industry.

Naturally, we were never going to see direct coverage of the protest during the ceremony itself.

And of course the use of the JAWS theme to play off people going too long was probably only intended as a cute joke, which no one expected would first occur during a passionate entreaty on behalf of unemployed workers of an embattled, some would say shat-upon industry. Such a plea was being made from the podium by Bill Westenhofer of effects house Rhythm & Hues, who, despite winning an Oscar on the night, had declared bankruptcy and laid off, without pay, nearly a third of its staff.

Much of the problem can be traced to subsidies offered by foreign countries to studios who hire their workers. Leaving American effects houses (who already have to bid low even without the cheap foreign competition) particularly vulnerable - refusing work from US studios doesn't look like an option. Which is already a difficult situation even without last night's fiasco, which added numerous insults to injury.

What the industry will do now to save itself is open to question. The best that can happen now is that people become aware of the situation. Which you are now. On behalf of our friends working in this embattled industry, thanks for reading.

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