#2.140 – Rhythm and Hues. Sigh.

#2.140 - Rhythm and Hues. Sigh.
#2.140 - back
sent from: Esher, Surrey, UK. destination: Moscow, Russian Federation

It would be odd if I did not comment on Rhythm and Hues’s impending bankruptcy and yet I am somewhat at a loss, having written so much already on the topic it feels like just another bit of bad news.
It is striking deeply because R+H is loved by many and liked by most, and they deservedly won the BAFTA for Life of Pi and are tipped to win the Oscar for the same (let’s skip over the detail that Oscars are won by people and not companies – for many LIfe of Pi and R+H are inextricably linked). It feels as though the market forces of supply and demand are in full force, as Scott Squires articulates in his recent blog post, although he points out how that supply has been artificially supported by tax subsidies, but too many people or companies for too little work is not something that can be fixed with petitions or facebook campaigns or unions.
It seems inevitable that the industry needs to find a new ‘normal’ and that might mean, alas, fewer, smaller companies.

4 thoughts on “#2.140 – Rhythm and Hues. Sigh.

  1. I think companies are going to consolidate and shrink at the same time to meet current demand at the high end, which doesn't seem to be growing very much. There are no more big studios (only one added in last 15-20 years – Dreamworks), and they haven't increased the number of tentpole pictures they release a year, so that puts a pretty hard limit on how many effects you can cram into a film, and that limit has probably been reached.

    So, no extra work at the high end, but what used to be the main 3 facilities (ILM, DD, R&H) are now 8 or 9 (ILM, DD, R&H, WETA, DNEG, FRAMESTORE, MPC, CINESITE), and those companies have grown in 15 years as well.

    I know I'm ignoring a vast market of cg in commercials and feature animation, but that's not the business these companies are in, generally speaking.

    I might be wrong. But unless a new set of deep-pocketed clients emerge from places like India, China, Europe (and Europe's had plenty of time to develop that but they can't put together budgets that come close to Hollywood movies), we're stuck with the same risk-averse set of clients.

    So, the companies that remain need to shrink a little, or consolidate and then shrink as well.


  2. I have taught a lot since being out of Hollywood, and a couple things always bothered me. One is that I felt like I was helping to flood the market in an increasingly more competitive field. Almost every school now has a CG program of one kind or another rubber stamping people to enter an industry in turmoil. Additionally, as hard as I tried, I couldn't get students to see that if they really wanted to succeed in this industry they really have to try and not simply pay $80,000 dollars for a degree. Rare students listen, most students hear static. The market is being flooded from so many sides but there is no awareness of what is happening at the college level.

  3. hi Dave – great to hear from you. I've been reading your blog and talking about it with my wife, but that's a story for a another time.

    One thing stopping me from getting into teaching is exactly the thing that you say. I've been taking my old Uni to task (I didn't study VFX there, but they've developed a program since) as they keep putting out these puff pieces about the couple students who have found work at the big facilities doing grunt work and not saying a word about the competitive marketplace they're in or anything like that. I keep wondering if anyone is teaching them the realities of the business or what it's going to mean to earn a living long term, or just continually perpetuating the same glory myths year after year.

    I don't know if you read this but it is on a similar topic, still the most read piece that I didn't write: http://blog.juanluis.com/2012/11/270-leave-vfx-please.html

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