Digital Domain dominated the discussions at yesterday’s VES Summit 2012 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey. Co-founder and former CEO Scott Ross implored the industry to get behind a trade association and stand up to the studios, while new CEO Ed Ulbrich discussed the reboot of DD 3.0, which he said was more like 1.0 so far.
“The business is much too warm and cuddly,” Ross suggested. He said the studios need to take on directors when movies get out of control and the VFX companies need to wield their power to negotiate better compensation with the studios. He’s all for unionization but declared that it’s a question of timing and now is not the time.
Ulbrich said the recent bankruptcy and sale to Beijing Galloping Horse and India’s Reliance has been a wild ride. They paired up like Survivor and now DD has the capitalization to continue as a thriving VFX studio. Eventually they may open a studio in China. “We need to send people over there to help close the [talent] gap. Going to India allows us to mature in LA by scaling up with larger projects. India is part of the future of the VFX business.”
This year’s Summit focused on the intersection between creative content and the business bottom line, with attention to how social media impacts decision-making. The panel that I moderated, Is Television VFX the Future of Feature Film VFX?, featured a discussion about being productive with limited resources and thriving with generalists rather than specialists and taking advantage of globalization and being on the cutting edge of virtual production. I was joined by Mat Beck of Entity FX, Sam Nicholson of Stargate Studios, Andrew Orloff of Zoic Studios, and Steve Pugh of Pixomondo.
Meanwhile, Mary Ann Hughes, VP, Film and Television Production Planning, The Walt Disney Co., suggested that there are no standalone VFX incentives in California (indeed few in the U.S.) and that the problem with convincing legislators to create them is that they insist on proof that production would stay locally even with the incentives.