Staring Into the Professional Abyss

Digital artists need to start creating their own films. To the degree we hold ourselves as servants rather than visionaries we will always be begging for our suppers.

When I was a child there was very little entertainment product specifically designed for the consumption of children. Science fiction consisted of mainly recycled Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers’ serials. In the theaters features were usually preceded by a Looney Toon or a Droopy cartoon. On television Saturday mornings consisted of Heckle and Jeckle, Fury, Sky King and The Roy Rogers Show. There are many reasons why there was little child-oriented fare on the air in those days. One reason is that the child wasn’t identified as the deep-pocketed consumer he is today. Another is that the techniques for producing animation and visual effects were labor intensive and thus extremely costly. Currently we find ourselves at a time when VFX and animation can be produced relatively cheaply and children have a tremendous influence on the spending habits of their parents.

As more graduates from the various community colleges, universities and visual effects oriented schools hit the job market it will become increasingly a more competitive labor marketplace. Visual effects artists are staring into a professional abyss wondering what the future may bring and how we can thrive in that future. In point of fact, everyone on the planet is looking around themselves and trying to figure what the next, smart move might be. Someone once asked Henry Ford “who should be the boss?” His response was that the question was like asking who should be the tenor in the quartet, obviously the guy who can sing tenor. This is the transition from a small “a” artist to a big “A” artist.

Digital artists need to start creating their own films. To the degree we hold ourselves as servants rather than visionaries we will always be begging for our suppers. The buzz has been for years to create content. This is what separates PIXAR from other digital studios. Creation of content has always been in the stated credo of Blur studios. Let’s face the fact that the world is a much more competitive place than it once was. By taking control of our own destinies we are entering a situation where the potential payoffs are much greater both in terms of self satisfaction and monetarily.

There is a tendency among us all that speaks to the idea of “finding a great man and sitting at his feet”. We all want to have worked with Mr. Lucas, Mr. Cameron and Mr. Spielberg. The reflected glory can be blinding and the crumbs equal to five course meals at the feet of lesser lights. But the short truth is that today’s digital artist must get his own ideas to the fore and his or her name above the title. To do less is to be relegated to the end of the crawl after the craft services credit and just before the music credits roll.

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