The implosion of Rhythm & Hues continues with reports of massive layoffs at the visual effects company’s Mumbai and Hyderabad facilities. According to a report by Krypton Radio, word is trickling out of Rhythm & Hues India, alleging that it has laid off all but two animators currently working on Prana animation projects in Mumbai, and most of the animators in Hyderabad.
Bouncers have reportedly been brought in to handle any potential trouble during the actions at both studios, despite assurances that the Hyderabad studio would remain in operation. Only 35 people remain employed in the Mumbai facility, with the entire HR and recruiting department there having resigned en masse. In Hyderabad, management and production staff were laid off in addition to the animators, but no exact figures are yet available.
Rhythm & Hues filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on February 11, 2013 – just hours before laying off an estimated 260 digital artists and animators from its El Segundo studio, while studio execs were accepting BAFTA Awards in London for the work the studio had just completed on Life of Pi. By July of this year, more than 71 percent of the staff in El Segundo had been released from employment. The studio was purchased in March by Indian animation studio Prana.
Krypton Radio comments:
While layoffs are a way of life at motion picture animation studios, they’re much more significant in India – studio workers there are not contractors, they’re all made permanent staff. A reduction of this size in this manner suggests that Rhythm & Hues is continuing its downward spiral into oblivion. Rumor has it that the studio had another contract pulled out from under them by Prime Focus, who had reportedly been discussing giving them significant work to do on Sin City 2. Prime Focus allegedly withdrew the offer, threatening Rhythm & Hues with a lawsuit if materials related to the show were not returned.
UPDATED: While the numbers have not yet been confirmed, AWN sources in India report that the total number of employees laid off in Mumbai is 103, or roughly 60 percent of the entire staff. Prana officials announcing the layoffs to the Mumbai office were reportedly accompanied by security guards. In Hyderabad, several production coordinators have been laid off along with all but two members of the animation team.
The move is a huge blow to the Rhythm & Hues University program, founded in 2008, which provides nine months of paid training to Indian animators so they can understand and reproduce American/Hollywood mannerisms for the big screen.
(via VFX Soldier)