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As the Demand for Visual Effects Grows, a Shortage of Artists Looms Ahead

“There may not be enough artists to meet the every-increasing demand for visual effects shots, participants warned Thursday at the FMX animation and visual effects conference in Stuttgart, Germany.

‘The Matrix was only 420 VFX shots. These days, it’s 2,000 [shots], certainly on a Marvel film, and they have gone up to releasing one more movie per year,’ said Diana Giorgiutti, executive producer of features at Luma Pictures and a former Marvel producer.

'There needs to be an understanding of how long things take; I try to keep an open dialog [on changes],’ [said Lionsgate’s senior vp of VFX Kathy Chasen-Hay]. 'There is such a huge benefit to the digital age, but also with the digital age, everything is instant. The director can keep changing things up to the DI [digital intermediate color grading stage]. We can even change the DCP [the digital equivalent of a film print], because we want to accommodate the creative. We want to accommodate the director.’

She added that a VFX project might start with a 30 percent profit margin 'but when you’re finished, you’re lucky if it’s 5 percent margin, because you can’t control the creative. At the end of the day you have to make a call whether you are going to make changes [because you have a] relationship or go back and ask for overages. I think it’s really tough for any VFX vendor.’

Also discussed during the session was the move toward 4K 'Ultra HD’ resolution, which amounts to four times more data than regular HD. Speakers argued that there’s no time or budget to go to 4K in VFX. 'It will bring costs higher,’ Giorgiutti warned. 'And cost is just one part; there isn’t time.'”