special effects artist talks about his hellish work with the studio

In an anonymous review, a VFX artist spoke about his own experience with Marvel, and it’s not pretty.

New day, new allegations against Marvel. For several years now, the famous studio has been regularly criticized it is not necessary to provide your employees with an ideal working environment. Accused of racism by Anthony Mackie (a.k.a. The Falcon) or mistreatment of the comic book writers they depend on for their production, Marvel doesn’t seem to be fully appreciated by various employees.

Recently, it has been the special effects guys who have voiced huge criticism of the MCU through the platform. Reddit. Exceeded the latter is thus exposed by studio methods grueling conditions, constant overwork, and increasingly difficult deadlines. A general discontent, the first signs of which now seem to have a snowball effect.

Kevin Feige in front of the VFX artists

less healthy work environment than thanos army

While former VFX artist Dhruv Govil (who has notably worked with Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man: Homecoming) revealed in early July that his experience with Marvel prompted him to leave the industry, the new special effects artist also took the opportunity to describe this with an anonymous testimonial delivered by vulnerability, unenviable background:

“It’s well known in the industry that working for Marvel is particularly difficult. When I was working on the film, I was working almost six hours of overtime every day. I worked seven days a week, an average of 64 hours a week. .. and then everything went well. Marvel makes us work like mules. Some of my colleagues would come and sit next to me and start crying hysterically, while others would throw tantrums. alarm on the phone”.

The artist went on to describe the studio’s importance to the digital effects industry. Indeed, at an increasingly steady rate of expansion, as phases follow each other and the cinematic universe continues to expand (even more so with the introduction of TV series into the equation), Marvel quickly positioned itself as an indispensable VFX client.

Avengers: Infinity War: Photo by Josh BrolinThe only positive: no VFX, no Thanos

impossible terms

One of the other serious problems with testimonials is special effects management studio Marvel is really notorious in the film industry for requiring a lot of changes in the digital effects process, and those changes, according to the artist, would be minor. It happened, for example, that a month or two before the release of the film in theaters, Marvel ordered the artists to redo the entire third act:

“The problem comes from the MCU itself – there are too many movies. The studio sets release dates, and once they’re set, they don’t budge. They are inflexible. Still, Marvel isn’t shy about ordering significant reshoots and edits as the film’s release dates creep dangerously close. […]. But this is far from new.

Black Widow: Photo by Florence PughAh, the “magic” of a green screen

I remember one time I went to do a visual presentation of one of the first Marvel movies at one of the VFX studios, and people there were already reporting that they felt like they were being fucked by pixels. It’s a phrase we use in the industry to describe customers who pick up on the smallest details. […]

A customer might say, “That’s not quite what I want,” so of course we keep working on it. But they never know what they want. So they grope, “Can we try this? Is it?”. And we have to change the whole set, the whole environment at a very late stage of the film’s development. »

Moon knight: photoThe Moon Knight series, another great take on the rush job

insufficiently prepared production

Not enough time, overworked and very often understaffed, The digital effects artists seem to be not only trying to compensate for the lack of pre-production before shooting, but also the lack of experience of the directors hired by Marvel. And, according to the artist, the absence of a cameraman during post-production does not help:

“You end up having to invent certain shots, and that causes a lot of continuity issues throughout the footage. An example of the consequences of this situation can be seen in the final battle sequence in Black Panther. The laws of physics were defied there.

Suddenly, the heroes start jumping everywhere, making a whole bunch of spectacular gestures, as if it were a miniature battle in space. And then the camera makes moves that have never been seen at any other point in the film. […] And it breaks the visual language.”

Black Panther: DrawingMovie scene or concept art?

In fact, it’s not just the VFX managers who are responsible for the increasingly ugly, half-finished visual effects of Marvel’s latest works. and for the entire production chain. This situation is unsustainable in the long term, so Marvel needs to rethink its methods, better prepare cinematographers to use digital effects, and stop rewriting footage during filming or even in the editing room.

As for the special effects artists, now it’s about uniting the VFX studios to protect the little guys who work there through collective bargaining agreements. Indeed, without a trade union organization, artists are more easily exploited without the mandatory guarantee of an adequate salary.

The fact is that, as the artist notes in his testimony, the problems he talks about are also present in other productions. But he nevertheless notes that there are other companies in the industry that require less overtime and offer generally healthier working conditions. Although Marvel dominates in terms of requests, the studios allow themselves more play on their status to tailor the special effects houses to their smallest wishes.


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