Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An Open Letter to Ang Lee, from VFX Soldier

VFXunite

李安二擒【小金人】,全台湾欢腾当地媒体没完没了猛打的『李安谢谢台湾』这六字大标更是自我良好得堪称一绝;视觉特效工作室 Rhythm & Hues简称 R&H勇夺最佳视觉效果奖,【大马分公司】与有荣焉。可惜的是,R&H 洛杉矶总公司一众遭遇无预警裁员的幕后【战士】,纵然集众于场外发动【抗议游行】,却似乎受到了二度伤害。一是李安特别谢【造浪乡友】却没明谢【制效功臣在限时里一次感谢全剧组并无不妥,只是当中恰恰有一组别正面对焦灼态况,似乎就有标明的需要了,激发领军者 Phillip Broste 致上一封【公开信】以宣泄慨愤,除了同时抱怨得了奖也没谢这班【落难】后制功臣的摄影师 Claudio Miranda ,亦揭露【商品节支】致使【人力贬值】的症结;二则奥斯卡执勤者在 R&H 高层 Bill Westenhofer 正要向效力团队致谢之时,旋即【放鲨催场】的小气度作风,再次应证权威分子粉饰太平的霸道及愚昧事实上,在这急需声援的关键时刻,耗时先谢家人的 Bill Westenhofer 也挨轰本末倒置

时代愈是进化,艺术愈是退化,我们看到的尽是华而不实的造物;电影票房愈是创高,电影质感愈是走低,影迷/片商一年下来观赏/推出的影片,有多少部不三维?又有多少部零特效?物极必反,穷奢极欲的各方都有责任。



Dear Mr. Lee,

When asked about the bankruptcy of Rhythm + Hues, the visual effects house largely responsible for making your film “life of Pi” as incredible as it was, you said:

“I would like it to be cheaper and not a tough business [for VFX vendors]. It’s easy for me to say, but it’s very tough. It’s very hard for them to make money. The research and development is so expensive; that is a big burden for every house. They all have good times and hard times, and in the tough times, some may not [survive].”

I just want to point out that while, yes R&D can be expensive and yes it takes a lot of technology and computing power to create films like yours, it is not computer chips and hard drives that are costing you so very much money. It is the artists that are helping you create your film.

So when you say “I would like it to be cheaper,” as an artist I take that personally. It took hundreds of hours from skilled artists and hard-working coordinators and producers to craft the environments and performances in life of Pi. Not to mention the engineers that wrote all of that proprietary code and build the R+H pipeline. That is where your money went. I’d say, judging from the night you just had, you got one hell of a deal.

Incidentally, those were the same gorgeous sunsets and vistas that your DP Claudio Miranda took credit for without so much as a word of thanks to those artists. And the same animated performances that helped win you the best director statue. Nice of you to mention the pool crew, but maybe you could have thanked the guys and gals who turned that pool in to an ocean and put a tiger in to that boat?

It was world class work, after all. And after a fabulously insulting and dismissive introduction from the cast of the avengers, at least two of whom spent fully half of their film as a digitally animated character, R+H won for it’s work on your very fine piece of cinema. And just as the bankruptcy was about to be acknowledged on a nationally-televised platform, the speech was cut short. By the Jaws theme.

If this was meant as a joke, we artists are not laughing.

Mr. Lee, I do believe that you are a thoughtful and brilliant man. And a gifted filmmaker. But I also believe that you and everyone in your tier of our business is fabulously ignorant to the pain and turmoil you are putting artists through. Our employers scramble to chase illegal film subsidies across the globe at the behest of the film studios. Those same subsidies raise overhead, distort the market, and cause wage stagnation in what are already trying economic times. Your VFX are already cheaper than they should be. It is disheartening to see how blissfully unaware of this fact you truly are.

By all accounts, R+H is a fantastic place to work; a truly great group of people who treat their employees with fairness and respect. Much like Zoic Studios, the fabulous company that I am proud to work for. But I am beginning to wonder if these examples of decency will be able to survive in such a hostile environment. Or if the horror stories of unpaid overtime and illegal employment practices will become the norm, all because you and your fellow filmmakers “would like it to be cheaper.”

I for one won’t stand for it. Please join me.

Warmest regards and congratulations,
Phillip Broste
Lead Compositor