VFX Artist Dave Rand to DGA: 'We Desperately Need Your Help'

Dave Rand, one of the visual effects artists who organized the rally that the VFX community staged Oscar Sunday on Hollywood Blvd., is sending an open letter to the Directors Guild of America, asking for help while explaining why he believes the current VFX model produces "wasted time, wasted money, and even worse, wasted creativity."

Rand said that he is trying to "give back" by submitting these observations, which will be posted on several websites and which he plans to discuss on a Thursday panel at CG conference Siggraph. In the letter, he asked DGA members for their help, saying, "If you agree with these insights, even some of them, we need you, the director, to tell the studios you currently work for that there’s a better way to work. They’ll listen to you. ... We all desperately need your help and direction."

"The largest cost in visual effects is not labor; it is waste due to lack of live pure direction,” he wrote in the letter, posted Tuesday. "The director is no longer required to be involved with the visual effects talent. ... Direction has been subcontracted and lost."

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He explained: "In this world, the lonely VFX artists will make what they think is the right image based on a paragraph, an e-mail, someone whirling their hands about in a circular motion. ... After this guess work, their lead will suggest changes, the sequence supervisor will suggest changes, the shop’s VFX supervisor will suggest changes. The artist finds themselves on version 50 and the VFX supervisor on the client side has not even seen a thing yet … never mind the director, or the studio executive."

Rand also lamented that with outsourced VFX, communication in no longer live. "We can now send imagery over a wire, under the ocean, through glass, and bounce it off birds in space, but we've distanced ourselves from the human element in creativity, and we've cut off the director from the human artists that are often creating most of the screen space," he wrote. "The temptation to outsource to cheap labor locations or to chase political bribes for votes around the globe has become fire control by gasoline, and it's money that's burning rather than being saved as intended."

"I don’t believe we should abandon the Internet, it is a great tool for distribution of ideas assembled live but has serious limitations when it comes to human creativity and human communication."

The full letter can be found here.

E-mail: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA