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Larger visual effects companies tend to hav e the r esources to ride out the r ocky road as they scramble to come up with new and innovative ways to cope with the changing busi- ness. What we’re seeing no w is a lot of the larger visual effects companies “putting skin” in the game as a way of reducing their budgets to fit within the constraints of today ’s budgets. Tey’re deferring up-fr ont payment for a piece of the box-office receipts. Midsize companies don ’t often have the luxury of investing their rev- enues for potential back-end pay off; they’re fr equently sur viving job to job. Consequently, we’ve seen quite a few midsize visual effects compa- nies close their doors during the past couple of years, and many more that are struggling to keep them open to- day. Times are most trying for these companies, and they are the most vulnerable to the demands in the changing climate. The Creative-Cartel’s latest project was for the 2011 movie Priest. Changing with the Times Technical innovations, combined with ne w economic times, are caus- ing the business of visual effects to adapt and reinvent itself. However, all this change pr ovides incredible opportunity for some. Te motto for talented individuals and smaller companies should be carpe diem. Never has the need and desir e for lo wer-cost, high-qual- ity visual effects work been so gr eat. It’s certainly no secr et that o ver the years, the business of visual effects has evolved dramatically. Tech- nological innovations have steadily and radically changed what can be conceptualized and ex ecuted in a photor ealistic manner. Tings have now developed to a point wher e many of the tools r equired to do a large portion of visual effects work are available as off-the-shelf software and hardware. Tis is a relatively new evolution. As fortune would have it for this gr oup, never have the r equired tools been so sophisticated, accessible, and affordable. Te challenge now becomes how to navigate all the companies and the individuals that ar e providing services at a cost and quality lev el that are in line with the changing demands. Typically, in the past, if you wanted to economically leverage the expertise of multiple compa- nies, you had to hire one of a handful of supervisor/producers with the expertise to navigate the global community of visual effects artists and companies. With that initial team, you would set up your own depart- ment, including the building out of the infrastr ucture to manage and control all the digital assets and data involved. Generally the cost of this model was limited only to large-studio franchise films. Two years ago, I started my own company, Te Creative-Cartel, be- cause I saw an oppor tunity to “ seize the day ” and ser ve the needs of filmmakers in this rapidly changing business environment. Te Cre- ative-Cartel has an infrastr ucture in place and can be utiliz ed by pro- ductions that can benefit from this model but don ’t have the budget to build it fr om scratch. At Te Creative-Cartel, the fundamental in - frastructure is put in place and not dismantled betw een projects. Tis represents significant savings for productions. Additionally, by staying current and using specializ ed service providers and tax incentiv es, we can dramatically reduce the cost of production. For Screen Gems’ film Priest, which is due out in theaters next y ear, Te Creative-Cartel was able to assemble a cast of talent that spanned from a truly gifted modeler working from his home, to an established character house in the B ay Area. In all, there were approximately 12 vendors that contributed to the successful deliv ery of more than 750 top-quality visual effect shots. Tese artists and companies w ere pri- marily based in California, as the film was qualified under the state’s tax-incentive program. A few years ago, the quality of the work in Priest would have been accessible only to a pr oduction with a budget thr ee times greater than what was allocated for in Priest. In addition to adapting to a ne w landscape of changing visual effects, there is a ne w push for films to be released in ster eo 3D, or S3D. Whether a show is shot in S3D, or shot mono and converted as a post process, the task of managing the process involved in S3D produc- tion increasingly is falling to the visual effects department. Tis adds an additional layer of complexity in terms of personnel and equipment necessary to manage shows. Te opportunity for a company like Te Creative-Cartel is to con - tinue to find ways to streamline and economiz e so that high-quality visual effects and S3D becomes more viable for filmmakers at all levels. In my view, among all the challenges and changes taking place in our industry, there exists incredible opportunity to reinvent and innovate. For this 30-year veteran, the current challenges have ignited a spark of passion not felt in quite some time. n Jenny Fulle, founder of The Creative-Cartel and visual effects producer, has over 30 years experience in the visual effects and animation industry. The Creative-Cartel is a Los Angeles-based production company specializing in the assembly of teams tailored specifically for the visual effects, animation, and stereo 3D needs of individual projects. Throughout her career, Fulle has held positions at many of the major studios, including Sony Pictures Imageworks, DreamWorks SKG, Disney, Warner Digital Studio, Digital Domain, and ILM. November 2010 9

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