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Radium Santa Monica was able to keep the budget down but creative up on this in-theater advertising spot for AMC and Coke out of Fitzgerald & Co. vfx It's the same story we've been hearing since the bottom fell out of the economy: Agencies want the same work for less money and in less time.This has forced visual effects companies to adjust the way they work, sometimes forc- ing them to take on more than just a VFX role to keep the client happy, some- times asking more junior people to step up, sometimes finding cost-effective alter- natives — all the while keeping quality up. They are also being asked to get in- volved early, before the shoot, in a sense partnering with their client for the best result. So it's quite a balancing act they are being forced to perform. M A S S M A R K E T Justin Lane, executive producer at NYC's MassMarket (, has seen a number of changes in the market recently, most attributed to the economy. Even while viewing more "low-fi, low-tech approaches to commercials" on television, his studio has been asked for just the opposite. "We've had requests and demand for pretty high-end visual effects for cheaper budgets," he explains. "That's not a great thing for the industry, because we've seen budgets slashed but clients asking for same amount of work. Unfor tu- nately it's now cheaper, faster, better. We have to figure out how to do it for one- third of the price and in half the time you used to have." So how do you do it? "We are still sor ting it out while trying to maintain the same integrity of work and not burning our guys out," says Lane. "We've had to work longer shifts at times and more weekends to get these things done, but we've also tried to be as resourceful as possible." One tack they have taken is relying on the seasoned vets to help bring up the ju- nior guys."This has forced the more junior guys to step up to the plate, and it's actu- ally been working quite well," reports Lane. "We are letting the guys know what we are up against and asking them to come up with creative solutions to adjust to that." It could be simple things like how they set up their CG elements so there is not as much render time, or finding a 2D solution instead of the planned 3D one. Lane admits to riding the budget line pretty tight these days and hopes more money will open up soon. "Budgets are going to level out; they need to come back up because we are at a point where we can't consistently invest in jobs that much. When you are riding that close, one change tends to be the difference be- Working with for Spots The waters are rough out there and navigating them carefully is key to staying afloat. By Randi Altman

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