They accuse Marvel again of exploiting, underpaying and being horrible with the special effects artists of their movies and series.
Recently a group of workers responsible for special effects accused Marvel of causing stress by demanding unrealistic deadlines which leads to unsatisfactory final products. Now, another artist from the VFX has made some very important accusations.
During an interview with vulturethe technician of VFX who did not want to give his name said that in Marvel: “They pay less and overwork, they have no idea what they want, they demand endless last-minute revisions, and they will blacklist anyone who falls short.”
“It’s pretty well known and even darkly joked throughout the visual effects houses that working on Marvel shows is really hard. When I worked on a movie, it was almost six months of overtime every day. I was working seven days a week, averaging 64 hours a week on a good week. Marvel really makes you work really hard. I’ve had coworkers sit next to me, break down, and start crying. I’ve had people have anxiety attacks over the phone.”
“The studio has a lot of power over the effects companies, just because they have so many hit movies coming out one after another. If you mess up in any way, there’s a big chance you won’t get those projects in the future. So the effects companies are trying to bend over backwards to keep Marvel happy.”
Despite earning millions, they always try to save costs.
The special effects artist revealed how it works in this industry:
“To get a job, companies propose a project. Everyone is trying to get in right under everyone else’s bids. With Marvel, the bids will generally be a little lower and you’re happy that way because it saves you money. But what ends up happening is that all projects tend to be understaffed. Where I normally have a team of ten VFX artists on a movie from another studio, on a Marvel movie, I have two, including myself. So each person is doing more work than he can.”
“The other thing that Marvel is famous for is asking for a lot of changes throughout the process. So you are already overworked, they ask for regular changes much more than any other client does. And some of those changes are really important. Maybe a month or two before a movie comes out, he’ll ask us to change the whole third act. It has very tight delivery times. So yeah, it’s just not a great situation overall. A VFX house couldn’t finish the number of shots and reshoots they’re asking for in time, so they had to give my studio the job. Since then, that house has been effectively blacklisted for Marvel work.”
“Part of the problem with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the sheer number of movies that they have. He puts dates, and he is very adamant about those dates. However, they are quite willing to do retakes and big changes very close to dates without changing them up or down. This is not a new dynamic.
Some of the issues I mentioned are universal to every show and every project. But not all customers have Marvel’s intimidating power.”
The new directors are partly to blame.
“I remember going to a presentation by one of the other VFX houses on an early MCU movie, and people were talking about how they were ‘fucking pixels’. That’s a term we use in the industry when the customer criticizes every little pixel. Even if you never notice it. A client might say: This isn’t exactly what I want, and you’re still working on it. But they have no idea what they want. Then they will say: Can you try this? Can you try that? They’ll want you to change a whole set, a whole environment, pretty late in a movie.”
“The main problem is that most Marvel directors are not familiar with working with visual effects. Many of them have just made small independent films at the Sundance Film Festival and have never worked with VFX. They don’t know how to visualize something that isn’t there yet, that isn’t on set with them. So Marvel often starts asking for what we call final renders.”
“While we’re working on a movie, we’ll be sending work-in-progress images that aren’t pretty but show where we’re at. Marvel often asks for them to be delivered at a much higher quality from the start, and that takes a long time. It does that because its directors don’t know how to look at the raw footage from the start and make value judgments. But that’s the way the industry has to work. You can’t show something super pretty when the basics are still developing.”
“The other problem is that when we’re in post-production, we don’t have a cinematographer involved. So we find ourselves with the shots most of the time. It causes a lot of inconsistency. A good example of what happens in these scenarios is the battle scene at the end of Black Panther. Physics is completely off. Suddenly the characters are jumping around, doing all these crazy moves like action figures in space. Suddenly the camera is making these movements that haven’t happened in the rest of the movie. It all seems a bit cartoonish. The visual language of the film has been broken.
The VFX artist makes a final request.
“Things must change at both ends of the spectrum. Marvel needs to train its directors in visual effects work and have a better vision early on. The study needs to put more feet on the fire to its directors to commit to what they want. The other thing is unionization. There is a growing movement to do that, because it would help ensure that VFX houses can’t accept offers without having to consider what the impacts would be. Because a lot of times, it’s like you’re working on a Marvel show, and you’re going to work on it for less money just because it’s cool.”
“Some of the issues I mentioned are universal to every show and every project. But you end up doing less overtime on other shows. You end up being able to push directors back further. When they say something like: Hey, I want this. You can say: This doesn’t make sense. Not all customers have Marvel’s intimidating power.”