I’ve withheld to social media plugs about this up to now, but I now introduce you to the future here on my own blog. VFX Soldier dug this up, and has the lead on this story… summed up, the CEO of Digital Domain John Textor is thrilled, and you should be too, because now all of those students learning the trade can now pay for the pleasure of working long hours. Exploitation needn’t be outsourced, you can do it right here at home, where ever home is. This isn’t even surprising to those of us who’ve been involved with producing animation formats and educating the next generation. It is however a particularly candid declaration. To be sarcastic, it’s thrilling.
It’s important to define why this is such a negative development. A market-economy believer may well argue that this is a good thing. Demand is being met, on both sides of the production – clever management. Right?
Wrong. Working on a production isn’t education, it’s crunch. Students in such a situation will never learn to ask the contextual questions that make for true advancements in the industry because – quite frankly – those questions are not allowed in the production phase. It’s do or die, bite-the-bullet time. At best, pay-to-produce programs (I refuse to call it a curriculum) will create operators. If you have been in this industry for more than the 5 years that it takes to develop competitive skills, then you know that that’s the last thing you want to be. An operator is in constant threat of becoming redundant – not because of the outsource offerings in India and China – they’re too busy with their own markets. No, operators are made redundant by the software developers. It’s like learning to driving a truck that will be completely redesigned every 4 to 6 years – here a new engine, there a new navigation paradigm, and then – whaddyaknow – an automatic street recognition software just put you ‘out on the market’. I would have to be particularly gracious to assume there is an educational concept behind Digital Domain’s inverted assistant system… and even then I would have to say that the only interest being served is Digital Domain’s. Certainly not an aspiring vfx artist or animator hoping to learn skills with longevity beyond half a decade. And the assholes like Textor at the helm of this industry will be shooting their successors in the foot. Where will the innovators be?