VFX at a crossroads: change propelled by new technology


By its very nature, the VFX industry is enabled and determined by emerging technologies. However, the last few years have seen a convergence of external factors that accelerated the already rising tide of change not only in VFX, but across the board when it comes to the creative industries. Arguably, a significant part of that was the sudden emerging need for remote working solutions but some structural shifts actually predate the turbulence of recent times.

Production pipelines and the Global VFX Scene

It’s undeniable that the global production dynamic is rapidly evolving at a faster pace than ever before. A few decades ago production was all about client service, and the so-called “operators” were at the heart of every project. This has changed massively since then; operators are now being rightly called artists, and the people working in production can get much more involved in the creative process. Producers are substantially contributing to and shaping the projects, and this has all been enabled by advances in technology.

At the same time, a significant part of the VFX financial model is still very much legacy-based because tried and tested pipelines are hard to change; people don’t have time for it when they’re busy with existing work and chasing new projects. Even so, the on-set dynamics are notably different nowadays; the way directors and VFX artists are able to collaborate is shifting rapidly because they’re able to work in tandem now. Making real-time changes on set using virtual production techniques is a huge part of how work gets done now, and highlights how indispensable the VFX process has become.

Creativity without Limits

There are more opportunities for creativity than ever. The industry is at crossroads with VFX Real-Time which is changing the way a lot of content is shot. Pretty much anything can be achieved with VFX now, it all depends on time and budget. Creativity has no limits anymore, so it’s all about people willing to invest to get things done properly.

This in turn opens up studios to pivot towards niche areas of unreal and virtual production. In fact, lots of new VFX studios are opening up at the moment, being innovative in the way they set up their businesses and using the new tools available to provide creative solutions for content creation.

The biggest challenges

This time of change is not without its own set of challenges; some of them simply growing pains, some legacy issues, while others are more constant and something studios need to work around and take into consideration going forward.

Budgets remain one of the biggest challenges. It’s expensive to set up a VFX studio, especially when going the traditional route of renting a studio in a costly location, getting good talent, lots of kit – it’s a huge investment, and all before booking one job. The new model powered by cloud-based solutions – the one also backed by Hotspring – is more cost-effective: it’s about having a lean core team and then relying on external talent for scalability.

The other big challenge is talent. Good talent is hard to find, and as companies get busier and things are returning to normal, there is less time to find it. Studios that are opening themselves up to global talent, and actively searching without geographical constraints have already experienced the benefits of scaling easily with exceptional creatives and fewer overheads.

Hotspring and the changing landscape

Outsourcing is nothing new in the VFX industry, but the process studios have been using to do it is very much a legacy-based one. It’s always been a laborious, manual task that can lead to mistakes and inefficiencies that ends up being a big time waster for the production pipeline. 

The Hotspring platform is a cloud-based solution that’s fully equipped to resolve this frustration. It automates bidding, management, and the delivery of outsourced tasks, streamlining the process from end to end. It’s a project management tool, a communication system, and an operational scaling function all wrapped up in one package, and it’s been proven over the last year that it makes studios more efficient. It centralizes and consolidates what can be a fragmented way of working, giving greater control and visibility to the whole company while maintaining high quality standards, improving on crucial aspects like the security of content moving around and the speed to turnaround work.

The feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive. People really like it when they start out, and the majority have no intention of going back to the old model. On the vendor side, the situation is two-fold: the platform is disrupting established practices, and people are noticing us.  By facilitating global collaboration via the cloud, Hotspring is empowering artists everywhere. As an artist in the Hotspring network, you can earn more, work on bigger jobs that would have otherwise been out of reach, and can live wherever you like instead of moving to one of the traditional hubs of the industry. 

This is certainly a new way of doing things which can seem daunting at first. As the industry is navigating these new waters, Hotspring will also keep evolving and changing to suit the needs of its user base. The goal is to continue paving the way to a new industry model that is faster, easier, and more cost-effective than what was there before.

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