Recently in Industry Wages Category


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This was originally an entry on VFXWages in January of 2010.. I've since uploaded it here, since it may get more relevant views. Some of this is specific to the former site, but the message is the same.

During times of economic instability, we often wonder if our jobs are secure.  In the past article, one of our members gave us the current outlook as a Western supervisor living and working in China. His thoughts are eye opening, but how exactly will this help those of us in this Western economic recession? The majority reading are from the Western world, and at the very least, we are concerned for our own welfare.  By looking into developing countries, we can anticipate where they might be going, and as a result, see what changes we can possibly make to compete.

Competition comes in many forms, but the predominant one that most of us are familiar with is the local competition.  It's seldom that we up and move to entirely different countries, but when we do, we are competing with the local talent, which have a number of advantages over us.

1) Familiar and established relationship with companies
2) Solid base of operations
3) Understands local hourly and salary rates, and what to charge
4) Knows the local standard of living, what is necessary to live and get by
5) Work visas and permits unnecessary for employment

Some of these advantages will remain local advantages. Others, however, we can sway into our favor.  One such way is understanding the rates of the region you are in. 
Through our wages system, you can specify which regions of the world you'd like to focus on. This is one small step in realizing your foreign worth. The much bigger step is settling on a price, not so much as just what you're worth, but also what you are capable of. Years of experience are generally the best way to determine what one can do in a production environment.

Many artists that start in the creative industries have no clue what they should be paid. This can have huge ramifications down the line, both on the employee and employer side. Employers can hire very junior artists for next to nothing, while said employee may work extremely hard to impress the employer for the next big thing.  Established employees or contractors can do this very same thing, by charging more, delivering less quality work, or taking advantage of the employer by working longer hours to get a job done and billing more.

In reality, all these things happen frequently. What we aim to do here is help you, the artist, try and find the most appropriate rate for your professional years of experience and talent. The graphs that you see are culled from a plethora of artists, all professionals. As each year of experience increases, so does the hourly rate. You can use this information to tailor your job searches and interviews to the specific region and company. Keep in mind that asking for too high a rate may be detrimental to your career if you cannot deliver on the project. You may be able to bill for a large hourly contract rate now, but down the line, especially in this economy, employers are looking at how the talent can deliver more for less. If you are an established artist, it is much easier to ask for the same rate or more at a familiar company. If you're not an established artist, be prepared to hone and show off your skills in production, as that will be where your talent truly shines, and the rate you've asked for returns dividends for the employer. Professionals with years of experience know what their worth is, and can budget and deliver on time accordingly, while beginners are often not familiar with what it takes to complete a shot, and may spend more time working with it to achieve the correct result. 

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Wages Free

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Do you remember that little site I started two years ago called VFXWages? Have you wondered how it was doing? Well... It's doing well.. But that's not what this post is about.. While we've had limited interest in the website, we wanted to increase our visibility outside of just VFX and those creative industries. Some of you that have been following me on twitter might have seen me mention something about an Android App.Well, here it is..


The QR code launches the Android Market, where you can download the app for free! It's a combination currency and wage calculator, based upon the hours we work in the industry, from a couple hours a week to a lot more, and it currently takes into account California overtime. Doing wage negotiations just got a little easier. If you're a recruiter, this app will help you too. The app is accessible worldwide, so the currency conversions should help out our international users quite a bit.. If you have questions or concerns, just drop us an email in the feedback section of the app. If you have a request for a currency exchange, let us know that too. We will also get any error / force close issues that might happen, so if it does, you don't necessarily have to tell us, we'll get that error in our developer logs.

Ultimately there will be an update to this version which will actually pull data from our site, onto your phone, among other neat features I have planned. An official press release is planned for tomorrow, and I will post again to direct you to that release.
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Memorial Day Weekend

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Did you have a nice three day weekend for those of us in the US? How about the rest of you?  I poked and prodded along, but I'm down to the final bits!


Can you figure it out?  I'm on the last steps before I prep the first VFXWages app to the Android Market. I only spent half my long weekend finishing up the code. I want to get it done before next week, but you know, will real work and all, we'll see how that goes.  


| Category: Industry Wages | | Comments (1) | Views: 161


Ok, this picture has nothing to do with the Visual Effect Society. I just happen to be hiking up in the Santa Monica mountains, and I turned back and looked over West LA.  This is the panorama from the top of the Temescal Ridge Trail.  I'm standing near Skull Rock, a rock that.. uhm, looks like a skull from afar. This picture covers from a little west of downtown LA, Santa Monica, the Pacific Palisades, and Malibu on the far right. It was taken about 7:30 in the morning. While this was a shorter hike (only ~4 miles roundtrip at two hours), it is in preparation for a bigger stint in July. I'll be hiking up Mt. Whitney with some friends. That hike is supposed to be around 22 miles roundtrip with an elevation change of about 6000 feet. Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m).

If you've subscribed to my Twitter feed or are a VFXTalk VIP member, you may have read about my lack of renewal for the next year of VES membership. There are couple reasons for me to do so. While the Visual Effects Society provides a number of outstanding benefits for their members, I have not been able to utilize the majority of them.  In addition, my contributions in general overwhelm what I am really getting in return for being a member.  Many of you know that I have mentored students in the past as part of the VES. I've mentored students for three years. I've also been an active member of VFXTalk, at one brief moment a co-owner, one of the bigger VFX discussion groups around, and also have VFXWages (subsidiary of Industry Wages Inc.), which is gaining in popularity and usefulness.  Doing a search for vfx in google will return VFXTalk as the number two choice, right after the wiki entry, and doing a search for vfx wages, wages in vfx, vfx payrate, all give VFXWages a number one hit. With 8500+ users, an upcoming iPhone app and a new site design with unique tools, we're going to continue to increase our usefulness. After the VFX Townhall that Lee put on a while back, there was a lot of discussion that artists in our fields have to take the initiative and push for their own benefits (be it financial or not).  One thing I've learned is that we as artists work long hours, seem to get a decent amount of financial payback, and are generally a happy lot. So in order to upend the status quo takes a fair bit of work. With many companies going under, or outsourcing their work, the California vfx artist may be a dying breed, so it's up to us to keep ourselves relevant.  We are not replaceable (well, some of us are).

The past couple of weeks I've been researching the US Labor Code, the California Labor Code, and am writing up a piece for VFXWages that covers our entertainment industry. A lot of people that I've met don't really have an idea of what to expect when going into an interview and what to ask for. IMs and SMSs from colleagues asking for rate information, legality of work hours, enhance the fact that we don't really know what to expect!  From the VFX Townhall, the idea is that each artist should be pro-active and strive for their own lifestyle and benefits. One of the key lifestyle benefits is to not be taken advantage of. The article I'm writing will hopefully help professional and starting artists realize that there are laws on the employees side, especially relevant for vfx, that many of us don't know! 
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Tech Fixes and Little Parts

| Category: Industry Wages | | Comments (0) | Views: 149

Hello dear readers, and welcome to another interesting entry here at DigitalGypsy.  It's been about a month since I've last posted, and there have been a lot of exciting developments here in visual effects, among other things!  We've successfully wrapped the A-Team, which came out yesterday! Has anyone seen it yet?  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm taking a little vacation break, which is probably why there hasn't been a post in a little while. I'm busy coming up with other crazy ideas! Here are a couple pictures of the progress I've been making with my little engine.

exhaust.jpg rodsupport.jpg

The item on the left is the exhaust for the engine. It's 0.34" in length. For my metric readers, about 8.6mm. The brass rod guide support and steel bushings are the right. The bushings are 0.080" (~2mm). The diameter of the US dime pictured is 0.7" (~18mm). Below is a finished nut and bolt system, and myself at work!
nutandbolt.jpg meatwork.jpg

Recently I acquired a CNC rotary indexer, which allows me to cut wheels, gears, spokes, flywheels, and anything else that requires rotations around a fixed point. Here's a video I shot of it in action.

Pretty cool! In other news, we're working diligently in releasing our next iteration of VFXWages. That it one of the primary reasons why I haven't written another article in a little while! This next update, which should be coming around the middle of the year, definitely before the end of summer, will contain a number of bug fixes that we've had, as well as a new look and easier accessibility to our data.  We are also in the process of creating some applications for the iPhone and iPad.  To that end, I played with an iPad and visited It is so much easier to browse and look at data with it! It is easier to scroll through all the regions and occupations. We are still planning on creating an auto complete section for it, since it's still not very intuitive to scroll through hundreds of companies to get to the one you want to input wages for or view information. I am really excited about our iPhone app, and I think it will help a lot of you in your negotiations.  I was playing with a simple beta version last night during our Industry Wages company meeting (two guys on a Friday night talking about work, squashing bugs and talking about improvements and doing them!). The version I played with was nearly done, with just some minor tweaks to get it ready for release in the iTunes store.  We will release it at same time as the new site.

Speaking of wages, some of you may have gotten an email from VFXconnection this week about their introduction of an anonymous wage graph system. I have not seen it yet, but our system is already up and running, and we already have valuable data from a number of companies that is more relevant.  When our new services are revealed in about a month or so, I hope you all will stick with us! We've been in print and reviewed, and issued a press release more than a year ago, so we're deep into production.  We've also set up a simple partnership with to help their users!  Right now it is just an exchange of ad space, which I hope will extend into other opportunities. We have some tricks up our sleeve that will leverage the power of both of our sites, and I hope you will gain a lot out of their site and ours in the future!

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