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Buckle up, Futurists. This episode is going to be a bumpy ride. Chris dives deep with guest, Ryan Summers, in what’s ailing the visual effects industry. If you’re a VFX professional, you might want to keep your ears open with this one.
Also joining us in this episode is sound designer (and Mr. Ben Burns’s brother) Sam Burns. He’ll be adding his perspective to the conversation.
Ryan Summers is a Creative Director at Digital Kitchen in Chicago, IL. While he originally planned to be a chemical engineer, he was hit by the double-punch combo of Jurassic Park and Toy Story - and then it was animation from there on. He’s worked as a character animator on children's videos, created the visuals for industry-leading slot machines, and designed the opening titles for some of the highest rated shows on TV. He’s also been a blogger and editor in his previous life.
The visual effects industry is super tough. Even just 10 years ago, and especially now. Let’s explore this a little bit. In 2017, the visual effects industry was worth $254 billion. In 2020, it’s projected to reach $270 billion. From Ryan’s first-hand point of view, he notes that the work is getting crazier, and the demands are only increasing.
This may come as a surprise to those on the outside listening in, but a large portion of the people in the film industry have no safety net, nothing to back them up, and no voice. There are limited benefits and no real seat at the table, as Ryan says.
From his point of view, what started out as working in a fairytale later turned into a horror story. People went through major emotional and psychological challenges from the constraints put on them by the industry.
So what does this tell us about the VFX industry? Is it just something to steer clear of completely?
Are visual effects artists part of the problem or can they be part of the solution plaguing the VFX industry? Ryan Summers shares his personal challenges running a post-production business.