Listen up VFX producers: making games will save you
In September, US special effects studio Digital Domain Media Group, producers of special effects for movies such as Titanic and Transformers, announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection. The group was founded in 1993 by James Cameron and others and has worked on some of the largest movie effects in recent years.
This is a heavyweight loss to the industry but not something new as the recent administration of Fuel VFX here in Australia showed. Special effects companies worldwide are feeling the impact of commoditization of their skill sets, cheaper software and outsourcing.
The Digital Domain announcement triggered a debate on the Digital Labourers Federation forum about the future of computer generated image studios. Jimmy Gunawan, an animation teacher at the University of Technology Sydney, suggested exploring the interactive opportunities that extend from CGI production.
The first employee at The Project Factory was a 3D artist we trained into adding interactive properties to his models that rapidly became game prototypes, virtual worlds and 3D experiences. It was a process that took about three months from “I’ll never be able to learn this tech stuff”, to “look at this prototype”. With the explosion in distribution platforms for small-scale games such as the Apple App Store and Google Play, there is an end-to-end chain from concept to mass-market which is unique in game industry history.
Back on the DLF forum, Arran Potter, a 3D freelance artist, said: “Making money from apps is not a gold rush but it’s something. We are having enough success to make another two larger titles.”
Digital media forces all industries to think differently. Cutting edge technology and creative industries are no different. The CG industry is, however, one of the best positioned to move into game creation and forge itself a new entrepreneurial future.
Guy Gadney is a director of The Project Factory.
- This article first appeared in Encore magazine. Download the iPad edition, now free.