Marvel: a special effects artist balances on his infernal work with the studio

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In an anonymous testimonial, a VFX artist reported on his own experience with Marvel, and it's not pretty pretty.

< p style="text-align: justify;">New day, new allegations against Marvel. For several years now, the famous studio has been regularly criticized for not necessarily providing its employees with an ideal working environment.Accused of racism by Anthony Mackie (alias, the Falcon), or of mistreating the comic book authors on whom their productions depend, Marvel does not seem to be fully appreciated by its various employees.

More recently, it was the specialists in charge of special effects who uttered a huge rant against the MCU via the Reddit platform. Exasperated by the studio's methods, they denounced exhausting conditions, a continuous work overload, as well as increasingly difficult deadlines to meet. A general dissatisfaction whose first testimonies now seem to have a snowball effect.

Kevin Feige facing the VFX artists

a less healthy working environment than the thanos army

While former VFX artist Dhruv Govil (who notably collaborated on Guardians of the GalaxyandSpider-Man: Homecoming) reported in early July that his experience with Marvel l pushed to leave the industry, a new artist responsible for special effects has also decided to jump at the chance to describe, by means of an anonymous testimony relayed by Vulture, an unenviable backdrop:

“It's well known in the industry that working for Marvel is particularly difficult. When I was working on a movie, I was working almost six overtime hours every day. I was working seven days a week for an average of 64 hours a week. .. and that's when it was going well. Marvel makes us work like mules. Some of my colleagues would come and sit next to me and start crying hysterically, while others would have seizures. phone anxieties.”

The artist went on to describe the importance of the studio to the digital effects industry. Indeed, with an ever-increasing distribution rate as the Phases follow one another and the cinematographic universe continues to expand (all the more so with the arrival of the series in the equation), < strong>Marvel has quickly positioned itself as an indispensable VFX client.

Only positive point: no VFX, no Thanos

untenable delays

One ​​of the other major problems raised by the testimony is indeed the management of special effectsby the studio. Marvel is indeed notorious throughout the film industry for demanding many changes throughout the digital effects creation process, and these changes would, according to the artist, be far from minor. It would happen, for example, that a month or two before the movie hits theaters, Marvel orders the artists to redesign the entire third act:

“The problem is with the MCU itself – there are too many movies. The studio sets release dates, and once fixed, they do not move. They are inflexible. And yet, Marvel has no qualms about commissioning sizeable reshoots and edits as movie release dates creep dangerously close […]. But this is far from new.

Ah, the “magic” of green background

I remember once, I went to do a visual presentation for one of the first Marvel movies at one of the VFX studios, and people there were already reporting that they felt like they were being fucked by pixels. It's a term used in the industry to describe customers who nitpick over the smallest detail. […]

A client may say, “That's not exactly what I want,” so we keep working on that of course. But they never know what they want. So they grope: “Can you try this? Or this?”. And we find ourselves having to change a whole set, a whole environment, at a very late stage in the progress of the film. »

The Moon Knight series , another fine depiction of rushed work

an underprepared production

Time-pressed, excessively overworked, and very regularly understaffed,the artists responsible for the digital effects seem moreover not only committed to compensating for the lack of pre-production before filming, but also for the lack of experience of the filmmakers recruited by Marvel. And according to the artist, the absence of a director of photography during post-production does not help:

“You end up having to invent certain shots, and that causes a lot of continuity issues throughout the entire footage. An example of the consequences of this kind of situation can be seen in the sequence of the final battle in Black Panther. laws of physics have been flouted there.

All of a sudden, the characters start jumping around, doing all kinds of spectacular gestures, as if it were a miniature fight in space. And then the camera makes movements that have never been done at any other time in the film. […] And it breaks the visual language.”

Movie scene or concept art?

In fact, the increasingly ugly, half-finished visual effects of recent Marvel productions are not just the responsibility of VFX managers, but of the whole production line. Unsustainable in the long term, the situation therefore deserves that Marvel rethink its methods, better prepare its filmmakers for the use of digital effects, and stop rewriting footage during filming, or even in the editing room.

As for the artists responsible for special effects, it would now be a matter of unionizing the VFX studios in order to protect the little hands who work there through collective agreements . Indeed, without union organization, artists are more easily subject to exploitation without an adequate salary necessarily being guaranteed behind it.

The fact is to conclude that, as the artist mentions in his testimony, the problems he mentions can also be found in other productions. But he nevertheless points out that there are other companies in the industry that require less overtime and offer healthier working conditions overall. Marvel being however preponderant in terms of requests, the studios allow themselves more to play on their status in order to bend the special effects houses to their slightest wishes.

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