Days Roll By

Lauren’s mother came into town on Thursday. it’s the first time we’ve seen her in about five years, and it’s been great. She’s excited to see the baby of course, and Jack and Olivia are thrilled to have her around. It’s also wonderful to finally have a place big enough for her to visit — our two bedroom apartment in Burbank didn’t work well for visits at all.

I wrote a piece on the Huffington Post about the Kevin Smith/Southwest Airlines story.

My new course Six Month Jump is live — it’s a course focused on helping people quit their jobs, based on what I learned from quitting my job. Special intro pricing is still available.

Work continues on the upcoming VFX  Online Town Hall. I expect to have dates announced by Monday or Tuesday, and my friend Harry Sherman has created a really cool poster that I can’t wait to show you.

The one and only Johnny B. Truant and I are also working on a class together that I think will really kick ass. More details on that as they develop; I expected to launch on March 23rd.

My Week in Review

Sorry for the long delay between postings — my computer died, and a lot of stuff going on.

Let me get to the computer died part first — last Wednesday. I’d been up all night working on the promotion for my Video Vault stock footage collection. I went to bed at about seven morning after hours of copywriting and file organization. When I woke up my computer would absolutely not start. This is a real problem, because this is a computer that I use for video editing, Photoshop, compositing and a ton of other stuff. We get to a certain point — specifically loading the Mup.sys file — and that would just freeze up. So I had days where I literally could not do any new recording, video editing and a whole bunch of other stuff. It turns out the problem was caused by an automatic Microsoft update, plus a possible existence of a rootkit virus. You can read more about my problem here — once I figured out what was going on my soul to quickly using Ubuntu to rename and move a couple files. Though it took hours of frustration, but when it comes to solving computer problems persistence and research often when the day.

The impact from my Open Letter to James Cameron has really been beyond anything I possibly could have expected. The big ruckus seems to started when Variety did a story about my article. I put up a website about the topic of VFX Fairness that will be getting more content in the next week or so. I also ended up in a bunch of really great conversations with people like Scott Ross, the former CEO of Industrial Light and Magic and founder of Digital Domain. I was interviewed on this topic by Jeff over at FX Guide , and Motionographer also did a really excellent piece on it. It was even discussed on Cracked!!!

Leaving aside the VFX Fairness issue, there were also a couple really nice blog posts that mentioned me. The nice folks over at HOSFU did an interview with me talking generally about the role of visual effects in film. And my friend Johnny B. Truant wrote a really phenomenally great post called Your Goals Suck that mentions me. Reading Johnny’s post makes me feel like my writing sucks. But it’s 4:30 AM and I’m trying get the major work-related events of last week out in a factual manner, so I’ll just suppress my feelings of self-loathing.

In writing up these little summaries, I do think I would commit the error of leaving out was actually really important to me. For instance, about a half-hour ago I spent some time laying on the futon and watching Blackjack play a 3-D roller coaster game on the iPod. We were just laying there and laughing when his roller coaster would crash or saying ‘yay!’ when he’d complete a level and really, that sort of thing is the most important thing I do. But instead I write about my computer crashes and interviews.

I just thought I’d mention this personal anomaly. Now back to my dry factual recitation, already in progress.

Last night, I went into Albuquerque for the Indie Q meeting of independent filmmakers. That’s always great, and as usual. I met a bunch of super cool, talented people. Also, I don’t get out much. So, here’s a shout out to everyone I talked to last night — I hope if you found the site, you take a moment to send an e-mail and we can conspire more.

Open Letter To James Cameron: Fairness For Visual Effects Artists

To James Cameron,

I’m addressing this letter to you because you and your films
have been such an inspiration to so many who either watch or work in the movies.
I’m asking for your help in addressing a problem that few in your audience have
probably ever given a thought to — the unfair treatment and working conditions
of visual effects artists around the world.

Visual effects films were dominant commercial forces in
2009. Films like AvatarDistrict 9 and Star Trek all
succeeded because they brought together visual effects with great writing,
acting, directing and other cinematic elements. There are other films for which
the visual effects seem to be the primary audience motivator. Without any
slight, the reality is that people did not go to see recent commercially
successful films like G.I. Joe or the Transformers movies for the
script, music or the acting. They went in droves to see the spectacular visual
effects – the “thrill ride”.

For all of these films that rely heavily on visual effects, the
studios and theater owners made hundreds of millions of dollars. The writers, composers
and actors all will receive well-deserved residual payments for decades to
come. But the visual effects artists don’t receive royalties and residuals. And as
one visual effects artist told me, “even in the credits, we’re listed
after craft services.”

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