COVID-19 Chaos – What’s next for VFX?

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

Having spread to over 100 different countries since December 2019, the World Health Organisation deemed COVID-19 a global state of emergency, officially declaring it a pandemic.  But what does this mean for production and VFX industry? The impact of the disease has already been felt heavily across the industry with companies having to adapt, re-write their entire infrastructure and in some cases, even close doors until further notice.

We are sure that you can imagine all of the above can be potentially fatal to a business, so today we would like to talk about the effects the virus is having on the community, how people are coping and most importantly – what’s next?

 

How will COVID affect the economy?

There are three main ways in which the economy is going to affected: (1) through the ability to deliver, (2) supply and demand, and (3) the financial state of business.

To translate this into VFX… Productions and upcoming projects will be delayed/brought to a halt, which will eventually have a knock-on effect in post-production. Even with a project to work on, the question is if the business has the supplies or facilities to do so? Can they afford the infrastructure to work remotely? With a massive slowing in the supply chain, stock markets become unpredictable and therefore business confidence drops meaning overall demand drops.

 

So, what are companies doing to survive?

Among all the doom and gloom the virus has brought, in turn we have seen the community pull together to tackle the obstacles thrown their way.

Framestore are a great example of this; they say they are “pleased to confirm that the vast majority of” their “colleagues are now working from home” with “all offices” operational and working remotely. They added that “some de-bugging is still underway, and thank colleagues and clients alike for their patience” whilst they get their tech up to speed.

Similarly, ScanlineFX announced they have transformed into a completely remote VFX studio across London, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Montreal, Munich, Stuttgart and Seoul. All 650 of its crew successfully working from home making the studio independent of local government restrictions while providing a safe environment to work.

Confident in the abilities ScanlineFX says their pipeline will continue as normal, therefore are still open for new projects!

Their success is based on their rapid ability to transition to remote working using PCoIP technology. They have been a long loyal customer of Teradici for more than 10 years, the creators of an infrastructure which transfers moving screen pixel data from the employee’s workstation directly to their monitors at home. The use of this tech proves to be a great pandemic hack as it has enabled ScanlineFX to be nimble and not pay for extra software licences for its employees.

They say it has always been part of their business strategy to have a global decentralised VFX production workflow as it enables them to hire the best talent from around the world. This combined with other technology like Microsoft Teams makes collaborative meetings, reviews and training still possible.

 

But what if you don’t have PCoIP technology already installed?

There are still other alternatives – for example; Autodesk Maya say they are “working to ensure customers have reliable access to their software and Autodesk support” and their “goal is to respond quickly and compassionately, while balancing the needs of all the constituencies in our community”. In the light of the situation, they are now offering “Free & Extended Access to Cloud Collaboration Products” (Updated May 11).

CelAction, the 2D animation software developer, announced that any of their clients who require licences of their software to work from home, can get them free of charge until the end of their current project.

Gaming software NVIDIA have extended their free virtual GPU software evaluation from 128 to 500 licenses for 90 days helping companies support their remote workers with their existing GPU infrastructure.

Here are just some of the ways that software houses have pulled together in efforts to protect their community – not to mention the rest! If you haven’t already, head over to your chosen software’s FAQ page to see if they are offering anything that can help you.

 

So, what’s next?

Though the phrase “new normal” has gotten thrown around a lot lately, we feel it’s important to touch on the subject of what is going to start the healing of the economy.

Immediate predictions: we expect that remote working will become the norm in the industry –  meaning it’s likely that businesses will be more flexible to hire internationally. This has the potential to be so much more than just great work life balance – imagine having the freedom to work in ANY studio in the world!

 

With this being said, some companies don’t have the infrastructure to work in this way but we can see this changing post lockdown. Businesses will want to have the peace of mind that, even when working from home, they can run a successful company. So… we expect new tech being introduced and old tech thrown out, new departments to fit the new structure, hires and fires based on a change in talent requirements, etc. We can imagine companies will reduce their carbon footprint immensely (i.e. travel to office/bills/rent) and have a wider capability of hiring the best talent globally.

We predict that the on everyone’s return to work it is going to be over saturated candidate market, meaning there will be less shortages of talent. Roles will be getting filled faster than ever, so common and frequent communication is essential if looking for a new role. This potentially means that rates might drop, so you might be unable to achieve your normal market rate. In terms of which roles will be live, it is hard to say as it all depends on how the production workflow holds up, but it’s likely that retouching houses will have a head start.

Without a second wave of the virus it has been predicted that the economy will be able to start making a recovery from as early December 2020, but, in order for this to happen it’s important that everyone follows government guidelines and implement social distancing. Please stay alert, stay grateful to the NHS and stay healthy.

 

Anything to add? We would love to hear from you. Start the conversation by reaching out to our VFX and Design Specialist – joel@yellowcat.london

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