A VFX Artist Talks Working with Marvel

An anonymous VFX artist shared what it is like working on a Marvel movie highlighting issues Marvel Studios has and offering a way to solve them. 

Visual effects jobs have been one of the most demanded in the film industry, especially when it comes to high-budget movies like action films including ones devoted to superheroes. However, the conditions many VFX specialists work in are often not the best, to put it mildly.

Employees of various VFX studios complained about their working conditions more than once, and the company that probably received the most criticism was Marvel Studios. The spike of backlash came in the middle of 2022 when many artists started to reveal that, in their opinion, the film studio is one of the worst employers in the industry saying that they were "sick" of working for the company with some of them even admitting that working on a Marvel movie made them leave the VFX industry.

On Tuesday, Vulture published a new article based on a conversation with an anonymous VFX artist which once again sheds a light on what it can be like to work for one of the largest film studios in Hollywood. The artist shared his experience of working on a Marvel movie stressing that "that working on Marvel shows is really hard."

"When I worked on one movie, it was almost six months of overtime every day. I was working seven days a week, averaging 64 hours a week on a good week," they said. "Marvel genuinely works you really hard. I’ve had co-workers sit next to me, break down, and start crying. I’ve had people having anxiety attacks on the phone."
According to the artist, Marvel Studios has a huge impact on VFX studios as it is one of the biggest employers in the market. It constantly releases a huge number of films and series, each of which needs visual effects. So studio executives try to please Marvel, as they run the risk of being left without projects from the studio if they "upset Marvel in any way" like failing to complete the work on time.

"To get work, the houses bid on a project; they are all trying to come in right under one another’s bids. With Marvel, the bids will typically come in quite a bit under, and Marvel is happy with that relationship, because it saves it money," the artist said.

The artist claims that Marvel also often requires VFX specialists to make some last-minute changes, and sometimes these changes are quite significant.

"So you’re already overworked, but then Marvel’s asking for regular changes way in excess of what any other client does," shared the artist. "Maybe a month or two before a movie comes out, Marvel will have us change the entire third act. It has really tight turnaround times."

Some of the edits that the company is asking for are for seemingly minor details in the frame. When a client approaches work in this way, specialists often refer to it as being "pixel-fucked." The artist sees the fact that many Marvel directors are not familiar with working with visual effects as the main problem here.

"That’s a term we use in the industry when the client will nitpick over every little pixel. Even if you never notice it. A client might say, 'This is not exactly what I want,' and you keep working at it," said the artist. "But they have no idea what they want."

The artist, however, believes that the overall situation can be improved if visual effects specialists form unions. In that case, VFX studios would have to weigh the pros and cons when they compete for a Marvel project. In addition, the artist is sure that the film company should better train directors on working with visual effects.

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Comments 1

  • Anonymous user

    Virtue signaling is a way to keep mainstream media quiet while pulling off nasty shit behind the closed doors.


    Anonymous user

    ·a year ago·

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