Been Downsized

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“One of the things I love about this place is the ILM methodology. We try to create an atmosphere here where creative people are free to share their opinions about things. If somebody has an idea about a shot, they say it. And when people are honest about what they think, the work is better.”
John Knoll, Visual Effects Supervisor, ILM

This is one of the hardest posts that I've ever had to write this year. You may remember that I celebrated five years at my job at Industrial Light & Magic just this January when I applied to be in the Visual Effects Society (by the way, I'm a card carrying member now). While last week I made my demo reel in preparation for the possibility, today I was actually given notice that I am being laid off.

The current state of the economy has hit many companies hard, and the movie industry is not immune to this either. The cost of making movies has gone up, and the margins for the studios has gone down. This trickles down to the visual effects industry in a big way, and effects studios outside of America have found a way to lower costs through foreign government subsidies. In my case, this resulted in ILM not having enough work for me to do.

Instead of rehashing how I was laid off today, I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about the time I've spent at my favorite visual effects company:

- First and foremost, I have made some of the best friendships with some of the most intelligent and talented people I have ever met.
- I started in the render support group monitoring shots on our render farm from midnight to 10 AM and worked alongside
Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, and MIT grads. For someone who didn't even graduate high school and had to work his way through art school to get a degree, this was a great honor.
- My first movie credit was on the 3D version of The Nightmare Before Christmas. One of my favorite movies of all time.
- The first film I did creature work for was
Michael Bay's Transformers. Thinking about the pipeline we had at the time, I realize that we've come a long way since then.
- I spent a few years supporting the creature and animation pipelines as the department's ATD. This was often a stressful job because the things I worked on impacted multiple departments at times.
- Other films I had the opportunity of working on include: Transformers 2 and 3, and
Rango, ILM's first feature-length animated film.
- I also had the opportunity to work in Singapore for a few months where I trained a group of artists there and helped them sim final over 50 shots. There also, I was able to form friendships with some very talented and special people.

I've learned so much in the past five and a half years, and I treasure the friendships and knowledge that I've acquired during that time. While this is not the best thing ever to happen, I'm looking forward to the opportunities ahead....

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