For the visual effects industry, 2010 was a year of huge peaks and valleys in terms of projects. A year of feast or famine, with a large influx of work, followed intermittently with slower periods. We definitely noticed more advertising in the automotive and cell phone sectors, which was encouraging, indicating that the economy as a whole will begin to gain some traction. However, budgets and margins continue to be challenging.
We saw a very large rise in interactive work with higher-quality creative and budgets increasing relative to historic broadcast vs. interactive allocations. We believe this is a strong avenue for growth in 2011, with many opportunities ahead.
Another very strong trend for 2011 and beyond is where the industry is headed in terms of the new model of a creative company. Production and post production have merged, and clients are seeking out the “all-in-one” solution. A studio-model where in-house, known directors are driving the creative, and all of the artists are under one roof.
This new trend has incredible advantages to clients in terms of creativity, because all of the artists are working together — the directors, editors, CG artists, and designers. It is easy to have a 20-minute brainstorming session with everyone in one room; rather than the creative process being segmented or compartmentalized. This new way of working can be incredibly effective creatively, as well as in terms of budget.
While some visual effects artists are concerned about outsourcing internationally, we don’t see that as a threat in the commercial arena. The turn-around time for the production of a high-end commercial is too fast. The quality and visual language required is something that cannot readily be found in emerging markets currently.
We are very optimistic that 2011 will be a year of continued growth for the economy overall, and for the visual effects industry.
Jason Cohon is an Executive Producer with Sway (
) in Culver City, CA. The studio specializes in visual effects, design, character creation, cars, food and stereo 3D work.