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August 2014
Issue: September 1, 2011

Editor's Letter: The evolving world of VFX studios

By: Randi Altman

With 30 years industry experience under her belt, VFX producer Jenny Fulle has seen a lot of changes in the industry.  A few years ago, she looked at the world of visual effects and began to see a changing landscape. That is when she decided to leave her long-time job as executive VP of production/executive producer at Sony Pictures Imageworks, to start her own company, The Creative-Cartel, based in Culver City, CA. That was about three years ago.

Her company most recently oversaw the visual effects and 3D conversion teams who completed the film Priest, and she is currently overseeing the VFX and animation teams working on Seth McFarland’s film Ted and the upcoming film Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. They are also in pre-production on M Night Shyamalan’s 1000 A.E.

The Creative-Cartel (www.the-cartel.com), with its 10 employees, creates and oversees different visual effects and animation teams based on the film’s needs. “We are a hub and visual effects department you essentially sub contract,” explains Fulle. “We manage assets, flowing pipelines and work very closely with the filmmakers. We are able to push large amounts of data — whether here or across the world.”

And that world is new, she says. “Anybody can make VFX look great if you have $100 million, but the challenge is to do it well when you only have $15 million. This has reignited my passion to find people and new ways of doing this stuff.”

Fulle likes working with US-based companies, but sometimes the right people for the job are based all over the world. As we discuss in our “VFX Business” feature on page 24 of this issue, many domestically-based studios have opened outposts in Vancouver and around the world. Independent studios overseas are also playing a role in creating visual effects for Hollywood films. 

“The hardware and software is so much more available and cheaper, and training is available from anywhere in the world — there are online schools and so many ways to learn the craft,” explains Fulle. “It is difficult to just stay here [in the US only] and remain competitive.”

Fulle says that in this ultra competitive environment where prices are being driven down, a studio can’t just offer what she calls “meat and potatoes effects.” They need to have a specialty to stand out, she says. “I love to work here. If there is a place that specializes, I’ll take advantage, but we also need to marry the companies that are best suited to do the job.”

In regard to change, Fulle says, “We have to embrace it and adapt in order to be successful in the way we work.”