Issue: December 1, 2007


Welcome back to our year-end Outlook issue, where we use the SWOT format — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — to illicit responses from industry experts regarding their market segment.

This year we added a couple of SWOTs: "Education & Training" and "New Media." Both have become very important aspects of our industry.  With software changing so often, who couldn't use a refresher course? And for those picking a school, it's important to find one that offers hands-on experience as part of the curriculum. As for New Media, this is really giving studios a shot in the arm as a new revenue stream, and it's only going to grow. So, read, enjoy.

In the meantime, here's a SWOT from Ghost Rider director Mark Steven Johnson regarding VFX.

STRENGTHS: "With VFX you're not limited anymore. Your imagination isn't limited. Anything you dream up, you can do."

WEAKNESSES: "Oversaturation of visual effects. The audience is going to become or already is more sophisticated, but more importantly they are beginning to get weary of effects. There is a risk of alienating your audience from the humanity of the story with visual effects. They should only be used when you have no other choice. A lot of people use them because they are lazy. They don't want to actually go out and do the stunt, or maybe it costs too much. Whenever you get a plethora of visual effects that aren't necessary, film people feel it and they turn against it."

OPPORTUNITIES: "I'm dying to see anything from James Cameron. I want to see the visual effects brought into the 3D world in feature film, and I think that's where he's headed. I can't wait to see where that ends up because there is a chance that is where we are all headed — and I can't wait to see where that ends up. Years down the road, probably not in the too distant future, if you go to see a huge action/visual effects movie, you just assume you will be a part of it, that you'll be in it."

THREATS: "One of the threats for all of my friends at these big effects companies, which is an opportunity for others, is the threat of visual effects being done in people's basements. There are great young artists out there who are doing things on their Mac at home. And there are all these wonderful facilities who have big overheads, and this is a threat to them because they are realizing there is competition out there coming from people living in their parents' basement. People have to rethink this business as far as being a profitable business because things are changing daily."

Ghost Rider's visual effects were created by Sony Pictures Imageworks.