Hollywood's Visual Effects Industry in Crisis

    01 June, 2014


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

    Not everything you see in Hollywood movies is real. Some of the beautiful, strange, scary images might have been produced on a computer. They are called visual effects. They once were produced only in Hollywood, but that has changed. New technology makes it possible for one film to include visual effects created in different countries.

    Venkatesh Roddam is the chief executive officer of Reliance MediaWorks in India.

    "In the last five to seven years is where you've seen an explosion of content getting processed in different parts of the world, Not just India, but China, Taiwan, Korea, India; these are all the markets that content from Hollywood is going to," said Roddam.

    Hollywood's Visual Effects Industry in Crisis

    Dave Rand is a co-founder of the Association of Digital Artists, Professionals &Technicians. He says that sending visual effects work overseas hurts U.S. companies.

    "I've been at 12 different visual effects companies. [I've] been on the staff of five, all of which have gone bankrupt for one reason or another; basically it's only two, the way we work and the subsidy race that's driven so many of them out of business," said Dave Rand.

    Daniel Lay is the association's other founder, he believes U.S. federal courts should get involved in Hollywood's use of visual effects made by foreign companies.

    "The United States government puts very strong anti-subsidy laws that have been around for years that allow for domestic industries that are being injured by these international subsidies to seek relief through the trade courts," Lay said.

    Mr. Lay says he wants a tax ordered on work produced outside the U.S. Not surprisingly, Venkatesh Roddam of Reliance MediaWorks does not agree.

    "It's not a progressive idea. You are actually artificially pumping up the cost. You are limiting talent availability," said Roddam.

    Kunal Chindarkar works in Singapore for the visual effects company Double Negative. He says he learns a lot working on Hollywood movies with people from all over the world. His co-workers at Double Nagetive include people from Australia, France and the United Kingdom.

    Venkatesh Roddam says working with Hollywood improves the quality of work worldwide. He says it is important for visual effects companies to have a presence in the U.S.

    "You cannot survive in this marketplace without a physical presence here. So from that perspective, companies like ours will continue to create American jobs in America, rather than actually think about how much of this work is going to Canada or U.K. or India or China," said Roddam.

    He says the visual effects industry will continue to develop. He adds that those who want to stay in the business will have to continue to change with it.

    And that's the VOA Learning English Technology Report. For more technology stories, go to our website 51voa.com. Give us a like on the VOA Learning English Facebook page. Follow us on twitter at VOA Learning English. You can also watch videos on the VOA Learning English YouTube Channel. I'm Jonathan Evans.