Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Union Volunteers Drive Huge Turnout to Defeat Prop 32


Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 07, 2012
CONTACT: Steve Smith (510) 326-4644

Voters Reject Deceptive Prop 32, Send Clear Message to Wealthy Corporate Interests

Union volunteers drive huge turnout to defeat Prop 32

Statement by California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski
“In voting down the deceptive Prop 32, Californians rejected a blatant power play by corporate special interests to silence the voice of working people. Despite weeks of misleading advertisements backing Prop 32 paid for by billionaires and out-of-state Super PACs, the margin of defeat was decisive. Prop 32 backers spent more than $50 million in an effort to fool voters. Ultimately, California families saw through this sham of a measure, agreeing with the League of Women Voters, reform groups and leading newspapers that panned Prop 32 as a fraud that would weaken our democracy.

“Prop 32 also had the effect of driving millions of firefighters, electricians, nurses, teachers, plumbers and other working people to the polls today. This measure was nothing less than an attack on working people; an attack we took personally.

“Today’s victory was the culmination of the largest voter contact program in the California labor movement’s history. Over the course of the campaign, 40,000 union volunteers reached millions of voters on the phone, at the door, through the mail and online about the harmful consequences of Prop 32. The result of this massive program was more engagement than ever from working people this election. That engagement not only drove the defeat of Prop 32, it also had a positive impact on other ballot measures and helped elect working family candidates at all levels.

“For the third time in the last 14 years, California voters rejected an attempt to shut working people out of the political process. The message voters sent the wealthy interests behind Prop 32 could not have been clearer. Californians categorically reject power plays designed by a few in the 1% to rig the system to their favor. Sooner or later, these CEOs and billionaires trying to push their agenda on our state will realize that no amount of money spent on deceptive ads will fool voters into passing measures like Prop 32.”

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why Obama Won

Here are 163 reasons I believe Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election. Can you think of any more? Don't forget to vote on Tuesday.

1. Death of Osama Bin Laden

2.  Bill Clinton’s DNC Speech

3.  Senior Citizen Voters

4.  Women Voters

5.  High Level of Integrity

6.  Hispanic Voters

7.  African American Voters

8.   AARP Members

9.  ObamaCare Victory

10.  Auto Industry Bailout

11.  DNC Audience Diversity

12.  Responsible Pet Owners

13.  White House Beer Recipe

14.  Voter Identification Law Backlash

15.  Opposition to Tea Party Movement

16.  Personable and Presidential

17.  Occupy Wall Street

18.  Champion of Democracy

19.  Clint Eastwood’s Monologue

20.  Belief Financial System is Rigged

21.  Support for Renewable Energy

22.  Todd Akin’s Speech

23.  Romney’s Cayman Islands Account

24.  Mitch McConnell’s 2012 Goal

25.  Phrase “Tax Cuts for the Rich”

26.  Ryan’s Medicare Cuts

27.  Rafalca the Olympic Horse

28.  Romney’s 47% Comment

29.  Middle Class Voters

30.  Evangelicals

31.  American Voters on Welfare

32.  Americans Who Oppose Afghan War

33.  Mitt Romney’s Tax Rate

34.  Corporate Greed

35.  Do-Nothing Congress

36.  Romney’s Saber Rattling

37.  Conservative Commentator Ann Coulter

38.  Gay Marriage Supporters

39.  Foreign Policy Experience

40.  Support for Family Planning

41.  Daughter’s Malia and Sasha

42.  Fear of Right Wing Extremism

43.  YouTube Videos

44.  Etch-a-Sketch Comment

45.  Oppositions Use of Term “Socialist”

46.  Climate Change Science

47.  Arab Spring

48.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

49.  Immigration Reform Supporters

50.  Bain Capital, LLC

51.  Senator John McCain

52.  Seamus the Dog

53.  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act

54.  Muammar Gaddafi Death

55.  The 99%

56.  Positive Upbeat Outlook

57.  Opposition to Koch Brother’s Meddling

58.  Romney Calling Self “Severe  Capitalist”

59.  Romney’s Oil Company Ties

60.  Romney’s Support of Nuclear Energy

61.  American Dream of Home Ownership

62.  Sheldon Adelson

63.  End of Iraq War

64.  Sarah Palin

65.  Fox News Coverage

66.  Iran Sanctions

67.  Romney Offshoring Jobs

68.  Chris Matthews

69.  Herman Cain’s Alleged Affair

70.  George W. Bush Legacy

71.  Working Families

72.  Obama Effect (Opposition Stockpiling Weapons)

73.  Increased Fuel Efficiency Standards

74.  Birther Conspiracy Backlash

75.  Basketball Ability

76.  Housing Market Stabilization

77.  Governor Scott Walker

78.  Veiled Racism

79.  Gov. Chris Christie

80.  Ted Nugent (Motor City Madman)

81.  Oprah Winfrey

82.  Seal Team 6

83.  Citizens United Decision Backlash

84.  Sen Larry Craig’s Wide Stance

85.  NRA After Colorado Shooting

86.  Facebook Sharing

87.  The 1%

88.  Ron Paul Snub

89.  Business Banking Regulations

90.  George Clooney

91.  Small Donors

92.  Transparency

93.    Likeable Characteristics

94.  Authentic Smile

95.  24 Hr News Cycle

96.  “Thurston Howell Romney” Moniker

97.  GOP Israel Skinny Dip

98.  Romney Hong Kong Fundraiser

99.  Romney’s Olympic Security Critique

100. Carl Rove

101.  Super PAC’s

102. Michele Bachmann

103.  Term “Death Panel”

104.  Newt Gingrich

105.  Every Man

106.  Military Cuts

107.  House Speaker John Boehner

108.  Opposition to Coal Industry

109.  Union Members

110.  Rush Limbaugh

111. Opposes Corporate Greed

112.  EPA Regulations

113.  Teachers Voter

114.  Doctored Pledge of Allegiance Photo

115.  Romney’s Quote “I love to fire People”

116.  Stimulus Plan

117.  Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

118.  Cash for Clunkers

119. Republican War on Women

120. Parents Who Support Big Bird

121.  Opposition calling US President a “Marxist”

122.  Overuse of Media Bias Claim

123.  Bill O’Reilly

124. Saturday Night Live

125.  Fair and Balanced Exaggeration

126. Stock Market Recovery

127. Al Franken

128.  Robert Reich

129. CA Voter Suppression Act

130. Term “Appeasement”

131. The Grover Norquist Pledge

132. Nathan Sproul

133. WI Collective Bargaining Law

134. Cato Institute

135. Time Magazine Cover

136. Empathy

137. Hugh Hewitt’s Book

138.  Atheist Ayn Rand

139.  School Vouchers

140.  Romney’s Car Elevator

141.  Opposition to Offshore Drilling

142.  Ann’s Couple of Cadillac’s

143.  Support of US Government Workers

144.  Anyone Can Beat Obama Mantra

145.  Likeability Strengths

146.  Patriotic Language (About US Govt)

147.  Low Interest Rates

148.  Michele vs. Ann

149.  American Optimism

150.  GOP Buyer’s Remorse

151.  Strategic Allied Consulting, Inc.

152.  Term “Affirmative Action President”

153.  Support of Contraception

154.  Ann’s $990 Designer Silk Shirt

155.  PBS Viewers

156.  Sec of State Hillary Clinton

157.  Michael Savage’s Anti-American Vitriol

158.  Bo the Dog

159.  Housing Market Stabilization

160.   2nd Debate

161.   3rd Debate

162.   Gen. Colin Powell Endorsement

163.   Hurricane Sandy Response

Thursday, October 4, 2012

President Obama to Establish Cesar E. Chavez Union Organizer National Monument

October 1st, 2012
Press Release:
Keene, California, On October 8th, 2012, President Obama will travel to Keene, California to announce the establishment of the César E. Chávez National Monument. Years in the making, the monument – which will be designated under the Antiquities Act – will be established on the property known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or La Paz.  The La Paz property is recognized worldwide for its historic link to civil rights icon César Estrada Chávez and the farm worker movement. The site served as the national headquarters of the United Farm Workers (UFW) as well as the home and workplace of César Chávez and his family from the early 1970’s until Chávez’ death in 1993, and includes his grave site which will also be part of the monument.

“César Chávez gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere,” said President Obama. “La Paz was at the center of some of the most significant civil rights moments in our nation’s history, and by designating it a national monument, Chávez’ legacy will be preserved and shared to inspire generations to come.”

From this rural headquarters in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County, California, Chávez played a central role in achieving basic worker protections for hundreds of thousands of farmworkers across the country, from provisions ensuring drinking water was provided to workers in the fields, to steps that helped limit workers’ exposure to dangerous pesticides, to helping to establish basic minimum wages and health care access for farm workers.

The National Chávez Center, in consultation with the United Farm Workers of America, the César Chávez Foundation and members of César Chávez’s family, offered to donate certain properties at La Paz to the federal government for the purpose of establishing a national monument commemorating César E. Chávez and the farmworker movement. This designation will represent the culmination of a process that has been underway for several years.

The César E. Chávez National Monument will encompass property that includes a Visitors’ Center containing César Chávez’s office as well as the UFW legal aid offices, the home of César and Helen Chávez, the Chávez Memorial Garden containing Chavez’s grave site, and additional buildings and structures at the La Paz campus.

The monument, which will be managed by the National Park Service in consultation with the National Chávez Center and the César Chávez Foundation, will be the fourth National Monument designated by President Obama using the Antiquities Act.   He previously designated Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, a former Army post integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military; Fort Ord National Monument in California, a former military base that is a world-class destination for outdoor recreation; and Chimney Rock, which is located in the San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado, and offers a spectacular landscape rich in history and Native American culture. First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients.


Spanish Translation
El Presidente Obama establecerá el Monumento Nacional a César E. Chávez
El día 8 de octubre de 2012, el Presidente Obama viajará a Keene, California, para anunciar el establecimiento del Monumento Nacional a César E. Chávez.  Este monumento, que lleva varios años en proyecto y será designado bajo la Ley de Antigüedades, se establecerá en la propiedad conocida como Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, o La Paz.  La propiedad de La Paz está reconocida en todo el mundo por su conexión histórica con el ícono de los derechos civiles César Estrada Chávez y el movimiento de los trabajadores agrícolas.  Este lugar ha sido la sede nacional de la Unión de Trabajadores Agrícolas (UFW, por sus siglas en inglés) así como la casa y centro de trabajo de César Chávez y su familia desde principios de la década de 1970 hasta el fallecimiento de Chávez en 1993, e incluye su tumba, que también será parte del monumento.

El Presidente Obama comentó que, “César Chávez les dio una voz a los trabajadores pobres y despojados en todas partes.  La Paz fue el punto de partida de algunos de los movimientos de derechos civiles más significativos en la historia de nuestra nación y, al designársele como monumento nacional, se preservará y se compartirá el legado de Chávez para inspirar a las generaciones futuras”.

Desde esta sede rural en las Montañas Tehachapi del Condado Kern en California, Chávez desempeñó una función clave para lograr las protecciones básicas para cientos de miles de trabajadores agrícolas en todo el país, desde disposiciones que garantizaban que se les proporcionara agua potable a los trabajadores en los campos, hasta medidas que ayudaron a limitar la exposición de los trabajadores a pesticidas nocivos, hasta ayudar a establecer los salarios mínimos básicos y acceso a cuidado médico para los trabajadores agrícolas.
El Centro Nacional Chávez, en consulta con la Unión de Trabajadores Agrícolas de América, la Fundación César Chávez y miembros de la familia de César Chávez, ofreció donar ciertas propiedades en La Paz al gobierno federal con el fin de establecer un monumento nacional para conmemorar a César E. Chávez y el movimiento de los trabajadores agrícolas.  Esa designación representará la culminación de un proceso que lleva varios años en movimiento.

El Monumento Nacional César E. Chávez comprenderá propiedad que incluye un centro de visitantes que contiene la oficina de César Chávez así como las oficinas de ayuda legal de UFW, la casa de César y Helen Chávez, el Jardín Conmemorativo Chávez que contiene la tumba de Chavez, y otros edificios y estructuras en el recinto de La Paz.

El monumento, que estará bajo la administración del Servicio Nacional de Parques, en consulta con el Centro Nacional Chávez y la Fundación César Chávez, será el cuarto monumento nacional designado por el Presidente Obama bajo la Ley de Antigüedades.  Él designó previamente el Monumento Nacional Fort Monroe en Virginia, una antigua posta del ejército que fue integral a la historia de la esclavitud, la Guerra Civil, y las Fuerzas Armadas de EE.UU.; el Monumento Nacional Fort Ord en California, una antigua base militar que es un destino de clase mundial para recreación al aire libre; y Chimney Rock, que está ubicado en el Bosque Nacional de San Juan en el suroeste de Colorado, y ofrece un panorama espectacular repleto de historia y de cultura americana nativa.  La autoridad de la Ley de Antigüedades, que fue ejercida por primera vez por el Presidente Theodore Roosevelt en 1906 para designar el Monumento Nacional de Devils Tower en Wyoming, ha sido usada por 16 presidentes desde entonces para proteger las características naturales e históricas exclusivas en EE.UU., tales como el Gran Cañón, la Estatua de la Libertad, y el monumento Canyons of the Ancients en Colorado.


Friday, September 28, 2012

154 Reasons Mitt Romney Lost the 2012 Presidential Election

There are reasons candidates win elections and there are reasons candidates lose elections (see list below). Mitt Romney lost this one. 

There are some great lessons to be learned here, so don’t discount the messenger or the message. Yes, money has a great deal to do with running a successful presidential campaign and God know Romney’s got money but it’s not everything. We’ve all seen the commercials. In the end, the candidates looked pretty much as we originally thought.
Come on... Admit it! You already knew who you were going to vote for in the beginning. All that campaign money and boring commercials didn’t make a bit of difference.....

Obama is a nice enough guy, he has a nice family, and even with the opposition fighting him at every step he managed to kill Osama Bin Laden. God bless him for that! A lot of people refused to credit him with that one.  They probably wished Bush had done it. We all wish Bush had done it! Why didn’t he? Makes you wonder doesn’t it?  That said Obama hasn’t accomplished much else other than healthcare reform. Soon my girlfriend will have health coverage. That will be a relief.  

Don’t you wish Bill Clinton was still in office? Those were the days.

Romney seems like a nice guy. Not so much nice as in approachable or having a conversation with him or anything like that. He probably wouldn’t give us the time of day. We’re working stiffs. He’s a multimillionaire. Would anyone with a $250,000,000.00 net worth?  Back in the 1980's there was this boss who owned a Ferrari. Does that count?
Anyway, Romney’s a family guy, it seems like he has accomplished some great things and made a name for himself. He has a pretty wife and his kids look like they were raised well. The story of him helping the sick kid with his final wishes really impressed us. That showed real character.  Still, would you want to work for him? He’s probably ruthless in the business world. No one makes that kind of money without playing hard ball. Some of those stories about hostile takeovers and firing workforces are true.

Why doesn’t he buy an island in the South Pacific and retire? Perhaps now he will.....

Here’s the list in order of importance. Pay attention 2016 presidential candidates!

1.            Occupy Wall Street
2.            War on Women
3.            Hispanic Voters
4.            African American Voters
5.            AARP Fight
6.            ObamaCare Victory
7.            Death of Osama Bin Laden
8.            Bill Clinton’s DNC Speech
9.            Auto Industry Bailout
10.          The Tea Party Movement
11.          Clint Eastwood’s Monologue  
12.          Horatio Alger Myth  
13.          Frightened Senior Citizens
14.          Todd Akin’s Rape Comments  
15.          Cayman Islands Account
16.          Mitch McConnell’s 2012 Goal
17.          Tax Cuts for the Rich
18.          Medicare Cuts
19.          Rafalca the Olympic Horse
20.          The 47% Comment
21.          The Middle Class
22.          Evangelicals
23.          Term “Welfare Queen”
24.          Not Mentioning Afghanistan
25.          Michael Savage’s Vitriol
26.          Tax Returns
27.          Corporate Greed
28.          Do-Nothing Congress
29.          Ann Coulter
30.          Gay Marriage
31.          Foreign Policy
32.          Abortion
33.          Malia and Sasha
34.          Right Wing Extremism
35.          YouTube
36.          Etch-a-Sketch Debacle
37.          Calling a US President a “Socialist”
38.          Climate Change Denial
39.          Arab Spring
40.          Sec of State Hillary Clinton
41.          Immigration Issue
42.          Bain Capital
43.          John McCain
44.          Seamus the Dog
45.          Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
46.          Muammar Gaddafi Death
47.          The 99%
48.          Too Negative
49.          Koch Brothers
50.          Term “Crony Capitalist”
51.          Phony Voter ID Laws
52.          Oil Company Ties 
53.          Opposition to Green Energy
54.          Support of Nuclear Energy
55.          American Dream of Home Ownership
56.          Sheldon Adelson
57.          End of Iraq War
58.          Sarah Palin
59.          Fox News
60.          Iran Sanctions
61.          Offshoring Jobs
62.          Chris Matthews
63.          Herman Cain’s 999 Plan
64.          Outsourcing
65.          George W. Bush
66.          Union Members
67.          Obama Effect (Stockpiling Weapons)
68.          Fuel Efficiency Standards
69.          Birther Conspiracy  
70.          Basketball Ability
71.          Housing Market Stabilization
72.          Gov. Scott Walker
73.          Veiled Racism
74.          Gulf Oil Spill
75.          Motor City Madman Ted Nugent
76.          Oprah Winfrey
77.          Seal Team 6
78.          Citizens United Decision
79.          Sen Larry Craig’s Wide Stance
80.          NRA Tweet after Massacre
81.          Facebook Sharing
82.          The 1%
83.          Ron Paul Snub
84.          Business Banking Regulations
85.          Mars Curiosity Rover
86.          George Clooney
87.          Small Donors
88.          Stiff Persona
89.          Libyan Attack Comments
90.          Donald Trump Endorsement
91.          “He’s Not One of Us” Argument
92.          24 Hr News Cycle
93.          “Thurston Howell Romney” Moniker
94.          GOP Israel Skinny Dip
95.          Hong Kong Fundraiser
96.          Romney’s Olympic Security Critique
97.          Carl Rove
98.          Super PAC’s
99.          Michele Bachmann
100.        Term “Death Panel”
101.        Offshore Accounts
102.        Newt Gingrich
103.        Angry Looking
104.        Netanyahu
105.        Reverse Military Cuts
106.        House Speaker John Boehner
107.        Support of Coal Industry
108.        Union Members
109.        Rush Limbaugh
110.        Corporate Greed
111.        EPA Regulations
112.        Teachers
113.        Doctored Pledge of Allegiance Photo
114.        “I Love to Fire People”
115.        Stimulus Plan
116.        Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner
117.        Cash for Clunkers
118.        War on Women
119.        “We Built It” Slogan
120.        Campaign Infighting
121.        No Specifics
122.        Term “Marxist”
123.        Media Bias Claim
124.        Bill O’Reilly
125.        Saturday Night Live
126.        Fair and Balanced
127.        Stock Market Recovery
128.        Al Franken
129.        Robert Reich
130.        Voter Suppression Act
131.        Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.
131.        Term “Appeasement”
132.        Day One Promises
133.        The Norquist Pledge
134.        Nathan Sproul
135.        WI Collective Bargaining Law
136.        Cato Institute
137.        Anti-Mormon Bias
138.        Free Enterprise System
139.        Hugh Hewitt’s Book
140.        Bush’s Record
141.        Atheist Ayn Rand
142.        School Vouchers
143.        Romney’s Car Elevator
144.        Offshore Drilling
145.        Ann’s Couple of Cadillac’s
146.        Insult Government Workers  
147.        "Anyone Can Beat Obama" Mantra
148.        Comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter
149.        Likeability Factor
150.        Unpatriotic Language (Size of US Govt)
151.        Conservative Doctrine
152.        Michele vs. Ann
153.        Cheerleading Fall of US Economy
154.        Buyer’s Remorse
Copyright 2012 Bob Oedy All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 14, 2012

Digital Domain Bankruptcy a Case for Organizing the VFX Industry

You’ve been hearing the rumors for weeks or maybe you haven’t and were caught completely off-guard like the Alperts family. They sold everything and moved to Florida with the promise of a dream job at Digital Domain only to find there was no job. Either way, it’s hard to believe what’s transpired.  Digital Domain Media Group,Incorporated (NYSE: DDMG) has filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  Last week the company announced the closing of its Port St. Lucie, Florida facility. Police were on hand in case there were any “incidents” with the 300 employees who were given pink slips.

Industry insiders have been saying they knew for some time that the company had been struggling. There were rumors as far back as six months ago about company executives rushing to the bank with a 4 million dollar check from Warner Bros. to cover payroll. Apparently, last week they found themselves in a similar situation. 
What lessons can be learned?
It’s time to pull back the curtain and expose what’s really going on. Finally, the slick veneer that was Digital Domain has rubbed off. The truth is; visual effects companies, especially publicly traded corporations like Digital Domain, are concerned about one thing and one thing only; making money for their shareholders and owners.  They are not concerned about you as an employee or your family, or artistic expression, or the environment, or the country for that matter.  It’s about profit!
Reread CEO John C. Textor’s resignation letter of September 6th here. After all the self-serving nonsense he admits the decision to close the Port St. Lucie facility was, “without compassion”. That’s a good way to put it.
The truth is; as unrepresented at-will employees, artists have no voice in the workplace.  The company sets the conditions for employment. What they say goes and when they say, “go!” you go.  Usually with a cardboard box in your arms and a few mementos collected over the years if you are lucky. In Digital Domain’s case, under the watchful eye of police officers there to insure employees didn’t steal company assets on the way-out. 
You’ll find when VFX houses experience financial troubles, artists get hurt the most. If you are owed wages; you probably won’t see the money without a huge fight especially if you are working in Canada. In Montreal the government will cover 3k in lost wages but that is it. In Quebec you're considered an “unsecured creditor”. That’s legal jargon for “screwed”. Once they go bankrupt you're last-in-line to get paid. All you can do is hope they don’t go under. Things aren’t quite that bad here in California, but it’s still no picnic.
The time has come to ask tough questions. How many more Digital Domain like companies is it going to take before artists decide enough-is-enough? Wouldn’t you be better off working under the protection of a union contract?  After all, the CEO and the boards of directors all have written contracts. Why not you? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a grievance procedure and to know someone is looking out for your interests along the way? Don’t rely on a company to look out for your interests. They don’t care. Remember, they only care about profit. The drama that has become Digital Domain is the perfect case for finally organizing the VFX industry.
What about Digital Domain’s competitors?
Well, insiders say Sony is sending HR people to Florida to see what talent can be found. One result will likely be lower wages for artists and increased pressure for the bottom line as companies review their own balance sheets. Perhaps Sony will acquire some of Digital Domain’s projects. Either way it’s a mess.
That’s why Digital Domain is the perfect case for organizing the VFX industry. Until the industry does; you can expect the drama to continue. There are plenty more Digital Domains out there; companies treating artists "without compassion". The names change but the stories remain the same.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Coping with Career Setbacks

Bob Oedy of shares tips on coping with temporary career setbacks. Here is a short list of things you can do to bounce back; avoid burning bridges, take time for yourself, update that resume, network, create a written plan, cut expenses, enroll in related courses, focus on the positive and not the past. Good luck!

Friday, August 17, 2012

VFX Industry Commentary

Watch this brief (2:40 min) video for my latest commentary on the state of the VFX industry.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction by Steve Hullfish

The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction by Steve Hullfish
Second Edition
Published by Focal Press in 2012
502 pages
12 Chapters
Includes hundreds of full color and black and white images
Soft Cover
Includes tutorial DVD so you can follow along
The author Steve Hullfish is a producer with over 20 years of experience 
in the industry. He also wrote Color Correction for Video which he describes 
as being,” more technical”. 
The author covers such topics as:
  • Color manipulation tools, applications, plug-ins, tips and tricks
  • Correcting and saving shots
  • How to balance color and images
  • Emphasizing story elements and matching scenes
  • Collaborating with the director of photography to help tell the story and 
  • communicating with clients
This book contains dozens of insights from the leading colorists in the industry. 
It’s easy to follow along with the DVD and a pleasure to read. 
Available on Amazon

Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Review of After Effects Apprentice

After Effects Apprentice; Real-World Skills for the Aspiring Motion Graphics Artist by Trish and Chris Meyer

2nd Edition Version CS4

Includes DVD Tutorial

Published by Focal Press

321 Pages

12 Chapters

Everything you need to know to get up to speed with After Effects by two authors who have made their careers mastering these skills. Trish and Chris Meyer have authored other books on the subject as well including Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects and After Effects in Production.
After Effects Apprentice is an introductory textbook that covers everything you need to know to communicate visually including basic animation, manipulating keyframes, grouping  layers, mattes and masks, motion graphics, 3D, titles, rendering,  and working with special effects. The book uses practical exercises designed to teach you by doing.

Add this one to your VFX success library. Available on Amazon.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Raising the VFX Flag

Mysteriously anonymous and often controversial activist VFX Soldier talks about the larger mission. 

By Bob Oedy
IBEW International Lead Organizer

VFX Soldier was born from the ashes of burned out artists and is widely recognized as the new voice in the fight for VFX workers’ rights.  VFX artists are the ones who give the Hulk the muscles, make Spiderman swing, Batman well... bat and sculpt J. Lo’s butt for music videos, it’s not black magic but very valuable Hollywood magic. VFX artists are the only part of the talent totem pole not part of a union which is why they end up at the bottom of the credit list and sometimes the creditors list. VFX Soldier remains anonymous to avoid being blacklisted by the entertainment industry.

Q: Where did the idea to do an anonymous blog come from?

A: The idea came from my troubles of trying to talk about unionization on an individual basis. I needed a wider platform so I took to the internet with a blog and twitter account. The basic idea to it was "A typical VFX professional thinking aloud." In order to make it effective I made it anonymous so others at various facilities could feed info that has made it on the blog.

Q: What’s the biggest obstacle VFX artists face today?

A: The biggest obstacle in my view are subsidies. VFX Professionals around the world are chasing their jobs country to country because local governments are offering huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to lure US studio work to their locations. This has made it difficult for VFX professionals to have families, homes, or savings as they pay huge costs in moving and taxes. 

Q: What topic that you’ve written about has received the most attention or response?

A: The biggest topic on my blog that has garnered the most response was my posts dedicated to recent statements made to investors by Digital Domain CEO John Textor. In candid recordings he told investors that he hope to open schools where the government would give him grants and student would pay him tuition so they could work on some of the projects they intend to make money off of. What caused the most outrage was when he declared "Free labor is better than cheap labor."

While Mr Textor has apologized, what made the story so important in my view wasn't what he said but how it proved even my staunchest opponents wrong. 

Q: When you exposed Digital Domain for charging students did you expect the response to be so dramatic?

A: Yes. As soon as I heard the audio I went on twitter and said this on March 26: "I think tomorrow's post on my blog is going to make some jaws drop.#vfx" The response was immense with follow ups happening on all kinds of websites and major newspapers. 

Q: What did you hope to accomplish in starting your blog and have you met your earliest expectations? Where do you go from here?

A: When I first started my blog I hoped to be told I was wrong and be educated by those who knew more about the industry than me. What it ended up becoming was a resource that changed the narrative; before the talk used to be "oh my job is going to India," but today it's "oh my job is going to Vancouver because of subsidies." I randomly hear people at work quoting stats from my blog.

I'm looking to start a crowd sourcing project to enlist the services of a law firm that specializes in international trade law to challenge the subsidies that hinder the VFX industry. I've met with a few law firms already and we are getting ready to go. It'll get interesting. 

Q: What career advice would you share with new artists interested in pursuing a career in visual effects?

A: It's great to love what you do but be sure to give it tough love. If you love VFX it should reciprocate and love you back. Be confident in what you do but also give yourself a healthy amount of skepticism and doubt. I've found that doubting myself along the way helped expose my weaknesses and made me address them to become better at what I do. 

Q: How did you choose the name VFX Soldier? Did you serve in the military?

A: At the time I was looking to start the blog but I couldn’t come up with a name. At one facility I was known for being quite a stanch negotiator. When I didn't get a respectable deal I left. One colleague responded in amazement to how resolute I was: "Wow. You are a soldier." VFX Soldier was born.

I have never served in the military but I was recruited and thought about joining the Marines after school, but then the VFX industry came calling :)

Q: How can my readers help you expose illegal subsidies and unfair competition efforts?

A: My hope is that they can help donate to our campaign that will begin sometime this summer.

Q: What skills do you feel will be necessary to professionalize the visual effects industry? What classes or skills do you recommend artists focus on?

A: I believe unionization and enlisting the services of a personal attorney for contracts would help professionalize the industry. On the skills side I suggest anyone that wants to get into VFX focus their studies on computer science. The VFX industry is a very small industry and it wouldn't be prudent to spend 6 figures going to an expensive for-profit trade school for such a niche industry. With a computer science major supplemented with various VFX courses online you can put yourself in a pretty good position to work in VFX or jump to a more stable IT company.

Q: What blogs, books or magazines are your favorites?

A: If I told you it would probably lead to me revealing my identity! But I do a lot of reading and I love looking at data.

Q: What lessons or challenges have you faced in your career that might help my readers?

A: Some of my most popular posts about my personal story are below:

Q: How can readers help you get your message out or support your efforts?

A: The number one thing is to stop being apathetic. Engage your industry. This is your career and your life. You should be doing everything you can to make it better. The reason why the problems persist is because we have chosen fear and silence. History is unkind to those who do that.

Q: What do you think is the cause of the inequality of compensation between VFX artists and other motion picture workers?  Why haven’t VFX artists been able to organize?

A: Much of the general inequality is due to how relatively young the VFX industry is. Many of the standards and practices that Cinematographers and editors enjoy come from the fact they've matured as an industry. VFX artists have not been able to organize due mostly to fear and misinformation.

For commentary on the VFX Industry’s March to the Bottom go to or follow VFX Soldier on Twitter at .

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is This What It's Like to Work at EA?

The following is an email sent to Dave Rand.

Dave Rand receives letters as a result of using his real name in association with Meteor Studios and other issues that affect VFX artists. He hopes to dispel fear of speaking out for a good cause especially after witnessing first-hand the potential to abuse VFX artists due to a lack of solidarity and leverage.

Hi Dave,

Here is what I experienced first-hand at Electronic Arts.

I accepted a 3 month job at EA to help with promotional artwork to launch their game.  When I was interviewed, I was grilled about my knowledge of realistic character renders; hair, skin, posing, etc.  I thought that would be my main tasks.  But I remembered on their job posting, they also mentioned screen grabs of in-game action.  I was ready to help out.

On my first day, I was shown my computer and was introduced to a few key people.  Everyone was extremely busy getting ready for E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo).  I was given a few commands to get started.  No one gave me the big picture of how the pipeline worked.  On the second day, I asked about the pipeline and was given a cursory overview.  I was tasked with getting some screen grabs and was given some commands to work with the game engine.  I was introduced to another artist doing the same thing.  He had 5 minutes to show me what he was doing.  I took notes but when I went back to try for myself, my interface was missing the buttons that the other artist had.  I went back to ask him about it, but he told me he had "40 hours of work to get done in 8 hours"; so much for using him as a resource.

I tried to contact my point person; the one who showed me around on the first day.  He was nowhere to be found.  I decided to ask about some of the game characters.  At least I know how to render in Maya.  I found someone who was able to show me where to find the rigged characters and by happenstance a little bit about the game engine; something no one else had offered to show me.  Actually, I didn't even know to ask at this point.

I started doing some work on the character.  Fixing the rig and adjusting weighting issues.  I was playing with some renders when my point person came by.  He asked where I got the character from.  And when I told him I was shown where to get the file, he tells me that that isn't the most current location.  He gives me a little speech about how that part of the pipeline worked.  After that, I went back to the artist who showed me the file and asked about it.  I was told by that artist that I have the most current file.  Talk about confusion.

Then I was told I had to get some screen shots.  So back into the game I went.  But with the amount of information I had at hand, I got the most interesting shots I could.  But of course, they weren't what they were looking for.  I went from the single player mode to the multi-player mode to get other shots.  Again, I did the best I could.  When I got burned out with that, I went back to character renders.  I would email the people who needed these files to get feedback.  Most of the time, a day would go by before I would hear anything.  And most times, I would have to ask my point person about it before a comment would come back.

Now into my second week, I'm still asking people for hints on how to get the screen grabs.  But no one would respond.  Everyone was too busy with their own tasks. Eventually, I was able to find things in the game engine.  So I started making my own tools to get screen shots.  But there was still a huge aspect of the game play that I was unaware of and no one to explain things.

I was still doing character and weapons renders.  Eventually, an artist had some time to show me how to find what the latest textures were and where to locate them.  It felt good to be doing some work with the characters and weapons.

On the Thursday of my second week, I was introduced to another key person who is involved with preparing for E3.  He emailed some comments about my screen shots.  I replied back to everyone on the email list.  I said I agreed with most of the comments and would be happy to get those screen shots if  someone would show me how.  The next morning I was let go; just like that.  "This isn't working out.  We'll have to let you go”, I was told.

The interesting thing is; people came by and apologized for the craziness and offered to help, but the questions I had were very specific. Only a couple of people had the answers I needed and they weren’t available to ask.

When I accepted the job, I signed on for 3 months and passed on other jobs to take this one.  If EA realized that they made a mistake in bringing in a person who needed to be trained, they should own up to it.  If they decided that it would be faster to have someone who was already trained on the game engine to do the screen shots, then that's fine.  But what about the character renders?  Why wasn't I allowed to finish that task?  I can understand if I was fully trained and I still was unable to get the job done, I would be the first to say "get someone else".  But that wasn't the case.

I feel totally disrespected.  I've worked at facilities that had proprietary software.  They would take the time to ramp up an incoming artist.  That's to be expected.  How else would that artist be productive without thorough training?  I've been in this industry over 20 years.  I've been rehired at a number of companies.  I know what I'm doing and I'm good at what I do.  I feel EA screwed up and they should own up by paying a 2 week severance.  And I want an apology!!!  BASTARDS!!!

But when I look back, I can only fault the company as a whole.  I can't pinpoint key individuals whose job it is to get incoming artists up to speed.  Maybe that's the problem.  There is no one assigned to that task.  That task doesn't exist.  But as a whole, they should own up!