The VFX vs. Marvel situation has been making the rounds for a while now. And a recent report showed how Marvel did not even inform the studios about the release date of Avengers: Endgame until it was already made public. Which came as a shock to the studio working on the movie, as the publicized date was much closer than the deadline they were working with.
With the number of movies Marvel has announced since The Avengers each year, it is not a small feat what the VFX studios working behind each of these superhero thrillers have achieved. Now not only movies, but even TV shows have joined the foray, and that’s just an increase in the workload.
Marvel Forgot to Inform their VFX Team About Bumped Release Dates
Can you imagine working on a project with a deadline in mind that takes up weeks after weeks of your work, and then suddenly being told that the submission will be much earlier than what you were told? The amount of workload that’s being put on your shoulders, and the kind of anxiety and mental stress it creates is beyond imagination.
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Talking about the incident when Marvel forgot to inform their VFX team that they had bumped up the release dates by a whole month, one of the artists working on it said:
“The worst was when Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame were coming out. They actually bumped up that release by a month but they hadn’t told us. I remember being on the floor with my team and one of my artists comes to me and says, ‘Hey, you see this?’ and he shows me the article saying Marvel bumped the release date up a month.” He further continued, “So we found out from a press release that we had one less month to work on all these shots.”
Initially, when Marvel got down to business and started hiring studios for their CGI work, it was like a dream come true for a lot of artists — getting to work on superheroes, who doesn’t like that? But as time went on, and the kind of workload that kept increasing, it’s not surprising to see people coming out of the woodworks, complaining about abysmal working conditions and pay cuts.
The Shift From Excitement to Anxiety
From being excited to work on a project to dreading it, that’s where it has come to. When Marvel announced their Phase 5 and 6 projects during the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, VFX artists all over the globe could be heard groaning just thinking about the workload that’s coming their way.
With so many projects underway, not only locals but studios from around the world bid on who gets to work on each project. And perhaps this bidding war is what leads to so much tension. By the time someone gets the projects, they are barely breathing above the surface. So it’s not that far-fetched to assume how much overtime work the artists will have to do to finish a project within the given budget, as well as time.
Many artists who worked with Marvel over the years have complained about how hard it was. One even called it the worst of the worst, stating: “[Marvel] is the worst example of a lot of the problems in the industry.”
Why Only Marvel in the Headlines?
The name Marvel has been in the headlines because of all this so much is probably because the company in itself is such a giant in Hollywood. And again, the number of movies and shows they produce each year is not a small feat. So the people who have to work on them behind the scenes are not a small group. An artist who recently worked on a project with Marvel said,
“From my very first day on the project, up until we delivered the shots, we were working overtime and weekends. It was just months of literally being nailed to my desk,” continuing with, “Even up until the last week or so they still weren’t sure what they wanted this gigantic set piece to look like. We were still doing concept art.”
Marvel’s Phase 4 has been facing a lot of criticism for lousy CGI work, and the reason for it is probably the amount of work that’s being put on the shoulders of these VFX artists who are expected to do their job in less time and even lesser budget. With the way things are going, someone will have to give. And probably it will be the small studios that are doing the work behind the scenes.
We can only hope there can be some reprieve when it comes to these Marvel projects. Because as much as we enjoy watching these movies and shows, it is taking a toll on these artists who are probably the biggest reasons we enjoy these features so much.
Marvel will be next releasing Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on 11 November 2022.