What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

March 23, 2016

Layoffs and the zero sum game we play.

UPDATE : 23/03/2016 - Double Negative Singapore to officially close. All crew will be let go over the next 1-2 months.

So.. after 7 months since the last lay off... D Neg Sg is no more... no roto, no match move, no stereo conversion.

NOTE : Update with info from VFXSoldier and InsideVFX.

Last week, it was announced that Double Negative Singapore  are laying off people. Not just a few, but a few dozen up to 80. And then Double Negative in the UK is laying off 40-50. Amongst them are friends and ex-colleagues. The senior and experienced ones are offered to other branches in the other side of the world. But the rest if they are lucky move back to doing grunt work or just leave.

Nothing is official or verifiable yet.  But you can read a pretty good reasoning and analyse. But still it is still hearsay and rumors.

I have been trying to stay positive and see a silver lining but the outlook is pretty bleak. 

You work hard on shots that go through many iterations depending in the decisiveness of the supe/producer/director just so that it will look invisible and seamlessly on screen. And your company is opening branches in cheaper climate training your replacements.

That day have finally come.

There are limited options locally. Animation is not exactly a growth industry here considering how expansive it is to set up shop here vs the neighbouring countries.

So you have to go overseas. To places that will allow you a chance to have a career. However nomadic it is..

That is the life of the average cg artist. Until it all ends up in China. 

This post is not one to tell you everything is going to be just fine.  Because it won't be.

And let me tell you, it is a good thing. It is a good thing.

A couple of reasons.

1.) It forces you out of your comfort zone. Admit it, you are slightly disgruntled by the monotonous routine at work. The working of weekends. The lack of career prospect because there are no positions avaliable to you to move up the ladder. The low pay! So you do the work, complain to your friends and go home to kill some aliens online. You do this because you are used to it. Its easy. If the company was still here in the next 5 years, ask yourself, would anything change? You just killed more digital aliens and rotoscope more plates.

Now you have a chance to actually go around the world and experience it. You live in a country where your passport actually is one of the easiest to get a pass. Even if the contract is temporary, you will make new connections and be exposed to different mindsets.

2 ) For those that is still young (relatively). Take the opportunity to re-evaluate yourself. Take a honest hard look and decide if you this is a career for you. Ask yourself if you still want to be animation when you are 50 and animating/rotoscoping/matchmoving.. If this is not for you, cut your losses and change your industry. It is painful to hear and sounds defeatist. But it is not. You gave it a go and it was not for you.

It is never too late. Its only too late if you keep doing something you hate while never realising it. There are easier ways to make a living. There are many skillsets that in vfx and animation that is actually applicable to other industry. There is always demand for 3D work in the post houses and ad agencies. That is the bread and butter. But also in medical visualisation and interactive media. You can branch out into being a trainer or provide graphics support in house at some companies. Even if that is not for you, try something else. I know friends and students who branched out into marketing, graphic design, photography and property agents.

More importantly, you still have a good design and aesthetic sense. That always comes in useful.

Of course its not as cool as working in the movies.. But I am sure by now... you are all over it..

If you still want to pursue a career this inane industry, you got to invest the time to improve yourself. Be it the same discipline or one that you always wanted to do. Buy some tutorials and just get into it. You got to. Because the world keeps moving and the strong survive. Take a few days to recharge yourself and get going again. Remember the good ones will always be in demand.

And when you got enough...
3.) Start something. A company, freelance, fan project with friends, anything to keep you emotionally satisfied. And showcase your skillsets. AND Promote yourself. Your job is at the end of the job, just a job. But you are doing something in a industry you like. So take ownership and do something with it. Destroy the Marina Bay Sandz with a Kaiju.. Have fun improving. Who knows, it might lead to something else. If you do not try, you do not know..

4.) Stay positive. This seems ridiculous coming from me. But it is honest truth. This is just a setback. casualties of tax subsidies. Do not live in spite or anger. Because no one gets harmed except yourself and those around you.
Evaluate what is important to you and ask yourself what is it that makes you happy.

5.) For those that already have families, it is really hard to move with kids and family obligations.. But maybe it is actually a good thing to bring your kids up in a less pressuring environment. If you cannot leave because of family obligations, then you will need to find options fast be it outside of this industry.. It sounds obvious but it is true.

Finally...this is a harsh lesson that I have learnt from a dear friend who also lost his job. You need to take your career in your own hand. It is your career. Not the company's. In any industry. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the best career possible. Be it by being a team player, constantly maintaining yourself and promoting yourself or looking out for yourself 1st. It really depends on the situation and the work environment. But one thing is for sure, you cannot reply on the company to look out for you. Regardless of where you work. Management changes, people come and go. Only the people around you matter. Because there is a higher chance of landing a new job because of who you worked with rather then who you worked for. Reputation goes a long way in this industry.

 Loyalty does not really count for much in companies. They are in the business of making money. You. As an individual is worth a quantifiable amount to the company. If they can do some place cheaper and have the same productivity, they will. You need to ensure that you are well-equipped to be positioned so that they will want to hire you because of your skillsets. Either through a higher a profile, better quality of work, or constantly looking for exposure. This is an unfortunate fact.

I am sorry there isn't a really positive outlook. But this is what we choose to do. But you get a choice to decide what you want to do about it.

 “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”