I kind of thought that's what you meant. Well, green screen had nothing to do with those protests.
If you really want to know, you need to hear the story of the visual effects industry in the United States. If you don't want to know, stop now, because I'm about to get long-winded.
Rewind to Star Wars. That hugely successful movie was a watershed, marking the birth of the legendary effects studio, ILM. They used a lot of the old school methods, like model-making, matte painting, rotoscoping and optical printing, but they added something new to the mix -- computer technology.
They made more movies and built a reputation, but computers themselves were about to take center stage. The 80's saw the rise of CGI -- computer generated imagery. Silicon Graphics workstations became standard equipment, along with a few high-end software packages, like Wavefront, Alias, TDI and Prisms. Wavefront, Alias and TDI eventually merged to become Maya, while Prisms became Houdini. It was all new and dazzling.
By the 90's, some of the Star Wars alumni had opened studios of their own and CGI played a starring role in every movie Hollywood made. They couldn't get enough and it drove the effects industry to new heights. The demand for CG artists was huge. The decade belonged to them, but in the midst of the euphoria, new economic trends were emerging. It was first evident in traditional animation. Anything that could be done more cheaply offshore got shipped offshore. Traditional artists began to lose their jobs. A demarcation arose between traditional and digital artists, and the implication was clear -- adapt or die. Digital artists felt secure, but the new trend was just beginning.
By the 2000's, $2000 PC's were outperforming $20,000 workstations and high-end software prices were plummeting. As a result, new studios sprang up all over the world, and hordes of eager, young artists vied for the chance to work in them.
Also, many people didn't realize how tenuous the effects business really was. Movie studios awarded work through competitive bidding, so there was always pressure to come in low. Companies could be high profile and command legions of artists, but still barely make any money. One fabled movie exec said that if he wasn't putting effects companies out of business, he wasn't doing his job. So, sure enough, they started closing their doors. One here, one there, at first, but it gained momentum. The ones that didn't close migrated to offshore locations in a futile effort to stay competitive. Within a few more years, the globalization of animation and visual effects was in high gear. LA was fast losing its dominance. Artists who once made a good living found it harder to survive.
When Rhythm and Hues declared bankruptcy in early 2013 and got bought out by an Indian company, it was a climax. They were one of the oldest, one of the biggest and best. If you hadn't known it before, you knew it then; the good old days were over.
I often marvel at how rapidly the industry evolved. From the research by a handful of pioneers at a few universities in the 60's, to its conquest of Hollywood to where it is now, it all happened in a single generation.
Once upon a time, you could go to Siggraph, the annual computer graphics convention, and get lost in a bustling crowd.There were always new milestones, new breakthroughs, lots of excitement. You brought your demo reel along because it was also the largest recruiting event in the industry. Every studio, large and small, sent their reps to headhunt right on the convention floor. That's all gone now.
So, no, it wasn't green screen they were protesting, all those R and H employees who were about to lose their jobs. They would tell you it was about the unfair business practices of movie studios. Maybe... but I remember conversations with my coworkers over lunches a long, long time ago, where we asked the question even then: "You know what's coming, don't you?"
Edited by dan kessler, 05 November 2013 - 10:01 PM.