Twitter, FaceBook Goes GREEN For Unpaid ‘Life of Pi’ Visual Effects Artists

by Shannonn Kelly
04:08AM, EST, February 28, 2013

Bringing Color and Hue to Life of Pi at the Expense of the Visual Artists
Bringing Color and Hue to Life of Pi at the Expense of the Visual Artists

A couple of days ago, you might have noticed some of your friends changed their avatar to a plain green block on FaceBook and Twitter.

Th green block represents the Hollywood Green Screen (or Chroma Key Compositing) and the issue  behind it was alluded to on Oscar night.

Since then Filmgoers, and Filmmakers have been showing their solidarity by replacing their profile pics with a green block to support approximately 250 Visual Effects Artists who worked on “Life of Pi” but were laid off without pay.

Due to these very same artists, “Life of Pi” won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but up many of the artists responsible for creating those gorgeous effects were laid off when their employer Rhythm & Hues filed for bankruptcy, resulting in those Visual Artists not being paid for five weeks.

Known for known for its work on “Babe” and also the Oscar nominated “Snow White And The Huntsman“, Rhythm & Hues was the studio that breathed life into “Life of Pi” on the big screen.

About 600 artists alone, were on staff to animate the Bengal tiger, Richard Parker. Without these artists you’d get scenes like the one at the right with just a boat and an actor on a sound stage.

While everyone else was stargazing on the red carpet, approximately 500 artists and technicians protested outside the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Oscar night to demand a “Piece of the Pi.” The movement has now migrated to social media.

When Life of Pi was awarded Best Visual Effects, VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer was played off within 45 seconds of his Oscar acceptance speech just as he started his explanation of the hardships going through Hollywood’s visual effects industry.

The solid green blocks people are using as their avatars to show solidarity with visual effects artists are inspired by green screens that make so much of the magic we see in movies possible.

Westenhofer Later Expanded on his Speech:

“What I was trying to say up there is that it’s at a time when visual effects movies are dominating the box office, that visual effects companies are struggling. And I wanted to point out that we aren’t technicians. It’s ironic that when visual effects are dominating the box office, visual effects are struggling. Visual effects is not just a commodity that’s being done by people pushing buttons. We’re artists, and if we don’t find a way to fix the business model, we start to lose the artistry. If anything, LIFE OF PI shows that we’re artists and not just technicians.”

According to Business Insider:

Rhythm & Hues is not the first VFX company to have trouble in the past few months. Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG), the company responsible for helping to bring “Titanic” to life on the big screen, filed for bankruptcy back in September. They were soon bought for $37 million by Beijin’s Galloping Horse and Mumbai-based Reliance Capital.

Show Your Solidarity for Visual Effects Artists - Replace your Social Media Avatar With This Green Screen
Show Your Solidarity for Visual Effects Artists – Replace your Social Media Avatar With This Green Screen

When you replace your profile pics on your social media with the Green Block it won’t automatically make Hollywood executives magically stop outsourcing visual effects work overseas.

But it will let others in the film industry and film fans know about the practice and they have the choice to show their support.

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