In 2013, Rhythm 'N Hues Studios won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for Life of Pi just 11 days after declaring bankruptcy. This is the story of where they—and nearly two dozen other studios that have closed in the last decade—went wrong.
Where is that exactly? The answer is dozens of places: changing technology, the fact that oodles of VFX studios vie for work from only six Hollywood studios, not to mention shrinking profit margins and enticing tax subsidies offered by other countries. It's tragic, especially given that a lion's share of award-winning films rely on visual effects. Production companies need visual effects studios. In the case of Life of Pi, without the crazy visuals and the CGI tiger, it wouldn't have been half the film it was. And it was a very very beautiful film. That makes it all the more weird and sad that VFX outfits are going out of business.
Told by the designers and artists and animators who worked on Life of Pi and the more than 150 films like Babe and Snow White and the Hunstman that helped Rhythm 'N Hues make its name, this 30-minute documentary tells the unfortunate story of an ironic situation. It's also an indictment of how business can fail artists. Hopefully one day we can fix it. [YouTube h/t Digg]