Saturday, March 23, 2013

Anomalous Stingray Feeding Behavior and Its Relationship to the VFX Industry

I have been observing the Visual Effects "industry" and the behavior of people in that industry since about 1980. I am constantly amazed by the sense of sharing, the love, the collaboration, the farsightedness, wisdom and sheer intelligence of people in this industry.

Well, actually, no I haven't.

In fact, I have noticed what seems to be the reverse: a thuggish, callous, stupid, fuck-you-I-got-mine sensibility that pervades the industry like the smell of rotting garbage in August. To those from the NY area, who will understand the reference, I tell them that I suspect that people in New Jersey Waste Management industry generally show a much higher level of intelligence, wit and humanity than people in our industry.

Every once in a while I come across intelligent behavior in the animal world that totally recreates for me some sense of what the visual effects industry, or the people within it, are like. For example, in this post, I discuss why the Komodo Dragon might make a good mascot for Visual Effects.

I have just stumbled upon another example of animal behavior that evokes for me the sense of the visual effects industry in some subtle, or even sublime, way.

In the past, I have often wondered if there might also be some relationship between visual effects people and the cartilanginous fish known as "stingrays". The stingray is related to the shark, and many have noted that visual effects people do share behavior with stocks, notably the need to always move forward and the tendency to go into a feeding frenzy whenever blood is sensed.

Who you looking at ?

One behavior that visual effects people seem to share with the stingray is in the area of mating. Here is how Wikipedia describes mating behavior in the stingray:
"When a male is courting a female, he will follow her closely, biting at her pectoral disc. He then places one of his two claspers into her valve."
This so clearly resembles mating behavior in visual effects people, to the extent that they mate, that one has to wonder if there is not a deeper genetic relationship between the two groups of animals.

Normally, the sting ray is a loner who travels and feeds by themselves and rarely seeing another of their kind but recently new behavior has been observed in the Cayman Islands. There, tourists have taken to feeding the stingray with prepackaged-for-their-convenience squid packets and the stingray have taken to the idea in a major way. Now instead of being nocturnal and alone, they hang around during the daytime in large crowds waiting to gorge themselves on tasty squid packets. Apparently there is no ethic or value that the stingray is not willing to give up in return for tasty frozen squid.

Consider the following picture of this practice:

You can read more about this here:

This reminds me of the feeding frenzy in visual effects and computer animation in the early 90s, with scum newly trained in art schools flocking into the artificial and unsustainable slave pits of the major studios on the West Coast, gorging themselves on tasty and competitive salary packages and leaving chunks and detrius from dead squid floating in little pieces in the water.

The relationship is surely not a coincidence.

The Stingray on Wikipedia

Grand Cayman Islands on Wikipedia

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