Sunday, June 22, 2014

Underbidding in Visual Effects: Conclusions and Recommendations

In three previous posts we discussed the practice and mythology of underbidding a project in visual effects, something that is alleged to happen quite often and is commonly believed to be a major cause of instability in the visual effects industry.   You can read these posts herehere and here, or you can just read the next paragraph.

In these posts I argue that (a) there are some legitimate reasons for underbidding,  (b) it rarely happens by mistake except in the case of a new production company,  that (c) sometimes when a project is underbid it was done so because of politics or because a grave misunderstanding or breach of trust between the client and the visual effects facility occurred, and finally (d) when we hear retroactively that a project was underbid, it is often just spin on the part of the client to pin the blame for whatever occurred on the visual effects company and cover their own ass.

In fact, very few people realize that the origins of the word "underbid" contains this meaning of "under appreciated".  "To underbid" comes from the German compound verb unterbitte: unter meaning under- or sub- and bitte meaning "please".  Thus "under please" which we might say in English as "under appreciated" or "no good deed goes unpunished".   

If a production company were to stupidly give a client a deal and got screwed for it, then we might say that they have unterbitte the project.

If you are a potential worker, artist, supervisor, or facility owner in visual effects, I think you should keep the following in mind:

1. Do not throw your pearls before swine.

2. Be sure to charge a lot of money.   In Hollywood, getting paid is the most important sign of respect.  If they pay you a lot of money, they respect you.    Its the only way you can tell what they think.   So charge the studios a lot of money and at the end of the day, you will probably say to yourself that you still did not charge enough for the work given what your time is really worth and how stupid the project really is and unpleasant the people really are.

Otherwise you may become the next victim of the unterbitte.

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