With the FX colossus Gravity (2013) hoovering up at this years BAFTAs, here's a timely reminder of the controversy simmering around visual effects at last years Oscars. Long established and much respected FX house Rhythm & Hues collected a statue for its astonishing work on Ang Lee's Life Of Pi (2012), but it was small consolation for the company, which had been forced to file for bankruptcy just weeks before. Somehow some of its employees found time to document the collapse as it was happening, and the result is Rhythm & Hues: Life After Pi which has just arrived online.
"Here we are demonstrably doing the best work in the industry," says Digital Supervisor Michael Conelly, "and slamming into a wall. So the night of the Oscars... what a mess."
"It was like a perfect storm of crap happening," says Rhythm & Hues president Lee Berger, whose company was far from the only one feeling the squeeze of massive overwork and enormous under appreciation.
But, says CG supervisor Walt Jones, their experience "gelled the entire VFX community into being horrifically pissed off at how they were being treated".
Directed and edited by Rhythm & Hues Art Director Scott Leberecht, Life After Pi is actually a short film chapter of the forthcoming anthology Hollywood Ending. The bigger picture, we're told, "delves into the larger, complex challenges facing the US Film Industry and the many professionals working within it whose fates and livelihood are intertwined".