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[Non-Blender] Life After Pi - a Documentary on the downfall of Rhythm & Hues.


David Andrade documented the downfall of Rhythm & Hues.

David writes:

A little over a year ago I filmed this documentary along with a few of my fellow artists at Rhythm & Hues about its collapse.

Me, Sean Kennedy and many others worked hard at bringing Blender into Rhythm. It was as far as I know one of the largest studios to have Blender used in shows (feature films.) Seeing Rhythm go under is a pretty bit thing for us. Anyways this doc tells the story of what happened.

There'a also a thread on BlenderArtists.

I'll gladly answer questions too:)

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-)


  1. Great doc, very sad situation. It's unfortunate, but it seems as though the rest of the film industry just doesn't value the time and skill involved in VFX. Maybe Ang Lee thinks there's a "make realistic tiger" button in Maya these days...

  2. After watching this docu, one question kept coming back: if VFX-artists are being treated like if they don't matter, why not stop making VFX for a while and let the big studio's feel like what it's going to be like if the studio keep on squeezing the VFX-artists as they do now? Few movies will get made then, and the studio's feel it financially.

    • Alexander Weide on

      because this dosent work. There are alot of guys out there who are working for less than 2 dollars an hour. it will not work. The thinking has to start in the artists mind around the globe. Working for less than 20 dollars a hour has to get stopped! There is no other solution out there. Look to germany, i know people who are working for 5 Euros per Hour as Freelancer??? what the hell. To much people with no knowledge and no skills with low prices out there. !

      • and here in my city, artist (especially fresh graduate or under graduate) paid under US$1 per hour.... and that looks big enough for living here :D

      • Alexander,

        sorry to disagree but your point doesn't make any sense.

        Big studios cannot rely on freelancers and is not a matter of money.
        Producing a film requires a solid VFX company that can guarantee a proved
        pipeline, producers, coordinators and so on, plus they don't have to deal with
        booking freelancers. Freelancers can help on small projects, but that's not the
        case for the film industry.

        Besides, I don't get what you mean by "Max and Maya got no power if no one
        uses cracked software". They're not widely used because they're cracked, even
        though under a certain point of view they are and I'll explain that. If that's
        your assumption you're wrong. They're widely used for a lot of different
        reasons: again, pipeline, plugins, workflow and so forth. And again, some
        companies might use cracked software, but most of them don't because when you
        buy a license you've support, updates etcetera.

        The thing that young 3d guys use cracked software may actually help selling
        more licenses as these guys will work for companies where more Maya/Max seats
        will be needed in the end.

        The main issue behind studio going bankruptcy is way bigger than
        freelancers working for 2 bucks a hour. If this documentary already didn't help
        (even though there are several points already that should have helped to grasp
        part of the problem), head over at vfx soldiers, you'll get a clue.

        • No, he is right, This is happening in every industry. The whole world has become a corporate imperialist dictatorship and they call the shots.

      • Kkaoign Singleton on

        This problem is not just a problem with VFX its a problem most companies are and have been facing for years. The rich will never share the wealth as long as they can find someone that will work for less. It's always been this way it goes all the way back to the days slaves and I'm not taking about the most recent slave days. It seems the slaves at one time are now the slave masters.

    • Theory Animation on

      David Andrade here from Theory Animation (and the guy who worked on that doc!)

      The assumption is that "well we'll all just sit down and stop!" is missing the fact that a lot of people need to eat, have debts, and others will take advantage of anyone else's missteps. @alexanderweide:disqus is correct in the sense that a lot of people will undercut others to keep their business going.

      Our solution is to just build a new way forward and not get stuck in this rut :)

      • Alexander Weide on

        Thanks for your Reply, I can tell you i was working in Germany in Film for Constantin for myself for one year. After that i decided to move back and be a freelancer. The business is very hard. To live in a hotel for time of production is quite hard, you cannot really build up your own life, get a girl, marry, get a baby and so on, for that low paid work. My decission was clear after i was in film, never come again, only as freelancer. The problem i spoke about is not the tools at all, i fully understand the requirements of a production environment. In my point of view is the biggest problem, that are too much people out there with no knowledge about their value. They do the job, and get underpaid checks, only to realize that there is another one, in the next production, who is working for less than that. The cracked software is one part of the problem.
        At the oscars 2013 i get a feeling about the bigger picture of that problem and till that day, i understand that the bankruptcy of R&H is just one bad step into a direction where the work of an artist got less value than a couple of years ago. i feel so sorry for all who worked at R&H and other Studios, who are suffering this time. ..

        the thinking about the value of our work has to start in ourselfs first!. Dont work for 2 dollars an hour. Dont work for less than 10 dollars. Everyone has to understand that, the Artist have to stay untied and not alone. Or the investors and banks will win the game, like they do it every time, in every industry not only Film!... Thanks David for your reply.

      • David, good luck with that, I honestly don't believe in this "building the
        new ways" and let me explain why.

        This matter is actually a serious matter deeply buried inside our culture.
        As soon as you state "a lot of people need to eat, have debts" you loose the
        war. That's exactly what's keeping these lords winning their fight, and is not
        only related to the VFX field. This is true for every aspect of our lives.
        Economy itself follows the same principle and that's why there are just a few
        who control the world, and the rest just survive under the illusion of eating,
        paying debts. If we would realize that eating and paying debts is what these
        people is using in first place to keep us blind and slaves, then probably we
        would have more chances to waken up.

        So, let's think for a second: what would happen if even just most of the
        people on this world would stop for a week buying, using, consuming products?
        What if they would stop working? The big money machine would stop working, the
        illusion of money would reveal itself and the system would collapse

        And what would happen if VFX companies would stop doing this crappy fixed
        bid thing? If all of them would just stop working? Where Big Studios would

        Instead we keep saying, we've to eat, we've to pay debts... then it's a

        But no, we need our smart phones, our cars, our big tv. Then we feel
        strange when we sleep in a hotel with a jacuzzi far from our beloved?! Just let
        be honest, we're slave and we know that. Since we're accepting this fact, we
        should just shut up. That's the big difference between our generation and past
        generations. We're so entangled in this crappy system of useless things that we
        think we need, that we're scared to loose everything as if all these useless
        stuff would actually be anything we really need. Let's be honest: we like being
        hooked by the throat like fish, the hook it's shiny and they feed us by keeping
        us hooked. Either we refuse all of this or we accept it. And we're all accepting

        • Josh Strawbridge on

          it's entirely unrealistic to think that's possible. "if everyone just stopped" stuff works in theory but it won't work in practice because not everyone will stop, meaning those who do stop get screwed for trying.
          people really do need to eat and while someone may be living out of a hotel for their job, it doesn't mean their family is too. if you think all debt is is just smart phones, fancy cars, and big TVs then you're an idiot. if not then you're just trying to gloss over the reality of things for idealistic reasons.

          idealism is great but it doesn't put food on the table, running water in the house, or power to your lights/heater and while working at McDonalds may be a better job by the hour financially and for the benefit of not having to constantly move, it isn't what everyone wants to do.

  3. Plinio Barraza on

    This is not new to me... admins want more money in their pockets. I have
    had to struggle with this in other industries as well. Design,
    animation, programming, etc. Its just more motivation to do your own
    projects as say F++K U to those who only think about high profits.

  4. It is a race to zero. A mad, mad race to zero. As we learned as manufacturing jobs were sent, sector by sector, overseas. (I am speaking from an American POV of the past 40 years) companies and corporations will always go where it is cheaper. Whether it is cheaper through subsidies, artificial cost suppression, whatever, it will always be cheaper somewhere else and someone will always do it for less. And this model will never change. It states in the well produced doc that VFX companies and studios need to change the business model. That will not happen. Not in the US and not anytime soon. The big studios, like any big corporation, have enough money and power to prevent anything from hurting their way of life. Also, lets be honest on this, the majority of the paying public could really care less. It is well documented and reported that people are dying, literally, making Apple products. That has not hurt the sales of the iPhone or whatever. But I digress.

    But I see many talented people on this forum, YouTube, Vimeo, to think do wee need studios anymore? Same with music. Do we really need record companies anymore? The short answer is no. The long answer is, not for long. As the Blender Foundation open projects have proven, a cooperative effort can produce really great results. There are enough Blender groups out there (and I can only assume Max and Maya have their own, as do others) to get a really good project off the ground with minimal costs. While I am sure that it is a bit much to ask 4 or 5 people to model and animate a 90 minute film. But, spread that around to 10 or so teams, then you make it more reasonable. Even network everyone's machines to make a small farm. And the Blender community, or the bulk of it, would come through on this.
    You can possibly even make a few dollars doing it.

    You cannot change the business model of the set industry today. You can create your own though!

  5. This is the same way it used to be in Piping Design. or being a contract draftsman. The way to make it is to live in an RV not a house. Obama Doesn't know shit about this.,

  6. With that kind of Experience, the VFX studios should just get scripts and make their own movies with the pay being mostly Profit Points.

  7. The Studios don't really have a lot of good artistic Upper Level decision makers, and those who are end up getting overruled by ignorant higher ups..

  8. Once most of the effects or Vis FX get made, then the cheapest majority of producers will use robots to emulate and train them to do as close as possible the same thing. Then they will try to train monkeys to be the elctro techs on the Digital base. The Producers are sick. You've got to become your own producers. Work at home telecommute, do like the Blender community. Then when its a hit like Life of PI, everybody on board gets piece of PIE.

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