Comic for February 13, 2012 – 02/13/2012
A few younger VFX artists asked me where they might obtain health and retirement benefits. My initial response was “work at an 839 studio,” but I thought I should outline a few more possibilities.
I write about retirement saving for VFX artists in this post. A few disclaimers: I am a visual effects artist, not a certified financial planner. I also do not cover every option available, only what I consider to be the simplest options. I also do not go into the deepest detail about these options, though I do provide reference links for further reading. If you already contribute regularly to a retirement plan, please feel free to skip this post and come back for next Monday’s comic page.
I must respectfully disagree with Leo Babuta’s description of Kindle and iPad as “marketing devices” that drive their owners to purchase content. In my experience, some of the best content on these devices costs nothing.
Those with a bit of technical know-how can use their Kindles to follow RSS feeds for free on Google Reader. I was able to do it in 2009-2010 through the experimental web browser on the Kindle 3G, but it looks like there’s a few more free ways to sync Google Reader with Kindles these days. iPad owners can read RSS feeds in a visually beautiful way through the free Flipboard app.
Kindle and iPad owners can also download and read free out-of-copyright books from ManyBooks or the Kindle store itself. The works of H.G. Wells, George MacDonald, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Mark Twain are good examples. Vampire fans might also enjoy Dracula and Carmilla.
I do purchase digital books and comics for my devices, but that’s my personal choice and not one made for me by the devices themselves. The Internet is a bottomless basket of free content, and Kindle and iPad owners can go a long, long way on that free content alone.
Last night a fellow VFX artist told a horror story about a Los Angeles VFX shop. A few years ago this studio paid compositors just $100/day, even though the average rent in the area hovered around $1600/month for a studio apartment. The compositors worked on a 1099 basis, even though they worked on-site, used the company’s equipment and worked at least 12 hours a day. The good news is that this studio recently cleaned up its act. Its compositors now earn a wage sufficient to pay rent in the Los Angeles area, and they work on a W2 basis.
Later that night another VFX artist asked me what compositors typically earn in the Los Angeles area. I do not work as a compositor myself, so I was not sure. Luckily, there are three resources online for Los Angeles VFX artists who need this kind of information.
- The Animation Guild’s annual anonymous, voluntary wage survey.
- VFXWages.com, which also collects data on a voluntary basis. This wage data is available only to VFX artists who share their own wage information.
- This post by VFX Soldier, which links to a Google Spreadsheet that presents wage data collected directly from VFX and animation facilities.
The 2011 Animation Guild wage survey shows “3D Compositors” earning a median wage of $1860 in 2011 for a 40-hour work week ($46.5/hour). VFXWages.com reports median wages range from $20-$60/hour depending on whether the compositor had less than one year of experience or more than 20 years’ experience. The Google Spreadsheet seems to hover around $40/hour for positions with “compositor” in their title.
I’m glad information like this is gathered and posted online. It helps us VFX artists better negotiate our wages.
comiXology is running a half-price sale on Vertigo digital comics from 7/2-7/4. Of the many Vertigo titles on sale for 99 cents, these in particular caught my eye:
- Death: The High Cost of Living #1-3
- Sandman #1-8
- Animal Man #1-9
- Hellblazer #1-9
- Preacher #1-7
So far I’ve bought Death and downloaded the first free issue of Animal Man. When I last checked, Sandman #1-8 was still listed at the non-sale price of $1.99/comic, so I’m waiting for comiXology to update the Sandman listings to the weekend sale price. The rest I may or may not try based on past experiences and recommendations from friends.
I read the first trade paperback of Preacher many years ago. Not all of it was to my tastes, but I loved the unromantic presentation of the vampire Cassidy. I might pick up the digital version of the comic for Cassidy alone. I’ve also heard good things about Hellblazer and Grant Morrison’s Animal Man.