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.

TheĀ 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). 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.