I Got Rhythm

After having interviewed at a number of places within the last three weeks, I’ve accepted a position at Rhythm & Hues, a major studio here in Marina Del Rey, California. So far, they’ve treated me like visiting royalty. What a great place to work!I’ve also agreed to speak at this years SIGGRAPH, the international computer graphics conference, in San Diego – that’s coming up on the 26th. (I was possibly going to speak at the Mensa conference again this year, but it’s been cancelled microsoft project alternative free.) And on the 28th, our son Charlie turns five years old! Things are still a struggle financially, but they’re finally starting to get a bit better. I’ll write more when I get time to breath.

When I first started, they were interested in somebody to edit a few web pages.  However, what they really needed was an information distribution infrastructure of some kind, and they don’t have one.  I have some ideas that I think will work out pretty well for them.  We’ll see how receptive they are.

Almost ten years later, in 2013:

Post Mortem

I worked for Rhythm & Hues for very nearly 10 years. I went from web page editor to technical writer, to trainer, to technical animator. I wrote a total of 584 pages in a combined reference and user manual for the studio’s Academy Award winning hair and fur system, taught the studio pipeline for every discipline (including FX, which meant I had to learn Houdini too). Some of the animators I trained went on to win Academy Awards for their work on “Life of Pi”. 

Then they laid us all off, at the same moment our lads were on stage accepting their BAFTA awards, they were getting pink slips back home. They laid off about 285 employees at the El Segundo studio with only 16 hours’ notice, which violates California State law. There was a class action suit to recover at least some of the money, and we won. I got all the back pay and accumulated vacation pay that was owed me, but most of the rest of them weren’t so lucky. Some of the senior people were owed $160,000 or more, and they’ll probably never see most of that money. Rhythm & Hues still exists, but they work on commercials and do single scenes on movies now, where they can get the gigs at all. They will never again be what they were. I was there during the studio’s golden years, and worked on more than sixty motion pictures, mostly uncredited.

That was in 2013. I was so hyperspecialized that I was unable to find regular work in the animation industry after that, and had to wander off into other fields, as many of my compatriots did. Some of the finest artists, illustrators and animators the world has ever seen are now doing their best to get buy selling real estate and whatever else they can get work doing. I was certainly not alone.

I’m still friends with many of them. Some still work in the industry, and are doing okay – but a lot of them just drifted off like steam from a kettle. I have no idea where most of them ended up.

That was Camelot.

It was not the first time I’d been at a company during its golden age, and hopefully will not be the last. Perhaps the next one will be one I make myself.