Day two at the SMPTE Tech Conference brought a multitude of incredibly technical and verbosely titled presentations like “Mastering Technical Information Integrity in Tapeless Production and Long-term Archives.” But it was the opening key note that really stood out. Scott Ross, founder and former CEO of Digital Domain gave a sobering look at the state of the VFX industry. Uncertain workflows, difficult pricing, and the high cost of labor were just some of the culprits he pointed to. While Ross did paint a fairly bleak picture of the industry, even going so far as to say there isn’t a lot of money to be made, he actually did have a number of thoughts for how the industry could find success. The keys, Ross pointed out; Distribution, Marketing, Licensing, and Content. Solely focusing on providing VFX services to clients, i.e. studios, Ross said, is not a sustainable business model. VFX companies instead need to become Global Content Producers with a proprietary pipeline, proprietary software and a strong brand. The Poster Child for Success, Ross pointed out, Pixar and their focus on strong storytelling.

Notable presentations covered File-based workflows, which are becoming the norm; archiving using LTO and LTFS; the roll of web tools and SaaS in media application development; and how the industry could learn a thing or two from Toyota when it comes to media QC.

I spent the evening visiting with a number of manufactures and will post updates from my discussions in the coming days.

Make sure you keep an eye on our Twitter account for updates each day from the conference.