US visual effects company Pixomondo, which worked on Game of Thrones, has managed to avoid “financial catastrophe” thanks in part to government support schemes.
The news comes amid widespread financial uncertainty across the UK and US arts industries, caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Pixomondo CEO Jonny Slow said in an interview with Deadline: “VFX companies have lots of fixed costs in the form of employees, offices and tech. That relies on a steady stream of new business to keep it going.
“Post-production is a bit like an airline: if you haven’t got any passengers, you burn through your cash very quickly – most companies will struggle to stay solvent for more than a couple of months.”
Last week, French visual effects studio Technicolour SA filed for Chapter 15 in US bankruptcy court in an effort to restructure some of its £1.26bn debt, as per Deadline. In the filing, the company acknowledged that it had been “severely impacted by the Covid-19 global pandemic”.
Slow said that Pixomondo, which provided the graphics for the dragons in the hit HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, “should be well placed” to survive the pandemic, with its smaller workforce of around 600 employees. However, he notes that cuts – such as reduced hours, unpaid leave and redundancies – have come into effect for around one-third of his workforce.
What’s more, Slow suggested that the prognosis was bright for the long-term future of the VFX industry, especially if social distancing restrictions mean that filming on-location becomes less practical.
Companies are increasingly turning to Virtual Production (VP), which involves generating realistic-looking environments with digital engines.
“Long term I am pretty positive on the outlook for VFX,” Slow said. “If travelling is harder, and if it’s harder to do crowd scenes, and if producers can only get insurance for working inside studios, there are opportunities for VFX companies”.