Rhythm and Hues, the troubled visual-effects company that filed for Chapter 11 backruptcy protection this month, received a live shoutout from Bill Westenhofer, a member of the visual-effects team for "Life of Pi," as he accepted the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects.
His thanks to the company, which helped with the effects for "Life of Pi," came at the end of his acceptance speech with the orchestra playing him off the stage to the theme from "Jaws."
But backstage, the "Life of Pi" VFX artist spoke more in depth about the financial troubles the befell not just Rhythm & Hues but the visual-effects industry in California.
"We're not technicians ... we're artists, and if we don't do something to change the business model, we might lose some of the artistry," Westenhofer said.
"We are hopeful that we can pull through the bankruptcy, but it is a concern," he said. "Visual effects are definitely in a challenging position right now and we've got to figure out how to make this business model work, because there are artists that are struggling right now. It is not just something being done by anyone pushing buttons. There's artistry involved, and we've got to make sure we maintain that, because we start to lose some of the quality we see on stage, if we're not careful."
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Rhythm & Hues' bankruptcy filing came Feb. 11 after a planned sale to Prime Focus collapsed. On Friday, the company tapped financial advisory firm Houlihan Lokey to help it find a new buyer.
Earlier on Sunday afternoon, hundreds of special-effects workers protested in Hollywood to demand an end to subsidies that benefit foreign VFX houses.
Greg Gilman and Tim Kenneally contributed to this report.