VFX artist opens up about Marvel’s “bullying power” & getting “pixel-f**ked”

Florence Pugh in Black Widow and a still from She-HulkMarvel Studios/Disney+

A VFX artist has opened up about their experiences working for Marvel, amid mounting criticism of the studio’s treatment of effects houses.

Around three months ago, an anonymous VFX artist took to Reddit to complain about Marvel, alleging it has the “worst methodology of production and VFX management out there”, inviting hundreds of comments from others under the weight of the studio’s workload.

Earlier this month, a former CG artist shared a report detailing the complaints with his own, branding Marvel a “horrible client” that pushed him to leave the industry, describing the relationship between effects houses and the studio as “toxic.”

Now, a VFX artist has lengthily described their experiences with Marvel, noting that while it’s “darkly joked about”, given the shoddy quality of CGI in the films of late, people are getting “pixel-f**ked” and something has to be done.

VFX artists have “anxiety attacks” working for Marvel

In an essay published on Vulture, penned by an anonymous VFX artist, they explained: “When I worked on one movie, it was almost six months of overtime every day.

“I was working seven days a week, averaging 64 hours a week on a good week. Marvel genuinely works you really hard. I’ve had co-workers sit next to me, break down, and start crying. I’ve had people having anxiety attacks on the phone.”

A still from She-HulkMarvel/Disney+
She-Hulk was forced to make improvements to its VFX after an onslaught of mockery.

Because Marvel has so much power over effects houses, given the studio produces the biggest movies in the world time and time again, it’s not as simple as telling the powers that be to bog off.

“If you upset Marvel in any way, there’s a very high chance you’re not going to get those projects in the future. So the effects houses are trying to bend over backward to keep Marvel happy,” the artist wrote.

Marvel “pixel-f**ks” VFX artists

Effects houses are keen for the commission, they’ll try to beat each other’s bids, the artist explained. However, when the teams are then understaffed, “every person is doing more work than they need to.”

Then there’s the volume of work: as viewers, we’ve seen Marvel’s output increase rather drastically over the past two years, between movies and its Disney+ content.

They continued: “It sets dates, and it’s very inflexible on those dates; yet it’s quite willing to do reshoots and big changes very close to the dates without shifting them up or down. This is not a new dynamic.”

The artist then explained what it means to be “pixel-f**ked” by a studio. “That’s a term we use in the industry when the client will nitpick over every little pixel. Even if you never notice it,” they wrote.

“A client might say, ‘This is not exactly what I want,’ and you keep working at it. But they have no idea what they want. So they’ll be like, ‘Can you just try this? Can you just try that?’ They’ll want you to change an entire setting, an entire environment, pretty late in a movie.”

While these complaints echo others in recent months, the artist admitted that it’s not easy to push back. “Not every client has the bullying power of Marvel,” they added.