Thursday, October 6, 2011

A little of the day-to-day

Working conditions are genrally pretty good. Everyone has decent monitors and appropriate computing technology. It's clean. There is air conditioning. The light is pretty good. It's a cube farm at best, though. Most places it is rows of computers set on a long desk that seats between 8 and 20 people. The chairs are good and desks are fine. There's just not much personal space. Doesn't seem to be a problem. Everyone works shoulder-to-shoulder. By American standards it would be considered a sweat-shop, but it's really nice compared to most Indian businesses and it's not uncomfortable.

Working hours are usually 1030am to 7 or 8pm. It took me a little while to get used to the late start. I'm still usually one of the first ones in. This seems to be standard Indian hours. I think the horrendous commute times have made the whole commercial schedule slip later. Maybe it's just Indian time.  Lunch is in the canteen everyday. I eat there a lot. Many people bring their own food which is prepared by the canteen staff. People like me without people at home to make lunch for them pay for the local fare which is usually rice and curry or dahl or masala. It costs about US$2/day for everything they have plus a soda. So far I am enjoying the food fine. When we do go out often it's fast food and that stuff, from the chains mind you, not the street stands, is pretty horrible. There are some nice restaurants around, but we usually don't take the time to go out.

It's a six day week every week. People take it for granted. It's one of the aspects of work here that echoes days gone by in most parts of the VFX biz in America. I will say though that I don't think it's much different than it still is in smaller or newer companies in The States where people work ridiculous hours because everyone else is. 

Organizationally the company suffers from the same problems most small tech-related firms suffer with. There's a lot to be sorted and not many people to do it and when the going gets tough the discipline goes out the window and everyone just works till they drop. We are trying to change that. It's fairly endemic here. Copied from the US model when the US model was even more broken that it is now. Those old US problems manifest themselves all over. Tech guys who don't know how to talk to artists. CG guys who just want to show off how cool the CGI is rather than actually make the movie look good. Animators who want actors on the set to be told what to do so that the animation will be easier, etc. Patience is required but the willingness to move in a different direction seems strong to me. People are listening up. They realize they won't move forward without change. Seems obvious but we've all seen the "it's good enough" mentality wreck projects. That's not apparent where I am in Mumbai. People are motivated to do better work  than they have done before. We're changing the way things are being done. The trick will be to hold it in place when the pressure comes on full.

I'm finding a mixed level of talent but always some good talent, so there's always a place to start. It's not as much of a "just throw bodies at it" mentality as I feared.

Team building is no problem. It's a relatively egoless and flat structure where everyone feels comfortable contributing and no-one is told to shut up because it's above their station to talk. Ironically, in a society still attached to their own class structure and to Britain's as well,  I find the openness to ideas is much greater than what is available to most VFX artists in the US. Communication systems need to be improved though so that the teams can work more effectively. People use cell phones to communicate because the email is so unreliable.  That has to change. The information flow needs to be consistent and effective. That's a solvable problem, I think. It just needs to be made a priority.

 Overall the situation in this small company is completely workable. We still need to improve lots of things and we need more talented artists, but we're not floundering and there's no foot dragging on the required changes. Might be the honeymoon but we are making hay while the sun is shining.
Contrast is everywhere.
Here's the lane the building is on. It's not as smooth as it looks.
And here's the building. Somewhat incongruous.

1 comment:

  1. You need to make sure you make the most of it with wherever you go. Look for the best and make sure you travel n the best way possible. Travel plays an important part wherever you go. Make sure you make it count and have to the core. Look for the best.