Artstation gets bought out by Epic Games

TLDR; Epic’s new acquisition of Artstation will promote artist’s education for the rest of the year, and boosting digital creators revenues at a new rate of 12% on commissions. 

ArtStation has been a premier Gaming and Entertainment art portfolio site for a number of years. It came about in 2015

Artstation is a major web platform where you can post your digital 2d or 3d artwork via it’s portfolio feature, sell digital assets, has industry job postings, and has become quite an impressive remote learning library.  It has over 24 million daily visits per month world wide, with 2 million visits in the US alone.  This is second only to the more open ended genre “deviantart.com”, which boast a whopping 114 million daily monthly users.  

Though Deviant art has a bigger web presence for digital artistry, Artstation is specifically niched towards gaming and entertainment genre.  You don’t seem to make it to the front page unless your looking like you came from a movie still or game off the store shelf.  

As with many mergers and acquisitions, there is concern for changing a good thing, but Epic games has indicated in it’s media announcement that it will leave well enough alone, and keep Artstation as a separate independent brand.  

First, Epic’s Artstation is dropping the standard fee of selling digital assets on their site from 30% to 12%.  I can’t help to draw a connection to their legal dispute with apple stores commissioned fees on app purchases.  Epic games is doing some walking to their talking in this instance.  This I think is a permanent change to the fee structure of digital assets, simulating a initial bump in creator asset content creation.  

Secondly what has changed is that learning on Artstation is now free for the remainder of 2021!  That’s gonna be a huge boost in sign ups for inspiring artists, and good faith gesture to the current community to stay with them.  Subscriptions most likely will be coming back in 2022, so take advantage of them while you can.  

I have to wonder “why”.  Why make this purchase.  To me, seems to be an eventual long term play towards promoting the unreal engine.  Sure, it’s not gonna change in many respects.  Artists will be able to post whatever they wanna post, ie from competitor unity.  But the huge draw from artist who wanna get into games and movies, I think they will bump up the quality and accessibility towards learning unreal.  To bridge the learning curve gap it has with Unity, which has built a great community and learning platform.  This is great news for artists, as the unreal engine is making tremendous innovations with its engine.  This will help artist get on board with a real time engine that seems to be getting better and better in making game and movies.

Huge news for aspiring artists in the gaming and entertainment fields.  

Does California AB 5 affect art Contractors and Freelancers in the Visual Arts?

TLDR;

California law makers are tackling the labor of the gig economy by reclassifying all contractors as employee’s, unless they pass a 3-point test …with exemptions.

Backstory –

Dynamex, a subsidiary to Canadian TFI intl., is a transport and logistics company based in Dallas. “Dynamex” was on the losing end of a contractor lawsuit back in April 30th, 2018.

Prior to 2004, Dynamex classified as employees drivers who allegedly
performed similar pickup and delivery work as the current drivers performed.

In 2004, however, Dynamex adopted a new policy and contractual arrangement under which all drivers are considered independent contractors rather than employees. Dynamex maintains that, in light of the current contractual arrangement, the drivers are properly classified as independent contractors.

The drivers took the company to court, combination to a result in April 30, 2018. The lawsuit “Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court”, the courts ruled against Dynamex, and retroactively reclassified their once contractors as employees.

Fast forward to September 18th, 2019.

The State of California law makers successfully codified the “Dynamex” ruling into law, changing labor laws as we know them with Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). Under the new law, previously viewed contractors under the borello test are now presumed as employee unless the test results are met under a 3-point stringent “ABC” test.

(A) The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.
(B) The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.
(C) The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

AB5 imposes the ABC test for the California IWC Wage Orders, the Labor Code, and Unemployment Insurance Code.

Exemptions:

Now, pertaining to Designers, Graphic Artists, and Illustrators. The law includes two sections of exemptions under the categories of, “Professional Services” and Business-to-Business (B2B)”.

Some have various criterias that need to be met to be deemed “exempt”. Often in laws, they need additional court rulings that help clarify and establish the law.

Right now, the reading of the law seems broad and quite far reaching, classifying every as an employee first, making the litmus test of contractor more specific and stringent, but making the narrower exemptions more general. Ie, does graphic design include UX/UI? I’d say you can make the argument as it stands right now.

Conclusion:

Some reassurances, because AB 5 includes language like “Fine Artist” and “Graphic Design”, singled out with it’s own itemized listing in the law and under the “Professional Services” exemption list. Visual Arts can breathe a sigh of relief, as it is of my opinion that this law may make freelancing for entertainment and product in California much more difficult if it had been applied.

B2B also help Hollywood companies with their employees of Actors, Agents, Business managers. You can draw a line that this applies to design houses and design staffing agencies. Hollywood labor unions have put in the money to reassure its members of the exemptions.

References…
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB5
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Assembly_Bill_5_(2019)
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/uber-lyft-a-new-laws-unintended-impact-guest-column-1242730
https://deadline.com/2019/09/hollywoods-unions-tell-their-members-that-new-state-gig-economy-law-wont-impact-their-loan-out-companies-1202739268/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/schuylermoore/2018/05/13/dynamex-a-new-test-for-employee-status/#7c1f71551461

This is not legal advise…
This analysis is not a substitute for individualized legal and tax advice. You should always consult their own professional legal and tax advisors.

Autodraw by Google AI Experiments

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Oh, “if only I could draw,” you say.  Well thanks to a little help with Google and its AI Experiments division, now you can… sorta.

Autodraw is a AI drawing web app that deciphers and interprets your drawings.  Then provides professional drawings that Autodraws thinks you want, and that you can quickly transform pick to replace your markings.

Like predictive texts, but with drawings.  Below is something I roughed out…

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Cre8’ed on Autodraw

Scribble something quickly, and the AI systems kicks in.  It’s algorithms provide guesses as to what you draw, and displays those “guesses” above the active canvas.  You can scroll to pick the various options, if Autodraw guesses correctly that is.

The first iteration of this was Quickdraw, where the AI system would predict, but just spouted out guesses vocally while you drew. Now with Autodraw, the next step brings you actual drawings to augment your masterpiece.

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Portrait attempt with Autodraw

The limits it has are limited to how it recongizes your markings in the canvas and from the still limited provided drawings that are installed within the web apps databases.
In addition to that, the app itself is limiting in terms of options.  For example, currently, you can not erase markings.

These shortcomings does not diminish the amazing things the app can do.  Taking non discernible lines, and making something out of sometimes nothing.  Amazing!

Game Developer Conference (GDC)

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What is GDC?

Game Developers Conference (GDC) is held every year in San Francisco (February 27 — March 3, 2017; Monday – Friday) for five days of sessionstutorialsbootcamps, and roundtable discussions for industry developers and to the public.

GDC is the one of the largest professionals-only industry event dedicated to the creation of games, including computer, console, mobile, tablet, smartphone and online games. This annual event offers five full days of sessions covering many disciplines, including Advocacy, Design, Programming, Production, Visual Arts, Monetization, Audio and Business, Marketing & Management.

Staying on top of the latest game development technologies and tools by visiting the Expo Floor, special events and peer-to-peer networking opportunities. In addition, the Career Center, GDC Play, Independent Games Festival and the Game Developers Choice and IGF Awards provide a well-rounded experience for game development professionals and those interested in the games industry.

Expand industry knowledge – This market defining conference features over 500 sessions across targeted tracks and focused summits on a comprehensive selection of game development topics taught by industry leading experts.

Learn new skills – GDC features variety of Tutorials and Bootcamps to choose from taking place over two full days and providing deep-dive focus on each topic.

Meeting game development professionals – GDC attracts over 27,000 attendees, and is the primary forum where programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio professionals, business decision-makers and others involved in the development of interactive games gather to exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry.

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This years trends and outlook at GDC…

VR

A whole sub-conference within a conference, titled VRDC@GDC, is dedicated to VR.  It’s goal is to teach how to create amazing, immersive VR and AR experiences for games as well as entertainment of all kinds–including films, travel, retail, fitness, product design, journalism, and sports entertainment.

Demo new technologies and gain insight into best practices to create amazing, immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences for both games and non-game entertainment.

Late 2016, VR was all the rage with various companies quickly announcing releases of the new device.

But VR is not growing fast enough it seems, with Facebook is lowering the Oculus Rift headset and Touch controller bundle, which now sells for $598, down from the previous $798 price tag just six months ago.  

VR the future?

The VRDC program is sold out.  It is a indication that companies, as well as the indie game movement, is betting heavily on Virtual Reality being the future.  Big bets are being made by so many companies.  Facebook, Windows, Google, to just name a few, and the list grows.  With so much investment and capital directed into this new market, it seems more a matter of when it will become ubiquitous rather than if.

Snapchat’s “Spectacles” now available online

Snap’s “Spectacles” is paving the way for even more connectivity to your audiences with direct voyeurism.

Originally created in July 2011 by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown as “Picaboo”. Snap is now announced its intentions for IPO release in 2017, and projected to raise 3 billion dollars.

Priced at $129, “Spectacles” is looking to make this product as viral and ubiquitous as it’s ephemeral messages app.

Currently, the only Spectacles that is directly connected to its own proprietary messaging app, Snap is looking for ways to remain the go to choice to create content and ephemerically share.

The Spectacles make it effortless to share content from a first person’s point of view and quickly create posts, making Snapchat poised to maintaining it’s position as one of the go to platform to share content on.

The Spectacles themselves are one design, but come in three colors of “red, black, and turquoise”.

Looking what content creators create with these new Spectacles!

E3 2017 Open to the public!?How do you buy E3 tickets you ask?

In an unprecedented move for the convention, E3 2017 will be selling tickets to the public of their video game trade event for the first time.

What seems to be another year for attention grabbing blockbuster video game announcements, enthusiasts are in for a treat this year as 15,000 tickets will be up for grabs for the public in 2017.  Here it is on their website.

How to buy E3 tickets: When is E3 2017?

E3 will be held in the month of June, between June 13th-15th, in Los Angeles California.

How to buy E3 tickets: When are E3 2017 tickets on sale?

Word is out on the street that the tickets will become available on Monday, February 13th, 9am PST / 12pm EST.

How to buy E3 tickets: How much do E3 2017 tickets cost?

The first day “limited” early sale is $150 for tickets (limited to 1,000).  Once they sell out, they become available at $250.

How to buy E3 tickets: E3 set to come more like San Diego’s Comic Con?

Previously only limited to the press, exhibitors, and industry related members, E3 aims to become more like San Diego’s Comic Con.  Opening up to the public generates revenue and buzz for all participates with minor inconvenience of crowding to industry insiders.  A small price to pay for creating excitement for the fans.

With San Diego Comic Con busting at the seams in growth for years now, expect to see the same with E3.

How to buy E3 tickets?

Register here for E3 2017 tickets!