Monday, October 18, 2021

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

How The Personal Computer Broke The Human Body

 

 

 // How the Personal Computer Broke the Human Body (via Vice)

 

This article by Vice got me thinking about previous work experiences.The vfx/games/animation industries require artists to spend enormous amounts of time seated (sometimes standing) working in front of screens cranking out all kinds of creative and innovative magic. It is a very sedentary career so getting up for coffee or tea, a quick walk around the block, the random nerf battle, getting out for lunch, a stroll around the dept to stretch the legs is a must. During a normal workday, these basic activities help a lot, but things get difficult when you're facing a 14hr+ day and need to stay limber, sharp and task effective. Those long crunch time hours day after day, month after month, can wreak havoc on an artist's body. I have had friends and coworkers who developed slipped discs and other physical issues due to massive amounts of overtime. I personally suffered debilitating pinched nerves in my neck and lower back, RSI in my arms and wrists during many rigorous overtime productions. I usually bounce back after a crunch is over, but after 15 years there are lasting consequences. You might say 'it comes with the territory' or 'it's the nature of the industry' and that's very true but it's not an excuse. Studios should continue to improve ergonomic working conditions and implement protections for their talented crew.


Over the years I have worked for ten studios, and two universities. They all have had various equipment standards for artists. Here are some of my experiences:

 


-Three studios provided adjustable standing desks. Of those three, two had Herman Miller Aeron chairs and the other had quality office chairs.


-One university provided standing desks and quality office chairs.



 

-Two studios allowed artists to create standing desks by using concrete blocks to lift the desks (one studio required us to spray paint the concrete blocks black so they would blend into the studio aesthetic). Both provided basic office chairs and artists had to buy their own stool style chairs if they wanted to sit and work at their standing desk on blocks (the artists had to buy the blocks).




-Three studios used extensive cafeteria style seating with row after row of artists working at long tables. You could personally buy a standing desk converter like a VariDesk and use that as a standing option if it fit on the table. All three studios offered decent office chairs but many were broken and they also couldn't roll underneath the worktables causing some artists to remove the armrests.




-Five studios had difficulty supplying basic monitor stands for artists. It is very common for artists to use reams of copy paper, empty amazon boxes, etc,  to raise the level of their monitors to a comfortable ergonomic working height. Eventually most (not all) of the studios supplied monitor risers.


Lastly, all studios are different and have varying budgets to spend on equipment for artists. While not all can provide top tier office chairs and expensive standing desks, all studios can strive to improve working conditions for their artists. This not only comes in the form of physical ergonomics but also in managerial choices concerning scheduling, bidding, artist/production expectations, and eliminating the reliance on planned unpaid overtime work. All these things factor into the health and well-being of a successful and productive crew and ultimately the studio as a whole.