Today's article by David Cohen in Daily Variety is pretty darn encouraging. Dave notes that visual effects is now being treated as part of production/principal photography; rather than post-production. And he reports that Pixomondo was able to move away from the flat bid business model to a more flexible approach on "Hugo".
Using previz to better advantage; using temporary vfx for the edit, and DELAYING the final effects until the picture was actually locked (sorta) proved to save a lot of wasted effort (and money).
Will this approach spread? We'll have to wait and see. But, if it does, it bodes well for visual effects artists and their eventual integration into the IATSE's West Coast production community.