I was back at Disney Feature Animation on Tuesday, handing out my ever-present 401(k) booklets and chatting people up...
Meet the Robinsons is in its last week or two of finaling as it makes its way to the film lab and a March release.
Much of the tension that I noticed in the hat building prior to last month's layoffs has dissipated (not that everything is sunlight and roses, but people seem to have a realistic view of what's going on at Feature Animation.)
The most interesting part of yesterday's walk-through for me actually had little to do with Disney. I ended up talking to a couple of staffers who've worked at different cg studios up in the bay area and have also worked down here in Los Angeles. Their observations:
The studios up in San Francisco have a business model that's more like the game industry: they hire younger, less-experienced people, pay them less and work them longer hours.
Down in L.A., with more places to work, studios seem to value experience more. Up around San Francisco, it's more sweat-shop time. Get the work done fast. Grind away. Maybe it's because people have fewer options in the bay area, but salaries are definitely lower than L.A.
I observed that when I dealt with c.g.i. employees a decade ago, there was a quiet confidence among the more experienced artists and technicians that they had plenty of job opportunities and there was lots of work to be had. At the time, there were more jobs chasing way fewer numbers of people with extensive production experience. Today supply has pretty much caught up with demand, even though demand is bigger.
Makes a difference in the confidence thing.