Thursday, August 21, 2008

Disney Tuesday

On Tuesday I was in Disney Feature's hat building, shuffling from room to room as I tend to do. And people were talkative:

"We got a heads up at today's 9:30 meeting that most of the Bolt crew has a few weeks, left, and then it's layoff time." ... "How much dismissal pay do we get?" ... "I survived the last four pictures without getting axed, but this time I've brought in my cardboard boxes to clean out the office." ...

I knew they were coming (so did everybody), but the nearness of the Bolt layoffs are now being communicated to the production crew ...

Layoffs are a sad fact of life in the movie business. You're at a studio for a project, then handed a pink slip. But people are frustrated that there's big gaps between pictures in the Disney Feature development cycle, and the longer hiatuses that are a result.

On the other hand, one grizzled Disney vet said: "Bolt is the best feature I've worked on in a long time. Better than the last four or five features, for sure."

Me, I'm hoping that Bolt is a major hit for Disney. Certainly the clips I see in the lobby hallway are funny and witty. With the caveat that clips, however amusing, aren't always guaranteed predictors about how good the overall picture is, they help to make me optimistic. As does the Disney veteran's take on the film.


julie said...

Wonderful news Steve! I'm excited for Bolt!

Could you tell me something about Rapunzel? Is it in production? Who are animators working on Rapunzel?

Do you know something about "The Bear and the Bow"?

Anonymous said...

Uhhh... kinda [I]clueless[/I], aren't ya, Julie?

The Real Anonymous said...


Rapunzel is in production. See HERE

At least one animator , John Ripa, is listed as working on it on the Rapunzel IMDB page. But of course that IMDB page is presently incomplete . There will certainly be more listed as the film moves into full production (and I would imagine some of the Bolt animators would be rolling on to Rapunzel at some point.

The Bear and the Bow is a Pixar Animation Studio production . There's not a lot of information out about it yet. It is being directed by Brenda Chapman. You can view some early concept art from The Bear and the Bow here:

Character Design Blog: Upcoming Pixar and Disney.

Floyd Norman said...

Layoffs are something animation veterans have lived with for years.

While it's true cutbacks are grim, I can't help wondering do these workers not know anything about the business they work in?

Ann E. Mater said...

I dont think any of the people laid off from Disney are clueless about the industry, and everyone knew months ago who was getting laid off and why. It's just something to write about on a blog...

Anonymous said...

I'm working on Bolt. I can honestly say I think it turned out (is turning out) really great. Good story, lots of action, lots of heart. All around good. It's a step in the right direction for sure

Steve Hulett said...

Folks are complaining and I'm writing about it.

When you lose your job, whether you kinda sorta knew it was coming or not, it's traumatic. It's tense-making.

I'm sorry, that's just the way layoffs are, and even if you take the position "yeah, well, they knew they were coming, it's the damn entertainment business, that's the way it works ..." It still can be wrenching.

Anonymous said...

Ann. E. Mater wrote: "and everyone knew months ago who was getting laid off and why."

I actually haven't heard yet about myself. So this is in fact not true. I think people in the last few departments in the Bolt production pipe should hear in the next week or so.

Floyd, we know the industry we're in. Here's what it is: when there's work, we go where the work is. Please try not to be insulting. I think it's part of the union's job to keep members appraised as to which union shops are up-sizing and which are downsizing so when the work's slim at one house, we know where to look. That's all Steve's doing here.

Steve, DreamWorks is upsizing. Please let everyone know that. Hopefully Floyd won't complain that we don't know what industry we're in.

pedro said...

Floyd Norman = Mr. Heartless-robot-not-so-FUNny-now.

Anonymous said...

Corporate investment in Hollywood studios loves the built-in cyclical lay-off mechanics of the industry. People are expensive, especially when they have families and get old and require healthcare and retirement living and hospice and finally funeral arrangements. If 'studios' can figure out how to make entertainment without people, they will. And judging from the amount of special effects and computer acrobatics involved in modern filmmaking, they have come very, very close. Today, all they have to do is pay off Brangelinas family in one single private contract, and give token co-starring roles to everyone else sitting at their dinner parties - a drop in the bucket compared to everyone involved in making a movies and television shows.

Detroit automakers drool at the thought of entertainment-style 'lay-offs.' Getting fired is the more correct terminology, I do believe, brothers.

Anonymous said...

Floyd speaks the truth, whether you want to hear it or not.

Anon below Pedro - how do you think those special effects and computer acrobatics are created? I suppose you just turn on the computer and there they are, right?

Anonymous said...

The special effects apparatus that has been implemented also cements the "compartmentalization" of the work force. Unlike 2D animation, there is no single voice present in the work. the labor is spread through different departments. Whether by design or not, this has created a "divide and conquer" approach of management toward the talent.

No single person is valuable because no single person contributes enough to be valuable. Everyone is worth the same -and thats why salaries aren't going up during this boom like they did during the nineties. the CGI process makes everyone replacable.

It also puts the creative guidance to the executives. Every artist is up to their ears with micro-technical tasks and no one has a view of the big picture... except for executives. Its not a good thing.

Look - there isn't even such a thing as an independent CGI animator. With traditional animation any individual can make their own short and raise their stock. You can't really do that with CGI. The process takes too many hours.

So hooray for CGI! Its lowered salaries, fragmented the creative teams, and spoiled what used to be a really good industry. All for realistic lighting and textures.

Anonymous said...

"With traditional animation any individual can make their own short and raise their stock. You can't really do that with CGI."

Anonymous said...

"The special effects apparatus that has been implemented also cements the "compartmentalization" of the work force..."

Wow - there is so much wrong with this post that it's hard to know where to begin.

2D isn't compartmentalized? Seriously?

The reason salaries aren't climbing this time around like they did in the 90's has to do with available work force, not the contribution of the individual. There are simply more folks around to choose from (ironically, largely due to the 90's boom). For every person who has a job on a show, there are a dozen or more ready to step in if that person leaves. When there are more workers than jobs, wages tend to drop or stay flat. It's basic economics.

That'll have to do for now - got work to do...

Anonymous said...

Yes thats a nice little anecdotal exception, but hardly a contradiction. Josh Staub would be the first to tell you that there are hardly any other people who have done what he has.
I am confident I don't have to cite that CGI animation is VASTLY more popular than traditional is on every single level today. Students learning it, studios using it, successful movies having it. We all know the score.

Now look at the HUGE disparity of CGI to traditonal animation in singularly created independent shorts. There's no arguing. The reason there aren't as many independent CGI shorts is because of the process. Its self evident. If you can't accept(or you insist on taking it as an insult to your sensibilities) then you are free to explain why the disparity exists yourself.

I'm working in CGI as we speak btw, so I don't have an axe to grind. I'm just stating a twist in the industry that I think isn't recognized.

Anonymous said...

(posts are leapforgging)

"For every person who has a job on a show, there are a dozen or more ready to step in if that person leaves."

Yeah, thats the problem. There is a grotesque parity in CGI , and like i already stated - no real vision. Who are the Andreas Dejas of CGI? Who are the Glen Keans?

The most trained eyes can't pick out one animator from another. Anyone who says they can recognize an animators CGI work cold, is lying. The medium is voiceless and beause of that, the talent field got very leveled. When there is talent that stands out, it changes the structure.

"2D isn't compartmentalized? Seriously?"

Yeah. Seriously. Production has turned into a do or die betting game with CGI. You haven't noticed? How many times are scenes reanimated, retextured and rerendered... not many. The only time that happens is as a last resort. It was different and consummately easier before. You just give it to a guy to animate again.

Now the funny thing is this:

Once again, the binary though train has run off the tracks in these forums. I'm not saying CGI is inferior only insomuch that other commentators will try to force me to say that. Apparently egos are so fragile and tempers are so short in here that you can't say ANYTHING BAD about the status quo or you get attacked.

I'm mentioning one of the pitfalls of the switch to CGI in the town. All medium have their drawbacks. Unless you think that all mediums have their drawbacks except CGI. You can believe that if you want. Go ahead. Its bliss.

Kevin Geiger said...

> Look - there isn't even such a thing as an independent CGI
> animator. With traditional animation any individual can make
> their own short and raise their stock. You can't really do that
> with CGI.

Uhhh... you're kidding, right?

Anonymous said...

Disney is still trying to right the ship and they are not in the business of holding onto people at this time. Dreamworks has been very good to its folks and really should be commended on their efforts to retain talent.

Disney will be back, they are just trying to get out of a very dark 5 or so years. I hope Bolt is a hit and it has every possibility to be one now that there is no competition slated for that release period. HP has been moved to summer.

I said...

I think a little perspective is needed.

At the end of "Meet the Robinsons," there were some brutal layoffs, and the animator staff was downsized to about 35.

American Dog was supposed to be animated with those 35 animators, with a production schedule of over a year. The 35 animators would then move on to Rapunzel, and there would be little need for layoffs.

But then reality intervened. American Dog, as envisioned by the original director just, frankly, sucked. And despite what many (who never saw the reels) believe, Lasseter and Co. really did make the right call in essentially starting from scratch, and bringing in a new directing team. They had to come up with a totally new movie in months. (Yes, I realize this is a subject that could entirely fill up its own thread, but I'm just going to focus on the time schedule here)

Bolt, the movie they have come up with, is great, and they did it in a shockingly short amount of time, given the extent of the re-do. took so long to revamp, that the animation schedule was reduced to essentially 6 months. The release date was not changed. It was impossible for only 35 animators to do it all in that amount of time, so about 25 new animators were hired. They were all told at their start that this was strictly run-of-picture, and they would be let go once animation was finished.

So, most of them are now being let go. Disney is unfortunately losing some talented animators. Even so, a few of them are being kept, which is great. Ultimately, what Disney needs is stability, so that these kinds of mass hirings and firings stop happening. This will only happen if the story development process becomes more stable, and new projects are actually ready and good, once the previous movie is complete.

Anonymous said...

story story story.... got to have to a good one to keep work flowing.

julie said...

Thank you The Real Anonymus for your answer!

New Disney website is too great!

I can't wait for Rapunzel!!!

Anonymous said...

First of all, Pedro, I hope you knew who you were snarking at when you blasted Floyd Norman. He's a legendary animator and a classy guy. Back off, junior, and go play with your action figures.

Speaking of action figures, the plastic uniform characters seen in all too many CGI films are starting to turn me off as a viewer. EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME. There is no personal expression to speak of in CGI. I have both "Lady and the Tramp" and "Meet The Robinsons" on DVD. "Lady" pleases the eye so much more than "Robinsons" (I'm not talking story, I'm talking visuals here). I'm not surprised that CGI animators are more expendable than 2D animators. My jaw just hits the floor when I realize that there are animators at Disney *who don't actually draw*. Something really really sucks about that.

Anonymous said...


I thought Lasseter's motto was "If you can't draw for a living, you don't belong here?!?"...last time I trust something written at ain't it cool news....


Anonymous said...

My jaw just hits the floor when I realize that there are animators at Disney *who don't actually draw*. Something really really sucks about that.

I love how people are able to chew online here about which people shouldn't be working where.

I mean, shit, we're staring down layoffs, and anonymous jerks log on here and say that they know who should be fired.

I swear, animators are a pack of vicious mongrels, ready to eat their own.

Floyd Norman said...

Sorry about all the bad feelings here.

Nobody wants anybody to lose their jobs, it just seems every time this crazy industry begins to become stable -- something comes along and mucks it up. More often than not, the culprit is studio management.

The sad part is, even when animation makes tons of money, it never provides job security. Several hit films didn't make a damn bit of difference when Eisner decided traditional animation was dead. However, he sure filled his pockets when the cash was flowing.

Finally, I'm not the enemy, in case you're not smart enough to realize that.

pedro said...

OK, then Mr. Norman is only able to be ironic… Actually I was sweet, because I know who Mr. Fun is. Perhaps he accomplished his personal goals, then… let the new artists express whatever they feel, that is healthy. At WDAS many people were waiting for a better status with John and Ed… it is comprehensible (Disney is a very profitable company right now, and Pixar is behind the animation department)

Sadly, an eventual global economic crash will not be an “action figure game”… and to loss a job will not be something FUNny either.

Steve Hulett said...

I mean, shit, we're staring down layoffs, and anonymous jerks log on here and say that they know who should be fired.

I swear, animators are a pack of vicious mongrels, ready to eat their own.

Welcome to Tinsel Town, City of Dreams.

Anonymous said...

>>My jaw just hits the floor when I realize that there are animators at Disney *who don't actually draw*. Something really really sucks about that.<<

Some of the best animators in the world who do amazing stuff can't draw. Saying 2d is better then 3d or vice versa is narrow minded.

Anonymous said...

>>I actually haven't heard yet about myself. So this is in fact not true. I think people in the last few departments in the Bolt production pipe should hear in the next week or so.<<

Sorry about that, I meant the animation department specifically. Hope everything turns out in your favor

robiscus said...

"Some of the best animators in the world who do amazing stuff can't draw."


The best animators in the world ALL can draw. If a person can't recognize this, then they know hardly anything about animation.

You might be talking about puppeteers - but not animators.

Anonymous said...

If you're saying that CG animators arent animators, but rather puppeteers, you are talking out of your ass. Puppeteers work in real-time, and they dont have to worry about arcs, spacing, and, well, every single other animation principle other than draftsmanship. CG animation is like a computerized combination of stop motion and 2D. We still use 2d tools to get the effects we want, and many times go through elaborate 2d tests before we even touch the rig. I dare you to tell stop motion guys that they arent animators.

In fact, one could argue the opposite viewpoint: Some of the "best" 2d animators in the world arent even that good of animators, they're just great ilustrators/draftsmen who have great in-betweeners who clean up their stuff. Ive seen it first hand actually (and you probably have too). I know many 2d guys who, when faced with their own cleanup (in 2d, but mostly CG), fall apart and make crappy work. Now, thats not to say they arent animators, Im just trying to demonstrate to you how illogical your "puppeteer" comment is. Everyone has their limitations, and thats why you work as a team and help each other out.

Cutting through all the BS, it sounds like you have an elitist attitude, or possibly are defending other 2D animators (as if there's a need to)...or, are resistant to change, which everyone understands is difficult. But there's absolutely no need to insult your brothers who are making beautiful work on the computer. It has it's place, just like drawn animation has it's place. Either, when done correctly, is a beautiful type of art, and bashing one or the other based solely on the medium (like I said before) is juvenile and narrow minded. And bashing the artists themselves is even worse.

Anonymous said...

If you'd like, browse through the spline doctors website (some Pixar animator's blog, where they often discuss their viewpoint on drawing ability, and how that pertains to their animation.

They comment many times on how poor their drawing skills are, yet I doubt there's anyone here with the guts to tell them they arent animators. In fact, Andrew Gordon (a supervising animator there, most recently for Presto) has admitted many times how he prefers shooting video reference over relying on his poor drawing skills.

I think that settles it.

robiscus said...

The best 3D animators are always those that can draw and can animate well traditionally. When you animate traditionally, you are not just drawing pictures like an illustrator(where did you get this idea from??), they are directing while they animate. You commit to the camera shot - and afterthought that a 3D animator can change later on. A traditional animator has to pay close attention to the silhouette, the lighting, and the composition. There's no going back. Its the he same with traditional stop motion animators. Their art is one that is consummately more difficult and with higher stakes. 3D animation is a craft that requires a ton of technical know how, but has all the conveniences in the world. only people who have only animated that way would fail to realize this.

And again, 3D animation also has a very unsavory way of drowning out the artistic voice. There is no distinctive style to ones work when it is filtered through so many computer interfaces. You can't tell one person's work from another's in CGI. CGI has a lot of positives to it; it dazzles with mind blowing technological advances, but any traditional animator can learn the program and effectively animate in that medium.
The opposite is not true.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong. Period. Going point by point would take forever, and frankly its a waste of my time.

Anonymous said...

Remember kids, dont argue publicly with a fool, onlookers wont be able to tell the difference.

This is the same naive fool who posted this several months ago...

You obviously have NO idea what it takes to animate on a CG movie (everything you stated earlier that supposedly only applies to traditional animators applies to CG animators as well in droves, and they overcome so many technical limitations and difficulties its ridiculous...both mediums have their advantages and disadvantages, but both require a high level of animation talent)

robiscus said...

...and so we have a COMPLETE coward who calls me out for an opinion i made in an earlier post - but is such a pissant that he can't even identify himself.

You don't agree with me? so what? You don't even have a name. You're just a faceless voiceless tool trying to tear down someone without putting up a thought of their own. Oh no! I'm not a fan of Dreamworks! Who cares? There are many people who aren't a fan of Disney. There are people who don't like the Simpsons. If thats your attempt at a well-thought-out snub of me, then your time would have been better spent drawing(or trying to).

You went and searched for my post about Kung Fu Panda. What a laugh!

What i said about 3D animation stands. I animate traditionally and in 3D, so I'm not going to hesitate to give my opinion.

A 3D animator DOES deal more in technical know how than artistic ability, a 2D animator DOES have a more unrestrained process of animating, and an artist's voice IS drowned out in CGI and amplified in 2D.

Go point for point and disagree with me. Thats what is known in common circles as "a discussion". You still have ZERO answers for my original point: which was that besides the fact that 3D animation has moved to the front in EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of animation in the world... independent shorts are almost all in 2D. Why? Because it is easier to do a short in 2D than 3D. Thats why 90% of the independent animated shorts in festivals, the Annies, and The Acadeny Awards are all 2D.

You took that as some sacrilegious affront to your belief system. I'm advising you to take a deep breath and not have a hissy fit over it. You don't want to spit up your taco Bell on your new comic book. Its just the reality of the mediums. I thought that here in the comments section you might counter the point with shortcomings of 2D, but you're so infantile that all you can do is lob insults at the mention of the realities you don't want to recognize. What a tiny myopic view you must have of the world around you.

Anonymous said...

You said CG animators are puppeteers, and not animators. Im reacting to that. I think you're incorrect. That's all you're getting from me, because Im no longer going to react to your flame-baiting.

Oh, and I know "Robiscus" is just as anonymous as "anonymous"

Ronald said...

You're just as faceless and anonymous as the rest of us posting here. If you want to change that, post your full name--we'll all be interested!

A quick point--you are exaggerating the stylistic differences between 2d animators at a large studio. Those of us who work in "the biz", alongside these animators can identify these differences, usually through variations of draftsmanship. But the average moviegoer? Please! Nobody outside our little animation bubble could tell the difference between an Andreas Dejas drawing and a Randy Cartwright. So don't kid yourself.

Similarly, when I see the shots done by the other CG animators in the crew I work with, I can indeed identify specific quirks and differences that are unique to certain animators. And the "cream of the crop" animators' scenes are ALWAYS identifiable. Could I expect the average moviegoer to detect these differences? No way. But the fact is, the best CG animators' scenes are very noticeable and appreciated by those of us who have the eye for this stuff. You perhaps don't?

Last point--the differences between animators' work in CG have to do purely with how the character moves and acts. In other words, animation in its purest form. Conversely, the differences in traditional 2D are, more often than not, most identifiable because of slight differences in drawing style. But drawing is not animation--movement and acting are!

Anonymous said...

Saying you are an animator without being able to draw is like saying you are a musician, but you can't read music.

Sure you are awesome at moving stuff around, but you can't really do anything without your character designers, modelers and riggers.

Give me a break.

Mel said...

Sure you are awesome at moving stuff around, but you can't really do anything without your character designers, modelers and riggers.

Yeah, except that moving stuff around is what an

Obviously, it's great when an animator knows how to draw, and I'm grateful that I put in the years of study and practice to do it. That said, I'm bowled over at the enormous talent of some of my CG animator co-workers who can't draw, but can animate rings around some the best 2D converts.

So who am I going to believe--you, or my own eyes?

Anonymous said...

"You can't tell one person's work from another's in CGI. "

Maybe *you* can't. With some animators I can. Certainly the best of them have a clear style that I can pick out. I especially like what Nik Ranieri brings to his CG stuff... lots of complexity and inner dialog. Now Dick Zontag... he's all about arc and flow and then suddenly, unexpectedly he drops down into the world of angles and sharpness. It's not the entirety of his repertoire, but it has a surprising and delightful quality.

The rest of your rant is just dick swinging. As I said before, animators really like to eat their own. A vicious lot of petty ranters.

There's a lot of talent out there. It's a shame that there's clearly more ego than talent in certain posters here. So much so that they feel they have to tear others down so that they feel better about themselves.

I don't care how good or bad you draw. The results are either on-screen or they're not.

Funny, the best animators I know are also the most humble, and the most willing to teach.

robiscus said...

"But drawing is not animation--movement and acting are!"

No, actually animation by definition is creating the illusion of motion by creating images that, when viewed in sequence, are brought to life. Its about understanding how to fool the eye of the viewer because of the persistence of vision.

So drawing really is an integral part of animating. Its much more integral that a program. You're saying you need a program to animate. Thats ridiculous. Its like Britney Spears needing a harmonizer to sing in concert. Sure she's a singer, but pardon me if I'm not impressed.

Great CGI animators put in the key frames, and have a fancy hierarchy and mel script, but they aren't creating any images really, just moving around what the computer provides them.

Anyone experienced with the program can do it competently, and thats why wages don't go up. Because its still going to look good enough with the computer providing the image no matter who does it. Put a couple beers in ANY executive and ask them and they'll tell you. Talent isn't at the premium is was with 2D. There are college kids who are wizards with the program everywhere. Animators have never been so replacable.

Kevin Geiger said...

> Great CGI animators put in the key
> frames, and have a fancy hierarchy
> and mel script, but they aren't
> creating any images really, just
> moving around what the computer
> provides them.

Is that to say that stop motion animators "aren't creating any images really"? Truly, this is ignorant discourse.

The computer doesn't provide you with anything that you don't input yourself. Great animators, such as Ranieri and Zondag, don't just take "what the computer provides them". They are active partners in the creation of their CG characters. They work directly with the modelers and TDs to define rigging capabilities, facial controls and the like which push the boundaries of the art, and truly personalize it. When you look at the scene of Buck Cluck talking to Chicken Little in the car, you can "see" Nik the animator. It is every bit a personal performance, evocative of his other great work in 2D.

You state that "anyone experienced with the program can do it competently", and I entirely disagree. True, the barriers to entry are not as formidable as they once were, but "compentence" is not a given and "excellence" is still hard to come by - and requires just as much artistic proficiency as ever. There is as much of a "glut" of kids out there with good 2D drawing portfolios and animation reels as there are "college kids who are wizards with the program everywhere".

Animators - 2D and 3D alike - are as "replaceable" as they ever were.

robiscus said...

"Is that to say that stop motion animators "aren't creating any images really"? Truly, this is ignorant discourse."

No, because stop motion animators invraibaly design and creations they animate. Harryhausen was an amazing artist and designer.

The CGI animatros who can't draw... well, they're really dependent on the studio they work at aren't they? If they were challenged to make a film, what are they going to create?
Movement is only part of being an animator. Anther half is being able to design and yet another half is knowing what things look like from every angle. Step conveniently glossed over for the animator who inexpicably specialized in only movement.

Anonymous said...

Im a fantastic sculptor (in clay). Im a feature film animator. I can model, rig, animate, texture, all of it. But for some reason, I cant draw.

Weird, innit? I cant explain it myself either, but all I know is I do well for myself in all other areas of animation.

By the way, I animate all my shots on ones. Every frame and every control is hand keyed. No fancy mel-script heirarchy here....whatever that means. You obviously are very ignorant.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry about it. Robiscus is just trolling or is simply jealous that he can't animate as well as the non-drawing crowd.

My guess is that he lost his job to someone who can't draw.

robiscus said...

Yeah, I'm jealous of people who are ENTIRELY dependent on a program to animate. You're writing your own ticket on that one.

"I'm an animator, but I need a computer and software to do it" is equatable to "I'm a fashion designer but I know nothing about sewing so I need a crew of people to put my designs together."

Are there these kind of people in the world? Yes. Are many of them successful? Yes.

Do they get as much respect as designers who actually know their trade? No.
Same goes for you.

Anonymous said...

No, its more like, Im a fashion designer and Im way better at using a sewing machine than sewing by hand.

Dude, give it up. You're just plain wrong. Its pretty pathetic.

Anonymous said...

See, the problem here is, you're hell-bent on knocking CG animators, as if they're "not animators" or lesser artists, which is completely untrue. They work differently. No one here (from what I can tell) is knocking traditional animators, so why are you so bend out of shape?

Do you really have such a fragile ego that you have to say that only 2D animators can call themselves animators?

I mean, cmon people, we just make cartoons here...

robiscus said...

Invariably you are forced to knock CGI animators from the droves off them in here because ANYHTING said negative about their field is taken personally and blown out of proportion.

What I said originally is that one of the inherent shortcomings of CGI animation is that the production has SO many processes to it and it is so compartmentalized that there is no single artisitic vision. Just a collective of talent; interchangable parts.

You don't think I'm right? Look at this image from Shrek 3:

...and read the accompanying article. Now, it would be ignorant to say that the image shown is that horrendous because CGI artists don't have any talent. Thats not necessarily true. Its because of the process. If you don't believe that, then you haven't worked in both CGI and traditional. I have and CGI suffers from the compartmentalization of the work force.

Even veteran animator Keith Lango explains this shortcoming in the article above.
"no single artist is responsible for this. It is assembly line imagery. The flaw is in the system under which this is made."

I've come around to notice that wages have remained static as the CGI train chigs along and I think the process is why.

But again, if you think that there are NO drawbacks to CGI production in hollywood. Then believe that. I'm sure its bliss.

Kevin Geiger said...

"CG" animators & artists are not any more thin-skinned than "traditional" animators & artists. In fact, far from it. We've put up with sneers from that direction for years, and were even expected to help train the same folks who regarded our medium with such derision.

Where you get into trouble is when you make ridiculous statements such as this:

> Look - there isn't even such a
> thing as an independent CGI
> animator.

That is the sort of nonsense guaranteed to bring out "thin-skinned" CG artists in droves.


Anonymous said...

Now I know you're delusional. The first thing you said was:


The best animators in the world ALL can draw. If a person can't recognize this, then they know hardly anything about animation.

You might be talking about puppeteers - but not animators."

If that's not childish flamebait, I dont know what is.

By the way, Im pretty sure that a singular artistic vision comes from the director. It sounds to me like you're more against large studios and pro-independent films, than you are CG vs traditional. 2D films have the same problems as CG films, where artists have to stay on model (even if the design is crap, Atlantis comes to mind) and problems occur due to the large-studio, assembly line environment.

But thats a discussion you're having with yourself. The original debate spawned from your snarky, arrogant comments regarding what qualifies an animator, which you're still wrong about.

Anonymous said...

By the way, just for the record, I think everyone here is pro CG AND pro traditional...

...why arent you? You dont think any CG animated films have been successful both artistically and commercially?

robiscus said...

" You dont think any CG animated films have been successful both artistically and commercially?"

Have they been a success for the artists working in the industry? Wages have remained low and my suggestion was that the reason for this is, in quoting a post from above:

"the barriers to entry (in the industry) are not as formidable as they once were"

Anonymous said...

Depends on what you call "low". I entered the industry as a digital artist at $50k in 1995, and was making 5 times that within ten years. May not be Glen Keane money - and I've never owned a vineyard like some key assistants from days of yore - but I'm not crying poor.

Anonymous said...

There will never be a Glen Keane of CGI. Like what was stated earlier, the digital processes (and the many "artists" who can't draw and know nothing abut crafting an excellent image) strip away any singular voice.


Kevin Geiger said...

You can also look at how faithful films such as "Open Season" were to their 2D character designs.

Storyboard are not character designs. If they were, you'd see the character mutating from sequence to sequence. And any loss of appeal from storyboard to final output is ultimately the fault of the director, who approves everything. I can pull out just as many examples of 2D films that have lost their charm along the way, when the boards are compared to the cels. It's the man, not the medium.

BTW, I love absolutest statements that use the word "never". :-) I'm going to tape "There will never be a Glen Keane of CGI." to my monitor.

Glen's animation shines through as Glen's despite the army of in-betweeners, cleanup artists, painters and scanners who work over his drawings. And there's no reason why an animator cannot reach the same heights in CGI.

You're comparing a medium with less than 15 good years under its belt against one with more than 70. It will take a fraction of that 55-year discrepancy for "never" to occur.


robiscus said...

Yeah, Kevin and you're talking about an industry with a massive presence that traditional animation never even came close to in that time. a measly 15 years?... with 4 or 5 feature films from 4 or 5 different studios for more than half that time. The output is unparalleled, the technical advances are never ending... and the level of artistry is nigh.

All of those movies and all of that animation and ne animator isn't recognizable from another. The animation shows that the bar has been lowered, and so have the potential for better wages. Thanks CGI!

Anonymous said...

When you say one animator is indistinguishable from the other, do you mean per film, or overall in the industry? (ie, you cant tell what studio made what film, like back in the day when it was easy to distinguish between a Bluth film and a Disney film)

Point is, its typically a goal of most directors/studios to have the character feel the same from shot to shot, regardless of who animated it. But if you mean that certain studios dont have a particular style, (or all studios have the same style) you have a point. Like, I would believe if someone told me Blue Sky made Kung Fu Panda or Sony made Wall-e....technically and artistically, everyone is pretty much on the same level these days. Im just trying to understand which you mean.

Also, you spend so much time criticizing CGI, but why not embrace it for what it is, all the while still embracing 2D. I mean, Disney is doing it again, it isnt dead (and showing signs of a larger revitalization), so whats the problem? Why so angry?

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming you didn't see Atlantis. Or Home on the Range. Or Quest for Camelot. Or Hercules. Or Space Jam. Or any number of traditional 2D animated films.

Because in terms of art direction, and overall artistry, Kung Fu Panda matched them all, and in many cases, exceeded them. So did Ratatouille.

Sorry, but while you may have had a point several years ago, CG features are quickly coming to a point where they are as visually pleasing as 2D. KFP was on a par with Mulan, art direction-wise.

And I see you just blithely ignore earlier points that individual CG animators ARE unique, and do have individual styles. Interesting that you can't intelligently respond to those points.

I'm sorry that CG came along and ruined your career plans. But the fact is, all of my colleagues who were truly talented, and not just cogs, have been able to continue working just fine. Good films still require good artists, and a high degree of talent. Those who were left behind were the ones who didn't have much talent to begin with.

While I'm disappointed that wages appear to be stagnant, it's probably important to remember that wages came down around 2000, before the glut of CG. And I'll also point out the obvious fact that there are a number of individuals working in CG who make quite a damn bundle, much higher than scale. Their talents are indeed recognized and paid for.

robiscus said...

I don't see VOICES in CGI animation - no one does. You are very close to the industry, working in it and you are saturated with individuals work all day long.

The passing animation fan could TELL that Glen Keane did the Beast in "Beauty in the Beast", just as they could tell that Dejas did Jafar in Aladin, just as they can see the tell tale precision of Richard Wiliams in Roger Rabbit.

Even if they can't tell who did it, they can see that that character moves a certain way and has personality in that aspect.

CGI is STILL (we're all waiting...) trying to get the movement down so that it doesn't look "floaty". Kung Fu Panda was a huge leap forward, but the limits of the rigs and the schedules it takes to make a CGI film have prohibited the expression that 2D has always had.

On top of that, studios are more than happy to fill their ranks with technical animators rather than artistsic animators and yes, because of that the bar has been set lower to be an animator and the work has suffered.

On top of that - like the poster mentioned above - there is an overhwelming GLUT of style in CGI. More than 3/4 of the movies made have characters that all look like thy could inhabit the same world. Its not a distinctive film to the moviegoing audience, its "just another 3D animated movie." With interchangable characters.

Its sad that you accuse me of being inferior to you by deriding me as someone whose career was left behind. Such a haughty tone. That must be the case with the dozens and dozens of posts by fanbs over at CartoonBrew who echo the same sentiments I have. Or maybe Keith Lango and Mike Watt and other animators in the industry who have mentioned the same shortcomings are lesser than you. You have it allfigured out! Clearly everyone whocriticizes CGI for its flaws(and it has many on many different levels) is just bitter.

Say what you want about John K, but he eviscerates the current standardf of srtistry in CGI here:

... and the funny thing is that he's talking about "Shark's Tale", which came out FOUR YEARS AGO, and its the very same problems that are seen in the preview pics of Bolt over at CartoonBrew.

Do I need to mention anything else?!!?!
Where is this ever evolving art form you are so proud of when the symmetry and wretched designs from four years ago are still being seen today?

Look, I'm modeling stuff in Maya right now. I like working in 3D - I really do. BUT... there are real problems with the state of the industry right now and I'm free to criticize them. The post at CartoonBrew shows I'm not alone. The only way to get change from the lame aspects is to criticize them. There is nothing sacrosanct in CGI - if you think there is, then you're too thin skinned to talk to.

Honestly, I'm the guy that would happily(and eagerly) criticize 2D films. The crutch of animating realistically, the Disney designs, the endless dutch angles. I hate that stuff, but there aren't any 2D movies to discuss.

You are free to disagree with me, but I'm saying wages are lower because studios can "get by" with animators who are more technicians than artists. There are lots of people lobbying for jobs here in LA, and that makes wages lower - but the skill sets of the people who studios will hire are much much much less than they were. CGI has allowed the dazzling textures and photorealisitc renderings to cover up bad animation, on top of the still persistent limitations of the software.

Anonymous said...


The passing animation fan could TELL that Glen Keane did the Beast in "Beauty in the Beast", just as they could tell that Dejas did Jafar in Aladin, just as they can see the tell tale precision of Richard Wiliams in Roger Rabbit.

end quote

You DO know that Glen and Andreas and Richard werent the only animators on those characters, right? They were the leads, but there were dozens more animators (and also rough in-betweeners, etc) who touched those characters and scenes. So, your point there might be moot.

In my opinion, I think CG film has gotten way past the floatiness factor. Horton is a prime example of some 2D-inspired, CG animation. Go watch Snow White again and see some floaty animation ;)

Just to put my 2 cents in here, Ive worked on 3 CG features as an animator, and I would say maybe 1 or 2 in a crew are really technically able, probably 10 who have a background in 2D, and the rest are just ridiculously talented animators (who could work in any medium if payed to)

By the way, some animators are content being animators, and not directors. Is that what you mean by being technical and not artistic? How can you be a good animator and not be artistic? Perhaps you've never animated in CG before, so I could see how it might appear to be like "the computer doing the work," which of course is completely untrue. Thats what a lot of people believe though.

I kind of see your points, but I think you are a bit extreme in your opinions. Also, I think Cartoon Brew is a bit harsh with Bolt, and doing a bit of prejudging and using the worst possible images to form an opinion. From what Ive seen of the film (which is, all of it, since I worked on it) its pretty awesome. :P Not the best thing ever, but definitely a solid "good film."

Anyway, I wish you luck with your endeavors, and keep an open mind! Theres a lot of good work being done out there, even on the computer.

Kevin Geiger said...

Robiscus, wages hyper-inflated during the pissing match between Eisner and Katzenberg, when DW was staffing up and animating assistants were getting limo rides from Jeffrey.

Your wages were not lowered because of a computer or a computer artist, sorry.


Kevin Geiger said...

Will “The Glen Keane Of CG” Please Stand Up?

Kevin Geiger said...

Anonymous said...

way to shamelessly pimp your blog. :|

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