Friday, January 23, 2009

At the House of Mouse

Friday afternoon was the Disney hat building for me, spreading joy and flyers for next weeks membership meeting ...

I got a chance to see some 3-D images for the retooled Beauty and the Beast, and I can tell you now, without fear of contradiction, that it looks like ... 3-D. Says an artist:

Part of what's hard is everything is hand-drawn, so you have lots of flat shapes, no highlights on hair, no individual strands, no texture on the sides of faces. That looks fine for hand-drawn animation, but getting the drawings into stereo mode is a challenge ...

Especially when it was never put together that way.

The other subject that came up as I made my rounds was the 45-hour workweeks staring Disneyites in the face. Apparently some are not pleased with it. One conversation I had went like this:

Artist: Is what management doing, expanding the workweek to 45 hours, is that legal?

Me: If you mean can Disney cut wages, since that's what they're doing, the answer is yes. As long as they don't cut anybody's pay below contract minimums, they're within their rights. I think most employees are taking a 15% to 18% hit.

Artist: No, I figured it out. Some people around here are taking a cut of more than 20%.

Me: Hmm. Well, you'd know better than I would.

Artist: The Personal Service Contracts. Did the company get rid of them to hold down wages?

Me: That's what I always thought, and what I told people. I never bought the company line it was to give everyone more "freedom". It was to help contain wage increases.

Artist: They tell us it would be unprofessional if we left in the middle of an assignment.

Me: Since nobody has Personal Service Contracts anymore, that's sort of what they tend to say, harping on the "professionalism" thing. But I've yet to see a company that worries about its professionalism when it lays an employee off at an inconvenient time. If you're leaving for a lot more money someplace else, go ahead and be unprofessional. Just don't expect they'll let you come back real quick. Some people here will probably remember your treason.

But in the long run, I don't think it makes much difference. I've had Disney managers tell me on more than once that this or that animator or tech director "will never work here again!" But whattaya know? A couple of years later, they're working here again. Amazing how that happens. If they need you, they hire you, because it's business.

As you can see, it was a fine afternoon. But then night fell, I got hungry, and so I left to go get dinner.

I'm only willing to keep the work thing going for so long.

13 comments:

Lionel said...

"Hey, all those paintings from the Italian Renaissance, hanging around in museums everywhere, look sooo flat, let's take them and make them 3D !"...

I never liked "Beauty and the Beast", and still consider it a catastrophe and, perhaps, one of the worst animated features ever to come out of Disney. Still, the idea of "improving" it with 3D, "allowing people to enjoy it in a way they never could before" makes me nauseous and is an artistic crime that should be punished by law. What's next ? "Snow White " in 3D ?

Anonymous said...

Lionel, are you in the animation business?

Steve Hulett said...

What's next ? "Snow White " in 3D ?


Personally, I'm waiting for The Adventures of Robin Hood in 3-D.

Anonymous said...

"Beauty and the Beast" a disaster?

DUDE!!???!!!!

Floyd Norman said...

Lucas and Spielberg drove me nuts by screwing with their finished films. When a film is finished -- it’s finished! Move on. Do something new.

pedro said...

Personally... I think it is good... This will open a lot of new possibilities for hand-drawn animation.

Not impressed said...

"Possibilities," Pedro? The only meaningful "possibility" is the making of new films. Being able to generate business by technically fiddling with older films will have the opposite effect. If this succeeds,that will only mean less new and more fiddling.

Anonymous said...

sounds like more change is in the air

Justin said...

About the rate reduction the math is quite simple. If the animators keep their same weekly salary and simply adjust from a 40 hour week to a 45 hour week their pay is getting cut by 15%. The cut could only be more if their weekly salary was also cut, and will be less (or possibly a weekly pay raise) if they hit the hourly minimum.

If the staff don't like it they can go to Dreamworks which is on the top 100 places to work with an average annual salary of $135,000.

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2009/snapshots/47.html

showmethemoney said...

Unfortunately average salary and medium salary are calculated differently. Medium salary would in this case, reflect the salary (aproximation)of most animators, without taking in account the salaries of the top earners, which tends to change the curve.

I have a hunch the medium salary is somewhat lower than the 135 K...

r.

Anonymous said...

Dreamworks has been steady for awhile. With the infusion of Kung Fu Panda (easily their best 3D film to date) I bet there are more and more people trying to get in over there. They do have momentum.

Anonymous said...

That's Blasphemy!!!! Dreamworks IS NOT Pixar...no one should voluntarily want to work there!!!

Pixar and their below Union scale wages is the ONLY place worth working.

simpleton said...

"Beauty and The Beast" in 3d??
Someone at Disney actually thought that was a good idea?

Disney has been making stupid decisions for more than ten years now...

r.

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