The main Los Angeles paper had this to say about toons' future this morning:
Through Facebook, Mass Animation invited the public to create scenes for its first short video, "Live Music." The company supplied the animation software, the story, backgrounds, characters and audio. Animators whose work is chosen will receive $500 per scene. All told, the project will cost about $1 million and take six months to complete, a fraction of the money and time required for a comparable Hollywood project.
So, what's going on here? Why, an internet company is inviting animators from far and wide to spend time working for them for free! And if Mass Animation likes the work these good folks do, Mass Animation will pay them the princely sum of $500.
Putting aside the fact that the money is from hunger, and no money will be forthcoming if MA doesn't like the work, let's consider this possibility:
If the scene is long enough, some bright enterprising soul could be working at minimum wage! Maybe even less!
And what's the payoff for our go-getting internet animator?
... the project will cost about $1 million and take six months to complete, a fraction of the money and time required for a comparable Hollywood project.
Ah, I see. The animators, some of whom get five hundred bucks, some of whom don't, will help Mass Animation make "Live Music" for not very much money, thereby insuring that MA has a really good profit margin! Neat!
So ... who's behind this great idea?
Mass Animation was founded by Yair Landau, who ran Sony Pictures Animation while he was a top executive at Sony Pictures.
We point out to the Times that Mr. Landau, despite all his great ideas, is no longer working at Sony Pictures Animation. But it's wonderful to see another entertainment exec leave his corner office and sizable payday for the fertile fields of entrepreneurship. We need more like him, don't we?
He [Mr. Landau] tends to run ahead of the curve, having pushed Sony to develop a downloadable movie service years before online piracy became rampant. His new company is trying to do for animation what YouTube has done for video, namely, exposing far-flung talent.
Except that Mass Animation, if the editorial reflects reality, is keen on owning the content, making the animators low-paid sub-contractors.
But the L.A. Times, to its credit, pulls it head out of its large intestine long enough to admit:
Granted, the online movie service Landau championed hasn’t revolutionized the film business, and his latest effort probably won't upend professional animation.
But you never know, maybe Mr. Landau has seen the future, and it will soon be 1910 all over again.