Since the announced closure of ImageMovers Digital last Friday, the Animation Guild staff has been assisting IMD employees who are now looking at their last three ... or six ... or nine months of work with the Novato-based studio (which will wrap up operations when Mars Needs Moms is completed.)
Employees have been offered "Completion Packages" that offer assignment end-date guarantees, retention bonuses if folks stay to the end of the production, and sweetened severance pay. All of these things are to the good.
But it's not as if the company is being generous because of a sudden surge of corporate guilt. The Mouse needs CG artists to stick around the 2 1/2-year-old studio until the completion of Mars. It wouldn't help Diz Co. much to have key personnel bailing while there are still shots to be executed ...
On the TeeVee cartoon studio front, people are still complaining about tight boarding and production schedules, and I'm reciting my usual mantra.
* Time cards are legal documents, so fill them out accurately.
* If overtime is due under the Collective bargaining Agreement, (time-and-a-half after eight worked hours; time-and-a-half on the 6th and 7th days worked for "on Call" employees, etc., etc.) TAG will willingly file a grievance if the o.t. is not paid.
(Employee reluctance to stick their heads over the company parapet because of o.t. issues remains an on-going issue.)
Another recent sore point: The march of streamlined animatics and the erosion of timing direction (you know, slugging and exposure sheets?) Some shows are throwing those things overboard and relying solely on the digital animatics. Many directors with whom I talk think this will end up increasing retakes in a major way and ballooning show budgets on the back end. But of course, it wouldn't be the first time a cost-cutting measure resulted in cost escalations ...