Friday, May 28, 2010

Who's Working in What Classifications

The Animation Guild has close to 3000 active members.

Of that number, 2,617 are now working as staff or free-lance employees. That pencils out to 87% (give or take).

But in what categories are those 2000-plus people working? Click the pointy hand on the blue words below and find out ...

Members employed at TAG shops, by category

Figures in square brackets are the number of persons employed

Employment patterns have mimicked a roller-coaster over the past couple of years, with television animation coming out of its trough of a year ago to grow in fits and starts. (Warner Bros. Animation has come back to life, Nickelodeon has built up its CGI staff, Cartoon Network and Disney Television Animation have added shows.)

On the theatrical side, DreamWorks Animation has been a (relative) island of stability), while Walt Disney Animation Studio has used the visual effects model: hire staffers when you need them, lay off staffers when you don't. Image Movers Digital, a steady engine of growth in 2008 and 2009, will be disappearing at the end of 2011.

And so it goes. Twenty-year veterans of hand-drawn animation have found tougher sledding over the last year, and there are more CG television shows in the pipeline than ever. Digital storyboards are encroaching on timing directors' jobs, and the expansion of the Cintiq has meant more work is expected in smaller amounts of time from designers and board artists. (And those board artists now have the added work opportunity to build their own animatics at their desks.)

Technology has been a major driver of employment trends, but what's new? You can see the evidence for yourself in the chart above.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the Animation Guild, 17% are animators.

Steve Hulett said...

We'll just have to take a deep breath and deal with it.

Anonymous said...

What defines the difference between a "Tech Director" and a "3D Animator"? I was always under the impression that those were 2 different names for the same job, right? Or does Tech Director mean more like lighting, modelers, set-up...?

Because when I was a CG Animator, they would refer to me as a tech director, too.

Anonymous said...

The main difference between animators and Technical Directors, is that on average, Technical Directors are much smarter than Animators.

Anonymous said...

No, actually, the main difference between tech directors and Animators, is that tech directors originally set out to be animators, but realized they had no talent, so then decided to go into rigging. *wink*

(hey, you started it)

Anonymous said...

Animators provide the performance alone. Their job is to set keys and take the shot from layout to final performance.

Tech direction can mean a lot of different things:

rigging
simulation
tool support
pipeline support

(etc)

Anonymous said...

TD's are wrists--not creative.

Animators are artists.

Anonymous said...

All 278 of them.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as an animator, I know too well that many TD positions are creative. Try doing lighting or texturing if you aren't creative. Try doing effective modeling or rigging if you aren't creative.

Part of the reason animation professionals don't get the respect we deserve from producers is that we don't even give respect to each other.

Anonymous said...

Every person in TAG may be an artist, but that's not how this union represents its membership - it represents them from a below-the-line position - every one of us is considered technical, including writers. We are only servicing a creative process that is directed, paid for, and owned by management.

If you want both credit and compensation for being creative, as ridiculous as it may sound, take a management job on the studio side giving notes. Otherwise, clock in, clock out, and wait for your pension.

Anonymous said...

CG Animators are just puppeteers.

Anonymous said...

Amazingly talented puppeteers who are also brilliant at composition, staging, timing, subtlety, texture, acting, all wrapped around a technical ability and prowess.

Now, let's all look down on them for not drawing every day.

(oh wait, we do draw everyday...)

By the way, for the record, Ive seen dozens of 2D animators come and go through the doors of the CG department because they cant lean on their "draftsmanship" crutch anymore.

(begin angry tirade in 3....2.....1....)

Steven said...

"If you want both credit and compensation for being creative, as ridiculous as it may sound, take a management job on the studio side giving notes. Otherwise, clock in, clock out, and wait for your pension."

What's ridiculous is defining animation work in live action terms. Apples and oranges. Any position in the animation pipeline makes a greater creative contribution to the final product than below-the-line live action workers. (I don't know if the DP and AD are considered, strictly speaking, below the line, but they would be obvious exceptions). What creative contribution does a Key Grip make or a Best Boy?

Anonymous said...

By the way, for the record, Ive seen dozens of 2D animators come and go through the doors of the CG department because they cant lean on their "draftsmanship" crutch anymore.


Back in the silver age of animation, when Disney was breaking the bank the best animators(many of them) were making a king's ransom. This has been well documented. Their salaries were giant and they had what Steve often explains to us is most important: leverage. They had the talent that was needed for those cash cow films.

Now things are all 3D. Nearly without exception.
And who are the 3D artitsts going out and buying a Corvette with one bonus check? Who are the 3D artists with leverage?

They don't exist.

The process dilutes the work over four to six different departments and there is no singular vision (except that of Mr. Katzenberg maybe). There is no leverage of the artists in 3D because you are a cog in a process. Some cogs are much better than others, but unlike 2D animation, ALL are completely replaceable.

You think thats just a happy coincidence? Its that way by design buddy.

So toot your horn about how fantastic this new talented 3D class is. The fact of the matter is that you are invested in a process that will never give you leverage.

EVER.

Thats why Mr Katzenberg is so in love with films being made this way. He never has to chase any talent ever. So you really don't have that much to brag about you now do you?

yahweh said...

While your assessment is accurate about the leverage situation your assumption that it was 'by design' is completely bogus - unless you want to assume the public is in collusion with the producers. It is the ticket going public that has made the decision they like CG better than 2D (currently, at least).
And, if you actually had any experience with Jeffrey you would know thta he actually loves talent and often pursues it - though you could argue about whether that talent is really talented or whethr he just perceives it to be.
Is JK benefitting from the artists not having much leverage? Sure, but you can hardly blame him for that, but you should also blame him for the person that origianlly gave artists that leverage to beging with. If DW hadn't opened and started the bidding wars theose few flush days filled with signing bonuses would never have occurred.

Anonymous said...

>What's ridiculous is defining animation work in live action terms. Apples and oranges. Any position in the animation pipeline makes a greater creative contribution to the final product than below-the-line live action workers.

It's really not that ridiculous at all. The studios were built on a live action template, that will never, ever change. You will always have producers, writers, actors, and directors 'passing through' animation, and they will not change the way they perceive the creative process or the compensation and credit they receive for their involvement. They will always bring their live action point of view to the table and apply it to your craft.

More importantly, our collective bargaining agreement is buried between the much more powerful interests of the WGA, SAG, and the DGA, all built on live action footing, and among the intense posturing of all three in the bullshit clusterfuck of pattern bargaining every three years or so, animation collective bargaining is barely a fart in the wind. Hollywood does not and never will have the patience to teach themselves how to speak the language of animation, either creatively, or at the negotiation table. They just don't have to fucking learn it.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 1:30:00 AM

Its about supply and demand buddy. The more successful animated films get, the more kids in school want to be animators. At Disney new 2D animators there dont get paid well either, or get corvettes with their signing bonuses. Clearly based on your formula, they should be gajillionaires, right?

No. They are also just cogs.

So you can blabber on and on all you want that artists dont have less leverage (and you'd be right) but it has nothing to with 2D vs CG.

And by the way, if you think all CG animators are created equally (and all get paid the same) you're very ignorant.

Anonymous said...

our collective bargaining agreement is buried between the much more powerful interests of the WGA, SAG, and the DGA

You really still believe they're so much more powerful than the IATSE? Really? After the utter, abject failures of the WGA and SAG in their repeated strikes and near strikes and threatened strikes, none of which accomplished anything except costing a lot of people their jobs?

The sweet deals that SAG and the WGA enjoy are the results of labor's leverage in the 1950s and 1960s. Ranting that TAG should somehow emulate the WGA and SAG and the DGA is beyond foolish.

Anonymous said...

"Clearly based on your formula, they should be gajillionaires, right?
"

You completely failed to grasp the point I made. I get what I deserve for responding to stupid comment; another stupid comment. I feel sorry for the studio that pays you.

Anonymous said...

>You really still believe they're so much more powerful than the IATSE? Really?

I do believe that compared with the box office that animation employees help the studios rake in, compared to their live action counterparts, IATSE/TAG members should be compensated far better than they are. In terms of that, yes, WGA/SAG/DGA all still have more powerful influence than animation folk, even though they continually get their asses handed back to them for their antics, especially the WGA and SAG.

The fact that TAG/IATSE does not recoup nearly what they produce as a percentage of studio profit is evidence of that undeniable weakness. ESPECIALLY in light of the down market ancillary profit associated specifically with animation.

Anonymous said...

I do believe that compared with the box office that animation employees help the studios rake in, compared to their live action counterparts, IATSE/TAG members should be compensated far better than they are.

Ah, I see your confusion. You're not really comparing one Hollywood labor organization to another (or three). If you did that, you'd realize that in today's corporate world, NO one has the kind of leverage you fantasize about.

No, you're comparing some intangible ratio of perceived profit to labor costs between live-action and animation. Try bringing that concept up at the next negotiations, and enjoy the blank stares.

You want to tell the suits to give us a bigger slice of the pie, simply because we deserve it? Right? Hey, I agree with you. We should get more. But the suits don't agree, and your superior logic or moral standing isn't going to get us another nickel in our contract.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the studio that pays you.

Sticks and stones. I'm paid quite well for being extremely good at what I do.

Who's the winner here? The anonymous snarky asshole or the successful studio artist? Here's a hint: Ill sleep perfectly well tonight.

Anonymous said...

9:06 Fuck you. You think quite highly of yourself. You'll have your day. Someone'll come wallop you smackside the head. And in your worst nightmares, I'll be there.

Anonymous said...

Thats what happens when you call CG animators "just puppeteers." You need to learn to watch your mouth.

I guarantee you wouldnt say it to my face. Then we'd really see who'd wallop who.

Anonymous said...

Actually, yours is the one to watch. Your day will come. Till then, keep up with the nursery rhymes as your best defense, then show what a hypocrite you are when you tell someone to watch their mouth when in the same breath you just 'a-holed' another. Yes, you do need a good smack 'mong-side the head. If not a pinkslip for not being so good. If you are as big as you think you are, the former may not likely happen, as you say, but the latter surely will. That's whats so arrogant about you.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. You dont even know who you're talking to. Forget it, have a nice life in your mother's basement. I have better things to do.

Anonymous said...

^ I urge the TAG blog to check the IP addresses of the last five posts above.

Because they are all from the same person.

Its what is called a sock puppet exchange(and a very pathetic one at that).

Anonymous said...

I vote to just block the person ragging on CG animators. We dont need that kind of hate here.

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