Sunday, October 07, 2012

Game Apps, Shorts, and T.V. Shows

Cartoon Network. Going in new directions.

Cartoon Network is considering developing original content as apps and games first rather than as TV shows, in an effort to create its own digital brands to rival the likes of Angry Birds. ...

"I don't think everything has to be created as a show," said Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating officer of parent company Turner's Animation, Young Adults and Kids division. "Things can be developed as shorts, they can start as games, they can start as apps… That is the nature, more and more, of where the business needs to think of itself." ...

So the question I have, one-note Johnny that I am: where does that leave animation artists trying to add to the pension plan and, you know, get health coverage?

Because there is this two-tier system that's been developing awhile.

There is the old-line part of the business, things like live-action and animated television production and theatrical work, and much of those products are unionized. With quaint things like quality health care and pension benefits.

Then there is the "new" part of entertainment: digital effects, video games, phone and ipad applications, etc. etc.. All those things are non-union, and we're told how it's a brave new world now, and everyone needs to fend for themselves, save their own retirement money, suck up the lower pay and higher costs and buy an HMO or high-deductible health insurance policy. Learn to smile and enjoy it.

And when President Romney reaches the 100th day of his administration, and entitlements for the victims and parasites start getting down-sized, I'll be telling my kids to learn to live small and frugal, tucking away as much money as possible for their old age.

Because whatever stash they build up (along with the Wal-mart job) is what will be seeing them through their catfood years.


Mark Mayerson said...

There's two issues here.

The first is that the union movement has to stop being venue or geography specific. If a studio is a contract studio, then any animation they produce has to be under the contract, regardless of the form the animation takes or where it is produced. That's obviously not going to be easy, but if that isn't the approach, then the union is going to be marginalized out of existence as new media spring up and old media are reduced in importance.

Second, Cartoon Network is motivated by economic realities that are beyond unionism. Why spend millions on an idea that might fail when you can spend $50,000 on the same idea to determine its viability? If you're going to fail, fail fast and cheap rather than slow and expensive.

I don't know how Six Point Harness financed the web shorts for Dick Figures. Maybe they have a financial angel or maybe they're using profits from other work. Now they've raised over a quarter of a million on Kickstarter to make a longer film of the property. No question that they own more of it than they would if they had sold the property to a broadcaster.

The question is why aren't artists doing this on their own? Just as Six Point Harness eliminated the broadcaster, why aren't artists eliminating the studios? Yes, it's an investment of time, probably unpaid, but the same tools that Cartoon Network and Six Point Harness are using are available to anyone.

It's all about building an audience. The properties that can do it will be successful and go on to generate more money. But there's nothing to say where those properties have to come from. You can be sure that the execs at Cartoon Network aren't originating the material. They're taking pitches from creatives.

When the creatives realize they're free to pitch directly to the audience, that's when artists will finally be empowered.

Steve Hulett said...

Fred Seibert built an on-line company with original cartoons, then turned around and sold the whole shebang to a larger entity.

Artists could do the same thing. They just have to own that entrepreneurial spirit.

Frank Forte said...

I started a YouTube channel years ago and recently have committed to new shorts every few weeks.

YouTube is a great way to get noticed for original content and if they make you a partner you can actually make money. It takes a lot of time and effort especially working a full time job at a studio, but it can be worth it. Also, with apps and epubs, you can really get original content all over the world and not have to deal with publishers. you can do it all yourself. YOU become the publisher and just upload to E-tailers and epub sites. of course you have to do publicity and market yourself, but if you do a little bit per day it can all pay off. Look at all the web comics that have build fan bases by giving content away for FREE and then used Kickstarter to fund the publication of a book. There are so many opportunities for the self published creator it's mind boggling. more than ever before. you just have to motivate yourself, or put together a small team and go for it.

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