Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shipping Out Animation

Day before yesterday, Jeffrey Katzenberg underscored the above:

"DreamWorks has been on a very aggressive course of diversification in the last 18 to 20 months and our latest is in television," he told reporters Friday.

"Because of the amazing amount of work we are undertaking under our current Netflix deal, we will be producing our own TV shows in every corner of the world." ...

Mr. Katzenberg was in Korea when he said this, pointing out that the TV Turbo, unlike the movie Turbo was being produced in Korea.

Nothing startling about that in the least. The television cartoon is on a low-dollar budget, so DWA is sending the work to a place where they specialize in low-dollar budgets. This dynamic has been going on in the television animation business for ... oh ... forty years.

DreamWorks Animation Television is following the well-trod path of Hanna-Barbera, Disney, Nickelodeon, and every other company that creates animation for the home screen: They ALL send work to low-cost studios "in every corner of the world." So it was a wee bit startling eighteen months ago when the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers told us that animation artists had to take smaller wage hikes than their live-action counterparts because of the "high number and density" of animation workers in Los Angeles.

(I said at the time that this rationale for lower salary increases for cartoonists was certainly original, given the amount of work that has been shipped overseas for freaking decades. But in the "reasons we need to hold salaries down" department, the AMPTP has never lacked for creativity or energy.)

Nevertheless. The fact that DreamWorks Animation is hiring pre-production staff to work in the television division after laying off production staff in the feature division is a fine thing. And if Jeffrey K. needs to sub-contract to Korea, Shanghai or Timbuktu, he's following in a thousand earlier footsteps.


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