Friday, March 07, 2014

Craft Meeting #3 -- Pre-Viz, Design, Background, Layout

TAG held its third craft meeting on Thursday night, with designers, layout and background artists, and pre-visualization artists in attendance. There were also some art directors and production designers in the room.

The Guild related that it disavowed the long-time practice of paying for piece work during the last contract negotiations. It also gave a short history of the most recent negotiations, and how current contract talks with the WGA, and recent contract talks with the DGA will impact IA and Animation Guild negotiaions next year. Attendees were asked to think about contract proposals they would like considered for next year's negotiattions. ...

There was a lively question-and-answer session. Some studios continue the practice of piece work; TAG has registered complaints with the AMPTP, and the Alliance put out a bulletin reminding studios of the guild's disavowal. Other issues discussed:

* High quotas and tight schedules.

* Uncompensated overtime.

* Cutbacks in design and layout jobs.

* Shifting/evolving technology. (Cintiqs in wide use.)

Highlights from the craft surveys:


Median Wage (Character/Prop Design, BG, Layout): $1942

Biggest issue for my peers seems to be working [unpaid] overtime or not being paid at the rate they feel they deserve. Unfortunately I have friends who will work all night to finish their background and not clock the hours.

Biggest issues are unpaid o.t. and no protection from outsourcing. (What about a flat piece-rate for tests? Getting paid something is better than nothing, regardless of actual test size/time spent.)

Time scheduled for the job is now adequate. I worked with my show's producer and the show's creator to make the job doable. A big issue is getting studios to be more proactive about working around holidays. My studio is good about extending schedules or paying extra to meeting original due dates. I am most concerned with studio manipulating inexperienced arits (and experienced ones) into doing extra work and double duty while eliminating jobs. Specifically, one studio has not been hiring cleanup artists and expecting character and prop designers to clean up their own work without extra pay or extra time. ... Show creators now approve the artwork and the studio should hire art directors to do the art direction.

Big issues for me are jobs going overseas and long hiatuses. Some new shows at Nickelodeon are trying to go with skeleton crews (nothing new there) which stresses out the people on the show. They scramble to get things done. Management hopes they won't say anything and do extra work (again, nothing new.)

Disney TVA puts burden on storyboard artists to create background layouts to to unrealistic schedules and lack of hiring efficient staff numbers. ...

Disney Toon Studio is changing its vendor and business model. This mean they are revising thing, not sure how it will work out.

Character tests are impossible. It takes a week to do a test and it's unpaid. Also concerned about how we have to do our own cleanup on some shows.

Crews keep getting smaller.

I was laid off from DreamWorks Animation last year. As a final layout artist, we also had to take on stereo adjustments for the 3-D versions of the movie. Layout was broken down into rough and final layout. Rough did more of the pre-viz, from boards to rough CG. Final layout did animation prep, set dressing, final camera moves and stereo adjust. Also a lot of push and pull with animation, FX and matte painters. The job would also include working or fixing the rough layout so it didn't have to be sent back to the rough layout artists. Also, I had to wait for the modeling department to model props and environments. So there is no limit to what I'm supposed to do for my job. It seemed like it was constantly expanding. ...

As at other meetings, it was stressed that a central issue is being paid for the actual time spent doing the job. If an artist is doing prop design, character design, pre-viz and layouts, the issue is not "doing multiple jobs" but getting compensated for every hour worked.

Find a summary of all other craft meetings here.


0sock0 said...

Nickelodeon is sending design jobs overseas now? I'm so happy to see that shrinking crews was a major point at yesterday's meeting. I haven't had a job for months, my friends are sleeping 4 hours a night without getting paid for it. I'm considering leaving the industry because I can't get a job. Thank you TAG for all the work you do for us.

Unknown said...

I disagree that it's about getting paid for the hours work as opposed to having to wear several hats. If you are skilled enough to wear several hats, then you're worth more and should well exceed the average rates. My dad worked as an engineer. With every license or expertise, he got a bump in salary. He had earned that. Maybe we need the same structure. You can't disregard the education or experience attained to have expertise in various design skills.

Steve Hulett said...

I was up at Cartoon Network today talking to directors, board artists, supervisors.

And yeah. Work is going to Canada. Mercury Filmworks has all the projdects it can handle, and is (I'm told) bursting at the seams.

Why? Because Canadian provinces are throwing free money at American companies to sub-contract jobs in the northern reaches.

The Animation Guild has a lot of people working just now, but make no mistake: we are LOSING jobs to Canada. And Korea. And Australia. But more and more, Canada.

TAG is currently pushing, along with other entertainment unions, to expand fourfold California's entertainment tax rebates. We applaud and support Daniel Lay's efforst to get counter-vailing tariffs. Natually, all these efforts take time and money.

Personally, I'm against corporate welfare on the state or federal level. But the reality of the world is as it is, and so we push for ends that will get TAG members jobs, even if those ends don't jibe with philosophical positions.

I spend hours on the phone each week trying to get people work, Osocko, and I'm sorry about your present situation. Please know that the guild's wish is for everyone who wants a job in animation to have one. Hopefully what we're now doing will make that happen in the not-distant future.

Steve Hulett said...

I disagree that it's about getting paid for the hours work as opposed to having to wear several hats. If you are skilled enough to wear several hats, then you're worth more and should well exceed the average rates.

If your skills are valued, then studios pay you above minimum contract rates. It's about the market and about how valuable your knowledge and skills are to the company.

Unknown Artist said...

I'm not sure jobs are being lost to Canada. That seems very naive. All the studios are super busy right now because sending the animation out somewhere cheaper means they can afford to make more shows or spend more on the ones they are making. If their production volumes are up, more people are being hired here in LA. Writers, producers, directors, board artists etc.
If they weren't sending shows out of the country for animation I think we'd see a very sluggish industry here and very few shows getting made.

Site Meter