But not just in television work. Production schedules for animated features have also gotten shorter, and story development is more frenetic. Sequences can have less time from start to finish, do-overs often have cast-iron schedules, and the number of drawings required for ten-minutes of story time are way more than Bill Peet, Vance Gerry or Pete Young ever cranked out. As a Disney staffer remarked some months back:
John wants big changes and lots of times he wants them fast. We might have three or four days to re-work half a sequence, and so you come in over a weekend and work your brains out. ...
And what's some of the major gripes over in Televisionland? ...
One is from board artists. Many don't like putting together animatics in addition to drawing the boards themselves, but since Toom Boom software has that application as part of the program, that's what lots of artists do.
What I tell them is, as long as they're getting paid for the time spent cobbling together a digital story reel, it's all good. Editing animatics normally falls under Editors Guild's jurisdiction, but the Editors don't have some contracts at various studios that TAG represents, and it's up to the EG to police the jurisdiction at companies where its contract is in force. (TAG doesn't police other unions' jurisdictions. We give a "heads up" and the rest is up to them).
Other issues that have recently bubbled up? The New Media Sideletter in the new TAG contract has negatively impacted some artists' and writers' salaries, mostly at DreamWorks Animation TV but occasionally at other studios doing animation over the internet. It's called "Subscription Video On Demand" and we'll likely see more of it before this contract cycle ends in 2018. Anything not delivered on a cable or broadcast network -- product pipelined on Netflix, Amazon and other similar delivery systems -- is "New Media". That means pension and health contributions apply, but contract wage minimums don't. Every employee negotiates her/his own deal. Most people achieve rates at or above current minimums, but some people work at lower wages.
So you know, "New Media" was a BIG point of contention in the 2015 negotiations. TAG argued vociferously that the language negotiated by the live-action entertainment unions -- SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, WGA and IATSE -- weren't a good fit for the Animation Guild because live-action budgets bear only a distant resemblance to animation budgets.
In the end, we ate the Vaseline sandwich because (it turned out) SAG-AFTRA voice actors had eaten the same delicacy before us ... so our leverage wasn't what we would have liked it to be.
Though there's now a lot of work around town, the studios work hard to make sure real pay rates remain as close to the minimums as the market allows, and that work schedules stay demanding. Our fine entertainment conglomerates don't want to pay a nickel more than they have to, and we encourage folks who think they're getting chiseled to contact us.