Friday, May 20, 2016

Going Digital in Korea

The Atlantic details changes in some Asian TV cartoon studios:

... Although primetime [cartoon] series appear as American as apple pie, and are conceptualized and written in the U.S., the bulk of their animation is done in South Korea. ...

The process of outsourcing animation began in the 1970s, when the three major American networks—ABC, CBS and NBC—aired Saturday morning cartoons like Scooby-Doo and Fat Albert. These shows were hugely popular, and American production studios struggled to meet the demand for more episodes. “They had no other choice but to outsource production,” says Nelson Shin, the founder of Seoul’s AKOM Production, which has animated The Simpsons for more than 25 years. ...

This is flat-out wrong.

Outsourcing began in the '70s because studios could get production done more cheaply overseas. Period. Full stop. American artists went to Seoul and Tokyo to train artists in the American art form. Bit by bit, production moved offshore.

It was never a question of capacity, but one of money.

Networks and animation studios wanted to spend less on production, and so went where labor was cheaper. It's an old story. To say that studios shipped work away because they couldn't find enough American animators to do it is a bright and simple falsehood.


Matthew said...

Every man and his dog wants to make cartoons and get a few pennies for doing so! The trick is how to make enough when there’s a limited global penny supply, and less than 10,000 miles west there are folks in another country where that humble penny can stretch much further for living expenses than the same penny spent stateside. So the top execs running the show realize they can make even more pennies by paying those folks 1/4 of the going penny rate the average stateside Clyde with a Union gets for making their silly cartoons. I mean, it’s a no-brainer, that’s just Corporate Globalization. And don’t expect those Corporations to pay any of their taxes stateside neither. Just ask Mr Jacques Peretti about the whole off$hore I$land rule they made up for themselves.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Mr. Shin sure does love to stretch the truth to suit his whims, does he?

Grant said...

I hope the atlantic corrects its lazy reportage. And I wished they'd interviewed anyone other than a no-nothing like nelson shin about things like this.

I've seen (and worked on) both sides. The shows aren't alway s cheaper to produce overseas. But that was because the artwork heading their from the west was atrocious and lazily organized (especially crap shows like duck tales, tinytoons, and animaniacs). Best prepared and most cost effective show (even though it, too, was pretty awful) was Muppet Babies. Used to drive me nuts once back in the states to hear folks say "boy they sure do crap work overseas." I often wanted to smack them and say "it's better than what the studio sent them."

But make no mistake, the reason they were sent overseas was to save money. What many studios found out too late was that once in Korea (or Taiwan, or Japan), the work was subcontracted to Vietnam, the Philippines, and India.

Site Meter