Monday, June 27, 2016

Animation Expansion

Now with Add On.

Here's how the animation business is going here in the City of the Angels:

A Disney lawyer explains to me how the Mouse's TV animation division is bursting at the seams and needs to find smaller studios around town to sub-contract a number of its shows. "We just don't have the room to do all of them."

I am skeptical about this (it's a Disney corporate lawyer, after all) until TAG members at Disney tell me that the television animation division is adding another three floors of work space to its already sizable presence at Burbank Media Center North. And independent studios in Glendale and Hollywood hire extra staff to do the new Disney shows they've taken on. ...

I visit Warner Bros. Animation at the Warner Ranch. I note that there are a lot of empty offices and cubes in one of the buildings WBA occupies on the lot. A supervisor tells me:

Management's moving a lot of people around. They'll be needing more space here, so units are going to the Pinnacle Building on Alameda. I don't know what they plan to do with the cartoonists they have at Burbank Studios [the old NBC lot, also on Alameda.].

Oh yeah. The studio has lost some story artists, people they couldn't afford to lose. But the employees didn't like the way the studio was treating them, so they landed other jobs and left. They usually don't do things like that, but there's a lot of jobs at other places. Upper management has put out the word, We'll need to be nicer to artists." ...

Meantime, DreamWorks Animation tv continues to employ artists, timers, designers and writers as the company fulfills its Netflix contracts. And the Animation Guild keeps taking in new members and re-activating old ones. And industry vets were complaining about not finding much work four years ago are now turning down jobs.

As one free-lancer recently told me: I've had three days off since the first of the year."

Add On: After communicating with powers-that-be at Warner Bros., please know that the Warner Bros. Animation staff has expanded 35% over the past year.

If anyone interprets the above to mean "Warner Bros. is down-sizing", such is not the case. WBA has moved into new facilities outside the gates of the Warners Ranch, and produces a variety of animated projects, from Bugs Bunny to Scooby Do to super heroes.

At the same time, the Guild continues to receive complaints from Warners' artists.


Darrel said...

We ran into a director yesterday while at lunch who told us that he and the small studio he works at is in fact doing a Disney owned show. It's true that some small studios are taking on those spill over shows from the mouse.

Steve Hulett said...

Yup. The continues to be lots of ramping up. But we still get complaints about long storyboard and design tests. I've told multiple studios that tests are counter-productive, because many talented veterans are REFUSING to take them, which ends up causing studios to shoot themselves in their big fat feet. Because the tests are cutting some companies off from people they need.

And I have no idea how long the hiring and general expansion will last. If I were to guess (and I am), I would say another 2-3 years. It could be longer; I doubt it will be shorter (though I've been wrong before).

Darrel said...

Many people I work with or have run into lately feel the same way on both subjects(Tests and the prediction on long this will keep up).

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