Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Mid-Week Studio Roundup

As we roll toward Friday and the long, holiday weekend, a few observations about studios 'round and about... Disney Toons Sonora starts second-floor renovations in a couple of weeks, renovations to occur nights and weekends. The initial work-space changes were, ahm, not loved by the artists who were going to be working there. To management's credit, they listened to the crew's suggestions and changed the layout and furniture ideas. Over at Cartoon Network, "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy" looks to be wrapping up its long production run in November and December. (This isn't 100%, but it appears likely.) Some artists are being laid off, other artists are swining onto other CN shows... I found out yesterday that I'm a bad little business agent. While over at IDT Entertainment, I was informed that my blogging about the format of the upcoming "Simpsons" feature displeased some execs at Fox, who considered the info confidential and wanted to roll out the news themselves. So, to demonstrate that I am a straight-up guy who wants to make things right, I hereby apologize.


Anonymous said...

You should come to Toronto for a visit.

Lawyers that specialize in labor laws would have a field season with all the abuse some studios inflict on the employees. Too bad artists here are too fearfull to demand fair treatment.

Jason said...

Hey there Steve. I posted a comment back on the Aug. 24 post. I started off with how much I enjoy the blog and visit EVERY day for my fill. The second part was to see if you had some thoughts on the shift to animation being done in India. A co-worker of mine nearly gave up his 20+ year career (after doing work for ILM, etc.) becuase of that shift. Maybe some thoughts on the general feeling in the industry on the matter, or even a blog post on the subject.

Thanks for all you do.

Anonymous said...

Jason, I did a post on animation in India a couple of months ago, and I believe Steve did one, too (centered around a newspaper article). You might check the search function to find them.

Our general take is this: animation was hit by offshoring/outsourcing decades before most other industries. It became a major issue in the late sixties, escalated through the seventies, and culminated in two bitter strikes by local 839 in 1979 (which we won) and 1983 (which we didn't). And yet employment in the US, and especially southern California, is higher now than just about any other time in history.

The long and the short of it is that most studios will save a buck where ever they can. They're businesses, and loyalty to employees is a quaint idea that became passe long ago. The main things that keep work here are the talent and experience of our workforce (and also the convienence of proximity, since most of the producers are right here). TV production was outsourced almost completely by the early 80s, yet when we had the huge traditional feature boom in the 90s, little of that production work went overseas. Why? Because it was ultimately cheaper/faster/easier to do the high quality work here.

We don't think it's going to change much in CG animation, at least for a long time. Overseas studios make their hay by underbidding everyone, and by producing huge amounts of work in short periods of time. They will get the grunt work, the more forgiving work. But the public has now become accustomed to the artistry and quality that comes out of places like Pixar, Disney, ILM, DreamWorks, Sony, and so on. Cranking out massive amounts of mediocre work doesn't lend itself to ever developing the workforce that can match that found in North American and European studios.

To a large extent, India is getting the kind of work that in the recent past would have gone to Korea or the Phillipines. The shift from 2D to 3D is mostly responsible for that. That doesn't mean some people won't be losing their jobs to workers in India, but we think it's an exaggeration to think that Indian studios are going to wipe out the industry over here.


Jason said...

Don't know if you'll come back here to read my "Thank You" note. My curiostiy bug has been addressed. Thanks for taking the time. Take care.


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