Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In '07, How Many Worked ...

... at union shops? (We've got answers below) ...

Above, 2007 employment stats at union animation shops. (Click on the image for a full-sized view.)

Artists around town ask all the time: "How many people are working?" ... "What studios are hiring?" ... "Who's got the most work? ..."

The chart above gives totals for the year just past, but totals can be a teensy bit misleading. For instance, TAG and the IATSE have organized artists at newer studios over the past eight months, and those new-minted "union workers" go into the overall numbers. So, in addition to older union shops, newer ones plunge into the mix as well. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of animation employees are from long-time studios.

So what's driving employment increases now? I'd have to say feature animation work. Television animation, long a locomotive for job creation, has lagged over the past ten months. Cartoon Network has fewer people on fewer shows, as does Warner Bros. Animation, as does Universal Cartoon Studios. Disney Television Animation has a half-dozen series in various stages of work, but the number of episodes for a given series are way below the go-go nineties. (This is true for most of the studios.)

Where fifty or sixty-plus half-hours used to get produced, today the congloms make them in batches of 6, 9, or 13. Thirty-nine total episodes is now often the template for a series, a huge difference from fourteen or fifteen years ago.

In features, Disney and DreamWorks are the big employers, as you will see from the pie chart that we trundle out tomorrow. DreamWorks has been adding staff for a while now, and tends to swing employees from one show to another, holding on to its artists and technicians. (this was Mr. Katzenberg's business model when at Disney Feature Animation in the 1990s.) Disney, by contrast, hires newer people for production and lays them off when production winds down. Core staff works year-round.

Recently, the question I've been asked the most is: "When is TV animation going to pick up?". My stock answer used to be, "In a couple of months." Lately I've had no stock answer. I still think television work is going to expand again, I just don't know when.


Anonymous said...

this is purely a what if...Don't know if anyone has noticed the announcement by NBC (was it NBC?)that they will no longer have seasons within their production model. For instance no new spring/fall series premieres, rather they just premiere new shows all year round when they want. They think this is better for companies who want to advertise.

the question...do you see this change happening industry wide and would this change production schedules within animation? meaning we aren't just looking for work at certain times of the year. Whats the buzz?

noob to animation

Steve Hulett said...

In the sixties and seventies, the television animation work-year was tied closely to the t.v. networks' schedule. People worked seven months, were off five months.

The gripe when I got on the TAG exec board in the early eighties was that the networks were delaying show orders until later in the year for their Saturday morning slates, keeping people out of work longer.

But all that is pretty much gone, and has been for years. Syndication ended a lot of it, and cable took care of most of the rest. No "seasons" anymore. Only show orders of 9 half-hours, or 13 half hours, or 26 half-hours.

It's mostly smaller rather than larger.

I doubt it will have

Steve Hulett said...

Ignore the sentence fragment at the bottom. It's simply a symptom of a distracted mind.

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