Friday, May 02, 2008

The Disney TVA

When I go to Disney's Sonora Building, I always get a twofer.

Upstairs, there is Disney Toons Studio, home of soft lighting and artsy cubicles and a big kitchen eating area. Downstairs, there's the TVA folks, with their all-business gray cubes (with higher walls!) and cement floors ...

Today at Toons, a goodly amount of crew was working on various Tinkerbell features.

There is Tink I, now in production overseas for a Fall 2008 release, with just a few design tweaks on a few small pieces of the flick still going on in the building.

There is Tink II (aka Tinker Bell: North of Neverland) well into storyboards and design, and off into production ...

There is Tink III, fully scripted and now being boarded.

And there is word of Tink IV, with (possibly) a Tink V and VI after it.

"The deal is the company's going to release one of these a year over several years. I think the third one really has a solid story, and I like it a lot"...

-- DT staffer

To sum up, there's a whole lot of Tinkerbell going on. And it seems -- I'm going out on a limb here -- the company sees these features as a ... whattayacallit ... franchise?

Downstairs, the series in work are the new season of Mickey's Clubhouse (with storyboard artists just now returning) and My Friends Tigger and Pooh. There's also some teevee shorts in development.

At the moment, there are more shows in work on the third floor of the Frank Wells Building than at Disney Sonora, and as one of the employees said to me: "It costs Disney Teevee Animation way more money in rent at Frank Wells than over here at Sonora. So why are they over there?"

I replied: "Come on. It's all Disney. It's just the company taking the money out of one pocket and putting it in another. Nothing but internal book-keeping."

He acknowledged that I had, maybe, a point.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why oh why oh why is the work for Tinkerbell going overseas? Why in hell is Disney, the animation powerhouse, outsourcing work like that when there are good animators in this country who can't find enough work? This is ridiculous. I read that Nickelodeon began sending Spongebob animation work overseas in the show's beginning for economical reasons; now Nick says it does it because there are no American animators with the necessary training to do the kind of 2D quality it wants for Spongebob. If that's true, it's PATHETIC. Makes me damn mad that an American artform is now primarily being produced in Korea.

Steve Hulett said...

Outsourcing animation has been a fact of life since the late sixties, early seventies of the previous century.

The Tinkerbell being produced under Sharon Morril was also being produced in India, although there was a crew of a dozen animators at the Frank Wells Building also doing animation.

It's got nothing to do with lack of animators. That's nothing more than p.r. from nervous studios. It has everything to do with tight budgets ... and spending minimal amounts of money.

Anonymous said...

"now Nick says it does it because there are no American animators with the necessary training to do the kind of 2D quality it wants for Spongebob."

I have not read that from Nick . (source?)

If they actually did say that then that is B.S.

There are dozens of animators in L.A. and countless more in other North American locales who are capable of giving them above and beyond the sort of 2D quality they want for Spongebob.

(oh, wait ... they mean give them that level of quality , but still be willing to bend over and work for $400 U.S. dollars a week with no benefits? Ok, I see.)

Anonymous said...

Which one of those two is under Lasster's control? Disney Toons Studio or Disney's TVA?

Have you heard of any attempts by him to bring that area of animation under his control as well?

I read somewhere that Disney was close to greenliting another hand drawn film, but all the ones annouced, except Princess and the Frog are CG. What say you, Steve?

Anonymous said...

David, here's the link to the NY Times article I was referring to in my statement about Korean vs. American animators:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/12/arts/design/12spon.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

In particular, I referred to this paragraph from the article:

"All the component parts are shipped, in the 21st week, to Seoul, South Korea, to the offices of Rough Draft, one of the biggest animation studios in the world.

In the 1980s animation began to migrate overseas because the labor was less expensive and because animated shows were not selling well in the United States. The labor is still somewhat cheaper, Nickelodeon executives said, but South Korea dominates in animation because the country has built an infrastructure for the practice while in the United States there is little formal training for animators."

Anonymous said...

"because the country has built an infrastructure for the practice while in the United States there is little formal training for animators."

That's right--ever since the INCREDIBLE ANIMATION EXPLOSION OF THE NINETIES, America's colleges have done absolutely zip to train animation artists.

Oh, wait--they have? There's hundreds of programs that train & teach all facets of production all over the US? And our "infrastructure" is almost 100 years old here?
Then...why on earth would anyone make that ignorant statement? Oh...they pay "animators" in Korea HOW much? Oh, okay.

Too bad the executive divisions aren't outsourced. I'm pretty sure that's where the real savings are.

Anonymous said...

There's plenty of 2D animators here in LA. I'm one of them, and there are nearly ZERO jobs for 2D animators in this town. although, in the fall i worked for a small studio doing 2D work after answering an ad online. the owner of the studio said they received over 80 responses to the ad and i was the only one that actually had real 2D animation in my portfolio.

and btw, Nickelodeon wouldn't know if there were 2D animators in this town because they don't accept portfolio submissions. they only hire from within their ranks or connections that those ranks have. which is a very effective way of insulating their studio from any new talent.

Justin said...

Disney Toon Studios is under the control of Lasseter, the one making the Tinkerbell movies.

Anonymous said...

studios can get what they want for 50% less overseas. the overseas studios have gotten much better with the help of all the veterans that have gone over to these studios to help train them. it will continue to happen because the studio margins are getting better. its increasingly difficult to be an employed good artist here in the states. no doubt.

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