Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Employment and Employment Distribution

The employment stats above (also the ones below the break) tell a complex tale. Work in theatrical feature animation has been large and growing. Television employment? Welll ... not so much. That side of the biz has been smaller, and shrinking, even as overall totals have been growing ...

Since January every large feature studio -- Disney, DreamWorks, and IM Digital up in San Rafael -- have added to staff. (The exceptions are Imagi, which has no changes in staff size, and Sony Pictures Animation, now going through a rough patch as it replaces executives and sheds artists lining up its ducks about SPA's next animated feature. Which looks, as of this writing, like it will be Cloudy with Meatballs.)

Now take a look at "Employment Per Studio: January 2008 -- August 2008." You'll note that most television animation facilities endured declines in staff sizes. Film Roman and Nick had the largest job reductions, and Universal the smallest, but five out of seven teevee 'toon studios shrank rather than expanded.

So artists who've complained about how slow the television wing of animation is, have some basis for their gripes. There's work out in the small-screen marketplace, but it ain't getting bigger, certainly not at the moment. I keep hearing rumors that new shows are in the pipeline, but outside of The Cleveland Show at Fox Animation, I couldn't tell you what they are. (Cartoon Network is greenlighting a number of shorts, and hopefully some of these will generate new series, but we're months away from that possibility.)

The good news is: Union employment is pretty robust, and it's been growing. The bad new is, the growth is uneven.


Anonymous said...

Steve, I believe that to get a true picture of the employment situation we need one more graph. The differences between feature work and TV work are not as significant to a job seeker as the dramatic differences between the skill sets and resume requirements that distinguish hand-drawn from CG work. If that can be calculated, it would be far more useful. By the way, I would consider story boards or design work done for CG features or TV boards drawn on computer screens to be hand-drawn work. That graph would really tell us something.

Steve Hulett said...

It's actually pretty simple without a fourth graph.

In television employment (largely pre-production work), we're talking about hand-drawn images.

In feature employment, there is pre-production (mostly hand-drawn) and production (mostly c.g.i.)

Here's some detail:

Sony Pictures Animation is mainly hand-drawn board work on Cintiqs, and a mixture of design (c.g.i.) and design (hand-drawn). Production is done by Sony Pictures Imagework and for that we have no numbers because it's non-signator (non-union).

In the above pie-chart, "Disney" is Disney Animation Studio, Toon Disney, and Disney Television Animation. Hand-drawn predominates at Toon/TVA, but not at DAS. (Obviously DAS has a lot of hand-drawn just now, due to Princess and the Frog.)

Almost all of DreamWorks production is c.g.i. (Some hand-drawn employment for interstitials on the Kung Fu Panda DVD.)

There's no way for us to break out c.g.i. and not-c.g.i. because we don't have the data categorized that way. But at DW, for instance, you could probably guesstimate c.g.i. as 80-85% of employment, Disney Animation Studio at 70-75% of employment, due to Princess and the Frog. (When the Bolt crew departs, the percentages will change.)

About the best we're able to do. Steven.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the breakdown, Steve. It confirms what I perceived, that the current employment boom is largely CG driven.

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