Sunday, October 04, 2009

Production Money, Production Hours in the Animation Biz

To follow up on yesterday's post, another reason that U.S./ North American animation employment is holding up in the teeth of a global recession:

... Canada has emerged ahead of the USA and France as the most prolific source of animation for television, with 382 hours produced in 2008 worth Euro181m ($265m). US production output totalled fewer hours-330-but was worth Euro256m ($376m)-a mark of the higher budgets invested by the major US players.

France was the leading producer in Europe by a long way, with 259 hours produced in 2008, although output has fallen from a high of 395 hours in 2006.

The UK was the next largest producer in 2008, with a significant rise in production taking it past Italy ...

These kinds of reports mostly side-step the issue of sub-contracting and employment hours in different countries. And television animation is only a single sub-set of what constitutes "animation." There is feature production, broadcast graphics, video games, visual effects and internet cartoons, to name a clutch of others.

The point to be made here is that animation has been an ever-growing segment of what constitutes "today's entertainment" for some years now. There is no large-scale, live-action epic that can now do without animation. (Just look at the credit scroll on the back of any high-budget feature at which you eat popcorn and you'll know what I mean.)

If you have a teenager at home, they're likely immersed in interactive animation via a games console or computer. Three of the top fourteen box-office attractions now playing on U.S./ Canadian theater screens are 100% animated.

And so on and so forth.

When I entered the movie business back when Gerald Ford was El Presidente, little of this was happening. Animation was confined to Saturday morning cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera and a handful of others, and every 3-4 years Disney would turn out an 85-minute, hand-drawn feature.

That, by and large, was it.

So when people express shock when we point out that "animation employment is growing," understand the context. Yes, there has been displacement of experienced artists. Yes, there's been "creative destruction" along the way. But the animation universe is way larger than it was twenty, even ten years ago.

And the applications for animation keep right on expanding.


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