Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The 2010 TAG Wage Survey, Part Two

... (The unabridged version).

There have been complaints in the lower thread about some of the salary numbers of the survey; allow me to expand on them and our process a bit ...

First off. There's been some skepticism about some of the listed wages. Speaking from anecdotal evidence I've picked up at the studios, the salary rates reflect what I hear many people are making. (One animator commented that the wages in the survey were no higher than the salary he was making in the 1990s. That's probably accurate. Animators in the '90s were making historically high levels of pay.)

We've been mailing survey forms out for a dozen years, changing questions and formats based on feedback. When we started the TAG survey, we got fairly high response rates. (We would have liked it to be even higher, but then we always want more data.) But over the years we've noticed a trend. Year by year, the response percentages have declined, usually something around 2% a year. This year, we had a total of 690 survey forms (22.9% of the total sent out. Last year, the percentage was 25%.)

Happily, some categories have seen pretty good returns, while other classifications have minimal data and are only marginally worth reporting. (We kept the pipeline open and encouraged people to return survey forms. Some folks did. Others said "I like to keep the wages I make to myself, even on an anonymous form." Still others didn't think it was all that important.)

My position is that the information is both important and useful, but that's me. Companies have plenty of wage information, it's only right to level the playing field a bit. However, we live in Freedom's Land, and people can do what they want. They choose to throw survey forms in the trash, nobody can stop them.

But enough of that. Without further ado, click here for the full and complete 2010 TAG Wage Survey.


Anonymous said...

What's the difference between "3D and 2D animators", and "character animators"?

Because apparently "character animators" make more money than their 2D and 3D equivalents.

Anonymous said...

^ This.

Whats the difference?

PS) I need a raise

Jeff Massie said...

Your official wage survey compiler here.

Always remember that the survey is anonymous. That being the case, the difference depends entirely on how the respondent chooses to describe his or her job category.

If they list themselves as a "character animator" their rate goes in the character animator column. If they list as a "3D animator" they go in the 3D animator column. And so on.

If they list as an "animator" I look at the employer and media listed (i.e. "Theatrical feature", "Cable series", etc.), and I make an educated guess. For example, if a respondent listed as an "animator" is working for Dreamworks on theatrical features, it's safe to assume they're a 3D animator.

Anonymous said...

OK, but what is the difference between a 3d or 2d animator and a character animator? I'm an animator on features, I animate characters, and I do it on the computer. Am I a character animator?

Steven Kaplan said...

In my experience, job titles can vary from venue to venue and ego to ego. But, from what I've seen:

3D Animator is someone who uses a 3d package to animate anything. Effects TDs, generalists, particle effects TDs, Hair/Cloth TDs all could fall under this catagory

2D Animator is someone who animates in a "2D" package. This generally means a Motion Graphics artist. It also generally means they're not dealing with 3d objects in a 3d space .. per se (most if not all the 2d packages now use some kind of 3d space).

Character Animator is a specific field of 3d animation. A character animator specializes in the movement and animation of a character. A character can be a human biped, an animal, a space-born alien or anything of that nature. Since the animation of these types of objects is so criticized by the human eye, a specialized skill set is required and the artists who master it are highly revered.

Hope that helps.

Jeff Massie said...

Here is the exact wording of the question as it appears on the survey:

2. In what job category have you been most recently employed? (Be as specific as you can, for example, “Lighting TD” rather than just “tech director”)

Just because some animators ignore the words in parentheses above and use what others may consider to be a vague or meaningless job header, I’m not going to ignore their wage information. But I have to tally it somewhere, so I tally it according to the job titles that the anonymous artists themselves choose to use on the survey.

Anonymous said...

3D Animator is someone who uses a 3d package to animate anything. Effects TDs, generalists, particle effects TDs, Hair/Cloth TDs all could fall under this catagory

But there are separate categories for that on the survey.

Maybe in the future, you should change the survey form so that they have to checkmark the job that best describes their position, and only have categories for 2D or 3D animator.

Jon Hooper said...

If we want to break it down there probably should be the following categories:

Character Animator- 2D-Traditional
Character Animator- 2D-Computer Assisted (Flash etc)
Character Animator- 3D - CGI (Maya etc)

EFX Animator- 2D-Traditional
EFX Animator2D-Computer Assisted (Harmony, AE etc)
EFX Animator3D- CGI ( Houdini, Simulations etc)

Anonymous said...

Just moving a character around is not the definition of "character animation." 99% of videogames have characters moving around in them, but have no character animation (some have a bit in the intros--but most do not, and usually it's pretty bad). And FX movies with creatures usually doesn't qualify as "character animation."

CHARACTER animation is more akin to ACTING. Imbuing a character with specific thought processes and physical mannerisms that reveal character. The best animators, like Glen Keane, Nik Raineri, Tony Fucile, Doug Sweetland, Kathy Zelinski, and James Baxter are examples of this.

Bad examples of this are don bluth films, where everything moves the same, all the time, and for no reason. All over the place.

Anonymous said...

Are you being serious or are you being a smartass? Because the "quality" of animation doesnt determine the classification of said animation.

It's like saying Kobe and Lebron play basketball, but when Im on the court, I do 3D spacial ball to hoop placement.


Anonymous said...

anonymous at 7:29 am

You are insane.


rufus said...

anon 7:29

your ignorance and your arrogance have reached epic proportions.

besides, your comment is totally irrelevant to the question of job categories.

on another point, it seems to me the salaries reported do fit what I've heard other animators are making. 3K a week is rare these days.


Anonymous said...

Very serious. Why are you taking offense to a simple fact? Doesn't say anything about other than character animation being less important, easier, or that it's 3D or 2D.

But the very definition of Character Animation has more to do with CHARACTER and PERSONALITY.

Anonymous said...

You've clearly never played games.

Some game animation is full of character and personality. Sometimes a simple walk cycle can scream personality, yet a 20 foot shot of subtle acting is completely devoid of it.

Character animation is character animation, regardless of the vehicle of delivery.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 7:29AM

I know a lot of the people you mentioned in your post, and they would disagree with your comment.

Anonymous said...

"Character animation is character animation, regardless of the vehicle of delivery."

No shit. There's PLENTY of so-called "feature animation" with little to no "character animation" in it at all as well (igor, astro boy, bluth films). Why are most gamers so childishly defensive? There's very little "character animation" in games---and that will continue to evolve in fits and starts--just like in traditional and cg animation. In about 10 years, games will begin to hit their stride in storytelling and character driven function.

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