Friday, July 09, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name ...

Seeing as this is my inaugural post on the Blog .. Hello all! I'm Steve Kaplan and I've taken the illustrious and honorable Labor Organizer position with our beloved Guild. I am interested in meeting as many of you readers and members as I can. Please drop me a note or stop by the Guild office and say "Hello".

As is expected in my first few weeks here as the Labor Organizer, I've reached out to the artists I've worked with and met in my travels over the past few years. I've encountered a lot of feedback on my new employment; much of which I will be sharing here to both enlighten the group and to gather opinions and reactions. The first topic I was interested in feedback on is the name of our organization.

More than I expected, I hear something like this from visual effects artists:

The Animation Guild will represent us? But, I'm not an animator. I am [modeler, rigger, texture artist, lighter, insert other vfx labor category here] Is there a VFX Guild?
To this, I always answer the same. "The Guild currently represents visual effects artists as well as traditional animation artists". I know too little about traditional animation to be able to list all the jobs and tasks that it holds. I can certainly expound on what it takes to get CG art from its beginning stages to the screen. I can safely say that both fields have artists whose job isn't to take an object and/or character and move it from one location to another in a series of frames. I can also say that among our membership are artists who perform those tasks for both traditional and CG animation.

Many people I've talked to also don't realize that our Guild changed its name from Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists back in 2002 for the same reason. As the title of the post implies, I agree with W. Shakespeare on this topic. However, I do see the advantage of a proper moniker. It helps identify our organization to the parties that should know of its existence. So, in the interest of better exposure to visual effects artists while not alienating our traditional animation artist brothers and sisters, what would be a good addition to our name? The Animation and Computer Graphics Guild (TACGC)? The Animation and Visual Effects Guild (TAVEG)? I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Nothing useful here; just a hearty "Welcome Aboard!"

Anonymous said...

Welcome, Steve! So what's your background, and how and where did this new TAG job of Labor Organizer come from?

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

"Nothing useful here;" Ha. You must be great fun at parties.

Welcome, Steven! We're just a couple of hack screenwriters, but we look forward to meeting you! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Uh, Anon 1 here, to Bob and Rob: "nothing useful" was referring to my own comment, which made no effort to answer Steve's thoughtful questions and was just a simple welcome. Why does everyone on this board read snark into everything?

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

Sorry, it's been a looooong day of nasty remarks on other posts. Some very insensitive people have been sniping away indiscriminately. We weren't clear on your post. Have a great weekend...and we're done trying to police this site:) Back to actually writing movies next week!

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve! Great post!

It's ironic though, that you pose your query back-to-back with the previous post. (The one about animation being the bastard step-child of live action.)

It seems our esteemed VFX artist brethren don't like the idea of slumming with the animators either?

A few of us a little while back got into a conversation about how huge a chunk of the movie "Avatar" was animated. Yet, they had no desire to enter it into the "Best Animated Feature" category of the Oscars, and loudly protested the very word "animation". No, these were actors, who acted; a smaller role was played by technology and Visual Effects crews.

One could argue that in my area of TV Animation, Designers (Prop, Character, BG), Color Stylists, or any other layer of the process that doesn't involve itself in the actual time and motion of drawings are not "animators." But animation is a very layered process, and these individuals perform creative roles vital to the finished project.

Likewise, what would the final scene be without lighting or models or rigging? But it sounds like you're saying that VFX crews don't consider themselves to be a sub-set of animation at all, which is how I think of them.

I've no opinion on changing our name, other than liking how sweet and succinct our current name is. But it sounds like a good discussion to have, if it will help the union to represent its members as best it can.

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS! And Welcome! Great post, btw. You're the real deal. THANKS!

Anonymous said...

Just to be a stickler, the actual Shakespeare quote is:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet."

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Congrats, Steve, and welcome! I'm glad you're here.

Floyd Norman said...

How about, "The Not Live-Action Guild?" TNLAG.

Might be a catchy handle.

Steven Kaplan said...

KC - Thanks for the praise. Personally, I'm fine with the name of the Guild. I find CG Animation born from traditional animation. Therefore, I see the name as a nod to "our history" and also why I feel VFX a good fit for 839.

As for Avatar, I think any conversation I have on that film needs to be done in person and with a beer in my hand. :)

Anon 07/09 @9:pm - Wow! Thanks! The real deal sounds so, cool!

Anon 07/10 @9:53a - Many thanks!

Charlotte Fullerton said...

Hi, Steve. Welcome! As a writer, I am always having to explain to people who ask why I am in the animators' union even though I am not an animator. I don't actually understand it myself.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte, you're in the 'Animation Guild,' not the 'Animator's Union.' The word 'Animation' refers to the field, not an individual job title. But then, you're a writer, and so I have to assume you're intentionally misreading the word to mean something it doesn't.

You write for animation, you're in the field, and this is the labor organization that has gone to bat for people in our field for about 60 years. That's why you're in TAG.

And welcome aboard, Steve. It's always great to have new blood.

Charlotte Fullerton said...

Thanks for that title clarification, Anonymous. I'm new to 839, though I've been a busy animation writer for years. I'm just beginning to learn what this organization is. All the mailings I've been getting from 839 are about drawing classes etc. although I don't draw. Maybe I am just on the wrong mailing list? No need to be so mean-spirited if you respond. Everyone else I've encountered in 839 has been very pleasant, helpful, and welcoming to me so far.

Charlotte Fullerton said...

PS. The only reason I had posted here at all in the first place (my first post ever! :) was simply that this particular blog entry was suggesting possible name changes for TAG in order to be inclusive of both traditional animators and visual effects artists... with no mention of writers. I would like to be included too.

And yes, I really do keep having to explain to people who have heard the TAG name and think it is the "animators' union" what it really is and why I am in it now but never before. Which, as I admitted, I don't fully understand myself. No malice intended. I honestly do not know how any of this union admission stuff works and why. I'm new. I would have joined years ago! Had I been eligible.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte, our union used to carry the title 'Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists.' Lots of animation writers pissed and moaned about it. It got tiresome. The name of the union dated back to the 50's, when all the animation was destined for the motion picture screen, and most everyone in the union drew or painted, and everyone worked on cartoons. Times changed, and eventually the name was changed.

After a lot of deliberation, local 839 changed its name to reflect it's membership. The word 'Animation' was deliberately chosen as an inclusive term that applies to everyone working creatively in animation, whether they're writing, drawing, modeling, or rigging, or doing any of the other dozens of job classifications involved in creating animation. It's really not that confusing, except to people who know nothing about animation (which is most people outside of the field). What Steve Kaplan failed to note in his post above is that TAG's full name is The Animation Guild and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 of the IATSE. I'm not sure who could feel excluded by that title.

As for why you're a member of TAG, it's pretty simple. Get hired onto a production covered by TAG, and you become a member. Pretty much the same way SAG and the WGA work. It's not very confusing, except to people outside the entertainment industry (and believe me, there's just as much to explain when civilians ask questions to an animator).

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

Welcome Charlotte! While writers aren't at the top of the food chain in this union, we are, by and large, very well respected here and in the workplace. There are a lot of tremendously talented people around here. While we are WGA members as well, we're quite proud to be part of this community. That said, you enter this primarily "anonymous" comment section at your own risk;)

Anonymous said...

Camera Local 600 lays claim to Visual Effects Supervisors.
Problem is they do nothing to support them as the position is new and they have no legacy bargaining power. What does TAG offer?

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