Saturday, September 04, 2010

New England Animation

American animation isn't just in the east San Fernando Valley ... or Culver City and the South Bay ... or Emeryville.

Cluster of animation studios grows up around Watertown

... Boston’s animation studios share a few traits. Most don’t work on feature films; there is nothing locally that rivals Pixar Animation Studios. Most do a mix of work for TV, the Web, and museums, with some branching into children’s books. And most create content that is distinctly brainy: Rather than “Family Guy,’’ they’re producing webisodes for Children’s Hospital Boston that explain the role of zebrafish in medical research.

CloudKid LLC is one of the newest companies on the scene, formed in May 2009 by Dave Schlafman, formerly an artist at Soup2Nuts. The fledgling studio won a $400,000 PBS grant to develop a site called Fizzy’s Lunch Lab, which presents videos, games, and easy recipes, all intended to improve kids’ eating habits. ...

Animation companies can spring up anywhere. I'm not just thinking of Pixar, but of Laika in Portland, and Blue Sky in New York. Once in a while they rocket to prominence. (The odds get better if the studio has a backer with deep pockets.) More often than not they crash and burn. Very occasionally they become a multi-national conglomerate with tentacles reaching everywhere.

Maybe one of the Massachusetts studios will break into the Big Time, but the odds are long.


Mark Mayerson said...

Who says their goal should be to break into the Big Time? If they become profitable businesses where artists create work that is socially useful, that's success enough.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Not every studio has to aspire to be the next Pixar or the next Blue Sky . In fact the playing field is littered with the corpses of companies that started with that as their main goal (to be the "next Pixar") .

Anonymous said...

I know this is the union's blog and all, but let's not forget that there are thousands of people earning their living doing animation work outside the "big studio" system. Most of these people will (a) never set foot inside a major studio, and (b) will have long and satisfying careers despite (a).

Steven Kaplan said...

Why would the Guild be opposed to effects studios doing work that doesn't hit the "big" screen? As Mark stated, if they're profitable and happy, we say "Kudos to you!"

Mike said...

I agree with you Mark!!

Thanks for piping up.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the aforementioned Soup2Nuts, New England also gave us the pre-"Tron" Steve Lisberger.
Never underestimate Harvard Square. :)

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