Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Global Animation Economy

... knows no borders.

... Asim Fida Khan, a young animator and a Pakistani success story in his own right, graduated from NCA with a degree in architecture in the 90s. From his days at NCA, Khan has come a long way. His portfolio of work as an animator boasts of Hollywood flicks such as 'I Robot,' 'The Tale of Despereaux,' 'G.I Joe,' 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' (parts I and II), and more recently - 'Snow White and the Huntsmen,' as well as the re-make of 'Total Recall'. ...

Khan advises local animators to "create their own short animation, or music video, or whatever they want to do and send it to the countless film festivals taking place all over the globe."

And to break into Pixar or Disney, for example?

"What counts is your talent and experience," he says, "If you manage to get the visa, of course." ...

I had lunch last week with a veteran animator who's worked at multiple studios in far-flung geographic locations. He said to me:

"Good animators can come from anywhere. But the good ones, the ambitious ones, don't stay in the low-pay studios in third world countries that they start in. They go to Europe. They go to the United States. They start their own studios. ..."

As the vet explained it, animation wages in China and India are rising, while salaries in Southern California have been flat (or declining) for a decade. Even so, artists like Khan go where the opportunities and best money are, which remains -- despite the negative growth -- California.

This could be why Third World studios haven't yet made animated features that blow people's socks off. Their best talents leave.

Even so, nothing remains static forever. Mac Guff and Illumination Entertainment have shown that you don't have to be an animation studio in the Golden State or Connecticut to turn out a big CG hit. (And who knows? With its generous tax breaks, Canada might be a candidate in the near future.)

As the talent pool expands worldwide, an emerging nation could one day climb atop the Golden Plateau. I still don't think it will happen anytime soon, but talent finds ways to shine on all points of the compass. The U.S. of A. doesn't have a monopoly on creativity.


VFX Soldier said...

Is it really a global industry though?

It's always been true the animation and vfx industry was built by people from all over the world. When I think global industry I think an industry where I can work anywhere in the world: i.e. medical.

I believe the industry is heavily agglomerated. It's heavily concentrated in big big cities like London and Los Angeles.

As I point out on my blog and Steve has pointed out with Illumination, it's not really going to third world places: It's going to expensive places.

The reason its going there is obviously because of a strong talent base, but also because of government subsidies. France pays Illumination 20% of their expenses for making Despicable Me there. Take away the rebate and I doubt the film would've been made there.

Under market conditions, I believe the industry goes to where it's agglomerated: California.

hmmmm said...

I'd go to the caribbean if there was a studio there. beach, palm trees,margaritas, whats not to like?

Anonymous said...

They tried that Final Fantasy in Hawaii. Didn't work out so well.

Anonymous said...

jester says: WHERES MY SODA!

Steve Hulett said...

Under market conditions, I believe the industry goes to where it's agglomerated: California.

You've read more of the studies on this than I have, soldier, but my experience over the last twenty-plus years backs up what you say.

There's more effects work and animation happening so Southern California now than ever before. The gravitational pull of large numbers of people who know how to create quality product is considerable.

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