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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » Blame the artists - Methuselah's question

Author Topic: Blame the artists - Methuselah's question
Russian Judge
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This is not an attempt to re-open the "Shrek 2" closed thread, but Methuselah said something I think needs some exploration. To wit, he said:

I kind of wish that if you think DW is evil, you'd call it the way it is and just plain blame the artists, because it's them that were "responsible" for a lot of--if not the original premises, then absolutely the acting, the designs, and the gags of these various films in production.
How much ARE the artists - that is, the working folks who draw the key drawings - responsible for the success of a film? Sure, animation is largely about their work. However, they were hired by bosses who supposedly knew what kind of artists they were hiring.

It's possible for a recruiter to hire a bunch of lame-o's whose drawing skills approximate mine, for instance. But is it their fault when the finished product turns out bad? Isn't it the person who chose them to work for a film who's responsible? It might be possible that someone could "fake" their skills and get hired, and their faulty work slows or derails a project. But that would also mean that the bosses weren't watching who was doing good work and who was dragging their feet.

These guys who make big salaries and have lunch with Nicole Kidman justify their position and salary because they are "responsible" for so much. But responsibility also means taking the blame, and there's a LOT of denial about that. Worse, the executive class never seems to get blamed or disciplined for screwing up. I've never seen anyone wearing an Armani suit working the morning shift at Waffle House - much as they probably deserve to.

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one must realize the role katzenberg plays in the making of these films. He drives them on all levels and has his hands in every aspect of the film-making.

Eldorado for example, would have been a completely different film if left in the hands of the directors, instead you got an empty story with main characters who you frankly has no love for.

J.K. took the blame for its failure.

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This is a loaded topic of which there is no real answer, as it's far too generalised.

If the work is absolute, unadulterated rubbish by the time it gets squeezed out of the development process, it's hard to pin it down on a single person. Is it the fault of the producer, who may more may not have known how things were bending out of shape as the process went along? Is it the case that the original concept was terrible anyway? Did something happen during the storyboard process that resulted in XYZ? So too many people are involved for truly anyone to blame, but in the case a project goes THAT awry the only people you can really point fingers at ARE the people in charge. And that's not necessarily the "suits" either.

I've seen things that've gone wrong. Nothing I've been involved with (thank god) but you've got to realise that so many things CAN go wrong in the development process that mainly it's a product of whoever's overseeing whatever part went "boink!" hasn't said "stop!" and called issue with whoever did it. I mean, pacing can be thrown out by voice acting, music can be used innappropriately... but again, you're talking generally so there's no answer.

You need specifics here. Even "artists" itself could mean any number of roles as that could explain away any creative position. In the case of say, a film like Shark Tale which seems to have a 50/50 percent of people who like/dislike it for whatever reason (its still, no matter what anyone thinks about it, a hugely popular film despite criticisms otherwise) you'll find different reasons as to why it works/doesn't work for each person. People can pour their hearts into a product but it still might not have the desired reaction from everyone, which of course ends up having people working on animated projects they get into on these boards... making it hard to criticise without effecting them(something worth bearing in mind).

So there's also if you're talking personally if a film just doesn't work in the context of being a failiure commercially. I know producers that've taken blows as much as artists. But then again, it depends on who you're targeting.


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I think Methusela's original question was largely rhetorical, in the interest of making the point that you cannot trash every film put out by a studio without trashing the artists, animators, and technical people who created those films.

That said, the issue of responsibility (for success or failure) isn't a simple either/or as you've posed it, RJ. For a film to work, it has to hit on every cylinder, or almost every one. If a significant portion on any single department do crummy work, it fails. It's like a living organism. If any one part of it is dysfunctional, the whole organism will be sick.

I also think the idea that the person hiring you is responsible for your work is too broad to be a good model in animation. Usually the people hiring you can't do what you do, and don't really understand how you do it anyway. That goes for writers, animators, viz dev, programmers, modelers, all manner of TDs. And unless they're hiring you to do exactly the same kind of work you've done before, even you reel/portfolio may be a poor guide.

Producers have a job to do -- hire the people they guess will be the best for the job, and more importantly, create an environment where good work can be done. Our job, as the actual creators of what ends up on screen, is not to just do what we've done before, or even what the producers say they want us to do. It's to go beyond that, and give them what the project needs, even if they can't articulate that. It's an inherently messy and fuzzy process, and both success and failure have a multitude of parents.

By the way, there are plenty of execs whose careers have been cut short by failed films (sometimes even when they did a good job), and there are also hack artists and writers who keep working even though they shouldn't be.

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^what he said. Far more eloquently than I. [Smile]


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The Mod
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Thanks Kevin for that answer. That being said I think that the question has been answered and nothing better can come of it by further digging into said question.
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