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Author Topic: Animagic lays off staff
Ganklin
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i'm surprised that no one's posted this from the NY area, because its huge. this past monday, animagic, which was set to produce 40 episodes in flash of "nate the great" for PBS, told its entire animation crew to vacate the building immediately. they would be paid for the day and that was that. i'm assuming the benefits they were promised were gone too.

i debated actually posting this since it really didnt happen to me, but i have alot of friends over there who are really talented folks. when the news broke, pretty much everyone in my studio was dumbfounded and shocked. we all know people there and just like that the production came to a halt. alot of people left other jobs to be there. some just bought property and a few have new families. however, that didnt seem to matter.

"nate the great" had a troubled start. the start date was pushed back a few times which was not a good sign in the first place. however, most people hung in there since there isnt much work of this size in town. the reward for being yanked around for almost 6 months, and the finally being fully staffed for maybe a month was the pink slip.

one excuse i heard was that "investors pulled out". i also heard that it was being outsourced. whatever the case, a bunch of really talented people got kicked to the curb like trash and the NYC animation community as a whole took a punch in the face.

its a total shame.

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Matt Wilson
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I heard about this on Monday afternoon and was shocked. A lot of people from our studio went there, including one of my pals in layout. The way he described it it seemed way too good to be true, and I guess it was.

My heart goes out to all those artists who had the rug pulled out from under them, especially those who are trying to support their families. It's very sad, and very maddening as well.

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knowledge
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I hope we get a rundown on what happened.
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Shane Glines
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I started at Animagic last September as lead character designer on Nate the Great . It was my first commercial animation job since the Samurai Jack pilot, and my first time working in a studio since i left L.A. in 1999.

The design of the show had already been set by an outside studio before I got there. When I arrived members of the crew quickly let me know how unhappy they were with the designs and expressed hope that I would be able to redesign the characters. Unfortunately, this didn't seem to be an option with the management. I was instructed to follow the original designs to the smallest detail. Attempts to even subtly insert things like appeal and solid construction were rejected. Months went by and we weren't able to get main model rotations approved, and it was never even clear who it was in charge of making the approvals.

There was no communication at all between departments. It was really a dark and oppressive atmosphere. No laughter, no joy, no fun, no artists talking art, watching cartoons, sharing drawings- none of the things that I missed so much from my experience at Warner Bros. Instead it was people whispering in little groups, looking over their shoulder to see who was watching or listening.

After several months of this, with still no approval of either the character or bg designs and the start date for animators pushed back even further, there was a shake up at the studio with a few people removed from the top of the production. Day to day control of the production seemed to now fall on the two directors, both of whom were talented artists. In our first meeting after this shake up I let them know exactly how dissatisfied I had been with the production. I told them that there was absolutely no reason for the show to look as crappy as it did. I wanted to make sure they knew that I was not responsible for the poorly drawn and unappealing character designs and that I was specifically instructed to follow those designs to the smallest detail. I told them that there was no reason that the show couldn't be an attractive, well-designed, fun, commercial cartoon- one with charm and intelligence that was true to the original books but designed for animation. It would not have taken any more time, money or effort to design a show that won awards and made money for the investors. The crew was filled with talented artists, all frustrated that they were being encouraged to do inferior work and required to slavishly imitate some rushed, sloppy pitch art created by a different studio.

While I was telling them this, they kept looking at each other almost like they couldn't believe it. They told me that they were so glad to hear me say this, that it echoed all of their own frustrations. They told me that many lies had been told about why the designs looked the way they did. They asked me how, if given free reign, would I design the show. I convinced them to give me two days to redesign the main characters.

I dove into it and over the next two days pored all of my pent up frustration into the designs. I had my assistant create inspirational style guides using work from artists like Ronald Searle. I was extremely glad to finally have the chance to show what I could do. It had been such a depressing experience working on designs that I was ashamed of, forcing myself to break every design rule that I had pounded into me by people like Bruce Timm and John Kricfalusi. Anyone who knows me knows how much respect I have for the art and history of animation. I've spent much of my career searching out and attempting to learn from the absolute best in our industry and every day I could feel this show eating away a bit more of my soul.

In a meeting the next day I presented a big stack of new designs to the directors and several members of the design team. The response was overwhelming. There was so much much excitement in the room- you could feel people getting charged up with creative energy, thrilled at the possibility of working on a show they weren't ashamed of. People were laughing, talking to each other- you could really feel a sense of excitement sweep through the studio, like a dark cloud had been lifted.

I think it was the next day when the directors presented my new designs to one of the producers. They were in her office for quite a while, and when they left she called me in (this was strange, because I had never spoken to her or anyone else calling the shots on the show. Show notes were always relayed to me by someone else) She proceeded to tell me that I was "amazing", that she loved my designs, loved my take on the characters.

She then explained to me that it had been decided that it would not be a good idea to show these new designs to the higher-ups. Because we had already been working on the show for months, and because the company had already paid for the original crappy designs by the outside studio, they were going to wonder why we were now starting over with new designs.

That was it. I returned to my desk and turned off my brain. The production continued to crawl along, with animators finally hired after months of delays. My wife was hired a few weeks ago for AfterEffects, her first job in animation. On monday morning, the crew was called into a meeting and told to go home. They returned to their desks to find their computers being locked down.

As Ganklin stated, a bunch of really talented people got kicked to the curb like trash. Sadly, from what I hear this is not uncommon with the New York studios. It's a shame, because there are so many talented artists here that deserve better treatment. I love the city and had hoped to be able to make a life here for a few years while I prepared my own projects. Unfortunately if something doesn't come up in the next few weeks my wife and I will likely have to pack up and come back west.

Best,
S.

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Ganklin
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shane i heard that you were over there, so i figured you would be adding some much needed appeal to the show. i saw the animation test and it was something of a nightmare. design issues aside, there are really simple, basic things you can do in flash to make the animation process go smoother, but the library organization was a total mess. one of my friends there was one of the animation leads, and he told me he re-vamped the test to streamline it, but old versions were being sent out anyway.

i think the NY animation community really had high hopes for animagic. i know it sounds cliche at this point, but 9/11 truly did a number on the industry here (all but killed it) and its only within the last year or two that theres been some re-growth. it was a new player in the field up here and sounded very promising. noodleman is a good guy from when i met him who seemed to have a head on his shoulders. its a real shame.

my director has been talking about writing to city hall to see if we can get a deal in the works similar to what the live-action industry have. there are tax breaks for companies that keep their work here in the city, and we are trying to see if we can do the same for animation. i know he wrote an email, but its gonna take some more work than that.

in the meantime, we were thinking of putting up "the rat" in front of animagic. the local unions put a giant inflatable black rat in front of buildings who employ non-union construction workers. we think animagic deserves a visit from the rat. anyone know where we can get one?

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dermot
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interesting read Shane......I think our best wishes get in the way of our responsibility to speak up and "fight the good fight" at the first chance we see, when we really ought to.

It's a real dilemma in our business that there aren't more , or BETTER "creative" producers .

To make a sports analogy ( which producers might understand better ) one CANNOT be a good general manager of a team without KNOWING talent ; talent recognition and team building is more crucial to success than the work a coach does . That's why New Jersay makes it to the playoffs every year , and why the Toronto Maple Leafs barely manage it 50% of the time .

Somehow we have to figure out how to build respect and trust among our fellow artists AND executives ; to the point where we can unite and demand a better master design pack ! ....and if the "higher ups" don't even care to debate the issue in a professional way then we can call a spade a spade ( quick-buck opportunistic gambling )

You don't just "get lucky" with this stuff right!?

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SoleilSmile
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Oh Shane! Too bad! I was hoping to see more of your work!
Flash keeps everything so marvelously on model too!

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knowledge
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You know what Shane, with nothing left to lose with that outfit, I would take all of the artwork you did, get the 2 directors with you and call a meeting with the Way High Ups who paid the bills, and would try to convince them to let you guys have a shot at the production. Let them know that you guys can pull this off and that the people who had been helming the production didn't know jack! Go for it Shane!!
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Greg B
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Any studio that wouldn't put Shane Glines on top of it's roster and giving him carte blanche ain't a studio.

I've been a fan of Shanes for YEARS now. He knows I love his retro style stuff and even when critics would add their two sense about retro.

I feel ya Shane. I grew up in New York. I miss it alot. Adventures daily. Never a dull moment.

I remember back in the mid to late 80's when animators I used to know were miserable working there. I packed em' up and sent em' by the dozens to Los Angeles. They ALL got jobs at Disney, WB etc. Only a rare few stayed friends with me over the years. The majority got large, got egos, got distant UNTIL they got the boot several years ago and of course it was the old "Hey Greg, got any gigs for me?". They can keep on walkin'. I only speak to a rare few whenever because they're true friends.

I ran into a similar situation as you just described Shane with a friend's company. He had me do designs etc. because he knew every company we worked for I would do a book or designs and treatments and would get accepted. I knew not to put all my eggs into one basket so I went on to do other work even though I was seriously ill but didn't know it. Glad I didn't depend on one source. He got to dependent on the financing end that I got started and let the decisions go out of his hands. The funding sources got greedy, ran around with my designs and stupidly tried to get me to ape my own style on the cheap! They hadn't read the credits and realized I had done the work! Busted COLD! They lost their contracts and the crew has to start all over again. Glad to say they've been at it over a year and no luck.

"F" em'. That's whatcha' get for tryin' to rip people off.

So I instead did a few cartoons for another friend, he paid well and it's turned into an even bigger project than I had even comprehended with tons of work to go. I even have animators under me that I didn't even know were there! No long hours of gabbing, just everyone doing their job to the best as they can do, each team following through. Even have finance guru I didn't even know was on the team and I was able to help him out! I got a reward for that.

Bottom line is your own integrity is all ya' got and it shows in your artwork Shane. If I could I would hire you in a heartbeat. As things roll on I still may if I could meet your price.

In your story you kept your integrity and did what a pro would do. However you were not in the loop of the bigheads on top. Sounds like there was a false sense of importance in areas that had no talent in the first place but lots of ego.

I always refuse to work on any project if I'm not in communication with the boss of bosses. Why? Because then you don't know what you're supposed to do. I don't care how good the money is. If I ain't dealin' with the boss I don't deal at all. I make sure I know whom the producers are as well as their control. When you do that you end up surprised as all the other branches of the tree work out fine like in my latest gig.

You can't ask for better than fun, easy, well paid.

I don't know the staff at Animagic so I can't speak on that. Things look good for the friends I have in animation out here in LA though!

I hope you put out your own comics Shane. Children's books too. I'm sure someone with some smarts will back you.

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Pigboy
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Wow. We just got wind of this story at the office and then I went over to AN and read the entire thread. Just want to let it be known to any of the Animagic Crew that we are actively looking for Flash animators presently at Cartoon Network in sunny Burbank, CA.

If you're coming back west or interested in moving out check out the post over on the business forum.

Good luck to all those caught in the crossfire.

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Greg B
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Hats off to you too Pigboy.

You came in here with a viable solution and that's what it's all about.

Shows you the power on these boards!

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Shane Glines
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A couple more comments:
One thing that surprised me was that many of the artists that came to Animagic from other NY studios talked about what a great place Animagic was to work. They had some crazy horror stories about the conditions at some of the other studios. I'm sure that in comparison Animagic seemed, as Matt stated, too good to be true.

Maybe I'm a bit spoiled. I realize that I have been unusually fortunate in my career in that I have only worked on artist-driven projects. Every show that I have worked on has been led by an artist that I and the rest of the crew had great respect for, that pushed everyone to do their best work.

At Animagic not only was an artist not leading the production but no one was. There seemed to be a dozen different people calling the shots, all with different agendas fighting among themselves.

Instead of being encouraged to do my best work I would get notes that the secondary characters I was designing were looking better than the main characters. I assured them that I was doing my very best to draw as poorly as possible.

It's sad to think that decent wages and fair benefits are "too good to be true".

Best,
S.

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Sergio Pablos
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You know,I really have to change the name of my company. When I read the title of this post, I said: What? Who laid all my guys off?

As a matter of fact, I´ve always hated that name; Animagic. Ugh. I just kept it when I bought the company for sheer name recognition. And then I found out there are like five companies with that name throughout the world. And here's a new one.

Your post gave me one more reason to get rid of it. I wouldn't want to be associated with something like this.

My regards to all those artists who lost their jobs. It's always sad when something like this happens. I don't know if this might help, but if there are any artists among you guys who have a legal right and an interest in working in Europe, I´ll be more than glad to look at your portfolios.

Normally, my talent pool is mostly located in Europe, and I don't normally encourage non-Europeans to apply, due to the difficulty in getting work visas. But under these circumstances, I thought it wouldn't hurt to let you know.

In the coming months, I´ll be looking to hire 2D animators, Assistants and Inbetweeners, Development artists, and possibly 2D FX animators, for Feature work. Relocation, I'm afraid, is a must.

If you're interested, emailk me at spablos@animagicfilms.com

Hey, just a shot in the dark. Who knows, maybe there is one or two of you I might be able to help out.

Best,

Sergio Pablos.

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Greg B
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Shane, sounds like a case of someone was jealous of your abilities.

That kind of help you don't need.

I say you focus your attention and intention on getting your own movie or tv show.

You have my vote.

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Ganklin
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greg thats completely not the case. no one was jeolous of shane's abilities. "nate" was in pre-production as early as this time last year. i went over to animagic when they were doing the speedracer pilot, and the designs for nate were already pretty much in place at that point.

the investors were sold on what they saw in the initial pitch. i would imagine any deviation from that would be seen as a sign of trouble to the non-artist big wig.

there are a few large studios in the city, but not all of them treat their artists that way. i happen to work at a very artist friendly studio who treat their people well and with respect. so there are some bright spots in NYC.

there's been alot of people, animators and illustrators i should say, who have been supportive of thoe who got the boot offering freelance where they can since this happened. nice looking out, pigboy and sergio [thumbsup]

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devourax
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Shane,

What a disappointment. I wish you the best.
Good luck to all those who lost their jobs.
It seems like this is all too common.

-dev

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Devourax
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Tobias A. Wolf
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It sounds like someone lost confidence in the leadership of the company for good reason. I swear if I didn't have the kind of autonomy I have in my current job to pick a direction to go in and follow through I'd be aimless and probably out of work. I'm employee #7 in a nearly 75 person company now. First hand, it pays to see a good idea in a small business, ask business minded questions in your interview, and get in early to help form it.

Not like I couldn't be laid off tomorrow, as I'm not a part owner, but either way there is a tremendous confidence booster in helping build a business to growth. As it makes you feel you can start your own, where failure is in your own hands at all times.

That's why I've given the advice I have to those just out of college here - so that hopefully they can avoid a spotty career track. Look for opportunities where you can become the next Kirby, Lasseter, or Ollie Johnston and help define the bar in a "ghetto" or fringe aspect of commercial art. Heck, almost all the artists we look up to these days began not at the bottom, but even further away and probably more importantly - to the side of the bottom.

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Greg B
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Tobias speaks wisdom!

Anyone who references Jack "King" Kirby knows what they're talking about.

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Charles
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That's a tough break for the artists involved. It's troubling whenever this happens. When it does, it affects the entire community. The crew in New York deals with the hardships, but there's a genuine empathy on the part of all artists for our comrades and colleagues who are displaced by this kind of thing.

A word of encouragement, it's not the end of the world. Life goes on and you'll land on your feet.

Wishing the artists of Animagic good fortune in their future endeavors from your friends here at AnimationNation.

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Gene Fowler
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Heard about this recently and had to post.

Businesses come and go all the time and it's a shame that animagic went up in smoke. Especially with such a talented crew. It's a pity that the suits didn't take pride in their work or at the very least, VALUE the people that actually take pride in their work, as every single animator / artist does. Shame.

I'm not sure what other studios are hiring in the NYC area or on the east coast. But I know I got alot of applications recently and am working with many ex-animagic folks now via freelance. There are also a few that may be relocating to Canada to work at Fatkat. I know the word is already out, but I thought I'd post it too.

Don't worry folks, nothing is as bad as it seems, artists are the most resourceful people on the planet.

Much Love,

gene

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Dan Forgione
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I, too, was one of the unfortunate to be laid off on Monday, and it was a shocker. This was only my second studio job since I left school, and after the first studio I was at, it certainly seemed too good to be true. I mean we had a KEG and video games!! But i guess alarms should've went off once it was learned that the keg was never filled and two of the games were " under repair."

Anyways, it's a shame that everything played out as it did. But what can you do except move on, hopefully to something bigger and better. I enjoyed working there and MOST of all enjoyed the people I was working with. Everyone there was just an all around cool person, who I would choose to work with any day of the week again.

I wasn't there nearly as long as Shane, so I wasn't exposed to as much, but I can agree that with the talent we had working there, it undoubtedly would have been a great production.

Shane, I really admire your work, and share your frustration on the situation. I just wish I had the chance to actually introduce myself earlier, but obivously time just ran out. Anyways good luck to you on your next project, and to everyone else there. Hopefully we'll all cross paths again in the future.


And now for those who are looking to hire..... [Smile]

All the best,

Dan

danforgione.com

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SoleilSmile
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Question: did anyone make a short as a part of the pitch? Just curious. Shorts are a GREAT way to sell a series. That way the no-nothing investors will at least know what their final product will look like.

Jinkies Shane, if the third spin-off of my comic gets made in to a TV show-YOU are definitely first in line as the production designer on it.
My heart goes out to you. Pity we animators are pidgeon-holed into living in LA or perishing.

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http://www.animatress.blogspot.com/

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New Wil Order
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I am yet another victim of the Animagic "lay-off" & I'd like to share some thoughts, as well.

Back in October of last year, I received an unsolicited phone call & an e-mail asking if I'd be interested in a position there. At the time, I was directing at another studio & was eager to jump ship so the inquiry from Animagic came as welcomed news.

A week later, I was offered a position and slated to start work in November. On a Thursday, 4 days before I was to start, I received another phone call informing me that my start date had been pushed back to January.

Of course, by that time, I had already left the other studio & my wife had already given her 2 week notice at her job. Luckily, she was able to keep her job until January, otherwise I suppose our 3 month old baby could have starved to death for all Animagic cared.

So... I waited, unemployed, through the holidays & dutifully reported to work in January. I'd LOVE to go into my impressions of the working environment there. I'd delve into the atmosphere of secrecy, politics, back-stabbing, & whispering. I'd elaborate on the entire production's complete lack of focus from the top down. I would, that is, except that Shane beat me to it (& expressed it more diplomatically than I ever could have).

The truth, unfortunately, is that while it obviously sucks to be unemployed (again), I'm a little relieved. For the show to look the way it did, they certainly didn't need (or utilize) Shane's talent.

I had been hearing for weeks rumours about shipping the Flash animation over to Animagic's CHINESE studio. After watching 5 months of a floundering production, I wasn't surprised this past Monday morning when the entire staff was called into a meeting. A lawyer entered the room, read a brief statement informing us that the show was being put on "indefinite hiatus", and left the room.

In short, I just want to say thanks. Thanks for letting us get our jobs ready to be outsourced. I have no doubt that this was ALWAYS an option you were willing to entertain.

*** I certainly hope PBS isn't planning on running "Nate the Great" in THIS hemisphere...

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Greg B
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New Wil Order,

You left your old job without confirmation of the new job?

From what you're stating, the prep work for the show was done to a degree that an outsourcing company can pick it up from there?

Now that is something of interest to learn of.

I've run into numerous companies that get us Yanks to start the project, then ship it overseas only to have it goofed up.

It's underhanded but then again, that's business nowadays.

I don't know if Animagic was intending this or not but the scenario of this company is worthy of a descerning eye for sure.

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tstevens
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I think part of the problem stems from producers wanting to be patriotic.

The studio I work for gets atleast one call a month from a producer in one of the larger markets wanting to know if we can do episodic animation (we do primarilly commercial work). None of them want to produce out of China or South Korea and all of them are aware of Flash series produced in the US. However, when they start tallying up the real numbers of production I think most of them slowly begin to realize that the only way they are going to be able to keep production costs down is to send it overseas. One of the reasons why we have been getting calls is because of the tax incentives here in New Mexico. So far the largest company to take advantage of it is Sony Imageworks: they say they have officially signed on to build an Albuquerque studio with approximately 100 people (mostly brought in from LA).

While this incident isn't as bad as some of the others it goes to show how animation needs to take a lot of good planning. I feel for Shane and the other artists but I also see the business end of it: when it comes down to basic economics, things can become very black and white.

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SoleilSmile
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Makes you wanna go into real estate instead.

Why does Disney keep it's feature productions in the U.S.? Is it loyalty and legacy? How can THEY afford American artists? Could it be the returns on the films? Does the Disney brand guarantee enough profits to use American artists?
Do you think that if Animagic NY had a recognized brand that brought in good revenue that they would've been able to retain their artists?
This isn't a critique. This is a real question. I'm going to be pitching my show idea soon and I have to start thinking like a producer, for I may be forced to become one. Will toy sales/licensing help keep a production local? If I ever get my own show--especially in San Francisco, I would want to use local artists not send my show overseas.

Companies are up here are always looking for artists on the cheap. A recent email around my latest temp job at an architecture firm invited the architects to an art college student show. It stated:
“Come check out emerging artists and hire fresh talent while you can still afford them.”

KEY PHRASE: Still afford them.

No one wants to cough up the dough—but they sure don’t mind throwing money at a leggy executive assistant. Why aren’t we artists considered valuable assets to a company---outside of the LA industry?

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Greg B
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Here we are back again at the exec/grunt land of the lost.

Bottom line is a company with investors has to appease those investors within the confines of the law.

An investor is interested in only one thing:

ROI aka Return On Investment.

Investors aren't worried about saving the free world, upholding American values, making sure kittens and puppies have homes.

Investors have child support payments, hospital bills, other investors, lawsuits etc. that they can't barter away with belief systems or urges of brotherly love. The courts don't think that way.

When you have an ex-wife who's a goldigger with a new boyfriend with a cocaine habit, the courts will eat you alive.

Ever try to get out of paying college loans? Illegal immigrants don't. They get to go to college free in some states. You can't.

Business nowadays has nothing to do with supporting American agendas. Those agendas have been perverted into meaning doing whatever it takes to appease the pocket greasers.

You have a dream in the U.S.?

You had better be able to fund it.

Don't get more complicated than that.

Companies can have investor shifts due to terms the employees have no clue of. If I'm working with a company that's not a Fortune 500 company, I get those terms or I go about my merry way. I have no time for weak-kneed work environments.

If you've ever seen some investor's terms you would run outside and murder people. I can't believe in this day and age the absurdly insane crap they put into terms that are confidential!

Stuff like, if there are more blonde characters than redheads, or too many ethnic types, don't add too many statues, no one can eat pork, don't have characters singing if they are standing next to a cow with a hat on...

You wonder what mental institution let out early!

Charles has said before that nowadays it's easier to fund your projects. It's true in some respects. It's not money that's the problem. It's handling the insanity of others as well as oneself unattended.

You must be in control. I made sure not to paint myself into a corner to depend on a company. I see every other day on this board alone how that has been a good thing.

Outsourcing saves money. Bottom line. My main complaint is that are the outsourced jobs going to the exploitation of third world people? Is it slavery in disquise?

I'll bet you there aren't a handful of Americans who give a damn. Especially those with investment portfolios fat to the brim with dividens gleaned from said outsourcing procedures.

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SoleilSmile
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Thanks GregB. Jinkies! I donwanna sell my soul to the (insert scary evil entity here).
What's a creator to do?

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SoleilSmile
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Hold one. I just realized I derailed this thread.

BACK TO SHANE AND ANIMAGIC.

Shane, will we see you at WB again? Lucy Lawless is voicing Wonder Woman for an upcoming Justice League miniseries. I would love to see your work in it!

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Brian Russell
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hello everyone. I just joined after one of my former co-workers at Animagic told me there was discussion about the "Nate the Great" shutdown. And what a great shutdown it was. I was one of the animators brought in for just under two monthes and One completed episode, as well as one of the animators put on hold for 4 monthes after being told I'd start last December. I stuck it out for 1. The money and 2. The chance to work on a show where I'd actually get to draw, seeing as I've been working in the industry for around 3 years now doing primarily Flash puppet animation on shows like "Pinky Dinky Doo" and "Ellen's Acres." Nate was suppossed to be a combination of puppet and hand drawn animation, leaning more heavily towards drawn. Of course when I Finally got to the studio 4 monthes later than anticipated, I was doing pretty much straight up Puppet animation, which was very dissappointing. And the characters, like has been said a ton of times already, were really ugly. I never formally met shane, but when we finally got his pose sheets and expression sheets, I got really excited. I went to my supervisors and said "hey these look slightly different then the models we are using, they look better, I want to work with these." They told me that they were pretty much the same, but I think that no matter how bad Shane says he tried to draw, his inate design sense was showing through in those sketches.The artists are the ones who can and should be making these shows great. That unfortunately doesn't seem to be the case around this city. There are so many talented people who I only hope will one day be in charge of future productions. Well, sorry for my first post being so negative. If I didn't love animation so much, I would have gotten out of it a long time ago as did many of the people I graduated Pratt's animation program with. Talk to you later folks.
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Greg B
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Hi Brian, welcome to Animation Nation.

The strengths around here are the numbers of diverse opinions and talents.

Thanks for giving us more insight on the Animagic issue.

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Brian Russell
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I just want to state that, I'm not completely naive or idealistic, but I was just thinking while reading this thread. Where'd the magic go. You know, the time when disney was creating magic and Art instead of direct to dvd re-hashed ideas. The reason a lot of people I'm sure got into animation as I did. Because of the feeling you got watching cartoons as a kid. I know I still get that, mind you less often these days.
Is there still a way in this industry to feed yourself and pay your bills, while still working on something you love to work on? I've seen so many of my co-workers and friends just give up on animation, professionally and personally. Each production I work on seems to get worse instead of better, and maybe I'm just at the wrong studios, I don't know. I have just seen my friends wills broken down by the "Just do it, don't ask questions, stop trying to be creative," mentality of the production heads. Each job I have still makes me go "hey, this is better than working retail," But I want to be like "Hey this is awesome. My job is awesome." Are my expectations too high?

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New Wil Order
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"You left your old job without confirmation of the new job?"

Hi Greg,

No, I left my old job after my start date at Animagic had been confirmed. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

- Wil

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Greg B
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Brian, read my lengthy post above. It double posted by accident so you can't miss it.

The Reader's Digest version is this:

The need and greed for profit is now the standard of business and ethics in our country.

It's a shame it's devolved to that level but we bred that mindset with our bigotry and hatred and selfishness.

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Pigboy
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Hello all. just wanted to tell the folks who have emailed me that I've been out of town for the long weekend (celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary if you must know). I did manage to access my work email tonight and let me tell you there are some really talented folks coming out of this meltdown.

Unfortunately I won't be able to reply to you all until I get back on Tuesday. Just wanted to say thanks for getting in touch and although I can't make any promises, I'll be talking to the producer and director first thing when I get back about bringing some of this great talent on to our production team.

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Dave Levy
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Hi All,

I'm new to AnimationNation and, like Brian, I joined in to add to this discussion. I directed Brian on Cartoon Pizza's Pinky Dinky Doo. He's a talented young animator and I hope we get the chance to work together again. My advice to him (and others feeling like him) is to "find the magic" himself. You've got to satisfy your own artistic cravings. To do this you've got to be self-motivated. Make films, art, write, etc. Never depend on your job for creative expression, although with a little luck (and a long career), you'll find there are times when jobs will come along that stretch your creative muscles. I've had a 13 year career in NY animation and my only downtime, thus far, was a four month layoff in the first two years. My, not-so-secret weapon, has been staying active in the community through membership in ASIFA-East. Layoff time, in particular, is not time you should spend alone. Stick to a schedule. Wake up at the same time everyday. Work on a personal project and go on informational interviews a couple of times a week. You've got to be your own advocate and look after your own career. Don't give that power to AniMagic or any other studios.

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Greg B
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THE Dave Levy? I believe I met you way back in the mid 90's. I'm a native New Yorker.

Dave, what you said is so right on this message board should have it engraved on a new section of this site for stuff said with wisdom. The Wisdom Wall Of Wise Stuff Said should be it's name.

I cannot emphasize the importance of being in communication with colleagues in the industry. Sometimes we fit in, sometimes we don't. Shying away cuts power.

Thanks for stopping by, you made my day.

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Greg B
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Can you imagine what the major studio execs have to go through with thousands of employees, tens of millions of customers, government regulations, state mandates, corporate legal nonsense etc. etc. etc.

It's no wonder why they get paid so much.

How much would you ask to be paid to take on all that?

Being the boss isn't just knowing business. It's also being an expert in handling people.

That's been a challenge since bipedalism was invented and we still ain't got it right.

[ June 08, 2007, 04:09 PM: Message edited by: Mod Too ]

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Greg B
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Which is why so many companies outsource.

Sure profit it a major motive but so is less headache.

American workers carry a major load of liability from substance abuse to downright incompetence, political and religious agendas.

You can't fart west in a windstorm as an exec without the fear of a lawsuit that can destroy your efforts occuring.

So as an exec whose #1 job is to appease the investors, I have to make a decision on that and that alone. I'm not the welfare dept. or the veteran's administration nor the dept of housing. I'm an exec with investors to appease or I end up in jail.

Bottom friggin' line.

So I have a choice. A workforce of 50 of which 25 are on drugs or alcohol or medication who will eat up funds with their behavior, work 50% of the time and then sue me at every turn and put me in the red OR a workforce of 1,000 who are on their hands and knees thanking the Almighty they'll be able to feed their families off of 1/10 of what I'd pay one American worker who could barely feed themselves?

Rocket Science Math? I think not.

I look at both sides because I've been on both sides.

Bishop's story is what every animator and comics person including everyone in their own business needs to read.

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Dayna
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I started at Animagic as an Animator on Nate the Great in early April. The production had already been pushed back twice, once in November and again in January. I had my doubts and worries, but I decided to stick with it, mostly because of the potential the new studio posed as a great addition to the NYC animation industry. Animagic marketed itself as the studio that was going to bring back traditional 2D drawn animation to New York, and sought out the cream of the crop in talent. I was very excited to be working with an amazing group of talented individuals, on a steady 22-month gig, with benefits, competitive pay, and normal hours. Things which are very hard to find in this business.

On the animation end of things, work seemed to be going very well. There were about 30 of us, who had been brought in to animate the episodes. We were the newbies, and had not been present for much of what went on previously. I found the work fun and interesting, and actually did draw quite a lot. The key posers drew the major poses I needed for the scene, and I would flesh that out and add to it as needed. Often times, I did not have the exact arm, hand, or leg I wanted, and rather than search for or make do with what I had, it was quicker to just draw it. I really enjoyed that part of it, because I love drawing, and for the most part, I’ve worked on puppet-style animated shows. They were fun, but I was looking forward to a change. The studio was new, with all new equipment, big kitchen, and quite huge. The workflow was busy, but nothing we couldn’t handle, and the system was working. I’ve worked with many of the crew on other productions that went to completion and nothing seemed amiss.

Last week, with less than two months of production in and not one show yet in the can, we were called into a company wide meeting and let go. The entire production had to vacate the building. Someone whom none of us had ever met, whom I told is the owner of Creative Group but some say was a lawyer, came in, read a short statement laying us off, and walked out. Our computers were locked down, and our ids were taken. The way it was done was cold, heartless, and cruel, but such is the world of corporate layoffs. Reasons were vague, blame was placed on the investors, but it basically boils down to mismanagement of time and resources, and about 70 wonderful talented people had to pay the price for something they had nothing to do with. The fact is no one at the top ever took the time to get to know us, introduce themselves, or ever have a company wide meeting until that day. People left jobs, gave up jobs, had families to support, houses to pay off, everyone has a story. It was a promising steady gig that’s very hard to come by. It was a big blow to the entire NYC animation community. Many of us were completely blindsided. But, I was blessed to work with so many amazingly talented people, and have no doubt we will go on to on bigger and better things. What does not kill us, makes us that much stronger.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Lessons learned. It saddens me that events like this cause people to give up on animation entirely, or move to where the work seems more plentiful. I can only speak to the industry here, but yeah, it is a hard life. The work isn’t steady, benefits such as health insurance are rare, and the work can be grueling or devoid of magic. It’s very hard to plan for the future. You don’t go into animation for the money; you go into it because you love the art form. I’ve been lucky enough to work on many productions that appreciated their artist’s creativity, and had that magic Brian was talking about. I’ve also worked on ones that didn’t. Dave’s right, you have to find that magic yourself sometimes. And yes, stay active in the community; we’re all in this together.

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