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Author Topic: Elitism in animation
Charles
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Amen to that Steve.

The only ones getting hurt is the reputation of the school. I'm the one who's reacting the most. It's old news with everyone else, they've just taken it in stride and moved on. Wish I could've been there. I'm sure I could've seen enough to snicker at myself. In fact, if I publicly expressed my feelings about creative endeavors that way, I would've thought to have done it all the years I was at the spring producer's show over there. Maybe bringing the community perception problem to the attention of the school's administrators would help in expanding consciousness.

Yes, basic, fundamental, classicly academic training in art as a must in educating for the field. Sign me up!

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Gagne Michel
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I reviewed portfolios for Warner Brothers Feature animation for several years and I can tell you that I never paid any attention to what school the applicants went to. As a matter of fact, many of us felt that too many years in college was a bad sign. We were looking for hard working, talented artists, not career students.

The portfolio was the key.

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Ganklin
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i had three years of painting and drawing classes before eventually changing schools and my major to animation. never once did i feel like i wasted my time. i felt like i had a firm grasp on some of the fundamentals, and i was also freed up a bit more then my peers to focus on learning how to animate and construct a proper film. certainly, my work from then is student level work, but i can see the progress and thats what's important i think.

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CavePainter
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Does an unwillingness to make eye contact count as snobbery? 'cause for some bizarre reason that seems to come to mind from a handful of people.... strangely enough, all from the same school, and damn its annoying. That is not at all just my personal experience, that conclusion came from conversations with others who have had strangely similar experiences. WTF?

I don't know what "it" is exactly, but there is something there. I think the word that may apply well to this issue is a sense of "entitlement". Some grads just seem to wear it on their sleeve.

I don't know- The one important thing to note here is that it sure isn't everybody. Maybe its just a handful of artists making a bad reputation?

One day my coworkers will all discover that I only received a measly liberal arts education from a puny school and I'll have a bunch of people pointing at me and screaming like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

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OFFBEAT
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The way I see school having prestige (elitism) is by them being really selective of who they let in, In the first place.

In their minds.. That creates a brand name. By picking out the kids with talent in the first place, does nothing but make your school look good when you take credit for them later.

Havard wouldn't be "Harvard" if they let in dopey kids from lower middle class or inner city families in. They are counting on you being bright already.. and having wealthy family connections.. and they simply take credit for inevitable success.

I helped Charles out with his school for years.. and the ones who showed substantial growth and improvement were the ones asking the tough questions, and trying out different styles. They were the work horses. They were the ones who would have gotten there eventually if they really worked hard at it. I say a good teacher (like Charles) saves you LOTS of time by pointing out where you are going wrong and teaching you how to get to the next level.

The ones that drew the SAME characters in the SAME style from day one, and over and over again regardless of the assignments.. pretty much stayed in the SAME place a year later.. but only with a more solid drawing.

If you find a good teacher, you have to be a good student or you are wasting each other's time.

A high % of his students are those that went through a 3-4 year school.. got a degree, but can't find work anywhere. It's a rip off, if you pay $100,000 for a degree, and cannot construct a character or turn them around.

That's another thing I keep hearing about... All of these astronomical debt these kids are getting into, to try and get into a field that is going overseas more and more every year... $100,000 debt for art school is becoming a cliche.
And no offense.. but I would be pissed off if I paid $100,000 and only had that cal arts/dexter's laboratory style to show for it.
I know of a guy who has a $250,000 student loan, and all he has to show for it, is a photography degree!!! (That degree really should have came with a $230,000 brick of gold with 'retirement fund' printed on it.)
I think I spent maybe $2000 total for my art education?? (minus books) I just come from the school of thought of learn as you go, and hopefully, on someone else's dime.
Don't get me wrong.. I would have loved to have gone to a 3 or 4 year art school.. but I was a broke dopey kid from a lower middle class home, with a crappy portfolio. [Smile]

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Charles
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Reminds me of a story.

In high school, there was rival team that was always competing for state championships in wrestling. Year after year, they dominated the region. Other teams, when they entered the gym for a match, would be clapping, running in line along the perimeter of the mat, making noise and getting fired up. This was a routine that all school teams went through at the beginning of a match.

The championship team never did that. They walked into the gym very casually, without making a big deal of it. Went through their warmups quietly, then proceeded to kick everybody's butt and thoroughly dominate their opponents.

I never forgot their style. That's the way that I see champions. They got it together. They don't need to put on a show. Their confidence and self assurance are so great they let their performance do their talking. There was nothing elitist about their style. They were the best and they were very gracious in victory as well as on the rare occasions when they lost.

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Charles
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Another story thanks to Offbeat. Someone I've known for years had a knack for and a love of photography. He didn't have the time or money to go to school for it, so he spent a little more than $1000 for an online course.

Recently, he entered photos into a statewide contest in Michigan and got major kudos by winning several top awards, including best new photographer and best in show. He's making some bucks on the side now as a wedding and event photographer and his business seems to be growing.

Thought I'd share that in response to the person who's in debt from a student loan he mentioned.

I wonder what tuition will be like in 10 years for some of the highest priced schools. What will a $70,000 per year tuition be in 2018. Man, those are some crazy numbers. Options in education will be even more prevalent then than they are today I imagine.

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Methuselah
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Kids who come from "special" programs with reputations have always been known to exude an attitude, be that school NYU or USC film, Calarts, Sheridan-or Berkeley or UC Davis vet school for that matter. I've met people from all of them. Thing is imho it's not the fault of the school or program at all, it's the youth of (some) students that produces it.
Kids just tend to be a bit full of themselves when they're brand new graduates or new students of well-known, famous programs; pride and hubris go hand in hand.

I wouldn't be too hard on them because while I have seen that attitude in some(by NO means all)), I've never ever found it in the Calarts or Berkeley grads of a decade or more ago. Real life and real experience has a way of taking the piss out of those kids. [Wink]

I'm a grad of an "elite" school and while I never acted that way(honest-I just had it too tough and had been to several schools) I've been on the receiving end of it from other grads of the same place-but they were all very young. As I say, it's human nature and a standard thing for young adults.

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SoleilSmile
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Thank you Methuselah. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Graphiteman
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Great parable about the wrestling team, Charles!
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SNAKEBITE
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haven't you guys watched a good movie lately? the humble, talented, underdog always wins in the end.

always.

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OFFBEAT
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But, unlike the movies..and message boards... the overconfident cocky douchebags are the ones that always get the girls in real life.
[Smile]

...I think that's why they are always the villains in movies.. they steal screen writer's girlfriends. [Smile]

A whole lot of humility has led me to a large model airplane collection.
[funny]

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Charles
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A real statement of confidence is when you don't have to put somebody else down to show that you're confident. Self confidence is a good thing to have and doesn't involve belittling others. Indeed, if you're confident in yourself, you become a positive role model to follow. Confident people lift others up.

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SoleilSmile
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Kinda like what I said about having a teacher's heart.

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Charles
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When it comes to elitism, there's some people in the biz that can teach a master class at it. I enjoy telling folks some of the episodes I've had with it in my career, not to mention the stuff that's gone down over the years on AN. Sometimes it goes beyond elitism into outright contempt.

I'd say my biggest disapointment with it is CartoonBrew. I thought we were friends at one time, I guess I was mistaken. If I would've known what I was in store for I never would've advertised in Amid's magazine in the first place.

I know I've said stupid things and handled some situations poorly over the years, but I never went to online forum moderators school. I didn't grow up wishing to be running a message board. I made mistakes, especially in leaving an impression of insensitivity at times, but you live and learn.

Still, my objection to the ideology behind the violence of the Mohammed cartoons is no reason to accuse me of racism and then quit this community. Nor is an investment in the Harlem Globetrotters by Roy Disney racist. Only in the mind of Amid and his many trolls.

That was just an excuse. The contemptual elitism behind CartoonBrew was there since the beginning. Thus no links to AN either as a recommended site or a site they enjoy. Boo hoo for us I guess.

Just goes to show ladies and gents that we may be "this message board" to Amid and Jerry, but you won't catch me referring to that blog as "that blog" on AN.

Like day needs night to define the light, maybe elitists play a role in our industry so that we might appreciate the many cool people there are in this biz and in the life we live within the art.

They can't take that away from us, brothers and sisters. Love to you all, you guys are great. Thanks for enriching life everyday with your participation in this community.

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SNAKEBITE
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FTG

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knowledge
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Didn't know about the Cartoon Brew situation Charles. Sorry to hear that. Oh well, you have your loyal readers who spread the word about the site, and I think that most/if not all animators know of your site.

On my favorites tab, yours is the first site I have listed, and then Brew, and I visit them in that order.

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Animation Co-op
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quote:
I'd say my biggest disapointment with it is CartoonBrew. I thought we were friends at one time, I guess I was mistaken. If I would've known what I was in store for I never would've advertised in Amid's magazine in the first place.
Hi Charles,

I'll bet if you invited Amid to lunch or dinner, and chatted about everything else BUT bygones, that you could form a relationship. [cheers]

I can observe from experience that it only takes one person to reach out with a "water under the bridge" attitude, and things can take a turn for the better overnight.

One thing I've learned in life is that we can grind our axes and lick our wounds indefinitely, and very "justifiably"... but to precious little benefit - to ourselves and our souls.

There is inherent power in reconciliation and bridge-building.

Kevin Geiger

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Charles
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Thanks for the suggestion, but it's too far gone for that kind of thing, plus I have no desire to reach out to anybody with that kind of character. A long overdue apology is in order first and I doubt that will ever happen. Amid had his chance in Portland last summer at the Platform Festival to face me, but he pulled out and pretty much destroyed the blogger panel in the process. I have no relationship to speak of with him or Jerry. I think it's funny they can't even mention AN even when linking to the forums in a post on CartoonBrew. After all these years I've learned to live with the animosity some people have. At this point I'd rather take Snakebite's advice.

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Animation Co-op
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With all due respect, it's never too far gone for that sort of thing. I've done it with people who have caused me real professional harm.

But you have to have your head and your heart in a place where you're capable of doing it, and meaning it. I know from experience that it can take a while to get there... and some never do.

We all live with the consequences of our choices.

KG

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SNAKEBITE
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I've blown up bridges in my day. sent snipers back to make sure they don't try to rebuild them too.

maybe I watched too many world war II movies growing up. our troops would always blow up bridges to keep the enemy from following. I think it can be very strategic and helpful in the long run.

Building bridges only works when you want to cross and if theres something constructive on the other side. I can bring all the tools I want with me, if theres nothing to build then whats the point.

but thats me,take it with a grain of salt cuz I also think I have the right to eat the cake if I have one. I really don't see whats the point of a cake if one can't eat it.

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Charles
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For the record, I did reach out. Prior to Amid's melodramatic exit, I emailed both him and Jerry asking them why there wasn't a link to AN on CartoonBrew. Jerry was good enough to put one up on his site, CartoonResearch. Amid gave some ambiguous bs excuse that I don't remember other than saying it wasn't personal. Sure it wasn't. So that's it. End of story.

Tired of reaching out. Feel no compulsion for it anymore. I'd rather spend the time and energy on positive people and on creating. I use this most recent CartoonBrew incident as an example of how pervasive elitism can be in the animation industry. I'd like to see our business be attitude free some day, or maybe attitude lite, so I work on it as best I can in the realms I delve in, mostly in the education side of things and here on the forums.

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Animation Co-op
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quote:
I've blown up bridges in my day. sent snipers back to make sure they don't try to rebuild them too.
What happened to: "Peace... even through the pieces"? [Wink]

KG

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SNAKEBITE
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pay close attention to that quote.


its like an onion. many layers.

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Jasen
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quote:
What happened to: "Peace... even through the pieces"?
quote:
pay close attention to that quote.
its like an onion. many layers.

My brain is so fried.
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SNAKEBITE
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hahahahaha

I'm all about balance in life. I embrace the good
with the bad.

using my quote against me in that context is funny to me cuz it means so much more than the obvious.

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Charles
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This kind of use of quotations has been discouraged on AN for years. Causes more problems that its worth as an editorial tool and makes for bad feelings between people when quoted out of context.

In his book, "The Conquest of Gaul" in which Julius Ceasar recounts his 8 year campaign against the Gallic tribes of what is today France and Belgium, he crossed the Rhine by building a bridge in only a few days spanning the widest river in Europe, to the marvel of the Germanic tribes on the other side. After spending some time checking out the area and getting to know the locals, he took his expeditionary force back across the river and in doing so, disassembled the bridge.

Moral of the story, sometimes, bridges are good. Sometimes, they may not be worth it or in one's best interests to maintain. Sometimes, they're dangerous to keep when they're used against you.

All depends on what's on the other side of the water.

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Charles
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I'm comfortable relating some of the episodes I've had with elitism in animation, especially since AN went online. I thought I knew some snobby people in the biz, but they got a good run for their money from the online superstars I discovered through my experiences with the forums.

One guy, an animation critic and I guess a friend to Amid from Cartoon Brew, purposely used quotes about himself from comments some members left on the boards after his time spent participating here. The quotes were all along the lines of making it look like something bad or negative was being said about him, and he published these comments on his site, quoting AnimationNation as the source. It was done in a way to imply that AnimationNation.com made these comments, the site itself, as if it was the official stance of AN that he was a jerk or something.

After a couple years I'd say, he finally got around to correctly representing those quotes as comments from members who posted here, not AnimationNation per se. All this time, he purposely and knowingly misrepresented the site to promote himself, made AN look bad, used AN to make himself look like some sort of rebel contrarian to us and pimp that elitist ego that comes with so many of these critics so called. In this case, over time, the concious misprepresentation helped contribute to a biased impression of the site and our community through misleading propaganda.

If the guy was looking for some prefabricated derogatory opinion of him to print from here in an official capacity, all he had to do was ask.

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SoleilSmile
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Hi Charles. I had a conversation with the Cal Arts alumni director about the Inspiration Day incident. She was shocked and appalled, so I believe the elitism issue will be addressed to the Character Animation department very shortly.

Sorry for the pain everyone.

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Charles
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It would be nice to see Cal Arts socially integrate with the rest of what's happening with the local schools. Everyone gains from it. Win win all around. Respect. Maybe some good will come from this.

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Charles
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The spirit in which my recounting of the encounters with elitism over the years through AN are offered.

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Charles
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In addition to contemptual elitism, there's a behavorial phenomenon I categorize as pathological elitism. It's contemptual elitism taken to its highest degree, and there was one guy who took it to the max.

He was an established animator. Brought his following to the forums, which included plenty of his friends who trolled in support of him. One day, an email from him came to me somehow that was intended for one of the mods. It was disturbing as the content and tone was disrespectful and demanding. At the time, I was pretty darn stressed dealing with a death and another illness in the family, so I wasn't in the best frame of mind for handling something as serious as opinionated comments on a forum. I responded harshly, what I said was not untrue, but I wasn't into being diplomatic anymore with this guy.

Anyway, it was not well received, and although nobody was privy to the communication which went on between us, which involved repeated apologies on my part and asking him to stay, the king of the trolls decided to leave and demanded that every post he ever left on the forums be deleted.

This thing got so out of hand, I finally had to refer it to my attorney. Although it didn't progress from there, that was the only way I could get it across to him that his irrationality left me no choice but to take it in that direction.

By and by, as some other ugly messes emerged later on, I realized that this guy had either been telling his flock, or at least leaving the misleading impression or both, that he was kicked off the site. And that lie persists to this day.

So when you add it all up, the CartoonBrew snubs, the negative propaganda elitists, the disgruntled trolls and a mean person here and there, elitism makes for an ugly vibe.

Which is why I can't say it enough about how much I appreciate the community we've got. There's no place and no people like AN.

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Ganklin
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hah i think i have an idea who you MIGHT be talking about, but i might be wrong.

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bigshot
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Mike Lah once told me that animators are like elephants. They never forget a grudge.

See ya
Steve

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SNAKEBITE
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baaaaaah

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Squash Banana
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I've been following this thread for a while, and thought I'd finally throw in my two cents. Oh, and Charles, I'm thoroughly enjoying your commentary.... you're not, you know, passionate about this subject, are you? [Wink]

Is elitism a problem in animation? Heck, yeah. The tricky part is to responsibly determine when "they" are being elitist and when I'm just incurably jealous.

For example, as to the question of CalArts: I've only met two recent students of that school, and was treated with absolute respect by both, even though my school (SCAD, graduated 2006) tends to have a spotty reputation among the big animation schools. When I'm not guarding against it, my resentment of CalArts students is mostly fueled by envy and the feeling that they gain an advantage simply by their location and their history with Disney. Schools like RISD, Ringling, and SCAD are in no close proximity to a bunch of major studios as is CalArts, and so not only are unable to benefit from many professors who are also working professionals (although there are some), but they don't get the frequent lectures and visits from James Baxter, Glen Keane, and all the Pixar guys. Nor is there a job waiting nearby that doesn't require a cross-country move. So yeah, it's fair to say that jealousy plays a major part in resentment that other students have for CalArts. Which doesn't diminish the latter's excellence a bit, of course.

When I was looking for schools, I first targeted all the biggest names, eventually narrowing it down to Ringling, KCAI, and SCAD. I ended up choosing my school, in the end, based off of their willingness to let me control the direction of my own education, rather than sticking me into a rigid program that would protect the school's "prestige." On the one hand, it could put one at a disadvantage to be part of an apparently weaker program, but the upside is that any success the student experiences is a direct result of their own talent and drive. I remember an animator telling me that about ten years ago: she'd gone to a community college in Maryland, but there she was, working at Disney. It wasn't about her school.

What I think is far more unfortunate than elitism in the student ranks of animation (let's face it, there are students with an attitude problem in every field), is elitism in the studios. Suddenly, animators from big (and big-name) studios are putting down those working at smaller or younger start-ups, who create animation for less aesthetically-inclined clients just to get their toe in the business. Personally, I think this is most prevalent in the animators who get plucked immediately from their schools and sort of miss that period of doing ugly commercials and living off Ramen. They worked hard in school, yes, absolutely, but then the job just comes so easily and with such great perks that they believe they really must be that much better than the guys who didn't get their job. Sometimes, even frequently, they ARE the most talented folks around, but it's too bad that it goes to their head.

Anyway, my apologies for rambling, but I just wanted to contribute. Someone direct me back to this thread if my head starts swelling at some point. Thanks!

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Charles
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Your assessment is very astute, Squash. Adding to it, most in the biz are very cool people who have no problem getting along and respecting others for who they are and where they're at. My experiences with some in the biz who do have elitist attitudes have been supplemented by my experiences with AN, and are entertaining to contemplate all this time later.

For example, a few episodes we've had to deal with involved individuals who were here anonymously, never revealing their identity, yet they expected us to be psychic and just know they were prominent in the industry. Then there were those who show no shame in spoiling whatever celebration came up that was good for the site, like a traffic jump for instance.

Takes all kinds I tell ya, but there's no question that good spirited folks are the great majority in animation, which is why AN has happily endured.

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