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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » Industry Status Report Time: How's everybody doing?

   
Author Topic: Industry Status Report Time: How's everybody doing?
Greg B
IE # 118
Member # 886

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Okay, with all the turmoil notwithstanding how is everyone doing?

Who's working, not working? Fired Disney animators how are they coping? Does the union need help here and what can we do to contribute?

Employers, are you up against the wall, making ends meet or see a bright upswing?

Students and instructors, what's the dilly-yo? ( saw that line on MTV show when Busta Rhymes asked Martha Stewart that.)

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unionrep
IE # 114
Member # 155

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Various parts of the biz are up; other parts down. A few highlights:

Disney Toons just put a stop to "Fox and the Hound II" - Stainton didn't like Act I.

Disney Feature is charging ahead with "Chicken Little," and look for "A Day With Wilbur Robinson" to move into production. Diz will be hiring more CGI staff as they have to ramp up for additional production now that Pixar is leaving.

Warner Bros. Animation chugs along -- they have quite a bit of production although their budgets are not what they were in the old days (six years ago).

Sony Pictures Animation is close to putting "Open Season" into production (their first CGI animated feature. Sony Imageworks continues on "Polar Express.")

In general, television production is up over the past year and a half. Disney, of course, has dragged the overall industry down. From 2001 to 2004 Disney had 824 animation layoffs in Los Angeles. This has put overall industry totals in negative territory, even though employment has been up at other studios (it hasn't been up enough at the other places to counteract the black hole at Disney Features.)

Industry prognosis: television animation has rebounded from its lows of a couple of years back; Disney Features has cratered and will start hiring again. Some animation artists are migrating to gaming, others to comics; most everyone recognizes that the new template is shorter term, "run of picture/series" employment.

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--
_ _________________________________________________________________ _
Steve Hulett Business Representative
Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists & Affiliated Optical Electronic
and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE
4729 Lankershim Boulevard phone (818) 766-7151
North Hollywood, CA 91602-1864 fax (818) 506-4805
http://www.mpsc839.org
shulett@mpsc839.org

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Greg B
IE # 118
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Thanks Steve!

That's the realistic bend I was looking for.

Overall, what was the height of 839 membership as to now? At it's peak. Was that in the mid-90's?

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tstevens
IE # 234
Member # 801

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The commercial business is looking pretty slow. At the company I work for we are looking more and more towards medical and technical animation. Unfortunately as I mentioned in a post I put up a few days ago, the commercial market is getting pretty dry and what is left is going to the upper end shops (whom apparently are also feeling the heat). I have also understood that some of the LA houses like Duck are pretty slow and other places like Film Roman have completely abandoned commercial units.

To make matters worse advertisers are looking less and less to TV in favor of more untradtitional forms of advertising. There have also been articles in the Wall Street Journal that have pointed out that there are many groups who are trying to curb advertising towards children (the primary market for commercial animation).

Not a good forecast but it definately could be worse.

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bronnie
IE # 93
Member # 25

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I understand that Klasky's commercial unit is abuzz with activity lately;unlike the rest of the studio,which, according to a pal who works there,is a bit of a ghost town these days.There were rumours afloat they they were considering selling/renting out their big fancy Hollywood studio building and moving back to their old quarters on Highland;but according to what my friend says,they're staying where they are, and can rent out parts of the studio, if need be.

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I am not young enough to know everything- Oscar Wilde

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SquarejawHero
IE # 188
Member # 2601

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Save bits here and there, some Nick stuff, it's all been pocketmoney for me for the past six months. Technically, I've had no work whatsoever as the UK is dryer than the desert wind. Which is pretty dry for a predominantly wet area of the world.

Things are picking up though. I'm gonna learn Maya as I want to show the idiots in the games industry how to direct, and I'm doing illustration work. So its better than it was... last week...

BTW I mentioned in the business forum Red Kite in Scotland is crewing up for animators. It's Nocturna, so if you wanna work on it get in contact with them asap.

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Bowendesign.com

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Kion
IE # 130
Member # 700

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Don't know if this counts but Gaming is looking pretty good, there are a few ex Disney guys working here as animators and Character Designers. I see constant postings from EA, Venvendi Universal and others looking for animators , designers, texture painters, modelors.

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SquarejawHero
IE # 188
Member # 2601

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Gaming's good in the UK ONLY if you know a 3D package. I'd suggest Maya for new titles in development... older titles still use 3D studio, but they always look forward the next game. I'm told by on company anyone who only knows 3D Studio may be struggling come next year - jump on the boat whilst there's still seats.

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Bowendesign.com

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Norn Iron Man
IE # 143
Member # 2402

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Square Jaw I'll take that 'idiots in the games industry how to direct' comment as a joke [Smile]

There sure are are some goons in our business, but unless you're working in it - maybe you are? - I'd wait to call 'em idiots until you see what constraints (both technical and financial) they're working under [Wink]

BTW The games industry is still okay, but consolidating month on month. Good ops with the big guys (EA etc). Yes, you do need to not only know a 3D app, increasingly you also need to be really good at it too which puts more pressure on new guys. Maya/Max doesn't matter really unless its a small company's weapon of choice, Maya is only 'winning' cos its cheaper right now. They are both good packages.

All new Max coming next year by all accounts, completely new product architecture: Max is cerainly widely used at EA etc as well as Maya.

[Smile]

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Greg B
IE # 118
Member # 886

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Norn, would you say a student or prospective employee in gaming stands a better chance if they have strong drawing/design skills as opposed to just 'puter skills?

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SquarejawHero
IE # 188
Member # 2601

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Norn, sorry... [Big Grin] I'm a regular gamer, and Im really REALLY hate the direction on a ton of games. It cheapens them, to be frank. You guys at EA tend to be alright (although I note that it's mainly sports titles) and I'm currently really into Battlefield Vietnam. When I'm supposed to be working. [Big Grin] BUT despite the occasional star, like Mafia (almost a movie), the majority of games stuff I see is horrid.

I know all about time constraints. I work in TV (usually, when I'm working) and they put nasty constraints on board artists nowadays... even the old hands complain. But I just feel a ton of games developers think they're directors and storytellers, and don't have the skills in those areas to back them up. There's a big thing that the Lionhead guy, Peter Molyneaux, is on about, which is the intergration of properly skilled people from animation or film into those areas.

But as you rightly noted, budgets are tight unless it's a big game and it's difficult to either hire people appropriate to the job or find the time to do it correctly. Part of my problem is that I work in animation, and my portfolio dictates that... however, I know I'm a good board artist (*blows his own trumpet*) but the majority of recruiters just see the pictures, not the skills behind them. It's ignorance, really... not as an insult, but as a truth... and as games become more and more technically advanced, and the tools become easier, its something that'll need to be addressed.

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Bowendesign.com

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Norn Iron Man
IE # 143
Member # 2402

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Square Jaw, I totally agree mate! Most of it is cack...horrible... and we will need folks like you on board to make direction better, if you have the l33t skillz!! [Big Grin] If you are a TV/film guy you're bound to be better than most of them for sure in terms of layout, staging and acting...

I was more talking about the 'idiots' joke [Wink]

Greg, I would say its a major major bonus if you can draw. It would tip jobs in anyones favour. Still hugely lacking in a lot of 'puter guys... and a much needed skill! Concept art, layout, character design, texture design, art direction, producution design... all 'drawing' based! So - yes, keep it coming!! [Smile]

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Greg B
IE # 118
Member # 886

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Thanks Norn,

I figure with my drawing and storytelling and computer skills I need to get back into the game of gaming.

Used to work for Acclaim in their comic book division years ago.

I have to admit, some games have rotten stories and direction. Same as you'ld find in other mediums. Some can and some can't.

Any recommended courses, schools, books?

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SquarejawHero
IE # 188
Member # 2601

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[Big Grin] Glad you agree on that! Sorry again about the idiots thing... was kinda talking about the suits, not the artists... [Wink] My main prob is it's turned into a machine churning out so-so titles over and over, save for the odd one like the guys at Planet Moon who did Giants and Armed and Dangerous. They have the right idea, with some sparkling writing, yet they're still a bit rusty on the direction front!

Unfortunately, the majority of games have some poor storytelling and directional doo-dahs. For me, the Japanese lead the way. They take things more seriously on this front, and the whole storytelling/direction thing spreads across different mediums, like the Hack:// franchise and Final Fantasy.

Wish I spoke Japanese sometimes... [Big Grin]

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Bowendesign.com

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Renart
IE # 71
Member # 979

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Squarejaw, I can tell you that sometimes, even though the artists fight tooth and nail for a good story, good layout and boarding, there's always that ?*$&$ outside interference throwing a stick into our perfectly well oiled wheel.

And that's all I can say I'm afraid [Frown]

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SquarejawHero
IE # 188
Member # 2601

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[Frown] Always the way. Damn suits. [Gary]

Please, tell me your development houses. I'd love to know what you've done.

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Bowendesign.com

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gahlord
IE # 111
Member # 2480

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Not much of my income is directly from animation, maybe 2%. Though for the web stuff I do animated interface and other toys are always in demand and much appreciated by clients (but can make a real mess out of a design and/or tech specs if not handled properly).

Word from the rest of the Flash community is that general flash animation work (meaning incorporated flash animations in website user interface) are pretty much sluggish and down all over except for big projects.


On the side I'm starting a toy/hobby animation company to do festival-bound and alternative distribution pieces mainly in stop-motion. Hoping to have the first piece complete in time to submit to Ottawa. The main goal of the new company is explore non-traditional ways of financing animation production as well as exploring non-traditional operational practices. Starting as a micro-business (me and my wife) and will grow it if I can make it fly. I will of course be posting to the board when I have something worth posting.

Thanks for asking this question Greg. It's good to get some data now and then. Be even better if we had some sort of form or other anonymous method for compiling this sort of finger-in-the-wind test once every quarter.

g

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Greg B
IE # 118
Member # 886

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quote:
Unfortunately, the majority of games have some poor storytelling and directional doo-dahs. For me, the Japanese lead the way. They take things more seriously on this front, and the whole storytelling/direction thing spreads across different mediums, like the Hack:// franchise and Final Fantasy.
Now haven't we heard this before???

Typical. Somebody puts out something good and here come the hacks and suits. Glutting the market and depreciating the value overall. Same thing in comics, movies, music etc.

I think there's some recessive gene in the gene pool that has auto-hack in it for those of us too short on brains and balls.

One thing about the Japanese stuff. Their standard for storytelling is so high that even when they do something hack-assed ( I coined that btw ) it's still heads and shoulders above what comes outta the states.

That's because in the states we have too many groups using entertainment for mind control instead of character building. You can always tell because: " If it doesn't tell a story well it's attempting to tell a lie."

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Bruce
IE # 1
Member # 36

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The online massively multiplayer game business seems to be doing okay, growing modestly, its fortunes linked to the adoption of broadband services. EverQuest is still the five hundred pound gorilla on the block; Star Wars Galaxies has its problems, but it has a loyal fan base that keeps it going, despite the fact that players can't become Jedis or fly spaceships. Uru (Myst) and Sims Online don't seem to be making any waves, but there are a number of other online community-based subscription products, 2D and 3D, that have popped up in the past couple of years that seem to be carving out little niche markets for themselves.

Our game, Toontown Online, has been garnering its share of awards and favorable press, and subscriptions have been growing steadily, to the extent that we are no longer an R&D project that got out of hand but are regarded as a legitimate business. We just launched a version of the game in Japan and are looking to localize other versions as well as extend its reach into cell phone territory. It would seem that we currently own the space for our demographic, an easy-to-learn role-playing game for kids, but this is probably just because it takes deep pockets (read: a big fat corporate parent) to fund development and operation of this kind of 24/7 service. We expect a good deal more competition in the future and are currently working on our next title, as well as maintaining and adding to Toontown.

I continue to believe that the spread of broadband services will create a demand for more of this kind of entertainment, and I'd recommend animators not ignore it as a source of potential employment -- after all, virtual real estate development requires an unending supply of assets, and you've got to move those goods. I just love talkin' like a business guy. Assets, heheh.

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talos72
IE # 66
Member # 85

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I for one just landed an fulltime paid internship position at a FX software company...looking foreward to going to SIGGRAPH as a rep. [Wink]

In 6 month time or so I plan to be working on movie FX: a new chapter in my career, an FX artist. It has definitly openned up a whole new creative field for me, and there is work out there. My journey from graphite to pixels continues. It can be done! [cheers]

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Portfolio Online

My Art Blog

My Photo Blog

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Kion
IE # 130
Member # 700

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I work at Naughty Dog, and so far the experience has been very rewarding. We use story to drive our games. Our art department out numbers the programmers which surprizes me. Everyone has input in a game, so if there is something somebody doesn't like all they gotta do is speak.

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www.naughtydog.com

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SquarejawHero
IE # 188
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Didn't you guys do Crash Bandicoot?

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Bowendesign.com

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oogieboogie
IE # 265
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Hey,

My 5 year old loves Toontown. Count us among the recently signed up for $9.95 a month. I think it is a great game, although a bit repetitive for adults :>.

oogie

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Kion
IE # 130
Member # 700

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yeah we did crash up to crash 3 oh and crash racing. Universal owns the rights to him so anything after crash 3 is done by another company.

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unionrep
IE # 114
Member # 155

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A small addendum: "Fox and the Hound II" is (i'm told) being retooled, not cancelled.

"Emperors New Groove II", "The Tinkerbelle Movie", "Bambi II", the Pooh Specials, the tv series, the Mickey Christmas Special, "The Three Musketeers" (near completion) and "Snow White II: "Dopey's Revenge" go on as before.

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--
_ _________________________________________________________________ _
Steve Hulett Business Representative
Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists & Affiliated Optical Electronic
and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE
4729 Lankershim Boulevard phone (818) 766-7151
North Hollywood, CA 91602-1864 fax (818) 506-4805
http://www.mpsc839.org
shulett@mpsc839.org

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SerafinsGirl
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Snow White II: Dopey's Revenge??????
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Mr. Fun
IE # 63
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DOPEY'S REVENGE !!!!????
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KevinO
IE # 36
Member # 56

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quote:
DOPEY'S REVENGE !!!!????
This is the one about Eisner, not the dwarf.
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Im2dGuy
IE # 25
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Dopey's Revenge--
I like that, it's got grit, and teeth.
It's just screaming for a video game version.
Everybody picked on him because he couldn't talk.
No one likes to be picked on,
and if you are you should get REVENGE.

This is a great moral to send on to kids, in the interest and respect of the original movie, for family-oriented entertainment. [puke]

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Map
IEcm
Member # 9

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Does Dopey speak in this film? [Smile]
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beanyboy
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quote:
Does Dopey speak in this film?
Yeah, and he sounds just like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
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unionrep
IE # 114
Member # 155

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Everything in my post above was on the level. Except for "Snow White II."

But I've just provided the Mouse House with a gang-buster idea, haven't I?

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--
_ _________________________________________________________________ _
Steve Hulett Business Representative
Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists & Affiliated Optical Electronic
and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE
4729 Lankershim Boulevard phone (818) 766-7151
North Hollywood, CA 91602-1864 fax (818) 506-4805
http://www.mpsc839.org
shulett@mpsc839.org

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JoeP
IEcm
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It's hilarious what that says about Disney TV that everyone took that seriously!! [Big Grin]
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JoeP
IEcm
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...or sad. One or the other.
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jeffnevins
IE # 247
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I'm OK. Small hot dog freelance project. Helping w/storyboarding on a indie film. Generating 2-D art for an online game. Office job pays the bills.

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My game art & animation-
http://www.tangerinepop.com/GraveShift2/

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jetpack42
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I read an article about Naughty Dog, and how they operate, in Game Dev magazine, I think. It seemed like one of the best video game companies to work for.
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