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Author Topic: We're not kidding ourselves
Jessie
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Back up the optimism. How long has it been? 6 plus years and 2D's never really rebounded. What's more, the volume of work being outsourced, making the medium more ubiquitous and dirtied up. It's so easy for newbies to do something to a medium which then spoils the whole course.
Now that there are these numerous bad or so-so sequels, left a watermark that really messed up the hard labour of the original Classic Disney crew like the beautiful masterpieces being cheapened to the core, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Seemingly new stories that are entirely meaningless or not even move the public or other artists.

Cynicism is a challenge. A cynical critic once critiqued a roaming inventor who devised a noisy machine that blows dirt , he said" You know that machine should be sucking the dirt instead of blowing it which does more mess than clean and it's so goddam utterly noisy!" . That thought gave the cynic an idea that led to the invention of a vacuum cleaner, yeah, pretty corny but, that actually happened. Of course a hundred years' a bit too sarcastic but, that's entirely changeable , say like--- until a "2D Messiah" comes along and kicks us all in the butt unleashing a new way to look at 2D. Then, the optimism depends on the artists, how far are they willing to push a dying medium.

Talk is just talk. 'Ak-shun' is what we despeartely need right now. Walk the talk! If 2D folks are GOING to do what they say gonna do and keep on DOING instead of talking then, it would be a completely different story. Why did I say that? Is there anything else that came out better than "Brother Bear" or "Lilo and Stitch"?
You know Walt and Bluth just went away and did it when everybody else gave up or were doing the same thing over & over... They eventually drifted away but, these are the sort of guys we need. Doers, wingers, achievers, pathfinders, realists, searchers, visionaries, reanimators, inventors, creators, storytellers...

That IS more than just promoting propagandas and slamming executives; the sweetest revenge is through your deeds. What you have accomplished rather than , what you're saying , or how are you gonna do them or what sort of process, what needs to be done, changed, YOU are the change so, if you are the change then, SHOW IT!

However, what you say is what you think; the good thing is that the artists en masse are in GOOD SPIRIT to develop the change, I think the 2D scenario will eventually happen in-- LESS than a hundred years, hows that?


Funny that someone mentioned anime. Anime has a completely different audience, the propensity of classical lovers is not to NOT like anime. Actually the Japanese attitude are a good inspiration, many years ago anime was not fully accepted. But these people just kept pluggin' away and look what @ they've become. Not only they're on top of the heap among the few survivors of 2D , they ALSO are the BIGGEST influence of new artists today everywhere!; Gaming, TV concepts, list goes on man. Despite what everybody else say about anime, these guys, They believed in something and went ahead and did it.

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SerafinsGirl
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"Talk is just talk. 'Ak-shun' is what we despeartely need right now. Walk the talk! If 2D folks are GOING to do what they say gonna do and keep on DOING instead of talking then, it would be a completely different story."

The reality is, what is there to *do* without the financial backing most of us artists need to create anything that would hit the big screen?
I think there are certain realities to the life of an artist that are common to most workers..we have mouths to feed, rent/mortgage to pay, health plans we need to stay attached to, pensions, etc etc..and while we feel the pain of watching the terrible mistakes we feel are being made around us, I don't think it's practical for most working folk like us to quit our jobs and try to raise the millions of dollars needed to create a film, hire the right people to manage it, meaning *all* the avenues you have to cover when attempting an endeavor like this...the marketing, the distributing, payroll, etc etc it is an enormously complicated thing to attempt. You would need an amazing list of contacts and investors waiting and willing to invest in a medium that, like it or not, many people are backing off from..2D.
Don Bluth pulled it off partially because there was no issue with the medium he was using.
If I was going to attempt to woo investors right now to pour money into an animated feature, I would never expect them to jump on the bandwagon for 2D. Not because I think it isnt worthy, but because investors are more comfortable when they see something pay off.."Finding Nemo" comes to mind..never mind that 2D could pull off just as good a story..these are investors we are talking about, not artists. Investors do not care about preserving a dying art. They are concerned about making money..and it is realities like this that any new animation company must face. And American investors expect big payoffs..that's just how it is. You know how important the opening box office weekend sales are these days. And while you could use something like the Triplets of Belleville to support the idea of reviving 2D, that and Anime are created in I think more open minded countries..America is HUGE on trends, the "latest thing" the new technology..we are driven by the "new." And more importantly, art is not important unless it generates cashflow. What is it that the MGM lion has inscribed under him.."Art for art's sake?" No way..not in today's world.
Anyway, those are the many reasons why I think we tend to swallow reality, trudge on, but continue to crab. We have to...because the ugly reality is we could create some brilliant bit of 2D animation that becomes the buzz, but the only thing that investors want to know is if it will be able to make a massive profit in return for investment. That's the big difference. Who pays the bills. As long as "they" pay the bills, we have to use the equipment they furnish for us..used to be a pencil, now it's a mouse.
What I *highly* recommend is any artist "doing their own thing" and by that I mean breaking out of the business and pursuing those outside interests..whether its book illustration, sculptures, selling sketchbooks with sexy ladies in it, merchandising your own characters..etc etc..THAT'S something I would pour energy into instead of fighting the studios to do something they do not want to do at the moment. Perhaps 2D will return, but until then you'll be able to better cope with the current situation.

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PonsonbyBritt
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quote:
What I *highly* recommend is any artist "doing their own thing" and by that I mean breaking out of the business and pursuing those outside interests..whether its book illustration, sculptures, selling sketchbooks with sexy ladies in it, merchandising your own characters..etc etc..THAT'S something I would pour energy into instead of fighting the studios to do something they do not want to do at the moment. Perhaps 2D will return, but until then you'll be able to better cope with the current situation.
That's the spirit! I'll admit, my situation is a little better than what I see those of you in animation going through, as I have always worked on the periphery of the business as a character illustrator, specializing in publications and other consumer products art. However, with the fortunes of Disney going down the toilet (due completely to the ineptitude of their management, I might add) I'm getting a little concerned as to how that might someday take its toll on my career too, since most of my freelancing is still for Disney licensees.

Recently, I've been trying to figure out how to gradually wean myself off of Disney and get back to doing what I started out doing after first leaving school - making a name for myself as a cartoonist. For the record, and at the risk of sounding egotistical, I have absolutely no doubts about my talent and ability, having enjoyed some success back in the early 80s as a freelancer prior to going to work on staff at Disney. What I am concerned about, however, is the shrinking number of outlets available for my art.

Back in the 60s and 70s there was a huge market for what I can do, with a great abundance of magazine, movie posters, record covers, etc. showcasing the likes of Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Ronald Searle and Al Hirschfeld among many others. Too bad I was just a youngster at the time, not having embarked on my chosen career yet. Unfortunately the mindset of most of these outlets today is to cobble together photo montages with Photoshop instead of hiring illustrators and cartoonists to come up with something more visually pleasing and entertaining. Nowadays, I don't see TV Guide or Time using illustration on their covers like they used to. (Thank God for Mad Magazine!)

Anyway, I'm going to try to get established as a name cartoonist once again but I'm thinking of ways I can perhaps cut out the middle man altogether and sell my wares directly to the consumer. I'm wondering if I should learn the ropes on how to self-publish in order to achieve my goals. But, as SerafinsGirl is suggesting, in the meantime I'm going to use some of my time between projects this summer to have fun painting, sculpting, and otherwise creating stuff for myself, just to get my artistic groove back!

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Mr. Fun
IE # 63
Member # 352

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Interesting thoughts, PonsonbyBritt. Probably a good idea to wean oneself off of Disney over the next few months. From my take on things, Disney seems determine to rid itself of art and artists.

Anybody notice the recent move toward "ugly" in Disney's future? The company seems bent on getting rid of "appealing and charming" in all their products. This goes from books to movies. If Walt came back, he would be shocked at much of the "relevant schlock" coming out of his company today.

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Kevin G.
IE # 142
Member # 1762

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quote:
The reality is, what is there to *do* without the financial backing most of us artists need to create anything that would hit the big screen?
Make an animated short film which represents everything you love. See it through. Distribute it on the festival circuit. Demonstrate the possibilities. Get some recognition. Collaborate with your fellows. Work up a feature treatment and a vis dev bible. Shop it around or make it yourself. Stop griping and start doing. Take one step forward every day.

People are doing it as we speak. Are you in or are you out? [Smile]

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SerafinsGirl
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Me? I'm doing something completely different these days, not animation oriented. But it still follows the same mentality of the *doing your own thing" vein which I still encourage anyone to do.
So I guess in that sense I am "out" as far as crusading for revival of 2D, but then, that's not my big passion. I trust there are many people out there that will keep the flame going and eventually we'll probably see something along the lines of a "retro" comeback, you know, like the all 80's weekend. [Smile] Meanwhile I feel like trying new things.

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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quote:
The reality is, what is there to *do* without the financial backing most of us artists need to create anything that would hit the big screen?
Well, one lone artist slashed his living costs by moving to a one-room cabin in Alaska:

quote:
From http://www.rendernode.com/articles.php?articleId=128

Your main message is to show other people, that today it is actually possible to do feature-quality film with a very limited budget. How are you solving budget problems, how do you support and motivate yourself?

This world is tough, in that people don't pay for potential, they pay for product. Before you can get funding to "do things right," you've got to "prove yourself worthy" by doing whatever it takes to complete your first "vision piece." It's almost like a "rite of passage."

Me, I've done lots of work for other people, but I need to _prove_ myself as a Creator/Director before others will believe that I am.

So, my own solution to solving the financial problems are to have reduced monthly expenditures to next-to-nothing, and to have made connections where I can directly trade paintings, portraits and designs for things like food and rent. My one-room, no-running-water cabin would make most of my LA acquaintances cringe, but you know, it's a level of how much I believe in this project.

His 22-minute short film comes out on DVD this month. [Smile]

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bronnie
IE # 93
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It's all well and good to just go out and make your own film start to finish;those like Mark Kausler, who have done that are to be heartily applauded.But of course there are also many who, over the years have contributed thier talents through other skills besides boarding and animating;say for instance backgound painting,layout,character design,assisting,etc.
What I like about Kevin G's co-op is that people with various abilities can come together to create something new;and showcase their creative/ collaborative potential in that way.I wish all involved every success.
On the strictly practical side,however, a large segment of this industry,like it or not, has come to depend on the (seemingly all but moribund)animation studio system. For generations, it was a system that supported individuals and families;a community of artists who loved what they did and knew nothing else professionally.Many of these folks still have a helluva lot left to give to a traditionally drawn project,if it's created, crafted and managed the RIGHT way,certainly NOT the Eisner-Cook way.
If there's any hope at all in reviving(to some degree,at least)the kind of quality animation that put it's flagship(Disney) on the map,the effort needs to be focused at the TOP. It needs to be aimed at Eisner (and those of his ilk) who persist in showing contempt for the high-end of this very precious artform;one that, as we all know too well, made him and his pals truckloads of money not too long ago.The fish rots from the head,and it's simply not acceptable to allow it to continue in this case. According to savedisney.com,the situation is salvagable with the support that continues to build for Roy's and Stanley's efforts. That unprecendented 50% stockholder vote of no confidence spoke volumes.

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I am not young enough to know everything- Oscar Wilde

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Steve G
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quote:
Funny that someone mentioned anime. Anime has a completely different audience, the propensity of classical lovers is not to NOT like anime. Actually the Japanese attitude are a good inspiration, many years ago anime was not fully accepted. But these people just kept pluggin' away and look what @ they've become. Not only they're on top of the heap among the few survivors of 2D , they ALSO are the BIGGEST influence of new artists today everywhere!; Gaming, TV concepts, list goes on man. Despite what everybody else say about anime, these guys, They believed in something and went ahead and did it.
Something I've never seen mentioned but seems obvious is that most 'Anime' studios can't survive doing just anime. They need sub-contract work from America to survive. Without this sub work many of these studios don't even stay open in the 'off' American season. They usually don't even maintain a staff of artists until they sign American contracts. Sometimes these contracts don't pay them enough to do the work themselves and they end up taking a cut and shipping the work to Korea or other cheaper studios.
I'm not putting down Anime - I like quite a bit of it - I think it needs to be recognized that Anime, despite it's popularity in Japan, isn't the money maker one might think.

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http://stevenegordon.blogspot.com
http://stevenegordon.com

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SerafinsGirl
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Jennifer, I was referring to bringing back 2D animation..as per the original thread. The work this guy is doing out of Alaska looks like 3D..which would make more sense at this point to pursue as this is where the technology is going. My question, which you quoted, wasn't meant to encompass what studios are actually interested in *now* but what they are *not* as interested in..2D.
It's not about what people are doing on their own as much as what they hope they can convince a studio to invest in when the wind isn't blowing that way monetarily.

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Kevin G.
IE # 142
Member # 1762

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quote:
What I like about Kevin G's co-op is that people with various abilities can come together to create something new;and showcase their creative/ collaborative potential in that way.I wish all involved every success.
Thanks for the kind words, Bronnie!
Credit where credit's due, however, I'd just like to point out that Moon Seun (my wife) was the person who came up with the idea for the Co-op, and it really belongs to everyone who participates. [Smile]

quote:
On the strictly practical side,however...
If there's any hope at all in reviving the kind of quality animation that put it's flagship(Disney) on the map,the effort needs to be focused at the TOP.

I respectfully disagree. I think that the revival will come at the grassroots. You'll see it come from places like Legacy Studios, the Co-op, and anybody else who's tired of the status quo, and has decided to put their money where their mouth is. No one is going to save us unless we save ourselves. We have to start where we are. [Big Grin]

This can be the most depressing, frustrating time in the industry, OR it can be the most exciting, energizing time in our industry... depending on our outlook and our actions.

I say it's time to mobilize and follow our vision. Let the guys at the top do their thing and scramble to play catch up later on.

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venusboys3
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It seems to me...
There are only so many theaters, so many of which are devoted to purely capitalist undertakings. I don't think art can survive, unsullied, in a purely capitalist/amoral environment.
But there are other outlets. Like the sequential artists taking their work onto the internet and charging a quarter a read.
Projection artists who find screening rooms for their work in back alleys and the sides of warehouses.
Maybe the time of 2D as an enterprise, a business, is passing. But I don't thing there are such things as dead mediums. Maybe 2D, freed of these constraints can now go on to realize it's real potential. To fully live as an artistic medium. Not just a delivery medium for vapic marketing.
Disney's letting go of the bone might be the best thing to happen to it.

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venusboys3
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I also can't spell...
Think
Vapid

Duh!

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gahlord
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The only thing holding anyone back from doing something interesting it seems is the myth of the "big screen."

If you changed your focus from trying to play with the corporate big-chain theaters or even the massive administration time to deal with the remaining "art" house theaters... and the expense of printing to film perhaps you'd see different possibilities.

Is the goal to have your story told in a large dark room? Is your goal to tell your story to the most people? There are other options if you choose to play by different rules and can let go of the myth of the big screen being somehow relevant.

1. DVD: reach a niche audience at a fraction of the cost of making 35mm prints. If your goal is DVD then you really could do the thing yourself, or with a crew of trusted partners.

2. Internet: There are ways to make the internet work for you. I'm still pretty appalled by the degree to which everyone seems to flounder and have no clue how to make stuff work online.

If you have some marketing and business savvy (or one of your partners does) then you can make either of the above options into a profitable venture.

It _is_ about akshun. You're so right.

g

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Steve G
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Gahlord: sight some examples, please?

BTW I think everyone wants the most possible people to view and enjoy their work. Never bought for an instant thte idea of "I'm only making this for myself and I don't care if anyone ever sees or appreciates it" argument.

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http://stevenegordon.blogspot.com
http://stevenegordon.com

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Steve G
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Did I miss something or didn't Charles say we would be able to edit posts within a small window of time?

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http://stevenegordon.blogspot.com
http://stevenegordon.com

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bronnie
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Hey Kevin G--
I do see your point.. the grassroots approach may well play a big part in the revival.. So WITH that, AND pressure put on those Eisney money grubbers at the TOP of the studio system,we can squeeze 'em out through the middle! Sound good? [Yes]

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I am not young enough to know everything- Oscar Wilde

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Kevin G.
IE # 142
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Yep. The time for whining, griping and suffering is OVER. The time for action is NOW! We don't wait for opportunities to be handed to us. We MAKE 'em and we TAKE 'em.

There's too many talented people out there, and they're not making nearly enough films of their own. It can be done, it has been done, and it will be done. All you need is vision, persistence, and the determination to keep putting one foot in front of the other each day.

Let's not bitch about the possibilities... let's DEMONSTRATE them! [Smile]

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Scott Ruggels
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Actually, Steven G. I think you may be mischaracterizing Anime studios. As far as I can tell the Japanese production Model is based on the budget as presented. Such and Such sponsor wants a 30 minute television show based on this popular comic. (manga) The studio negotiates a little on budget,but is essentially given a budget and a deadline and the show is made with the resources that the studio can buy. Often, the Studio will contract side projects, such as domestic commercials, Videogame content, and some foreign contracts. Then if the show is successful, the Studio is contracted to do a special, or an OAV for a larger budget, btu also a requisite higher production value. The studio then contacts and negotiates with other studios to bring them on board to assist in the production. It's released, does fairly well, and that studio, may get a sequal to do, or they will reciprocate and asist another studio on one of their projects. Then comes the Theatrical Project. 4 or five studios, with one in charge band together to produce an epic tale of Love and Giant Robots.

Essentially their are larger studios that act more like distributors, and then there are smaller "studios" that are more like mercenary bands of skiled artists that group together in sizes dependant upon the budget.

This could be an adaptable model for the U.S. in that you could gather collections of animators and artists in batches of 15 -20, and produce something notable to make their mark on the industry, either a commercial, a Public service Announcement, a PBS Animated vignette, or something, not necessarily related to Theatrical release, or serial Television, Film Festivals would work. And with their rep made , the go out and canvass for commercials, and other work. Then when there are sufficient Groups, they can band together, to produce episodic Television, or special projects (Music Videos?) until there are enough stable nbands that can cooperatively and together to make a theatrical release. It's a production model I have often broguht up as the wy to do Labor intensive animation, without having to have a large Studio ubrella structure. each group would be responsile for salaries and employee benefits, , and the coordinating would be a limited hierarchical structure, with little to no "support" personel", other than Payroll, legal, and a liason to the distributor's marketing arm. This model does work to an extent in the Computer Games indistry with products from outside studios published by a few majors, like EA, and then sometimes assisted by studios such as Liquid Development.

I admire Tim Albee's purity of vision as he makes his film out in the Alaskan Wilderness, but even he advocates Micro Teams as the most feasable way to get projects out. Yes, he's working in 3D, but even now, such programs as Animo,and Flipbook are making traditional Ink and Paint, which is oneof the more expensive tasts, obsolete. Use technology as a force multiplyer.

scott

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