If you can dream it, you can do it. -Walt Disney
Quality is a great business plan. -John Lasseter
Let's make some funny pictures. -Tex Avery
I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. -Howard Zinn
When critics sit in judgment it is hard to tell where justice leaves off and vengeance begins. -Chuck Jones
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? -Jesus
A man should never neglect his family for business. -Walt Disney
What's most important in animation is the emotions and the ideas being portrayed. -Ralph Bakshi
Once you have heard a strange audience burst into laughter at a film you directed, you realize what the word joy is all about. -Chuck Jones
Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. -Buddhist Proverb
Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.
I'm just curious, how far into the future is the farthest long term plan of anyone on this site?
I'll begin with my honest answer: I have a fairly clear four month plan, semi hazy eight month plan... and I'm reserving future planning for when I get more details. None of my planning markers are dollar amounts. They're all creation goals with strategies to create the dollar amounts to perpetuate forward movement. The final goal is to create an episodic series telling the tale, of a thing wot I think wants telling. So anyways, how about anyone else. What's at the end of your rainbow... and how far in the future does that pot of gold lie?
Good topic Marius.
The farther I plan into the future the more ambiguous the picture becomes. My feeling is that the future is not fixed. There's a myriad of directions and possibilities that are forming up in the present so I try to be flexible while still staying on a progressive path.
I go day to day on my planing, week to week and month to month based upon the way I'm currently operating. If I were in a production situation that would naturally change depending upon the nature and timeline of the project.
Career wise my plans involve developing areas that I've left untapped until now. That's mostly month to month at the present as I'm sitting on several projects at different stages of development with paths forming up a little more each day.
Long term is being happy in the present while cultivating the future through the perspective of a wide view lens. My ambition is to be completely immersed in the creative process all the way up to the moment when I leave this earthly realm.
Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.
"My feeling is that the future is not fixed."
I agree. I believe the future becomes what you focus on...
I am 35 now. I feel in fairly ok physical health. I can work hard for mebbe another 15-20 years, more if I take better care of myself. I will work hard with or without a plan. Planning, just keeps me on course and efficient. Day by day plans can change, and I let them... and account for the change the next day. I find when I find myself on schedule, going according to plan I actually can create the freedom of responsibility for small periods of time to actually enjoy the life bit as well. If I'm on schedule, I allow myself to live, if I'm off schedule, or completely off plan, I make myself work until that reality changes, and then I allow myself to live. I've been living in a struggle state while I have been thinking on things, and very recently my reality changed. I'm comfortable in this new frequency I've JUST hit. I feel I can somewhat sustain this. I don't wish to waste any of the last 15-20 years of productivity I might still have in me, so I think and plan as I work, to best make use of that time. I dunno if that's a right or wrong way to live, but it feels responsible to me, and I'm just trying to do the responsible thing first. I can have fun second, but first I need to be responsible. In an industry where we need each other to plan our goals and dreams, I figure maybe we should have an overview plan. Speaking for my own personal benefit, if the industry had a plan, I'd not have to spend all my time worrying and stressing and trying to come up with a plan, which is in all honesty seeming like an exercise in futility. I have my own personal plan away from the industry, and am just now exploring the ideas of planning within it, as well as away.
Long-term, I want to have a 3d-animated short film or two under my belt by the time I'm 40. Longer-term, I just hope whatever I come up with amounts to more than just another demo piece. A more far-fetched goal is to eventually make a series of shorts that could be combined into a feature.
The near-term is all about the ground work - drawing characters & comics, planning the film(s), building an audience online... With a little luck and a lot of determination, I'm hoping to be ready to start a crowdfunding campaign in a year or two.
Hey JaredL, thanks for sharing! Your goals sound realistic, strategies sound solid, and timeline seems reasonable. I'm sure with continued focus you will get there. So I'd like to ask a question on the far fetched goal bit. The series of shorts. Is the medium for that visualized to be for online distribution through independent means, or through the conventional animation institutions (partnering with a studio to produce/distribute them)?
I'd probably lean more toward online distribution, either through streaming or iTunes. I think Lulu offers on-demand DVDs, so that might be another option.
The mainstream studios... I don't trust them, and my ideas aren't for them to begin with, let's put it that way. What I have in mind doesn't exactly fit their usual demographic for animation.
Sounds like a very solid and realistic plan sir, nothing far fetched about it and seems completely achievable within your own dominion. I wish you the best of luck, and would love to hear of your updated progress.
So if you don't mind one more question, this one is now geared towards this line "The near-term is all about the ground work - drawing characters & comics, planning the film(s), building an audience online"
While you do those steps, how do you sustain your existence? Do you work a job in the industry?
Currently I'm a freelance animator, in the game industry. Not the most exciting work, but it covers my expenses and leaves me with enough time to work on my own stuff.
As a freelance animator in the game industry, do you find your daily working assignments help you improve upon your artistic abilities, do they hinder your artistic abilities, or does it do absolutely nothing one way or another to your artistic abilities. Also, as a freelance game animator, are you pleased with the working pipeline you exist in? I'm not talking about anything outside of the job... but as far as the job goes, is it structured in a manner you approve of, or are there any areas you would improve? And lastly, is gaming animation considered part of the animation industry? (I believe the answer is yes), and if so.. is it recognized by the animation industry's union?
Might be getting off topic here...
As far as I know, the union is for film & tv animation. They've talked about expanding to games and visual effects, but so far nothing's come of it. Plus, the game industry isn't nearly as centralized as film, and hasn't shown much interest in unionizing (as far as I know).
As far as my work goes... It's work. It keeps me animating, but it's repetitive. I've spent the last several years attempting to learn film-level rigging techniques, because games animation isn't very satisfying for me. So in a way, it's helping my goals by making me hungry for more.
Pipelines vary from client to client, or sometimes game to game.
True that sir. I was merely asking, cause I'm trying to figure out where the animation industry fits into the scheme of things in the plan. So my understanding then is, right now you work in an industry outside of the centralized industry, and are developing properties and a fanbase that you wish to keep separate from the centralized industry system?
I think that's what's called "independent".
I look at it like this - At studios like Disney or Dreamworks, assuming the idea wasn't rejected outright, it would need to be run through a family-friendly filter to appeal to a wider audience, and I'd have to surrender all rights and creative control. The end result would be unrecognizable, and if it were successful I'd only have any say in furthering the story if they let me.
Even the few studios who deliberately avoided the family-friendly filter still screwed up their films, either by taking things too far, not far enough, or by forgetting that they still needed to produce a coherent & watchable story.
Screw them. My characters, my story, my filter.
It's interesting and helpful to see where you guys are and what you're planning.
I'd like to add that with what I'm working on for future purposes none of it involves going the route of the current system. I won't be knocking on studio doors or soliciting the status quo. Everything I'm looking at and working on deals with utilizing New Media and emerging technologies through an independent approach.
Opportunities in these areas are vast and the field is wide open to all as compared to the alternative which is not something that interests me at this point in my life.
Freedom and flexibility is what I'm intrigued by along with the option to go in virtually any direction I want, creatively and otherwise. I've been fortunate in working independently through my own business for many years and that's given me the strength to endure and the confidence to explore outside of the mainstream.
Charles, here's a question for you. Does any of your planning involve the use of a crew? If so, where will the crew members come from? Will it be built using the same recruitment methods as the studios?
Also, do big studios HAVE to be mainstream? Or could that just be their present strategy to generate revenue? If they get properties with built in audiences, would big studios still be as mainstream as they tend to be? Is there any value to the distribution elements that big studios have access to, both locally and globally? Is there any value to the production pipelines they employ? If the pipelines were designed by the creator of the property, would studios be of any value in execution of the production?
At the moment my plans revolve around publishing and in pursuing personal creative projects which I've been distracted from for a long time. My main goal is to create again like I used to. Not so much as the nature of the work but in dedicating time to creating.
I'm organizing content and researching ways to distribute it such as ebooks which are becoming a standard method of publishing. I'll be printing a series of small books prior to that which is what I'm working on currently. Primarily educational and creatively inspiration in purpose.
I also have a character based property in storybook format ready to go online that I'm enthusiastic about. Plus lots of other projects in the wings.
Crowdfunding is definitely an area I'll be getting into soon as well. Most of what I'm doing will be associated with crowdfunding efforts in one way or another. Either as rewards or as campaigns in their own right.
As far as developing a crew, that's always a possibility. I could use one now to be honest and when the time is right to expand in that direction it'll be an option to consider. I've organized crews before. Right now I prefer working alone or with small groups of individuals.
In answer to the questions you pose about big/mainstream studios, of course there's value through associations with them. They have great resources. I don't have interest in them mostly from past experience plus it's an environment that doesn't appeal to me. I think establishing a project or property independently is the way to go for many reasons. Among them, positioning. I'd be open to a dialogue with a major studio once I'm in a position of independent strength. Everything they have to offer can nowadays be found somewhere else. Funding, distribution, an audience, all of that can be developed without them. The world does not begin and end with them any more.
When I visualize what I want for myself in the future I see a harmonious environment where extremely creative and unusual projects are developed in a broad range of mediums for a wide audience. I envision a situation that could best be described as a studio of my own as opposed to hooking up with or being under the umbrella of a major established studio in the system. Partnering is a possibility but not being controlled by them. I don't mind being out of the status quo studio system. I see independence as a more promising long term path than what the studios have to offer at this point in my career.
Meanwhile my responsibilities are demanding enough on a daily basis. I stay busy with what's in front of me. The biggest challenge is in dealing with the day to day things that call for my immediate attention.
I can dig that answer sir. I can go with that. It's become abundantly clear that the industry itself is not stable enough to plan on, and planning to stabilize it seems impossible,as well as a waste of time/energy drain. I can rest at peace knowing I actively tried to find a solution. Now, free of guilt I can create freely on my own. Thanks for the encouraging atmosphere sir.
by the way, I'm actually interested in how that local publisher works out for you, as far as self-publishing goes.
So far the printer is working out well. He made a proof of the first ashcan formatted book I'm working on and I'll be going in to get the rest of the copies made most likely by the end of the week. Here's the link... http://www.araprinting.com/
When i hear 'long term' I think Big Project. In my experience bigger projects are hard to follow through because as Charles/John said, life happens when you're busy making plans. I'm trying to focus on projects that I can realistically get done. when i was younger i focused on overambitious projects that were unrealistic, many that i never finished. It's a daunting task to do them solo and it might not even pay off in the long run. I think skills can better be developed by starting small and simple and going from there. Walk before you can run. Coincidentally, it just so happens shorter simple content is what is popular. Working in studios I have learned a lot of what NOT to do in a production or project. I believe in streamlining the animation process. You can still achieve a level of quality but it's not necessary to go down the Richard Williams path and spend the majority of your life animating an epic feature on 1's with complex scenes only for it to wrap up in a unfortunate way. I've been watching the Pink Panther shorts of the 60's and 70's. While a lot of people might not consider them as important as 40's and 50's animation what i see them is very smart economical cartoon-making. A clever way of making limited animation and it's still entertaining. To go back to the idea of sustainable business models, again shorter smaller projects provide you with a larger library of content. This will make it easier to build an audience. The same way webcomics might deliver a page of a story a day/3 days a week, instead of releasing the entire comic in one post. Sometimes i find that in the internet model quantity wins over quality. It's almost the same reason why people visit sites (cough cartoon brew) with low quality, if only because it is something they can look at everyday regardless of whether it is good. But having both quality and quantity and maintaining consistency is the ideal and i think your fans will respect that more.
In essence i think the ideal long term plan is to keep following through on short term plans. It all adds up cumulatively and it's a realistic approach to working on solo independent projects.
A side note, but my friend and I have been working on music projects for years. He was smart enough to get some of our music into licensing deals. We now get checks here and there from our songs being used in different shows. Just goes to show that owning your intellectual properties and employing them in a smart way can make you a passive income. Sure beats all the money you are not making from the properties you work on/develop/create at major studios but don't own.
Man, if the future was what I set my eyes on then I'd be somewhere else. hahaha
The best laid plans don't necessarily get you laid the way you planned...just don't fuk yourself!
Sometimes preparation is better then planning. And they are different. I have stories and mini goals to keep me going with big dreams. I prepare for them all. So when the opportunity comes I can seize it. Sometimes being too rigid in your vision can keep you from seeing.