The New Perspective

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Posted by Charles on November 01, 1999 at 23:54:17:

What constitutes an animation studio? Is DIC an animation studio? If so, then what about Startoons in Chicago?

Recently, I happened to catch an episode of "Nightline". The subject was the stock market and how it was being affected by the Internet. It featured the Chairman of both the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. It also featured a couple of fairly unassuming guys who had started an online trading web site of their own. It had grown so much that between 5% and 10% of all trades in America were taking place through that web site of theirs, prompting the creators to file with the SEC to become their own stock exchange.

The show went on to discuss who and what was being affected by the new technology and this new procedure. The ones bearing the brunt of the change are stock brockers and traditional brokerage firms. In short, Wall Street is being dramatic challenged by little web start ups like the one I described.

I of course, looked for parallels between this situation and what is happening in animation. Then it hit me.

So what's the difference between Startoons and DIC? Easy. One is an animation studio and the other is not. DIC occupies at least two floors in a prominent building in downtown Burbank. It has its logo emblazoned at the top of the building so it can be seen for miles around. Yet, if one were to take a tour of their facilities, only a handful of artists would be on staff. They are in the animation business, but they are not an animation studio. They never were.

DIC is an animation broker. So is Saban. So is Disney TV, Warners TV, Sony, Sunbow, Nelvana, Nickelodeon, Film Roman and so on. They broker animation production. They outsource it. They may design it in house, but they don't animate in house. Therefore, they cannot possibly call themselves animation studios. They are animation brokerage houses, or design houses. They are not animation studios.

Startoons is an animation studio. Korea has animation studios. Tokyo has animation studios. Tapai has animation studios. Manila has animation studios. These are places that animation is outsourced to. These are the places that make it possible for the brokerage houses to successfully play out the illusion of being an animation studio.

The Internet is making the purchase of corporate equities possible by virtue of a direct link between a buyer and a seller. There is no need for a middle man. If something as simple as a web site can shake Wall Street to its very foundation, then why can't we do it in animation? How much easier is it to affect change in our industry as opposed to the might of Wall Street? If stock brokers are becoming obsolete, then what's to keep the same from happening to animation brokers who are not artists?

A similar change is well on its way in our industry. The old way is starting to fade. An alternative industry is arising. For many people, the transtion is not going to be easy. There will be more layoffs. A lot of folks will continue to struggle. But in the end, after the dust has settled, it'll be a new game. The question is this. Who's going to control it? Them or us?

It's ours if we want it.

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