Re: This Union Situation


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Posted by Jon on March 06, 2000 at 09:07:48:

In Reply to: Re: This Union Situation posted by Kevin on March 05, 2000 at 23:04:27:

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: You mean paid by the foot instead of paid by the hour?

Yeah. But more about that later.

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: Ye Gods! That's 30 feet a day if you were going 7 days a week!

Back at Hanna-Barbera Australia, 30 feet a day wasn't unusual for some INDIVIDUALS to put out - and I mean cleaned-up keys! Yes, it was a much more limited form of animation, but nowadays we expect our animators to produce about 12 frames to a foot per hour, and that's at a quality standard that will make our studio proud.

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: I assume you know we're used to long periods of heavy overtime, as well as working by the foot.

Good to know! Encouraging to know!

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: Was it your impression that this is something that is worrying them? I haven't gotten that impression for them myself.

No, not at all. But what's to stop a disgruntled employee from deciding that they're not sharing enough of the wealth at some future date?

Personally, I don't hire people I like, I hire people who work hard. StarToons is full of people who drive me crazy. One thing, though, that lets me sleep at night: if they don't like working at StarToons, they can always quit. I just don't want to walk in one morning and see 20 "GI Joes" lobbing rep cards into my office and yelling, "Die, Hitler."

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: Tell me when to start shaving my legs, Jon! Seriously, I'm really skeptical that most current producers give a damn about animators seducing them. Do you think if the union disappeared tomorrow that work would suddenly come back from the Pacific Rim? Somehow I don't think so. Somebody is going to have to demonstrate a new paradigm; somebody is going to have to kick their asses with good shows done here.

When we work with WB, our work is generally the stuff they use on their Emmy submissions. We have a fairly good worldwide reputation for our quality. The stuff we did on Histeria! was our best ever ... but unfortunately the show didn't fair well.

And that is something that curdles MY milk. We do great stuff, and then we end up out of work. Just got an e-mail from one of the animators I had to lay off back in October because of that. Our current workload is for the direct to video market.

: Nothing else will get their attention. Even then, they'd screw it up if they tried. So I'm not thinking much about how to convince the current crop of what Charles aptly calls pseudo-producers to do anything. They need to become extinct so that their bodies can rot and form the nutritious fertilizer into which the budding roots of new studios can grow.

I think you have a point there. See, the thing is, the people who contract us also have to report to others higher up. I believe it will take a positive PR campaign to THOSE people - the ones who HIRE the ones who hire. Know what I mean?

They need to see how the industry has changed. They can't keep handling it the way it's been handled for the past 20 years. The system needs to be streamlined. Egos need to be eliminated and banned from the process.

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: I think most animators out here have done freelance on a footage basis, so I'm not sure how much retraining it would take (unless you're referring to something I'm not understanding).

Here's what I'm talking about.

To make this deadline, we subcontracted a bunch of footage to another studio (Studio X). They needed the work at the time, and we needed their help. Studio X's owner is a good friend of mine - we have a lot of respect for each other, but this was the first time we were going to work together on a project.

Our footage rate for rough animation was $24/foot, but due to overhead factors we would be able to pay $35/foot to Studio X. They weren't happy about it, said this sort of work would normally get them from between $150 and $200 per foot ... but it was a take-it-or-leave-it situation, and they ended up taking it.

Now Studio X, I should add, has done a lot of fine work on features (hence the higher figures they are used to being paid). But I said, look, just give it your best shot, get in, get out, and move on. They asked about shipping pencil tests, and I said I didn't want to see pencil tests, OR rough inbetweens. They seemed to be appalled at that concept, but I said, "How can you expect to make any money if you have to stop and test this stuff? Test what you need to, but don't show them to me. We need to get this done too fast."

Which is how our animators work. They test what they need to, but we don't require animators to sit through a sweat-box session with the director. This ain't Prince of Egypt, OK?

In the end, this video is going to be something we're proud of, but Studio X's work really floundered. They just weren't used to working that way.

THAT'S the kind of training I'm talking about. It's learning a few simple tricks you can depend on for maximum effect and minimum effort. AND MAINLY, it means animators need to learn to believe in themselves, their ability, their judgment. Confidence is the greatest asset to a production schedule, and skill will make it shine.

Most animators reading this would probably think, "Hell, I could do that."

And I totally agree.


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