Globalization and Animation: Is it Really a Good Thing?

Via: The Daily Mail

Last night was the first meeting of my class this semester, Globalization and International Business. It’s a fairly typical class for an MBA student such as myself and in this day and age, even a little knowledge of what globalization is can be very beneficial.

I bring this up because here in the US (as anywhere) globalization is often brought up as an issue that needs to be tackled and defeated. Americans are losing their jobs, companies are traitors, etc. etc. etc. It doesn’t matter who you talk to (left or right) they all seem to agree that jobs going abroad is a bad thing, despite the fact that it often creates jobs at home. An often overlooked (or under-reported) fact, is that almost everyone who has been laid-off from say, a GM factory, end up finding alternative employment.

Animation is not immune to globalization, in fact, animation has benefited greatly form it. Now Steve Hullett over at the TAG Guild Blog may disagree (it’s his job to protect his member’s employment after all), but by shifting the tedious, time-consuming and most expensive part of the animation process abroad, overall costs for films and TV shows have come down, meaning that there are more opportunities for the likes of writers, designers and storyboard artists at home.

Yes, it is greatly upsetting to know that there is someone in China or Korea who is willing to do your job for barely a fraction of what you are paid, but that is an unhealthy attitude. It is much better to focus on the positive side of things. So you lost, I dunno, your position putting Post-Its on the timing sheets, well just because that’s all you’ve done doesn’t mean that’s all your capable of, right? You might have seen hundreds if not thousands of timing sheets in that time, you might now a thing or two about them that no-one else does. Why not see if those skills are in demand. Better yet, why not use those skills to acquire some new ones, and combine the two to find another job?

I suppose I’m not the best to be talking about this kind of thing, I am a civil engineer after all, and they way the regulatory environment works, I can’t foresee my job being dispatched overseas any time soon. Is that a good thing? Well for me, yes, yes it is. For the state government whose indirectly paying my wages, that’s bad. There are literally hundreds of thousands of civil engineers in China who will gladly do my job for (no joke) $3,000 a year. I know this because I was once offered a job there and your man told me I’d be earning triple what the Chinese guys would be, so it wasn’t that hard to figure out.

I’m not one to stir the pot when it comes to topics such as this. It’s important to remember that cost is only one factor when it comes to producing animation. Sending a show or film off to Korea may have cost benefits, but it also means that everything must be perfect before it leaves the US, otherwise a heck of a lot more time and money will be spent trying to rectify errors, which of course negates all the benefits that should have been reaped in the first place.

My point is: don’t be mad that someone, somewhere else came and ‘stole’ your job, they didn’t. Just because your position moved “off-shore” is no reason to assume that everything can and should be made in the US. What I’ve learned thus far is that the benefits of globalization pay off in ways we normally don’t think about (cheaper food, clothes, better choices, etc.). So for animation, remember, Hanna-Barbera and The Simpsons may have shifted the labour-intensive stuff overseas, but by doing so, were able to create many more “other” jobs at home.

As always, I am not the be all and end all of any discussion, if you feel the need to comment, please do so.

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