Over at Pando Daily, David Larkin has a really interesting piece about the intersection of art and business that is films and takes a look at how the increasing supply of films does not necessarily mean better films, or indeed, better returns. Animated films have always been few in number but recent years has seen an explosion in features with lots of success. With even more being announced, is it all for the best?
Almost all films are a commercial venture to some extent but not all are created equal, as the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Disney demonstrate. Both make successful films, but only one does it to genuinely tell stories.
Running on the Smosh MNC (multi-channel network) on YouTube, this live-action/animation hybrid has returned for a second season after a successful initial one (2 million+ views). So why does Oishi High School Battle seem like the kind of animation that could actually be a hindrance to the broader commercial success of online animation?
Disney and Studio Ghibli are often compared when it comes to making really great animation. Both continue to push the envelope of what animation is and what it means to tell an animated story. However, both see progress in a different light and go about achieving it in contrasting ways.
A short post today, but the topic of animation finance is one that has a direct impact on the animation business. In order to get animation made, it has to be paid for, and unless you’re a multi-milionaire, that means asking someone else to pony up some dough.
No, we’re not talking about Aladdin, but rather trying to pick winners. You see, animation as an industry is still heavily based on sales; that is, between studios and networks. Annual conventions like MIPCOM continue to drive large portions of the industry and feed a lot of revenue into it. Here’s a look at why it’s tough to navigate and even tougher to win in.
The 1989 Batman film was one of the most successful at the time but besides the star names on the billing, was the very brand of the film itself. The Dissolve has a thorough post about how the studio, knowing they had a troublesome film on their hands, took an unusual route to getting the news that a Batman film was forthcoming out there.
There’s a ton of blogs and guides out there to creating the perfect animated series. However, most of them focus on the actual animation itself; they neglect all the periphery stuff that is also needed to make a series work. If you’d like to read something professional, I highly recommend any of David B. Levy’s books as a great starting point to what the industry is like from an animator’s perspective. I, of course, am not an animator, so will instead offer the alternative viewpoint.
You may have seen this piece by Luke Epplin over in the Atlantic about animated features and narcissism in animation today. It’s a really good piece that’s well worth your time reading, but it’s false.
I tend to avoid doing reviews and related pieces on the blog for the simple reason that I’m not great at writing them. However, I feel it’s necessary to write a short note about the Cartoon Hangover series, Bee & Puppycat.
There seems to be a consensus among studios or the powers that be that mandates how productions are ataffed. No, this has nothing to do with ability, skill, gender makeup or anything like that. Rather it’s how animation employment levels tend to ramp up for a production and are then reduced as said production makes its way through the pipeline.
I raise this issue because someone likened it to being a construction worker. I.e. once the building is built, it’s time to move onto another job. That’s only partly true though, because even construction workers (unless their self-employed) aren’t fired from the overall firm. Instead, they’re simply moved to another contract that the company has.
The benefits are obvious, hence the reason it’s a widely instituted practice in construction. Contractors save money (and boy, do they like to save money) by not having to constantly hire and train workers. Their admin overhead costs are lower too, since they don’t require a large HR department to sift through resumes and file all the necessary paperwork. Lastly, they save a ton of time, because they already have a skilled workforce in place. All they have to do is manage it’s deployment.
An animation studio should be no different. the different productions are the different jobs, and a studio in the 21st century does not have the right to exist if it can’t manage it’s slate of productions so that crew numbers are constant.
What I fail to understand is that as a studio, your output ought to be constant. Sure a feature film requires a massive amount of manpower, but if you’re constantly releasing films, can’t you allocate resources to provide for a seamless transition?
It’s an even more critical issue for TV shows, which are in production year-round. Staffing up and down for a TV show is a ludicrous way of managing your team.
While there may very well be tax and wage benefits to hiring and firing, that is only because the rules of the game are set that way; to the detriment of the people actually playing.
Some of the greatest animators had very long and very stable careers with one or two studios and both parties were all the better for it. The concept of a job for life has vanished in recent decades, the notion of steady, dependable employment lasting more than one season or production should not be a rarity; indeed it should be standard.