Word has come through that anime distributor T3 has shut down. While their release stating as much is long and very thorough, it contains many important quotes that allude to the many, many difficulties and problems that one can face when running a business, especially one devoted to the troika of content, distribution and the internet.
Here’s a few choice quotes (with a summing up at the end) that are well worth pondering (any emphasis is mine):
Each day we struggle with clients that come to us with various films and television projects where we painstakingly spend hours uploading, encoding, and preparing clips in our submission to the various television networks only to learn later that our clients may have “borrowed” a Willie Nelson song and/or where even classical music and Top 40 tracks are used widely in promo reels without the required licensing in place.
Similarly we have additional daily challenges when we spend hours in pursuing the sale or licensing of a project that requires the same level of effort only to learn that there’s not any E&O insurance in place and/or when our clients forget or don’t take the time out to register their intellectual property and works with the Library of Congress.
Beyond licensing, copyrights and related issues, each day we deal with other headaches that include: HD vs. SD, 4:3 vs. 16:9, countless hours of FTP uploading (only to have it fail and start over again), a dizzying array of encoding protocols, resolutions, network quality guidelines, color correction, audio levels, streaming bitrates, and hours upon hours of editing clips, sending video emails, database updates, revisions of show treatments/show bibles
Perhaps more telling is the following:
If it sounds daunting it is, and all along we wanted to make clear that we would leverage existing technology where possible – and we have spent literally hundreds of hours in vetting out various Online Video Players (OVP) and pay-per-view streaming platforms.
Our daily challenges and that of our clients are further evident by the speed in which convergence in the marketplace is taking root – and we find that our clients have poorly prepared for straddling the gulf that is the “lean back” television marketplace with that of the “lean forward” online viewing offered in portals and websites where content must be prepped for tablets, i-Phones, and screens and operating systems of all types.
Today there is time-shifting, place-shifting and so many other elements in play that if you’re a television producer or filmmaker, you need to get your head around the fact that your audiences are everywhere and your content needs to be prepared, licensed and readied for viewing in just about any viewing environment.
Further, social media and promotional advertising is not enough as each project needs marketing, legal, and all sorts of help in getting your film and/or television project picked-up. Again, trying to do this given our limited resources has been a recipe for failure, and one of the reasons that there are so few companies like us that perform on a success-based commission structure.
So what is there to learn from this besides the fact that handling entertaining content is an infinitely tricky business?
For one, T3’s difficulties are likely fairly common throughout the industry, they are not alone in their headaches. Issues such as licensing and copyright are so important and are yet so often ignored/abused that you end up with a situation like this, where a company is spending more time trying to obey and adhere to the rules than they are actually making money.
Animators have to be aware of this, especially if in a small studio environment, but especially when creating your own, independent stuff. If a legitimate company like T3 couldn’t hack it, there isn’t much hope for you either.
T3’s closure notice is full of indications that the landscape for media (particularly video) consumption is rapidly changing and you’d better be prepared to change with it.