some thoughts on animation & the industry…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the animation industry, the way it works, the competition between studios, the academy awards and my attitude towards it all. I would consider myself an average reader of online animation blogs and industry news. Most of the time that information finds its way to me through colleagues and conversation. I regularly read Cartoon Brew, but thats about it. I’ve only worked in the “industry” for a little over 5 years so I am by no means asking you to consider my opinion as fact, just take it as that, my opinion…so far.

(I am also not an english major, so please excuse any grammatical errors or excessive use of commas)

Don’t talk trash about another studio, always support the industry as a whole.

I worked for a year at EA Tiburon cleaning up motion capture. As a key frame animator I do not like mocap, BUT I understand that it has a very important and necessary place in certain parts of the industry. I do not agree with Zemeckis making very photo realistic mocap movies. If they were any good I would support it, but lets face it, they’re not. And even Monster House which was the closest thing to a good movie still would have been better shot live action or hand animated.

Now this is where I become conflicted. I do not support that this movie was made, I think it would have been much better to take an original idea and spend millions of dollars creating that. Haha, anyways, this movie was put into production, which meant a lot of jobs for people in the San Francisco Bay Area. A handful of my friends and former co-workers from Tippett went to ImageMovers and have been creating amazing art and supporting their families.

Now that this movie has been released into theaters I do not want to support Zemeckis and his terrible ideas for movies, but I do want to support my colleagues. So even though I haven’t gone out to see the movie, I will not talk ill about it or the company that created it. This is how I’ve decided I can support the artists there, but not give my money to Zemeckis. Unfortunately this won’t help if the studio decides to close because they didn’t make enough money from the movie. What I’m trying to say is no matter how you feel about what a studio is making, don’t talk trash about it because you are putting down your fellow animators/artists and their hard work.

Don’t make assumptions about a movie based on its trailer.

I have to be honest. When I first saw the trailer for Fantastic Mr. Fox I was not impressed, but thats because I didn’t get it. I questioned the style, the craft, and the quality of the animation. But I would have been a moron to pass it off as a low quality, poorly made movie that doesn’t deserve to be watched based entirely on one trailer. I was able to see it last week and was very impressed. Other colleagues of mine were still passing judgment on the film from the trailer. Even after I tried to convince them it was a great movie and the style fit the film, they kept mentioning “crappy animation,” and “a low attention to detail.”

I have a feeling this same conversation was had around the water cooler when the trailers for Cloudy were released. Something you have to realize is that the majority of trailers are not created or controlled by the film makers. If you don’t like a trailer then chalk it up to not liking how the marketing department made the trailer. But if the idea of the movie, or the style, or something still interests you…go see it and then form an opinion based on the movie itself rather than the trailer. On a related note, I can’t wait to track down a screening of “A Town Called Panic.”

You don’t make a movie to win an award, if you win an award its just a perk that comes from working hard and having fun.

Since the list for animated movies being submitted for Academy Awards was released a few weeks ago there has been much discussion online and off about Cloudy’s chances. Sure, it would be incredibly awesome to have worked on a film that wins, or is even nominated for an Academy Award. But I didn’t work on Cloudy so it could win an award. The director’s didn’t make the movie so it could win an award.

We all made the film because it was fun, it was a great story to tell, and contained great visuals we all wanted to create. No one can argue that a studio would love for their film to win, but thats not why we make them. Well, on a grunt/artist level thats not why.

(Penelope, you can call me Oscar.)

I guess what I’m saying is that as artists on a movie, you can’t let yourself become distracted with the award stuff. Just focus on the task at hand and do your best. Sure, everyone in the industry knows that automatically one of those slots goes to the Pixar movie, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Fox or Coraline took it this year, or even Kells (which is excellent, by the way). In the end we all win as animators when there are so many qualified films entered in for the running. But we have to remember why we worked on the films in the first place, we have to pay our rent somehow-ur, I mean…its for the love of the craft!

blah blah, end of rant. …back to Modern Warfare 2!

-Dave

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One response to “some thoughts on animation & the industry…

  • wonkeythemonkey

    I understand your conflicted spirit regarding animated movies you don’t like. On the one hand, it’s good that all animated films create work for animators. I also believe that the movies are staffed by hard-working and talented people that want to make the best movie they can.

    On the other hand, if nobody stands up from within the industry and says “STOP!” when the quality of movies starts to slip, we will end up with way more bad movies than good.

    As an animator, sure, I want to have a job. But if I thought that the entire industry would be nothing but movies I was embarrassed to be associated with, I would get involved in another line of work.

    There were tons of talented animators in the 1980s, many of whom couldn’t find work because the public had lost interest in animated films. Why did they lose interest? It wasn’t because of animators bad-mouthing the movies, it was because the movies themselves had slipped so far in quality that they weren’t exciting to watch any more. If someone had been in a position to say “hey, our movies are starting to suck!”, the great animation slump might have been averted.

    So anyway, I agree with your general sentiment. Applaud the hard work and talent of the individuals involved in a movie. But I still intend to be critical of films that deserve criticism, and I hope that the talented animators (and everyone else involved in the movies) know better than to take that criticism personally.

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