Thursday, October 30, 2008

Communication Breakdown

I'm sometimes surprised that it seems that artists are still unwilling to talk a whole lot about the deals they make for themselves in this business.

It is a business, first and foremost, so you should be trying to get the best deal you can get. Believe me, the studios do it, you should too. To say that you'd do this for free because you're drawing and/or animating for a living is EXACTLY what's screwing other artists over. You and your fellow artists have bills and student loans to pay, so don't undersell yourselves.

Studios will try to dissuade you from discussing your salary with your fellow artists. That's just silly from the artist point-of-view, as if you find out that you did indeed bid yourself low on this job compared to your fellow artists, you know that you'll be able to ask for more the next time you're in negotiations.

Are you in the union? Do you fill out their wage survey every year? If not, why not? Just do it, so we have a better idea of what's actually "average" these days. And then figure out if we can get a better deal. Again, the studios will do it, so should you.

There's a reason why actors and musicians have agents...they get their clients more money. The 90's were crazy with agents, and hey! some animation artists got some great dough. But when the boom went bust, so did the agents, it seemed. I would think it would behoove us if we started thinking like an agent...we need to get ALL that we can for ourselves, because we'll get screwed if we don't.

But it takes more than just one loudmouth on the internet to make it happen. It takes a majority of YOU. The hard-workers who feed the studio machine. Get your piece, you deserve it. Really, you do.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Going Digital

How many storyboard artists are having to do more and more and more and more poses for their boards if they're done digitally?

Doesn't that redefine the job of storyboarding?

Shouldn't the schedule and pay scale go up if that's happening? Or shoudn't the studio hire revisionists/jr. board people to help with the load?

Shouldn't that mean that the artists and management need to sit down and spell out EXACTLY what the artist is responsible for in the board stage, as opposed to becoming an animator and rough timer as well as the layout and board artist?

And then there's the idea that the boards are easier to reboard at a moment's notice, damn the schedule.

Is that true? Probably not.

If you're asked to do more work than you're getting paid for, DON'T DO IT. Don't work for free! What do you actually gain by bending over backwards with no reward for your efforts?

Job security? No.

A pay raise? HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA, no.

A good reputation? Maybe, depending on how good you are, but only until you burn yourself out.

Make your work worthwhile. Do a good job for the time that you actually get paid for.

Make 'em choose: good, fast cheap...pick two outta three.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Get Mad, Get Smart

A refresher from 1976. It applies to YOU, animators.

Yes, YOU.

If Art Babbitt Were Alive Today...

...he would be "blacklisted" as a troublemaker.


it wouldn't be a blacklist by the studios.

It'd be by the animation artists.

Yes, blacklisting is around, but is it generally started by the studios when an artist rightfully complains about being taken advantage of, or is it started by their fellow artists who don't want to "rock the boat" no matter how many unpaid hours are put in to meet unreasonable schedules?

I've not talked to an artist that wasn't hired by the studios for standing up for themselves, but I've certainly met artists who don't get recommended by other artists for their loudmouths.

Read this and try to tell me that some of the parallels between then and now aren't happening.







Rolling over and being dead for the studios hasn't helped us before, why do you think it'd help now?

Where will your unpaid hours away from your family and life see you in 5,000 years? 500 years? 50 years? 5 years? 5 months? Unless you're a show creator, the most likely result you're gonna get is a lot of physical and mental anguish and the studios will keep right on going with unreasonable schedules and whispers of you "causing trouble" if you want what the law allows you to have.

If you don't stand up for what's right, it'll be GONE.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


One of the favorite things for disgruntled animation artists to do when they kvetch is complain about how sh!tty animation scripts are.

Some suck, some don't.

Frankly, after seeing some of the tripe from the 1970's and 80's, the writing for animation has gotten a helluva lot better in my opinion.

I don't think writers themselves are the major problem.

The problem comes in when they're writing crowd scenes, epic battles, and other scenarios that require time to do.

Time is what we're not allowed to have by the studios.

What thee EFF?!

This goes back to the good, fast, cheap model. Or rather, IT SHOULD.

If the scripts were less complicated, the artists would be able to adhere to the sh!tty schedules given to them. Right? Sometimes the artists are allowed to edit down scripts before they begin boarding, but some executive @$$holes want it ALL and then will edit down after the artist gets used up and tossed out like a condom on prom night.

Here's a challenge open to anyone who doesn't have their set in a jar in the attic:

Ask an writer what their favorite cartoon is. IF they have one, it probably involves something simple: one to two characters doing something non-complicated. Hopefully a light should go on over their heads. If they kvetch about how execs want more-more-more, remind them:





That applies to writers, too.

What would happen if writers and artists worked more in tandem to get the execs heads out of their ADD-riddled @$$es?

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Old Adage

The old adage of,





still applies. Especially to you, little animators!

You can try to do all three, but that makes for a lousy long-term business model. Name a company or industry where that works. Seriously.

Stop selling yourselves short. When you do that unpaid overtime, you screw over your fellow animators who would probably rather be spending time with their families or otherwise having a life than working over the weekend.


Friday Morning Inspiration

Read, watch, get inspired:

Black Flag's "Rise Above":

Jealous cowards try to control
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
They distort what we say
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
Try and stop what we do
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
When they can't do it themselves
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us, it's no use

Society's arms of control
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
Think they're smart, can't think for themselves
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
Laugh at us behind our backs
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
I find satisfaction in what they lack
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us, but it's no use

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us, it's no use

We're born with a chance
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
I am gonna have my chance
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
We are born with a chance
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
And I am gonna have my chance
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us, it's no use

Rise above
Rise above
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
We're gonna rise above
We're gonna rise above

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My View on the Union

Here's Anibator's rant on TAG.

My view on TAG is that it's as strong as its members allow it to be.

The union can't do a damned thing for you if you quiver in fear, saying nothing. You've been stepped on by the studios. So have your coworkers. You kvetch to each other about it. But what do you do to stop it?

You want the abuse to stop? Then make a stand.

I'm not saying be all Norma Rae, but there are little things you can do.

When real abuse happens, call the union. Your dues pay for its existence, make 'em worthwhile.

Stop taking tests.

Stop the unpaid overtime. The schedules are completely unreasonable, what do you get when you kowtow to them? A break? A bonus? Respect? NO. You get crapped on even more.


One time I tried to write in the real hours I worked on my timesheet. I was told to redo my timesheet. That's illegal. I kowtowed. What did that get me? Not a damned thing other than a shorter schedule the next season. I sold out. YOU SHOULDN'T.




What do you truly have to lose these days? Come on, we're as screwed as screwed can get. We get NO respect, NO time to do our job effectively, NO budget, NO studio loyalty for doing our job, and NO joy in doing something we used to love to do.

Look at your fellow artists. Are they as miserable as you? Then get together and quietly start changing our reality. We can't strike, but we can stop the insults.

Downfall of TV Animation

The 1990's were booming in animation, both in feature and television.

The boom went bust in 1998. I remember it well...I was working at Warner Bros at the time and when it went down, it went down bad.


There's the usual: budgets were too high, ratings were too low, cable tv and the internet were cutting in on the action...but I think the real forgotten culprit was this.

If tv wasn't used as a babysitter, that wouldn't have passed, and fun stuff that makes money would be more prevalent. But nooooooooooooo, the do-gooders who enable slacking parents to continue to slack on their kids' well-being had to stick their noses into the animation business.

Just look at what's left of Saturday Morning Cartoons...uh, nothing. Fox has some action stuff. Warners has sold out to 4Kids. CBS occasionally shows Nickelodeon shows. ABC has Disney tween crap up the wazoo. NBC has sports.

"Funny" shows have been relegated to cable ghetto, where networks like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network should have some great shows. But they don't anymore. The last time I watched CN was when Powerpuff Girls was still on the air. And if Spongebob Squarepants wasn't on Nickelodeon, I wouldn't watch it ever.

So, thanks to the FCC for doing its part in making animator's lives miserable.

Oldie but Goodie

Does this old TAG post still ring true?

What Got Me Started

The following recent posts on the TAG blog have given me hope that the artists in the animation industry are ready to stand up to the rampant idiocy that's destroying what's left of the industry:


Studio Loyalty


Goddam, it's taken forever for the artists to get angry enough to not just say something, but possibly do something, don't you think?

The big one that everyone's complaining about are the tests.

An experienced industry professional has no business taking a goddam test unless it's for a position that they've not held before.

To take a test for a position that is reflected on your resume and in your portfolio is degrading. Why?

Because if you're asked to do a test for a job you already know how to do, then you're not going to get the job. So why waste your time? No, really, why waste your time for people who are making you jump through hoops for their own amusement? SCREW THAT. You have better things to do. Like, try for a job at another studio that won't make you take a stupid test.

The next time someone asks you to take a test, politely refer them to your portfolio and resume. If they can't tell that you can do the job based on the content of your portfolio and calling previous employers, then you probably don't want to work for them anyway, as the production will be a clusterf*ck. MAYBE THEY SHOULD BE THE ONES TAKING A DAMN TEST IF THEY CAN'T LOOK AT A PORTFOLIO?!

Passing the Torch

Remember this guy?

Remember his challenge?

Here I am.

Hear me roar.

I'm pissed at the industry.

So are you.

What are we gonna do about it?

That's what I want to find out.