An enlightening interview with the heads of the Indian animation studio Padmalaya Telefilms can be found HERE. The execs discuss various topics like how the studio has its own training school, ZICA (Zed Institute of Creative Animation), which offers its graduating students a 100% job placement guarantee. They also say that to produce a half-hour of quality animation in India would cost $3 million rupees, or approximately $66,000 US.
Continuing our coverage of the Indian animation scene, here is an article from THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS that reports while India is expected to receive $2 billion worth of animation business in the next two years, there aren’t enough trained animation artists to execute that amount of work. The country currently employs 5000-6000 animation artists, and demand is expected to grow to 30,000 artists by next year. The talent shortage is so great that some studios have begun hiring billboard painters and having them retrained as animators. The article says that Ants Animation Training School will be setting up 50 training centers around the country by the end of this year, but Ashish Kapoor, CEO of animation studio JadooWorks, tells the newspaper: “The trained talent pool in India is not large enough to meet the potential demand. Animation requires very specialised training even for practising artists… India is not fully geared to take up this kind of work on a massive scale.”
(Article link via Deneroff.com)
The LA WEEKLY’s Nikki Finke writes a fascinating account of the childish behind-the-scenes maneuvering that went on during the recently concluded SIMPSONS voice actor negotiations. The six voice actors didn’t get the $360,00 per episode that they were asking for, but did get a raise from $135,000 to $250,000 per episode. They also received a signing bonus. Bart’s voice Nancy Cartwright sent an email to her fellow voice actors: “Although we didn’t get everything we were going for, we certainly made HUGE strides, not only for ourselves personally, but for the entire voice-acting facet of the industry.” Another interesting bit is that during the course of negotiations, the agents for SIMPSONS producer James L. Brooks demanded the actors send Brooks a letter of apology for putting their interests ahead of the SIMPSONS “community,” which meant the writers and animators.
Also I recently had a chance to speak with one of the artists on the show, and indeed the voice actor’s contract dispute has forced the Film Roman artists to take an extended and unpaid “vacation.” They were scheduled to receive a one-month hiatus in March/April, their typical break period in between seasons, but they’ve now been out of work for two months and counting as the show slowly finds its way back into production. On the bright side, Fox can use the money they saved from not paying the artists to make up for the increased salaries of the voice actors. As always, the only losers in this case are the artists working in the trenches.
Pixar artist Ronnie del Carmen has a report and photos from the San Francisco comic convention WonderCon which took place last week (see Ronnie’s May 3rd update). Apparently the convention isn’t as festive or fun as the San Diego Comic-Con.
Animator Volus Jones passed away on May 3 at the age of 90. He worked in animation from 1934 through 1982 at studios including Harman-Ising, Disney, Columbia, Format, TV Spots, Warner Bros., Fred Calvert Productions, Bakshi, UPA and Hanna-Barbera. Animation veteran Floyd Norman offered this remembrance of Jones on Animation Nation:
The old guys called him “The Duck Man.” Volus Jones spent a good deal of his time at the Disney studio animating Donald. And, he did it pretty darn good.
When this young kid picked up his first Donald Duck scene to inbetween back in the Fifties, it was a Volus Jones scene. I was proud to just be doing inbetweens for a real Disney animator. The guys who animated the Disney shorts never had the fame of “The Nine Old Men,” but you better believe me, they were darn good animators.
Volus Jones was always a charming gentleman. Casual, relaxed, yet classy all the way. I’ll sure miss him.
Anybody who thinks their life is pathetic will feel a lot better after reading this. Micah Ian Wright, a former writer for Nickelodeon’s ANGRY BEAVERS among other things, has been claiming for years that he was an Army Ranger-turned-peacenik, and has been writing politically-charged books and comics under this guise. On April 25, after years of masquerading as a military veteran, he revealed that he never served in the Army… and he only made this revelation because the WASHINGTON POST was planning to run an article exposing him as a fake and liar. I once met with him to talk about his Nickelodeon pilot, CONSTANT PAYNE, but we never discussed his miltary career so I can’t say I’ve ever been duped in person by this despicable character. But I do remember hearing him on local radio a while back discussing the Iraq war as if he were an Army veteran and it never occured to me that he might be making the whole thing up. Here are some links to catch up on the story: the Comic Book Resources article, the WASHINGTON POST story, Micah’s personal “apology”, and comments from other folks HERE, HERE and HERE. If this turns out anything like the NEW YORK TIMES/Jayson Blair scandal, Micah will probably score a generous book deal to write about how he managed to keep up this charade for so many years.
Harvey Deneroff, who runs the invaluable industry news site Deneroff.com, points out another recent article on Indian outsourcing from THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS. It’s a different studio, but essentially the same story as yesterday’s news item: Color Chips India Limited has signed production deals with BKN Kids (Germany) and Benj Production (France), and they’re looking to add 800 animators to their staff within the next 12 months.
These major hiring binges by Indian studios beg the question: Is the overseas animation industry truly experiencing such rapid growth or are these simply animation jobs being transferred from South Korea to the cheaper Indian studios? Are studios in other Asian countries in a slump because of this rise in Indian animation? I’m not familiar enough with the overseas animation industry to offer any valuable insights into the situation, but it strikes me as noteworthy that Indian studios are hiring animators by the hundreds.
The other issue is, of course, the quality of the animation. The vast majority of Indian animation I’ve seen over the past few years has been cringe-worthy, and it’ll be quite a few more years before their industry matures to the quality of some of the more animation-experienced Asian countries. Of course, by that time, shameless Western producers will have found other countries who will produce animation even cheaper than India, thus ensuring that TV animation will always look (for the most part) like sh*t. One other interesting bit worth noting is that Indian studios are now doing Flash animation as well. Eddie Mort and Lili Chin, creators of MUCHA LUCHA!, recently posted a PHOTO of their Indian animation crew at Jadoo.
“Our goal is to create quality animated films with compelling stories and strong characters and to continue Walt Disney’s legacy of hand drawn animation.” That was the business plan of Orlando-based Legacy Animation, a studio started by ex-Disney Feature (Florida) animators in January 2004. Now just a few months later, Legacy has shut down permanently. This was confirmed yesterday by one of the studio’s co-founders, Eddie Pittman, on the Animation Nation boards: “Legacy is in fact finished. I wish I could tell everyone more, but, for obvious reasons, I’m just not able to at this time.”
IndianTelevision.com has posted a fascinating piece on the Indian animation studio Padmalaya Telefilms which recently signed a number of lucrative co-production deals with European and American TV animation companies. The only problem is that Padmalaya is a little short on the production personnel needed to actually produce these shows. By a little short, I mean about 400 people. Among the crew needed are 60 2D animators, 70 3D animators, 120 inbetweeners and clean-up artists, and 12 layout and background artists. Padmalaya Telefilms executive director V Narsimha Rao says, “A major concern for us is the lack of animators in the country. We have bagged all these contracts, but the implementation is a big apprehension for us. The dearth of animators in the industry is going to prove fatal if we don’t pull up our socks.” One could argue that this is simply the case of a studio that needs to staff up, but finding 400 qualified animation professionals in a country as inexperienced in cartoon production as India is simply asking for trouble. You can read the complete article HERE and then ponder to yourself just how much further mindless execs can drive this art form into the ground in the name of saving a few bucks.
Here’s a feel-good story about artists helping a colleague in need. First, the bad news: after recent medical problems and no health insurance, artist Rick Cortes is having to deal with huge medical bills. Now the good news: members of the HELLBOY comic message boards have stepped up to the plate and are holding an original art auction to help Rick pay off his medical bills. A stunning piece by HELLBOY creator Mike Mignola has already brought in over $5000. Hats off to Mike Mignola, Drew Struzan, Ronnie del Carmen, David Petersen, Cameron Stewart and everybody else who has generously donated their artwork to this cause and also to Ron Boyd who came up with the idea for the auction. And here’s wishing a speedy recovery to Rick. He’s a fine artist as well as a longtime supporter of the BLAST, and it’s heartwarming to see the online community helping him out. You can bid on the artwork benefitting Rick HERE and also read an article about the auction at Comic Book Resources.
It’s not often that a musician will animate his own music video, but Bob Schneider created this cut-out piece for his new song “Come With Me Tonight.” A little crude technically, but quite enjoyable. If you dig around his site, you’ll run across more music videos he’s done. (Link via Fous d’Anim)
> James-Swinnerton.com. What the ‘Net was made for: classy websites devoted to obscure comic strip artists like Jimmy Swinnerton. His comic creation THE CANYON KIDDIES was the basis for the WB animated short THE MIGHTY HUNTERS directed by Chuck Jones, and his earlier strip LITTLE JIMMY was adapted into silent animated shorts produced by Hearst. This website offers examples of both strips and info about his career. Now if only folks would create websites like this devoted to the works of Golden Age animators.
> Following up on Mark Mayerson’s review of the short film RYAN, here’s a fine piece by Chris Robinson from a few years back that examines the life and career of NFB animator Ryan Larkin.
> Harvey Deneroff has a REPORT from the Italian animation festival Cartoons on the Bay, the only festival devoted to TV animation.
Pixar artist Geefwee Boedoe is coming out with a children’s book called ARROWVILLE. I don’t know much more about the book, but Geefwee also has a lot of nice artwork printed in the ART OF MONSTERS INC. book. Here’s an INTERVIEW from a couple years back where he speaks about the origin of his unique name and about other work he’s done in animation.
Sounds like a fun event taking place in San Francisco this Friday evening, April 30. Here’s the press release:
Enjoy an evening of Art Deco film and animation at the Legion of Honor Museum with Nik Phelps and the Sprocket Ensemble. Join Nik and the Ensemble as they treat you to a tour de force of the Deco Age from a vintage 1928 Felix the Cat to two seldom seen Busby Berkeley masterpieces as part of Art Deco Fridays in honor of the “ART DECO: 1910-1939″ exhibition. Other cartoons include Tex Avery’s MISS GLORY and Chuck Jones’ THE ARISTO CAT.
Each piece will be introduced by eminent animation and film scholar Karl Cohen and the audience will be treated to vocals and voice overs by Scrumbly Koldewyn and Cindy Goldfield. The show is free with museum admission: $8/adult, $6/seniors, $5/teens, free/children under 12 years of age, free for museum members. For info call 415/682.2481. Event starts at 6 PM and the Legion Museum is at 100 34th Avenue in Lincoln Park (San Francisco).
An inspiring WEBSITE offering a visual history of comics, from more than a thousand years ago through 1930. Lots of great scans of comics that can’t be found anywhere else on-line. Plus photos of cartoonists, a history of speech balloons and much more. A lot of my favorites are here – Lyonel Feininger, Milt Gross, Cliff Sterrett – as well as a lot of names that I’d like to see more of, such as Olaf Gulbransson, Herbert Crowley and Oscar Anderson. Enjoy the site and try not to think too much about how in less than a century we’ve passed from the sheer beauty and creativity of these comics to the visual insipidity of DRABBLE.
(Thanks to Jared Chapman’s blog for the link)