Vancouver Opera “Contest” Vancouver Opera “Contest”
Bad Ideas

Vancouver Opera “Contest”

Hardly a week passes without news of another exploitative animation “contest.” Sadly, this time it’s an arts organization–the Vancouver Opera–that is soliciting animators to create a short film (under four minutes long) to promote their upcoming season of performances.

This paragraph from their contest rules page is a real hoot:

By entering this Contest, each entrant grants Sponsor and YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully sub-licenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform his/her entry on the Website in connection with this Contest. Entrants further grant Sponsor a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully sub-licenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform their entries in any and all media now known or hereafter developed (including, without limitation, print, broadcast and Internet), for all legitimate business purposes including advertising and promotional activities. Entrants further waive all moral rights in and to the original entry and derivative works of the original entry.

Plain English translation: “Shut up filmmakers! We can do whatever we want with your work and we don’t owe you a cent!”

What does the winner receive for all their hard effort? Perhaps a shiny new Cintiq? Nope, they’re too cheap for that. They will, however, give you a Wacom tablet valued at $349, a copy of Street Fighter 4, and some other useless junk. Their gifts are childish, which, to me, sheds some insight into the entire contest and the contest organizer’s view of our art form. It’s just a cartoon, they say, so we can give the winner a bunch of games as a prize. It’s absolutely shameful.

Perhaps we can return the favor on Cartoon Brew by creating a contest that solicits composers to write us operas for free and then hand over all the rights to their work. Just give me a few days to go out and buy a videogame. Apparently that’s the currency that artists are paid with nowadays.

  • Someone at the Vancouver Opera must be confused about how “free” works.

    They could better meet their goals by simply releasing a bunch of their recordings under a Creative Commons Share Alike license, and encouraging filmmakers to use them. Then any resulting cartoons, as “derivative works,” would automatically be under the same license, so they could non-exclusively use them as much as they liked. Filmmakers would win, they’d win, everyone would win. But they’d have to free their music first.

  • A Wacom and a video game… for a 4-minute short?

  • Nick

    It looks like the contest is geared towards those particular high school students who draw crappy anime characters. Hopefully they aren’t trying to advertise this to professionals. But I totally agree with you, Amid, start a contest to compose operas because, you know, opera is just fat, white people shouting Italian jibberish.

  • WAT.

    That whole page describing the contest is pretty thoughtless. One whole page dedicated to what could be a fun contest (really, opera is fun and I wish was more widely appreciated). But the description is shorthanded, the (omg wait for it…) 5 whole “rules” are written in a childish manner, and hardly describe proper guidelines (you have to sift thought all the legalese below to even find the max length of your submission, not to mention what you can actually win).

    And the prizes? Yeah, cool for anyone, but are most certainly already owned by many over the age of 18. At least those actually INTERESTED in, you know video games. Because OHMYGOSH animators are just big grown up kids, right? They’ll like video games, right? Perfect!

    I also guarantee most animators ready to animate up to a four minute short already have a tablet….


  • Kate

    Cheers. :) This is very helpful.

    One of the annoying bits about it is that it looks like if you want to use music from one of the four shows they’re doing, you have to secure the rights yourself, which could cost maybe $30 if you’re lucky.

    Nick – mostly trim, South American hotties singing all different languages (English has done very well with ‘Doctor Atomic’), but loads of nationalities too. Juan Diego Florez, Natalie Dessay, Erwin Schrott, Nathan Gunn, Joyce DiDonato, Anna Netrebko, Lawrence Brownlee, Ramon Vargas, Danielle DeNiese, Karita Mattila, Renee Fleming, Deborah Voigt, Stephanie Blythe, Rolando Villazon, thousands of others, and the always perfect and divine, Placido. *swoon!*

  • Attention all composers, orchestras and opera singers! Create the soundtrack the new film “Noted Animator’s Demo Reel” and see your name on the big screen! The chosen soundtrack will receive an on-screen credit, a complimentary DVD of the film, and a harmonica!

  • I think it would be cool if they had a download of a short piece of music for everyone to animate too and the prize would partially be that the animation would be projected and accompanied by the symphony playing the music live in the concert hall. That could at least get the animator some possible press.

  • I think the palm of my hand just went through my face

  • Good idea Nina! As they saying goes: “You have to give to get.”

  • Yeah I saw this in the paper and laughed.

  • Mitch Kennedy

    Not even a cintiq as payment would cover the cost of creating four minutes of animation, from concept to finished product. It sounds as if they are very ignorant as to how much work goes into any length of animation production.

  • Scott

    They can own the film, but if you own the individual frames and/or artwork, and quietly copyright it as such, you can undermine their contract.

  • Christine

    Couldn’t they have just mined Youtube?

    All the great operas…in ten minutes…complete with body count.

  • Graham

    You know I could be wrong, but when I debating about putting my film on Aniboom I saw something similar. It made me opt out of putting it up there.

    I find this kind of stuff really hard to take. Work is work and people should be paid accordingly.

  • Cheers to Kate for mentioning Villazón and Mighty Plácido :-D

  • Thanks for pointing out this demeaning contest, Amid.

  • Jenny Lerew

    A short to promote a local opera company is just the sort of job that used to keep small production houses in business, back in the day. Thinking of that makes this “contest” offer slightly sickening.

    I was mentioning this to a colleague and wondering aloud why a job that used to require professional (that is to say, PAID) work is now so often opened to anyone to do for “free”, and he had this theory: “with the advent of Flash, now anyone can do a piece that looks finished, with color”. It sounds true, as it wasn’t possible to expect “finished” animation in a short amount of time pre-Flash.
    Whatever the reason, it’s depressing. The Vancouver Opera should know better.

  • Nick

    Kate- I was being facetious.

  • figaro

    I wouldn’t really blame the Opera people, what do they know about animation making process… it’s just a humble poorly researched promotional initiative. They must have thought it would bring the opera closer to the masses, make it look lighter, younger and more fun. They don’t realize that with these rules they are unlikely to receive any good quality watchable entries, and associating with crudely made videos won’t bring them much public appeal.
    In my opinion somebody else is to blame… first, those of us who keep saying “It’s so wonderful to be an animator! I just do what I love to do all day, I can’t believe I am even paid for that!” – this kind of attitude creates low-paid jobs, projects “for exposure”, ridiculous contests, fast-ed colleges, tendency for mass-production, and general degradation and lack of respect to the profession. I believe that many doctors, pilots and engineers love what they do too, but they treat themselves a bit more seriously.

    Secondly, if you check this contest rules, we have a “qualified jury panel” from such big local studios as Bardel, Electronic Arts, etc. They are the ones who are going to decide which animation film is deserves a graphic tablet, and which a video game. You would think that these people would be the ones who know a bit about the amount of time and effort that an animated production involves… and try to give the animation profession some value and respect. They are the ones that should be explaining to the Opera people that their expectations are a bit not realistic. But, again, their ideas are shaped by that first group of people. Raising a generation of naive cheap animation force is in their direct interests.

  • Some Guy

    Can I commision a 4 hour opera for a bag a milk?

  • So does anyone here ever actually engage the organisers of these exploitative competitions in any kind of serious and reasonable discussion about their problems with the way they work, try and make them aware of the issues from our point of view and improve things for all concerned? Oh ok then. I guess making a hobby of passive-aggressive whining about it on the internet isn’t SO terrible.

  • Kate

    Nick – hey, any chance to plug opera’s hottest, I’ll take. ;)

    red pill – hoorah! :D Here’s hoping Rolando gets better! I was really looking forward to ‘Les Contes d’Hoffmann’ and ‘L’Elisir d’Amore’!

    Tim – I’ll give it a go.

  • Tim: I think you’re right, actually. There needs to be an organized response to “competitions” like this. The marketing and PR department of the opera should be talked to, not just berated …

  • DC

    My school sent out a global e-mail supporting and encouraging students and grads to take part in this. I looked into it and thought why are we encouraged to par-take in these contests? In theory it probably sounds like a great idea for the people who dont know how long it takes to produce 4 minutes of good animation or 30 seconds for that matter.