Dreamworks Animation campus Dreamworks Animation campus

The impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) on the animation world is widening. While events around the world continue to cancel or postpone their upcoming editions, studios are starting to take action too.

We’ve collated the latest information about major studios’ policies on remote working. The situation is evolving fast, and this page will be updated to reflect new announcements. If you want to speak to us anonymously about how your company is handling the situation, write a comment below or email alex@cartoonbrew.com.

Meanwhile, some are approaching the crisis from a different angle. Indie studio Thinko says that it’s “weirdly incredibly ready. We’ve been remote friendly from the beginning.” (See their full statement here.) And Rad Sechrist, the creator of Dreamworks Animation’s series Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, is taking the longer view:

It’s not clear at this point how service studios are handling the situation. Due to draconian security procedures implemented by many Hollywood studios, artists at service shops must rely on in-house servers and can’t simply take their production work home. If you are working at a service studio in the U.S. or abroad, please let us know how your studio is handling the situation.

Here’s what we know about individual studios in Los Angeles:

Nickelodeon Animation employees are being sent home on March 13 as a trial. When reached for comment, a spokesperson pointed Cartoon Brew to recent media reports about the actions taken by the studio’s parent company ViacomCBS. The following is from The Wrap:

Viacom is joining dozens of companies across Hollywood preparing for the coronavirus, as CEO Bob Bakish has announced to employees that they are testing new procedures to allow them to work from home.

“This [test] will allow us to assess our remote access capabilities, ensure everyone has the technology they need to do their jobs remotely, and help us practice how we work together when we’re all out of the office at the same,” Bakish wrote.

The test will take place this Friday, March 13, at offices nationwide, with employees instructed to back up critical files to company cloud servers and to take laptops home with them. Employees in some essential departments, such as news and Network Operation Centers, will not be included in this test and will have their own unique procedures. The memo also encourages any employee that would feel more comfortable working remotely to discuss doing so with their manager.

Netflix closed its main office in L.A. on March 12, after an employee was suspected to have caught the coronavirus, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper reports that all L.A. employees have been recommended to work from home. Netflix declined to comment to Cartoon Brew.

UPDATE: According to social media posts by artists working at Netflix Animation, the studio has asked all artists to work from home until at least Monday, March 23.

Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Television Animation, Pixar Animation Studios: A representative for the Walt Disney Company confirmed to Cartoon Brew that domestic Walt Disney Company employees who are able to work from home are being asked to do so, including those at The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Direct-to-Consumer, and Parks, Experiences and Products. Artists at Pixar who are not in production are working from home, according to social media reports, but this is not possible for some artists who are in production.

Dreamworks Animation is not on a mandatory shutdown, but it is strongly encouraging those who can to work from home. Some Dreamworks Animation Television artists have suggested on social media that their crews have started working remotely, but others are still at the studio.

The company is following the overall policy of its parent company, NBCUniversal, whose CEO Jeff Shell sent out a memo yesterday.

The note from Shell was followed by a letter from Dreamworks Animation president Margie Cohn. Her letter is reprinted in full below:

Dear DreamWorkers –

You recently received a memo from Jeff Shell regarding our company-wide response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. As the situation continues to evolve rapidly, I hope you’re taking recommended precautions for the health and safety of you and your family.

We know that the direction in Jeff’s note regarding work from home is not one size fits all, as it’s easier for some to work remotely than others. At DreamWorks, over the next few days, we will begin a phased roll out to reduce the number of people in our workplace. As Jeff mentioned, those who can work remotely should speak with their manager as soon as possible about a work from home schedule.

On the production front, we have been exploring and testing work from home solutions and show leadership will be sharing unique plans for each production soon. In the meantime, our studio will remain open as many of our production and post-production workflows require access to campus. As you’ve seen, we are continuing to take proactive measures to deep clean and disinfect our work areas.

Some key information to note:

Effective immediately, for the time being, there will be no visitors of any kind permitted at Flower or Central.

All employee events are being canceled or postponed for now.

If you will be working remotely, you are expected to stay in close touch with your team, continue to actively participate in ongoing work, and attend virtual meetings as needed.

Our Technology team has created a helpful remote user guide via Google Drive. For other technology related questions, please call 5-HELP.

While we do not know how long this situation will last, we will revisit our plans at the end of the month in coordination with state and local government as well as our counterparts at NBCU.

Please stay connected with your immediate manager or HR business partner about appropriate next steps. For updates, FAQs and resources about COVID-19, visit NBCUNow.

During these uncertain times, I want you to know how deeply I appreciate your commitment to our beloved studio. While this situation is rapidly evolving, we will continue to share additional information as needed.

Warner Animation Group and Warner Bros. Animation: Reports on social media suggest that some staff at Warner Animation Group, the company’s feature animation division, are working from home. It’s not clear how many Warner Bros. Animation television productions are asking their crew to work from home, but some of them are doing so. A representative from Warner Bros. Television Group, which oversees Warner Bros. Animation, clarified the company’s policy in this statement to Cartoon Brew:

With the rapidly changing events related to COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, Warner Bros. Television Group is halting production on some of our 70+ series and pilots currently filming or about to begin. The health and safety of our employees, casts and crews remains our top priority. During this time, we will continue to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control as well as local officials and public health professionals in each city where our productions are based.

World of Warcraft game developer Blizzard Entertainment, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, is implementing a “work-from-home” policy for its U.S. employees in California and Texas. They made an announcement on Twitter a few hours ago:

To protect the health and safety of our employees, we are implementing work-from-home policies for our Irvine, [California] and Austin, [Texas] offices. Those in our other offices around the world have been or will be working from home as directed by local governments and health authorities. We will continue to pay our on-site vendors and contractors while this work-from-home policy is in place, and our game teams will work to provide the best experiences we can for players during this challenging time.

(Image at top: Dreamworks Animation campus in Glendale, California.)

Additional reporting on this piece by Amid Amidi.

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