Friday, April 27, 2007
It has been my experience in the animation industry that there are basically two types of studios. There are artists pretending to be businesses and businesses pretending to do art. In general, I do not have a problem with businesses pretending to do art because I have accepted that the animation industry is just that. An industry. It has it's own economics and rules that business people are well suited to take advantage of. My problem is when business people (executives and managers included) have the delusion that because their business is rooted in art, that they themselves become artists. This is usually manifested as using one's personal taste as the determining factor in making decision about the likes and dislikes of the audience. A business person is generally not suited for this kind of decision making because there are a plethora of other factors (budgets, timelines, corporate directions, wrangling talent, test scores) that they need to worry about that work against the clarity vision necessary to connect with an audience. For the artist, connecting to the audience is the only goal. This makes the artists the most qualified to make the most important artistic decisions. This sounds elementary but it is rarely the case in most studios.
The small studio is the realm of the artist pretending to be a business. Most artists start studios as an outlet for their passions. They see something in the industry that needs improving or they work under conditions that are not the most creative and they think that they could be more creative on their own. Wonderful intentions, but the artist that does this is stepping out of the comfy world of art into the shark infested ocean of business. Artists are good at collaboration, hiring like-minded friends and developing original concepts. They are not good at sacrificing ideas because it is better for the business, demanding proper business practices from employees and firing friends. Artists will also tend to hold on to the thing that they love about animation in the face of obvious change. An example of this are artists who refuse to accept that traditional 2D animation is no longer a dominant form. They believe that 3D is a trend that is spiking right now but 2D will recover. Do not kid yourself. 2D in feature animation will take its place right beside stop motion as just another niche player. If you are a 3D animator your are not safe from progress either. In not too many years key frame 3D will take its place right beside 2D, as motion capture becomes dominant and so on.
In the next post I will promise to say something nice about the industry.
Posted by Man of the House