Monday, November 29, 2004

Turkey Day is Over

As you can plainly see, I haven't posted any new blogs in a while. The Holidays snuck up on me, and well, I was thinking about other things.

Some items worth posting have happened during my turkey hangover. First and foremost, DPS-Israel has shut down. Those of you that have read my DPS/IDT ramblings know how I feel about this company. I am trying to get more details about what happened. Let's see what the next few days uncover.

Vanguard in the UK is working on Valiant (as all of you know). It seems that a trailer has been released. So, if you feel like looking at a terrible streaming version of the trailer, you can click here. The quality is pretty low, so it hard to judge anything. The material I've seen previously was much more interesting and didn't look half bad. This trailer certainly does not help their case.

The Incredibles continues to hold at number 2 in the box office and recently went over $200 million. Although it is behind Finding Nemo and Shrek 2, this is certainly a figure anyone should be proud of.

I'm still hung over from the food and travelling that I did. So, I don't have much energy right now to post further. I hope to have more insider information over the coming days, especially concerning Toy Story 3, which should have a director named any minute now. I'm already 99% sure who the director is going to be, but until he officially accepts, I don't want to say anything.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Toy Story 3 Confirmed

As I've been saying for months, Toy Story 3 is happening and happening soon. A story has finally been reported elsewhere.

If you go to here, you can see a story on about whats going on.

What I can add to this is that they are still hard at work getting a director and producer signed. It will be happening any day now. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Electronic Arts - Overworked artists

I'm sure most of you have heard about the recent EA hubbub. A spouse of an employee wrote a letter on a blog site about the working conditions that the significant other was enduring. It is a pretty long and well written entry. Filled with passion. Definitely worth ten minutes of your time.

Unfortunately these horrible hours are all too common place in the animation industry. Anytime people are pressured or forced to work more than 40 hours a week, they need to be paid overtime. None of this comptime bullcrap that is such a common practice.

The young-fresh-out-of-school kids have no problem working 80 hours a week doing something they love. However, later in life when they get a family, it becomes more difficult and they realize they can no longer put in those hours. So, they are replaced by a fresh crop of youngins. Those of you working these insane hours without getting adequate compensation are not only doing a disservice to yourself- but for the entire profession. You won't be a young kid forever and you are only screwing yourselves down the line. Stand up.

This problem is compounded when you have producers and managers that have no idea what they are doing and set unrealistic goals. They forget that these skilled individuals are people and expect that they should insane hours for little or no extra compensation. Many times these producers are the first ones to leave and rarely show up on the weekends.

To all of you at EA. Sign rep cards and join the union. I'm not sure if the animation guild extends into games (it probably does), but something needs to be done. You shouldn't put yourselves through this. I'm not exactly fond of unions, but this is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with immediately.

Somehow I don't think all of this bitching will do any good. EA (and companies with similar philosophies) will continue to treat employees the way they do until someone forces them to do otherwise. Whether that is by a lawsuit or the government stepping in. There will always be a fresh crop of eager kids willing to work slave-like uncompensated hours, so I have the sinking suspicion that nothing will change.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Pixar Conference Call

Today was the third quarter conference call for Pixar Animation Studios. Most of the information from these things is stuff we already know. However, occasionally something of value comes through.

Other than being reminded that Steve Jobs has the biggest ego in the world, he did say something I couldn't agree with more. Something I wish other studios would take note of. What did he say?

Someone called and asked whether Pixar would ever outsource creative or technical work to other countries. Steve basically said that it would be impossible to outsource the work and expect the results to be as good as they are currently. Finally, something good comes out of his mouth. All of the wannabe animation studios eager to be the next "Pixar", I hope you adopt similar philosophies. But somehow, I doubt that will be the case.

Additionally, I got the impression that Pixar is waiting for Eisner to leave or be kicked out of Disney before they make a distribution decision. Is there hope for the two companies getting back in bed? Maybe. Just maybe. One thing is for certain, Eiser has to go first. Like Jobs, I can't wait for that day either.

This Just In!

Steve Jobs in an idiot.

Today in his conference call to investors he made the claim (multiple times, I might add). That PIXAR invenvted the whole medium of computer graphics. Someone check this boy's ego.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Writing for Animation

I received an email from someone asking about writing for animation. For the sake of background information, I started as an animator at a studio in LA, at some point that evolved into working in the story department as a story artist. The story artist is a person that writes an animated film in visual form by drawing images. Today, studios are changing. The art of the story artist is being lost. This is one of those mandates by the pathetic executives that are taking over our beloved industry without a clue of what made it so successful in the first place.

Almost all of the studios these days don’t even bring in the story artist until the treatment or sometimes script is completed by a writer. That means someone sits down at a typewriter and knocks out the story before a pencil is lifted. These studios don’t even want to see a story artist until they have greenlit the screenplay. It saves them money and they don’t feel like they are losing anything by doing this. However, they are removing the piece of the puzzle that has been so successful in the past. Executives see the story artist as a waste of space, after all, animated films are just movies, why can’t they follow the same rules as a regular live action film?

To the person who wrote the question to me via email: If you are an artist and wish to work in story (as a story artist), then you should go to a school such as CalArts. But, be warned that your creative future is not what it would of been a few years back. If you are not an artist but wish to work as a writer for animation. You are in luck, it seems like everyone is embracing that as the preferred method of animated film development. If you aren’t employed at a major studio, your best bet is to do some writing, take that to some agents, and try to get represented. The bigger agents won’t even look at you unless you have done film or television work already, so you are in a catch-22. Start with the smaller agents and work your way up. I suggest going to and get some information from the writers there.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Monday Morning Bloggin'

Ahh, another Monday morning. Time for some blogging. Today’s entry is really just a few comments about The Incredibles opening and the continued pouring in of companies trying to make CG films.

The weekend is over and The Incredibles is estimated to have brought in a little over $70 million. Boy was my prediction off. I didn’t have a good feel for this movies potential and my gut instinct was about $14 million short. Although it did not do near Shrek 2, it is slightly ahead of Pixar’s highest opening weekend (Finding Nemo).

After being in San Fran for a good part of last week, I’ve traveled back down to LA for a few meetings at the American Film Market in Santa Monica. This is a chance for people in the film industry to make deals and schmooze. I will be accompanying a few producers who are trying to get distribution for their projects, I will be fielding technical and creative questions from the people on the other side of the table. A nice chance to see what is going on and who is preparing to do what. After a day at the market, I’ve noticed that the swell of people trying to enter the CG animation film industry has not ended. There are more and more people trying to play the game. In addition, a couple of them are very well funded from big companies any casual film viewer would be familiar with. It excites me and scares me at the same time. Right now, it excites me, but things are bound to implode within 8 years. It could get quite nasty.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

More News and Tidbits

I just have not been motivated to add to this blog in the last week. I started and stopped a few entries, but none of them really seemed worth posting. Maybe it is time for just some mindless babbling.
  • Pixar's 'Cars'.
  • Stock update.
  • Stock options at DreamWorks and Pixar.
  • School rant.

Pixar's 'Cars' is being publicized and even an image has been passed around in the media. After all, the teaser will be shown in front of Incredibles. What better way to get even more advertising for an upcoming movie- release some press about a new movie that hardly anyone has seen footage of.

The presidential election has come and gone. Wall Street is happy with the re-election of George Bush and it is shown in the way the market reacted. DWA (DreamWorks Animation stock symbol) was falling after the IPO but began to rise again after the election and now sits at $39.70. PIXR reacted much the same way and is trading in the $81 range.

Speaking of stocks. It seems that most DreamWorks employees got some shares to play with. It is good to see a company reward their employees with some potential extra money. It not only makes them work harder but they take a stronger interest in how well the company does. On the same note. It seems that Pixar has stopped offering stock options to new employees (I heard this from a friend, it has not been confirmed yet). Too bad. The options acted as a way to soften the lesser pay that Pixar generally offers to their employees.

I’m currently up in the San Francisco area helping a new startup to get going. While I sit here typing listening to Howard Stern, there is a commercial for Xpression New Media (a school that offers training in animation (among other things)). Remind me someday to go into a tirade about the dozens of schools taking advantage of wannabe animators. It is a sick-sick industry. If someone would intervene with these students prior to spending all this money on school, perhaps they would save a butt load of cash and not be presented with such a false sense of what the career has to offer. The pictures these schools paint of the industry is just pathetic.