Sunday, June 03, 2007

Warner Bros. Animation shutters facilities

On Thursday, the day after we recorded the latest Cartoon Geeks podcast, Warner Bros. Animation closed its Sherman Oaks facility. We know of this thanks to Paul Dini, aka "The King of Breakfast," who blogged about it last night. Go read his LJ entry, it's very instructive.

I really feel bad for the people who are currently trying to make a living in animation in LA. People are so desperate now, that many folks who are on staff with the Lucasfilm Animation CGI Clone Wars series have actually relocated to Singapore... SINGAPORE, WTF!... for the duration of the 100 episodes Lucasfilm intends to produce. It was common practice to send a bilingual employee as the representative to the Japanese or Korean studio back during the go-go years of American animation, to keep an eye on the overseas production, but actually having artists relocate overseas? That is brand new. Except for a few artists who are also Otaku, speak fluent Japanese, and who now are a part of the Japanese animation scene, this sort of thing never happened much.

This doesn't bode well for American animation, folks. I wouldn't be surprised if, a few years into the future, animation returns to the US. However, what may return would not be recognizable: basically non-union "overseas" Flash animation work for Japanese and European producers. The tables would be turned completely. Is this what people are still paying $30,000 a year to go to Cal Arts and study animation for? I didn't think so.

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