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May 08, 2009


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Joshuah Bearman: Note to Wall Street: Don't Player Hate on Pixar


I started in the bsinuess in 1979 and was part of the first wave of the"new Generation" of animators trained during the 70's primarily at Sheridan in Canada and as well Cal Arts in the States. At the time ( 1976 Thur to 1982 ) there was a mini boom in the production of animated half hours in Canada due to a tax incentive given to persons investing in Canadian film. This underwrote Nelvana's early television specials (A Cosmic Christmas)and as well the work of Atkinson film Arts in Ottawa (The Little brown Burro). Two things happened at one. The money was there and the talent was available. During this time two Animated feature films were produced - Nolana's "Rock and Rule" as well as "Heavy Metal" which involved several production houses world wide. Also importantly during this time all production from storyboards thru to Ink and paint and camera were "in House". In retrospect it was a pretty special time as it was to be the last chance to be part of the Traditional Animation Paradigm. In 1982 - the tax break was closed which "turned off the tap so to speak" and as well Nelvana was crippled by the box office failure of "Rock and Rule". At this point in time the studios were forced into television network production in order to survive. The work was either on the networks (ABC, NBC, CBS,) as part of the Saturday Morning schedule or done for the syndication market - "Inspector Gadget " being a good example of that. In this new environment, Animation Ink and Paint as well as camera was sent to studios in Japan, then Korea and Taiwan. The Inkers and painters lost their jobs although a few were retained for color styling. Background painters now painted background keys. Layout artists still had work and most animators went into storyboarding, sheet timing, character layouts etc. Directors now only directed the front end of the production and called retakes on color footage from the overseas studios as well sat in on editing and final mix. Although jobs were lost and certainly you could not "Train" to be an animator or become an Inbetweener or assistant animator this production paradigm to my thinking stayed intact till about the year 2000. During this time period lets say 1984 - 2000 there were for sure, fallow years and as my generation aged - married had families etc many of them left and went on other more stable career endeavors. I would say that was what comes to my mind as the first factor in the reduction of older work force, attrition based on economic realities. Up till 1999 however the chances of me going into a studio and meeting someone I knew were still quite high. The introduction of FLASH as the tool of choice in the production of television animation, to me was the real turning point.With flash broad categories of what was until then the production paradym became redundant. Sheet timing, something a lot of people had gone into, was no longer required, as was character posing. The industry became "Flash based". In a few cases older professionals - as I believe was the case at Nelvana, were trained on the job, That investment in established talent however has been the exception not the norm. So Strike two. The layoffs experienced at Nelvana in 20000 took a lot of jobs, Strike three. And as well Flash simply has become the domain of "kids out of school" Those who are willing to work longer hours and for lower pay. I can't say for sure or why wages started dropping but they certainly did and as well there has been a reduction in the time allows to create for example a storyboard - both the time schedule and the amount of money allocated , has as i understand it, been being reduced for years. There are probably prevailing global economics at work here that I'm in no position to comment on but I would say that older workers have been forced out of the bsinuess by changing technology, a changed production paradigm. tighter schedules and reduced budgets occuring at a bad time in their life's and they've been forced to move on. To be honest Ageism may also creep into the mix. In a nutshell things changed. You might be able to say failure to adapt plays into to this but i know many persons with access to the hardware, software and have learned the new programs that are still struggling.I realize that this is a long answer with a quotient of history but It was something I needed to articulate as the answer and contributing factors is spread over many years. Certainly I've seen more change in the last nine years then the previous twenty.Mark... thoughts ?

Andy S.

You hit the nail on the head, Josh. This kind of negative asshole speculation and misinformation about Pixar's "worst performers" is total bullshit!

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