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May 08, 2009

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

Marcel

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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Articles in Print

  • The Fearless Personal Inventory
    Mortified -- the funniest public ritual of personal intimacy to mark the rise of confessional reality.
  • The Zombie Zeitgeist
    A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
  • Believer interview with Mark Allen
    Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
  • Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi
    Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
  • ¡Viva Border Volleyball!
    Two on two on a toxic and geopolitically divided beach. (Nifty pictures and video available!)
  • Yeti Researcher
    Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
  • The Jacuzzi Apocalypse
    Notes from Y2K. With some humor, and a nifty drawing by Carson Mell.
  • Monkey Love
    My contribution to the vast cultural conversation on King Kong and the viability of simian-human romance
  • Man's Best Friend
    Nintendogs puts existentialism in the palm of your hand
  • Digital Trim
    Hillary Clinton likes her coffee cold

Readings

  • Panda PowerPoint!
    I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
  • McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006
    For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
  • Jest Fest at Skylight Books
    Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
  • McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006
    Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
  • McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006
    The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
  • Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos
    How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
  • Little Gray Book Lecture 25 at Galapagos
    The Animals: Are They Our Enemies? In the case of my presentation about the giant gerbils of Xinjiang, the answer is yes.
  • July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings
    I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
  • October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott
    Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.
  • October 9th: MoveOn Fundraiser in Los Angeles
    See above.

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