What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

November 7, 2012

Expectations of working in overseas animation/cg facilities

After working in different outsource facilities as well as a major studio, talking to different individuals and observing all kinds of people pass through the doors... I think maybe its a good idea to write a bit about the expectations that one should have when they consider to work overseas with families. Again.. most of these are my opinions and views. Feel free to disagree or share your experiences and I will revise the article. But keep it civil at least.

What are the expectations to have when you work in an "outsource" overseas animation/cg facility?


- Its in another country. Learn a new culture, chances to travel around the region. Expand your horizon.

- Your children (if you have any) will be exposed to different cultures and mindset. They will get to see more of the world rather then the confines of the same city you are in all the time. 

- If you are a fresh graduate or only a few years of work experience, its a stepping stone to the big boy studios. Heck its even easier just to find a job and get hired. Lets face it, the competition to get hired is easier because they need the manpower and are in expansion. And once you've got some movie credits under your belt, it is easier to move around to other countries that need a certain amount of work experience to get a visa. 

- If you have some movie experience prior to going into a good outsource company, there is a greater possibility of career advancement, for the fact that these companies always have fresh people coming in and they need senior and experience people who can relate to them to manage the newbies. And you can be in a comfortable situation of running a department.

- Most importantly, Opportunities. With more and more work coming to the region, there will always to work available if you are willing to travel. If you become someone important enough with responsibilities, you can have a pretty decent gig going for the next 10-20 years. Also, with the rapid expanding of media in the Asian region, the possibility of running your own studio won't be a far fetch dream. 

- Easier to get laid. There are other individuals that are traveling to a new country and working in that country. Opportunities to get wasted and travel the region. And get hook-up etc... People do not want to hear about this but there is a huge white superior complex out here. There will be asian girls that lurve white boys and/or the economic promises that it brings. Even if u look like Jabba the hutt. 

That is basically it...Unless anyone has got anything to add.

Cons (Dun hold your breath, its lots)

- It should be clearly understood that being an outsource studio means that you will not always get the cream of the crop in terms of assets to work on. Then again, even if you are in a major studio does not mean you will get to animate hero shots. Jobs will be balanced between the main company and the outsource one, but the work you get will always be the work that no one wants to do, which is why it was outsourced in the first place. The main company tends to keep the major hero assets in house. Nevertheless there are still quite a bit of possibility for cool work to be done.

 - It must also be clear that the reason you are recruited to the company is because they need you to get the job done and transfer skills to the locals. With experience, you can get reasonably high pay. However, if your motivation is to get as much money as possible, be sure to know that the company will have much higher expectations for you. If you cannot match those expectations , you will be very vulnerable.

- Due to different HR policies between countries and companies , you must be fully aware of the health and insurance policies for each of them. Even human rights are different. Being the foreigner, it is your responsibility to understand what is at stake. Do not blindly trust the recruitment people, some of them will be painting you the rosy pictures. Because their job, obviously, is to get you into the company. And don't do drugs.. At least do not get caught. Especially in Singapore, Thailand or Malaysia and Indonesia. You will be royally fucked.

- Most studios have to be ran according to the parent company. And that means delays in approvals, pipelines not working. Lots of fires to put out. This is one of the most painful and frustrating aspects of working at such companies. Not to mention management that wants to micro manage. 

- This is something contentious but I have seen this happen when the guys at the main company are under the impression that the outsource facility are doing a better job, outshining the guys over at the main branch. Fear of their jobs might led resistance and to calls and politics to ensure work stays in the main company. Be aware of this. BUT that is already changing. At the end whoever can deliver the most bang for the buck. 

I always think of it like the 1st time car manufacturing get moved out of US and Japan to lower cheaper places. The craftsman and mechanics that used to work at the plants are made redundant. But there are those that recognize the changes and evolve. There will always be a market for quality work at a premium price. But you better be damn good at it.

- Tax regulation is different for different countries. Do not spend all your money on rent and booze. You might not know how much money you will need if the company you are working for goes tits up.

- If you see mattress tucked away underneath a desk, stay the fuck away from that company.

- Finally....my personal opinion from previous experiences is that there are too many managers, coordinators every fucking where....There is so much fear and worry from the producers and the managers pleasing their overseas overlords that  they hire more and more people to keep tabs of the people doing the actual work. And see the wage bill go up and blame the artists for it.That is precisely why there are so many incompetent people in management. They are not capable of actually doing the work.  THAT is the ABSOLUTELY worst thing about working in a facility. And they will fire the artists first before ever firing themselves when they are the problem to start with. (duh..)...Hiring these coordinators and managers just to manage the artists because they don't trust the artists?. Seriously. What the flying fuck. The irony is that they are suppose to manage. Not micro manage.
So Please...IF you see there is 1 coordinators for 2-4 artists, then the company have an issue. Either the company does not trust the artists or the artists are not very good. Stay away.


Its not for everyone. Especially for people who are used in their comfort zone. It can be a nightmare. But also it has a lot to do with mentality. Go with a positive attitude and good mindset, manage your expectations accordingly.

For a lot of the cg artists in asia, getting into one of the bigger companies is a huge step up from the local studios they work in. Both in career prospects and financial remuneration. So they will work their ass off. Obviously if you are brought up in a western culture, it is a different mentality to get used to.

React and adapt to situations you might not have foreseen. Its part and parcel of a outsource studio. Often people with unrealistic expectations get pissed of by what they receive as it is what they imagined it to be. Understand that different culture will have different mindsets and mentalities. Do not assume they are all fuckwits or idiots. Face is a important aspect of the asian culture. you would do good to remember that.

Lastly and most importantly, Keep your fucking ego in check. Not all the companies are out there to screw you. Its hard to believe for some of you.. But its true. At the end of the day, its a business. Its not to their advantage to get rid of you after flying you all the way here. If you are valuable and reliable, there is no reason to screw you. in fact they will be more appreciative of you. But if you act like a cunt and believes you own the place, do not be surprised if things start to go pete tong....

Again, I will be refining on this article as I go along and evolving it with inputs from peers and friends.

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