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

July 21, 2016

How the US animation studios/facilities view Asian animation Studios.

I came across this comment from a few years back by an anonymous blogger on my post about stepping into the industry. And it just resonated with me so much especially now that I just have to share it here.
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"Here's how the US animation studios/facilities view you, the overseas worker:

1. They LOVE you. They love the fact that you work hard like us, but are cheap.
2. They love the fact your government doesn't have labor laws forcing your facilities to pay you overtime and sick pay and benefits. You save them a lot of money.
3. The studios love the fact your government takes money out of your paycheck in the form of tax subsidies and gives it back to them. On top of your low salary and no overtime pay, this is a great deal for them.
4. US VFX facilities are banking on you never wanting to go anywhere else. They want you to stay in Singapore and keep working for cheap. They don't want you to get better or get more experience because then you may start asking for a living wage or open up your own shop and compete with them.
5. The Hollywood studios are more than happy for you to open up your own shop because you'll underbid the US facilities and they'll get more work for cheap.
6. The studios never ever want you to make your own IP because they want to own all the IP out there. The IP is what makes them tons of money--Iron Man, Transformers, Harry Potter, etc. They want you to be a worker ant, not a creative individual.
7. US workers are international folks who like working with people from abroad. Innovation is fostered that way. I know you want to get your break with the "big boys", so you can build your reputation and get better opportunities. Unfortunately, US facilities are making this impossible. You can't come here because there are no jobs to be had. They're already being outsourced to you.
8. Facilities use the above scenario to keep US animators scared so they don't ask for a fair wage. "You're lucky you have a job at all." is a common attitude. If this is the way they want us to view ourselves, how do you think they want you to view yourself?
9. Lucasfilm and Pixar just got caught by the US Department of Justice for illegally price-fixing animator salaries. If you think this doesn't affect you, think again. We're all in this together.

Once I knew I was having a kid, I realized one day he may tell me he wants to be an animator. If there is even an industry in the US by then, I owe it to him to not let him do that. Furthermore (and I know you may not print this) but I will never let my child pay money for an education in animation or CG. For the same reasons you pointed out--the industry is being destroyed by greed but the education side of it is thriving. That's because they're making money off students. The pay you are going to get out of school is not worth going into debt to get the education. That holds true for the multitude of online schools as well.

My advice to aspiring VFX artists/animators is to pursue it as a hobby. Read all the online materials available and post your work on youtube and on forums to get feedback. Do it for fun and because you love it, but don't expect to make a living at it. Unfortunately Hollywood studios and the VFX facilities are working to make sure it's so.

Pursue another career that gives a better hard-work-to-reward ratio than animation. I myself am looking for a way out because I want to have more than one child and I want to be able to send them to college. I would feel guilty if I didn't share this advice because I feel like I owe it to the young students out there. I wish them luck!"
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I agree with most of his points. Except for a few.

1.) From an educator and also from having been a student before. I know whatever I say will not deter someone if they really want to do it. This is something that I constantly grapple with and had long discussions before with me boss.

To put it simply, I do not have a right to tell people not to chase their dreams. No matter how far out it may be. (believe me... I tried. many times.)

Who am I to tell someone they cannot make it as a animator or a modeller. To crush a dream even before they tried?

I have walked that path before. And I remembered how hard it was to walk it alone. And how much having a good teacher and classmates helped me on that path.

All I can do is to advise them on the obstacles in their paths as well as how hard that path will be. And push them to be the best they can be. But if they have tried their best and still cannot succeed. They have gave it their best shot and realised its not for them.

2.) Studios want to make money. Duh... and they need good content to do that. So don't be a worker ant. Be the story teller. Animation is a tool. So is your brain. use to tell a story that the studios want to buy it.


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