Friday, March 07, 2008

Incredible Shrinking Cartoon Budgets

Aka: I may have no business sense but I ain't this dumb.

A very nice person contacted me about doing some two minute animated songs for a commercial tv show. Total creative freedom and total buyout of any characters created. The budget was so darn low it took my breath away, and I said no thanks.

The graph above is not adjusted for inflation. It shows how the price paid for a minute of animation has dropped from $60,000 to $2,000. If you broke that to an hourly you'd be wishing you had that McDonald's job!

The figures represent commercials at Snazelle Films in the 1970's, Ruthless People main titles in the 80's, typical Sesame Street budget in the 90's, a movie title I did a year ago, and the current offer. Admittedly there are no cels involved, but there's still ideas and work to do!


Fearless Freep said...

So they will get the art school computer animation graduates desperate to make a name for themselves doing the work. It shows in the Ditech and other commercials shown around here. Where Terry Gilliam used breakthrough cost effective methods to animate on the cheap that was imaginative, unless you are working for Industrial Light and Magic or Pixar, we are headed back to the quality of Johnny Quest creativity.

Sally said...

That's it exactly. The unnamed company has no shortage of money. They troll for talent, hoping the contractual snag will help launch a new series without having to pay the artist for it. This doesn't have to do with the guy who contacted me, but the company he's signed a contract with. If you're young enough it's worth it maybe.

A similar trick going on is online animation contests where they want product and offer a reasonable cash prize, with small print that you're giving up all rights if you accept it.

Linda said...

But ideas don't count! They just pop into your head, don't they? And can't you just tween everything and be done with it?

On a more serious note, the angle of the line on this graph looks identical to that on the graph showing illustration budgets from the 70's to now.

The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing & Ethical Guidelines suggests the following fees: For 2-dimensional computer animation for Broadcast (per second) $175-500. At the low end, that would work out to $21,000 for a 2-minute animation. For Educational (per second), the range is $125-$1,000. Even if you use the Educational figures, it still comes out to $15,000 at the low end for a 2-minute piece.

OH, wait a minute. Did you say 2-minute songS (plural)??? Was the budget for more than one song?

Sally said...

The budget was just for one song. Really it was the trolling aspect that set me off. I'll work for cheap cheap cheap but not if I have to sign one of those statements that they can have it all. I mean I used to sign them for Sesame St. but that was different- I knew they'd never get it together to launch a series off of anything I'd designed.

It's always seemed amazing to me that musicians organized for residuals way back in the 20s when you think of the typical musician personality (stereotype I know.)

Whereas animators still haven't gotten any residuals for work done as far as I know. There was a brief whoopee period around the time of Lion King.

I didn't know illustration had taken the same leap off the diving board. Animation was budgeted at $10,000 a second when I started in the 70s!

Namowal said...

Fearless freep knows what's going on, and it's not just animation (and illustration) where this shameless game is played (if you get my drift).
Crazy making!

Jesse said...

Hai Sally I found this thing :)

Otherwise, now I've got that jingle for Galaxy Glue stuck in mai head.

Bless you Sally!

Sally said...

Jesse, I LOVE that animation. I'd seen it a while back but had forgotten about it. Be sure to click on it, blog pals. And then click on the different horses with your speakers on. Just this morning I was thinking interactive animation is where it's got to be heading, more than just youtube or cel phones. If animation were more fluidly customizable so you could interact with friends without it involving usual game activities it would be really nifty.

Namowal, I know what you're talking about. It's as if they've decided they don't need to outsource to India, they can find em right here at home. (and pay them poorly.)

Linda said...

Will you start working on a more fluidly customizable kind of animation where we can interact?

We could hold our Avant garde club meetings there. We could meet in strange animated places and wear strange animated hats and feel really bad and incredibly inspired!

Jesse said...

/me doodles, perplexed at how many appendages his avatar is going to need to have.

Oh yeah, and I've got dibbs on orange. :)

sal said...

Is that what Second Life is supposed to be? (I've been too scared to find out.)

Speaking of getting work done cheaply here, our next magazine issue is on im migration.

Looking forward to wearing depressed, philosophical hats in animated independent coffee shops!

Jesse said...

Nah, Second Life is a little bit more like this.

(It's hard to believe but even my wife was entertained by this one. omg! ;)

Linda said...

I thought Second Life was a religious organization.

Jesse said...

Nah, This is Second Life. Virtual 3D online world where you can customize your character and waste time chatting with people /and/ aiming the camera in the right direction: all at once! :)

More technologically impressive I think is First Life.