Why does the UK lack CG Animation Studios who produce full feature length CGI?

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Old 08 August 2012   #1
Why does the UK lack CG Animation Studios who produce full feature length CGI?

I just realised that I've never seen a feature length British CGI animation in the cinema. Our games and animation industry is on par with US but not one studio is. Disney Anim, Dreamworks, Pixar, BlueSky, Sony etc... All the animation studios here seem to be outsourcing/short films/television series etc. So why is US so ahead of the game?

Last edited by Splicage : 09 September 2012 at 10:53 PM.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #2
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Old 09 September 2012   #3
Originally Posted by Splicage: I just realised that I've never seen a feature length British CGI animation in the cinema. Our games and animation industry is on par with US but not one studio is. Disney Anim, Dreamworks, Pixar, BlueSky, Sony etc... All the animation studios here seem to be outsourcing/short films/television series etc. So why is US so ahead of the game?

You must have missed Vanguard and Framestore with "the pidgeon movie I don't remember the title of", and Tales of Desperaux (?).

Every time it's done, it goes badly for someone for one reason or another, and the lot gets a 3-4 years rewind apparently.

It's not easy though. A lot about making it profitable is having a continuous overalp between production, which requires critical mass, and you don't have that at the start, and being able to partake in its production, which is high risk, or you're left with peanuts at the end of it.
Critical mass and ownership are the main, although not sole, reasons why three studios in the States can routinely turn around their franchises. And for Blue Sky the deal is slightly different than it is for DW and Pixar. But that's it, it's not like the ratio is 40 to 1
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Old 09 September 2012   #4
Well Despereaux was made at Framestore, and that failed at the box office.
Arthur Christmas was made at by Sony and Aardman (I think a lot animated at Aardman) - and I dont think that did amazingly well..

I seem to remember Gnomeo and Juliet was originally going to be made in London, and for whatever reason went to Canada. Probably tax and not enough financial backing here.
So it has been tried
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Old 09 September 2012   #5
Cause it is expensive to make movies, British movies usually have failed as mentioned, and unless you have a movie that can truly cross they will continue to fail.

So why spend 60-100 million on a cg film and lose all that money. The US is probably the only one who spends the budgets they do on movies and is able to recoup.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #6
Originally Posted by AangtheAvatar: Cause it is expensive to make movies, British movies usually have failed as mentioned, and unless you have a movie that can truly cross they will continue to fail.

So why spend 60-100 million on a cg film and lose all that money. The US is probably the only one who spends the budgets they do on movies and is able to recoup.


Wake up/come clear pls.!
 
Old 09 September 2012   #7
Valiant was supposedly the first, and it was woeful.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #8
Well.. Studio goes to London for vfx, because of tax rebate.

There is no tax rebate for feature animation. Hence, no reason to go.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #9
Well there's this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC0nBkisgOM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5AEus_lbuY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE_E84Ju6Pk
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Old 09 September 2012   #10
Originally Posted by gandhics: Well.. Studio goes to London for vfx, because of tax rebate.

There is no tax rebate for feature animation. Hence, no reason to go.

The tax subsidy in London is still lower than they are in a lot of other places, which still don't see anywhere the throughput of SOHO.

Stating the studios go there the way you did comes across as that being the only reason they do, when in actuality UK shops have long produced stellar work (several non-American shops have across the world in fact), and while of course the value of the pound and the rebates help, without a quality par work of the scale and complexity they take on wouldn't go there anyway.

As of March it was also being discussed, in tandem with some EU policies, to be extended to animation, TV and potentially games, but that's still not going to change things much, as it's not tax rebates determining the feature animation market ebbs and flows, or McGuff wouldn't have ever seen a penny, and countries that offer the option and have for a long time still haven't "stolen" any work from pixar or dreamworks, it seems.
Full CG features are a completely different beast to VFX in more regards than you seem to imagine.

If ever there was a narrow minded statement on these forums...
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Old 09 September 2012   #11
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: The tax subsidy in London is still lower than they are in a lot of other places, which still don't see anywhere the throughput of SOHO.

Stating the studios go there the way you did comes across as that being the only reason they do, when in actuality UK shops have long produced stellar work (several non-American shops have across the world in fact), and while of course the value of the pound and the rebates help, without a quality par work of the scale and complexity they take on wouldn't go there anyway.

As of March it was also being discussed, in tandem with some EU policies, to be extended to animation, TV and potentially games, but that's still not going to change things much, as it's not tax rebates determining the feature animation market ebbs and flows, or McGuff wouldn't have ever seen a penny, and countries that offer the option and have for a long time still haven't "stolen" any work from pixar or dreamworks, it seems.
Full CG features are a completely different beast to VFX in more regards than you seem to imagine.

If ever there was a narrow minded statement on these forums...


I know there has been many good vfx company in London even before there are tax rebate. But, you can not deny Harry Potter and tax rebate made the current London vfx scene.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #12
Originally Posted by gandhics: I know there has been many good vfx company in London even before there are tax rebate. But, you can not deny Harry Potter and tax rebate made the current London vfx scene.


Well that's the point of the rebate after all :-)

The rebate is actually available for feature film animation - Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Pirates! were both made with the rebate, as were The Illusionist and Valliant. It's not currently available for TV animation, though that looks set to change next year.

The reasons for there not being sustained production of CG animated movies in the UK are more complex. A big factor is that you need deep pockets to set up a studio to make a film - it's a minimum four year commitment that has to be paid for out of the production budget which is generally a fixed fee that comes from the actual production company. It's a big risk for anyone to take. Distribution is another big deal - the major animation producers in the US are either part of larger organisations with big distribution networks (Disney, Fox) or they have significant distribution deals in place (Dreamworks, Illumination) that allows them to realise the box office profits of the films (whose IP they own in the first place). With the demise of Polygram a decade and a half ago Europe lost its only major production/distribution network - there's nothing in the UK or Europe that compares to the might of a setup like Disney or Warners.

With the aid of the tax incentives the UK has built a formidable modern movie-making machine that creates a lot of what you see in the multiplex each year, but at the moment it's essentially a service for hire. There are home-financed movies, but they tend to be of the smaller King's Speech type. The cash-flow challenges and need for sustained production rather than just one-offs like Valliant and Desperaux doesn't fit into the industry model as it currently stands.

There are some signs that this might be changing - the sustained growth of the UK production community over the last ten years has created a new generation of producers who want to make films - of all kinds - for the international market. Will there ever be a UK equivalent of Pixar? Probably not, but then there isn't a US animation studio with the unique character of Aardman either.
 
Old 09 September 2012   #13
Originally Posted by dneg: Will there ever be a UK equivalent of Pixar? Probably not, but then there isn't a US animation studio with the unique character of Aardman either.


Heh, that's a really great point, Paul.

Personally I'd love for things to change in this area. Just the other day I was saying to some friends that, what with the current slow crawling pace of VFX work in Soho that's put a lot of us on ice, what we really need is original IP in the form of feature animation to boost the local scene. Sadly, as the post above points out, budget and distribution are big hurdles to overcome. I worked on Despereaux at Framestore and absolutely looooved the experience of working on feature animation as opposed to VFX (my months on Despereaux are one of my most fondly remembered eras in my career thus far), and while I wouldn't entirely switch careers for it as I enjoy VFX work, I'd love the opportunity to work on an animated film again in London and really hope that it could somehow happen again one day.
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Old 09 September 2012   #14
Originally Posted by leigh: Heh, that's a really great point, Paul.

Personally I'd love for things to change in this area. Just the other day I was saying to some friends that, what with the current slow crawling pace of VFX work in Soho that's put a lot of us on ice, what we really need is original IP in the form of feature animation to boost the local scene. Sadly, as the post above points out, budget and distribution are big hurdles to overcome. I worked on Despereaux at Framestore and absolutely looooved the experience of working on feature animation as opposed to VFX (my months on Despereaux are one of my most fondly remembered eras in my career thus far), and while I wouldn't entirely switch careers for it as I enjoy VFX work, I'd love the opportunity to work on an animated film again in London and really hope that it could somehow happen again one day.


The current slowdown is not just limited to Soho - the big American studios have become increasingly risk-averse, making fewer, but bigger, movies. The result is that when there's a gap in the slates it becomes all the more noticeable. Next year looks like it'll be gangbusters again.

There's a small handful of producers who want to make feature-length CG animated films in the UK, though they're all quite modest compared to the likes of the Pixar/Dreamworks behemoths - hopefully something will get going in the relatively near future.

For myself, I'm sticking with live action ;-)
 
Old 09 September 2012   #15
Originally Posted by dneg: The current slowdown is not just limited to Soho - the big American studios have become increasingly risk-averse, making fewer, but bigger, movies. The result is that when there's a gap in the slates it becomes all the more noticeable. Next year looks like it'll be gangbusters again.

There's a small handful of producers who want to make feature-length CG animated films in the UK, though they're all quite modest compared to the likes of the Pixar/Dreamworks behemoths - hopefully something will get going in the relatively near future.

For myself, I'm sticking with live action ;-)


Yeah I realise this slowdown is all over, I just mention Soho since that's what's affecting me personally right now. Here's to hoping things will change soon!

I'd love for those producers to get something together. I love live action too, but I guess as a texture painter there's something really fun about hand painting stuff, like getting back to my roots. Despereaux was particularly nice since the art direction was heavily based on Flemish painting, which was just fantastic from a texturing perspective. I loved working in that style. Live action will probably also always be my main love, but feature animation is an exciting affair once in a while ;-)
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