Slate: Why Do Animated Films Cost So Much to Make?

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Old 06 June 2013   #31
Kinda late to the party but just wanted to add to the pool:

Both Disney Animation and Dreamworks are union shops, and union rates and OT can add up. Depending on the location, studios won't even pay OT.

Or, there are places like pixar where they generally run at a slower pace (9-5 or 6ish), which can be extremely rare (I'm jealous!). Props to the production teams that can make this happen.
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Last edited by staticVex : 06 June 2013 at 08:39 PM.
 
Old 06 June 2013   #32
Originally Posted by circusboy: Remember all that new and expensive tech filters down and across the industry too. *Somebody* has to spend the money on the prototypes.
Might as well be somebody that can afford it!

Then several developers say "kewl" and we have similar functionality
in off the shelf plug-ins and features within a few months even. Even inspires a few free ones! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that.

Case in point - Voxels (not even Pixar's tech). But I remember reading in Cinefex when it was the stuff of only one leading edge company seemed to be able to do. And now they are everywhere.

If I want to see no better than off-the-shelf tech - I'll stop going to Pixar films and watch my kid's Saturday morning cartoons instead.
As a technical kind of guy I LOVE seeing mind blowing R&D
because thats my future tool box!


Yes, better R&D is a good thing. But as I said, there should be a limit. Besides, if all you want to see is cool R&D, you are better off going to the Siggraph or something like that and not to the movies.
 
Old 06 June 2013   #33
Oh yes a plane ticket, hotel accomidations, conference and exhibition fees and make a deal with my wife to be away for a few days. I haven't had a job description related enough or been working in a company small enough to be 'sponsored' for SIGGRAPH since 2000.

Nah-I like to watch the films and its a lot easier to get to. Plus what better way to see a tool in action but in the context of a final released film?!

And again with all the money Pixar/Disney made from the Cars franchise toys (out did Star Wars franchise toys for all-time profit plus which Disney now own those as well) if anybody can afford to spend this money Pixar/Disney can.
Its not like they are spending *your* money fablefox so I can't see a big deal at all. Tell the marketing team to take a budget cut instead!

Last edited by circusboy : 06 June 2013 at 02:39 PM.
 
Old 06 June 2013   #34
I'm guessing here, but you can assume that a lot of Pixar's effort (forests, water, hair... ) goes into showcasing their renderman technology. Probably a great deal of those 100+ goes directly into Renderman development, which is later on amortized on the sell of licenses.

That's something you can't do with the visuals of Despicable Me.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #35
Despicable me 2 was really good.
I give it an 8 on a 10.

and it only cost 76 mi to make vs its predecessor which cost 69 million.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #36
Originally Posted by mujambee: I'm guessing here, but you can assume that a lot of Pixar's effort (forests, water, hair... ) goes into showcasing their renderman technology. Probably a great deal of those 100+ goes directly into Renderman development, which is later on amortized on the sell of licenses.

That's something you can't do with the visuals of Despicable Me.

I'd be seriously surprised if more than a single digit percentage of a Pixar movie's budget was due to PRMan's development. I don't think the entire propietary batch actually would make it to double digit (with about 200M of production expenses a year) If you included most of the large pieces of backbone clients and engines. You'd have to pull in the surface tier dev work and the pipe maintenance and disposable dev to make it well into double digit.
Even all that summed doesn't account for the difference between 80 and 150M. As said before though you can't forget the costs for voice talent, scoring, location and so on.

People are expensive, and an animated feature takes hundreds. Their movies are expensive because they run them on 3 to 5 years cycles and aren't afraid of throwing them on their heads when they don't work and stretching them even past that part-staff.

Despicable me 2 conversely has been in dev for less than three (tempted to say only a smidge more than two outside of pre-prod) in a less expensive location, and with a much higher staff turn-around. The staffing costs are probably a clean half or little more.
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Old 07 July 2013   #37
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO: I'd be seriously surprised if more than a single digit percentage of a Pixar movie's budget was due to PRMan's development. I don't think the entire propietary batch actually would make it to double digit (with about 200M of production expenses a year) If you included most of the large pieces of backbone clients and engines. You'd have to pull in the surface tier dev work and the pipe maintenance and disposable dev to make it well into double digit.
Even all that summed doesn't account for the difference between 80 and 150M. As said before though you can't forget the costs for voice talent, scoring, location and so on.

People are expensive, and an animated feature takes hundreds. Their movies are expensive because they run them on 3 to 5 years cycles and aren't afraid of throwing them on their heads when they don't work and stretching them even past that part-staff.

Despicable me 2 conversely has been in dev for less than three (tempted to say only a smidge more than two outside of pre-prod) in a less expensive location, and with a much higher staff turn-around. The staffing costs are probably a clean half or little more.


I think they were about 60 animators, a few months before deadline. Dunno how much they hired up untill, but probably not a whole lot.
I don't know about SF prices, but Paris is very expensive in terms of rents and macGuff isn't more than a stone throw from the eiffel tower, a not-so-cheap part of Paris as you can probably imagine.
So I doubt it is much cheaper than Emeryville pr square meter.
Though their building isn't as fancy as the Dreamworks campus or Pixar buildings probably.

Anyways, not arguing with you, just throwing in some numbers
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Old 07 July 2013   #38
I'm sure on top of those animators they must have had a handful of modellers, surfacing TDs, texture artists, character TDs, lighting artists, pipeline TDs, system engineers, DOps, wranglers, producers, coordinators, art dept staff and so on on it too And they tend to retain that staff between productions and do tech exploration on shorts inbetween instead of letting go of 80% of the staff and re-hiring later.
The cost of location isn't the campus di per se', it's the cost the location in terms of a number of factors pushes every desk up to.

Maintaining 200 staff in San Fran with a high percentage of seniors is a very different deal from cycling 150 contractors and 50 staff with progressive departmental downsizing in the EU
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Old 07 July 2013   #39
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