|01 January 2005||#1|
Visual Effects Supervisor
Los Angeles, USA
Join Date: Aug 2002
The Business of Animation and Storytelling
Have you ever been suddenly struck with what you believed was a brilliant and original idea? Perhaps you were watching TV, eating breakfast, driving to work, standing in the shower, sitting on the john, about to fall asleep, exploring a new place, traveling, hanging out with friends, drunk, high, writing, drawing, acting, or whatever it was that you were doing at the time. Whatever "it" is or was, "it" seems to happen to everyone. You don't think so? Ask around, dig deeper, pry into people's heads - they have ideas too (unbelievable isn't it? You're not alone!).
So maybe you actually start to believe in your idea and you follow through with it, or maybe you forget about it and it becomes one of things you wished you had done if you had more time. Maybe you realize your idea was dumb, unoriginal, just a rehashed version of someone else's idea, or maybe you're too scared to share your idea for fear of what other people might think of it. What if they don't like it?
But what if they do? What if the mass market eats it up and everyone involved gets rich? What if they hate it and it flops? What if, what if...
You could spend all day asking these questions really, and at the end of the day you end up in the same place you started, back at square one.
It's not what the idea is, it's how you go about doing it. I'm convinced that the business of animation and storytelling is just that - a business. Cynical? I hope so, it would be a relief! No really though, how many good ideas never see the light of day, even with all the right people and all the right contacts, how many just never get made? Then think about how many terrible ideas DO get made, DO get funding, DO get exposure - and think about the ratio of success to failure, which is unimpressive because acknowledging failure means accepting that it is the winner, that sucess is lucky and not a result of carefully planned actions.
In other words, do you think that Pixar sat down and planned the level of success they're acheiving? Steve Jobs would say yes, but the truth is they have far exceeded anyone's expectations. Why?
Do you think Michael Eisner realized that when he agreed to distribute 5 Pixar films that he would be relying on those earnings to be profitable as a result? No, that's luck. The 2D animators who lost their jobs as a result - bad luck. Bad management, bad everything.
They'll have their shot again, but not in 2D, those days are gone.
I believe that good stories get made as a result of luck. Those who've proven they can make good stories that sell get the chance to make more. I believe that understanding that this is a business and that no story is appealing to a producer unless it appeals to a mass audience is also something to consider when coming up with the original ideas. I believe that the story makes the film, but the film must also be visually interesting, and that story can be second to the visual appeal if it is subjected to the viewer appropriately (example: Cathedral). Pixar is 6 for 6, a record held by no other studio in the movie business - ever. No flops, 6 tries, 6 major sucesses. Was it all because of the great stories?
Who would've thought a movie about talking toys would be so great anways?
What are your thoughts on the business of animation and how it affects storytelling?
Last edited by -dc- : 01 January 2005 at 09:57 AM.
|01 January 2005||#2|
cg direction, concept, models & design
Ludwigsburg / Berlin, Germany
Join Date: Dec 2001
Err, not. Or are you missing the Miyazaki phenomena.
And besides Ghibli, 2D is doing fine. There will be a wave of software solutions making 2D more efficient, mixing 3D elements and we will see a revival. 3D will at the same time sober up as a saturation point is reached and the market is flooded with flops. Pixar, Dreamworks, Blue Sky... they're established and will survive.
Story is everything, so is business. Not sure what you're after here.
|01 January 2005||#3|
I don't agree with you assessment.
The problem is that unless you work at Disney or Pixar you really have no idea why aladdin worked but treasure planet didn't. Or Pixars string of great movies (or call them popular if you don't like them). If you come up with the wrong ideas based on interviews and other second hand information you could whind up with wrong ideas about this kind of thing.
Every company wants to make the best movie that can be made and I beleive that when a movie fails it is because the non-creatives got in the way of creatives.
I've worked at companies where the management felt it was so important to succeed that they get involved in every little detail and destroy an artists work, or worse tell the artist to work on the management's rehashed hollywood guarrenteed winner that ultimately sucked ideas. A CEO can't point at the marketing team and ask them to make up a story it just doesn't work that way.
So to me great stories is a matter of getting a great artist and giving him the freedom to develop his story. If you read books or comics you have favorite writers who turn out one great story after another. It's not luck, it's a skill.
I think worrying about original stories is a waste of time, nothing is original so give up on it. Seriously, don't even think about it. We all wake up in the morning go to work (or school) come home eat dinner and go to bed. there is nothing terribly original about that idea yet there are a million ways this simple idea turns into the unique lives of as many people.
What makes one story different from the other is what the writer is trying to express with that idea, or what they are interested in. Look at night of the living dead compared to shawn of the dead. Same idea yet they go off in two dramatically different directions.
So make a story you love, that you find cool and the rest will take care of itself.
|01 January 2005||#4|
Join Date: Nov 2004
I had a terrible experience once, where a great story was destroyed by too many Business minded producers putting their two bobs worth in. In the end, all we had was a mess that never should have been made, a certainly never saw the light of day. About two years after that debarkle, i was reading scripts, and inadvertantly came across "that" script again. It was still great on paper, and really bore no resemblance to the rubbish that it became.
I agree, this is a business, but i firmly believe that the business end needs to set parametres, then let the Creative people do there thing, and i think that is how Pixar have such a good strike rate.
Also, re the No original ideas. I have always believed that "there are no no stories, just new ways of telling them", however, I feel that sometimes, the new way of telling the idea, is so good, that it creates a new "idea" - Matrix is a case in point.
Just my thoughts on the subject.
|01 January 2005||#5|
Join Date: Aug 2003
|01 January 2005||#6|
Just makin' animation
Animator, Director, teacher
Join Date: Dec 2002
Well, not to pop the bubble, but there are people who are "creatives" and are bad creatives. And there are businessmen who actually understand storytelling and are quite creative. It's not as black and white as the "suits" leaving the "artists" alone to create the effervescent genius their muse farts forth. Sometimes the stuff that some artists make smells funny.
As for the larger discussion at hand, the key to any successful story telling venture is a clear understanding of and a commitment to putting forward a singular vision for that story. Whether that vision comes from one bright mind or from several bright minds is fairly irrelevant- just so long as there is a clear understanding & commitment from all involved just what it is you're trying to say. Everybody pulling in the same direction. And even then you might just absolutely miss the moving target of public tastes and make a financial flop.
But a sure fire way to miss is to have diverging agendas in a story telling venture. It doesn't work. We want to hear one story teller at the campfire tell us the tale. It's no fun listening to two or three or 16 different people tell it and try to steer the story their way. Now 16 people can come up with the story, but we want to be spellbound by a single storyteller. And it's not just business guys who hijack storytelling. It can be "creative" people as well who are keen to make sure everybody sees their "touch" on the project. I've seen supervisors who tried to be the director on a project. Not a pretty picture.
animator, storyteller, teacher
|01 January 2005||#7|
Modeler Texture Artist
London, United Kingdom
Join Date: Jan 2003
Excellent post Keith (as per usual )
That word singular; so very important and often abused.....
The classic scenario of 'too many cooks' is passable to an extent with other elements of the pipeline (character design, animation, modeling etc.) but not here.
Definitely! Witnessed it several times; Why do they do it? Hmmm; I wonder.....
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