Forget Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks. Call of the indie!


#21

Wow, that was a great video!! Very inspirational!!

I’m still a student right now, but I can honestly say that what he described has always been something I have wanted to do, once I have gained an acceptable skill level.

I would absolutely love to come up with a unique film/series with a group of like-minded individuals. To me, it’s about feeling proud for an accomplishment. Working on something in a small team, having a large impact on the final product and seeing (hopefully) people love watching it. What could be better than that!?

Doing something like this would be a strain on the bank-account at times… but I’ve been a student for the past 4 years, and it’s really not that hard to live on a tight budget. You just can’t expect to be a materialistic person… not going to have a new car or a big house. But, if you love what you’re doing, then these trivial matters of money won’t matter so long as your needs are being met.

Of course not! But he was just referring to back when things were hand drawn, you’d finish your key poses then hand it off to hundreds of people doing the in-betweens. So, from his perspective, you set up your shot correctly and the computer does the drawing for you. In a sense, yes, it does do the “work” for you.


#22

I was looking at the level of quality that could probably be achieved

http://www.siggjones.com/
http://www.burningsafari.com/
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/907849/killer_bean_forever_official_trailer/

That is the level of quality that can be achieved. Then there is always cell shaded.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc9zg05w2_g
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apqVPQ2_Rx8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-G6dQe4taU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYPz50Kh7cI

So there can be a level of quality without giant render farms. AS someone mentioned buy a cheap machine and let it do nothing but render for six months. Heck buy 2. I have 3 systems over the years that can be used for rendering that no one uses.

I think one problem is people think they have to dedicate a whole year to the work. That is not the case. They think they have to starve for a year. Not necessarily.

They see a big picture instead of seeing the individual brush strokes.

If you can get a team of 1-3 modellers - keep the character count to roughly 10-20 characters tops and you can take shortcuts by creating a universal man and universal woman instead of all models. Pixar did that for background characters. 3 fast modellers and how quickly could they be done.

As they finish a model they can throw the character for texturing to a texture artist.
Then a rigging artist who can use predefined rigs or a rig he makes that fits well.

For props you can buy them cheaply at many places.
Things can be faked for background. You could even using compositing and Vue for outside backgrounds.

Well I think you get the point. A small assembly line.
If you can convince 10 great modellers to throw in one model.

If you convince the CG community to throw in props and things they don’t need of realistic items you could use that would be a great advancement. I mean in live movies we don’t go out and build chairs, we borrow them or buy them. Why not do it on a cg film? I mean how many models are on folks hard drives sitting there collecting dust right now?

I think the problem with CG folks is they think of all the work. Sure it is tough to build a car, but on an assembly line of guys it takes about 2 hours.

Using that analogy I mean you get the picture.
The modellers do their part for a month and leave.
The riggers do their parts for a month then leave.
and the list goes down.

Then there is shortcuts that can be used, like Phenomes for facial animation that lipsync to a track. There is motion capture, there is limited animation. There are so many shortcuts that can be done to get production out faster. Anime uses shortcuts all the time to get some great or deliverable results.

Musicians and actors for the voices and track are not hard to find.

If people did work together you could have a small team make a movie and then share 5 million dollars for a year of work.

Split 10 modellers, 10 riggers, 10 actors, 10 texture artists, 2 sound guys, 5 animators plus mocap just to say we used a shortcut and 2 compositors.

If you made a million. Split all those ways it’s 20,000 but who says you had to work for the whole year. 10 modellers may have just worked for a month. Not bad for 1 month of work.

Say it was 10 milliion you made back. Who knows?

just a thought
It’s feasible and if you concentrate on one step at a time then it becomes more of a reality.

Someoen mentioned something about shorts… bleh…

Here is a recent article on shorts
http://mag.awn.com/index.php?ltype=pageone&article_no=3719


#23

inspiration doesnt pay the bills

…my 2 dollars :scream:


#24

I have to agree with what someone said earlier that as a student, this is something I’ve always wanted to do (and in fact, I currently work on my own animations in Flash, but that’s for another topic). Like I said at the beginning of the topic, there are just so many other things that come into account that he wasn’t addressing, and this goes for 3D OR 2D animation. I honestly would LOVE to be able to create an indie film and it would be a great opportunity once I start at a university, but it can really take a toll on a person’s pocket, let alone self-esteem and whatnot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WC_NwOM12Wo Though, since we’re giving examples of short film ambitions, I’ll say that this is a great example of what can be done by ONE person, in the span of a only 8 months. He used cell-shading and it looks good. It may not be the most top-notch looking animation in the world, but it still works for what it is.

The problem is getting over all of the hurdles that come before and during production (like I said earlier, the money and time for rendering, dedicated people to help, money on the side, etc). And then, as someone said, actually getting someone to watch your movie and getting it out there into the world. Youtube can only help so much.


#25

In the books I have read, there are ways of getting your film out there. The small art houses that are in your neighborhood would probably love to show your complete film. If you’re lucky you might even be able to get the big independantly owned movie theaters too. Then there is the internet, everyone can see your short, and will, once it’s online. From there, you open yourself up to offers and deals from people you don’t even know. Then there is siggraph, and other such conventions where you can showcase your work. It’s not easy, you will have to spend more money, but I think it’s worth it in the long run. Additionally, you can pitch your work to networks and you might get it turned into a series.

I will disagree with this guy on one thing. Maybe for him making a feature length film with a small team is possible, but for a lot of people - a short is way more realistic. And after your second or third short and everyone knowing who you are - maybe then you can use your connections to get the funding and people to help you with the big project.


#26

loved what he had to say and agree with him. and don’t take him to literally. he knows if 10 people sit around today and work straight for 2 years eating crappy food, they could have a great animation… but it won’t be shown around the world like a Pixar movie. maybe it will sell online and on dvd rentals…

but someone has to start it.

and what he says can be applied to the game industry. there are a lot of little studios making games for the big 3 systems. Castle Crashers, Poker Smash, and Braid all had very small teams [core team is about 4 or less] and are all great games.


#27

I wasn’t addressing the original video as much as the context and comments of another post I quoted, which I otherwise (except for the excerpt I quoted) I thought was insightful.
As for the message being simplistic when related to CG, it is, that’s all I said, not necessarily that it’s a bad thing.
“lovely that you know them all” lost me though.

Chill a bit, nobody’s touching this new animation hero, we like him :slight_smile:


#28

I see where you’re coming from, I mean we’ve all seen those projects where corners were cut, and it winds up unwatchably bad. But that’s a result of thinking inside the box. Like you start out with preconceptions of the Pixar model and then cut it back in every department. Winds up looking like a poor man’s Pixar, and yet Pixar could probably do it with sock puppets and still be more entertaining.

If you are familiar with the history of 2d animation, it took decades to achieve the sort of minimalism we see today. Cartoons in the 20s, 30s, 40s were pretty much non stop animation with no holds. The characters hardly stopped moving for a second. It was highly expensive, labour intensive, and no one really conceived any other way of doing it for decades. And yet there’s lots of ways to tell a story.

For independent 3d to be successful, we need to find new ways of doing it.


#29

You know how many people make money and get their film seen in live action peices.

You have Sci Fi Channel showing them almost every single week, movies made for around 300,000 or less dollars.

You have a whole group of live action m ovie makers making some really low budget B movies and making a living doing it.

Why can’t it be done in CG?

Yes it takes a lot longer to do CG but once you have the assets you can make part 1 2 3 in a shorter amount of time.

I will disagree with this guy on one thing. Maybe for him making a feature length film with a small team is possible, but for a lot of people - a short is way more realistic. And after your second or third short and everyone knowing who you are - maybe then you can use your connections to get the funding and people to help you with the big project.

A short will usually get you no where. See the AWN article I sent.

As far as marketting you can still make money if you give your movie away for free.

You make it good they will come and there are ways for indies to get noticed.

Look at Dreamland Chronicles. Almost 100,000 views a day and around 6 million viewers all together.

with an estimated 6,000,000 readers worldwide and 100,000 hits on the daily site.

There are adsense running some 10 dollars per 1,000 views. That’s 1,000 dollars for unique 100,000 hits. Now imagine 6,000,000 a month come and you base your money on a monthly adsense fee. Not saying that is how many come but 6,000,000 equates to 60,0000 a month.

You do not even need adsense. You can have various commercials at the beginning of your show or sponsorship if you do it in a serial basis.

Some CPMs are even higher if it is specialized. I’ve seen a few at $50 per 1000 views.
Then there are Pay Per Action and Pay per Clicks that can run higher. Affiliate programs, etc.

Then you can compile and sale on DVD as a season.

Then there is merchandising that is possible. If you have cool characters that would make good toys.

There are so many opening routes.

You can skip the math in yellow

Your sweet spot is 10,000 dvds for most shorts. But that is usually you promoting and going at it alone. 10,000 sweet spot for Indies is still very good. 15-20 retail and work in shipping costs so it’s all profit and you are running 150,000 profit.

Broken Saints sold 10,000 units on it’s own at retail 50 bucks a pop. 500,000 dollars is a good chunk of change to share between the group. If you did the assembly line style and di most the work yourself that is a good deal to make.

My work style is going through this method

I’m not a modeller
I’m not a rigger
I can texture a bit
I can storyboard
I can write
I can animate
I can mocap
I can do the compositing with a little help.
I can edit
Machines can render at night.

Voice overs not that difficult. I found actors who can do that.
Music and sound fx are just as easy.

So for my movie I’m working on I need a few modellers and some riggers.
2 riggers and 3 modelers
1 Texture guy

1 Storyboard, composite, write edit, animate .
Actors and I do the mocap
Musicians do the music
I get 1 sound guy

So far it’s me, 2 modellers, 1 rigger, I texture guy, 1 compositor, 1 musician and promotional bands that add to soundtrack,

7 actors

I do the rest.

Modeller take 2 months to model the 10 character models
1 do extra morphs in Zbrush to change up the Universal man and woman
Rigger takes them as we make them.
Texture guy paints them as they come down assembly line and takes 1 month for textures.
Compositor and I take 1 month to composite, most is done in camera.
1 musician is writing the peice based on animatics.
7 actors 3 weekends of mocap work and voice over work.

All in all in my production there is a neeed for 13 people.

I sell 10,000 units of compiled DVD as I’ve noticed this is average in comic sales and indie dvds. Retail for 20 dollars to a niche market, maybe even higher but lets leave it at 20 for now. Have person pay for shipping, handling and storage as a surcharge.

Take out 1 dollar per CD as cost upfront you’d have to pay for DVD replication.
10,000 x 20 = 200,000 - 10,000 - 20,000 taxes = 170,000.

Pay people per merits and time spent on project.

Actors get paid twice guild pay= 7 x $250 x 9 days to shoot = 15,750 + promotion
Musician = 15,000 + promotion
Modeller 1 and 2 = 40,000 for two months of work
Texturer = 20,000 for 1 month
Sound FX = 15,000
Rigger=20,000
Compositor = 20,000

Pay Yourself less since it’s your film = 20,000 for full but get 80% of other revenue gained and pay everyone else a 20% cut of the pie.

So if you do get a million viewers a month by some chance that is $10,000 per month from adsense, adverts or whatever kind of sponsorship deal you can get. Keep $7500 for yourself each month.

In other words there are ways for people to make a little money out of this. They do it all the time in the LIve Action and Flash media. Whose to say we can’t do it in the CG.

In fact that 4 man team would be cool.

170,000/4 = 42,500 BUT I’ve seen people sell to smaller foreign international distributors for 300,000 + so ad that if you get a distributor for foreign market.

Potential is there. Instead of just looking at short term, we might not get paid. Look at the long term like a BUSINESS INVESTMENT.

You would be risking your time but it can and will for some be a huge payout.

Imagine some guys go together made something similiar to that Hoodwinked film at the same quality and got distribution and the film made 10,000,000 as your cut? Divide that 4 ways.

Potential is there but it is a business risk and investment.

Thing is though if you go to any modelling sight, you will see 1000s of models and pretty pictures folks have done of Spiderman, Hulk, Wolverine. If I see another Hulk or Wolverine on Zbrush I’ll scream. Why not throw someone a bone and model a character for fun with the stipulation that if they make money they pay you a profit share for your work based on merit? Those Wolverine models and Hulk models ain’t making you money, why not pop it on something that might while getting the same practice you would get from modelling wolverine? Possibly better spent time.


#30

Well, I’ve always said the truth hurts. I think that after so many years using 3D apps I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I dont actually want to work in the field. I would rather have a day job doing computing and in my free time make my own movies.

I think Bakshi is pretty much right and the evidence is here on CGTalk itself every friggin day…

“Hi, I am a novice and want to work at PIXAR but I am totally overwhelmed by the work in their movies and of that displayed here on CGTalk. Whatever will I do?”

…and he is right that people are too scared to produce animation in fear that it will not be up to snuff. But we have to start somewhere and sometimes we have to take a leaf out of “Drawing on the right side of the brain” and keep drawing(in this case “animating”), not letting our first few blunders stop us.

Sometimes I take a trip down memory lane and look back at the first few animations I created. The thought is usually “I made this with Magazine-cover-CD software? And whacking out animations so soon after obtaining it?” which usually leads to “If I could do that back then with crude software and limited knowledge, what can I achieve now with todays 3D apps and the tricks and skills I have learned since?” and then finally “I did THAT on a Pentium 2? Holy shit, I now have a Pentium 4 Desktop and a Dual-core Laptop that make it look like a school calculator!”…

But in the end I usually question why I would embark on such a project. I know now that the career of an animator isnt a glamourous one - or in most cases not a profitable one. Also, one guy on his lonesome is going to be hard pressed to afford or house a renderfarm, which is vital to producing high quality renders. So the only conclusion can be that a one man show’s render output simply isnt going to match that of a large blockbuster studio’s efforts and must therefore make some sacrifices.

I would just settle for making a film for myself - something that I would want to slap in the DVD player and watch. Infact, there are so many movies that have been made with a non-exsistant budget that they turn out to be surprisingly watchable! Thats the reward I’m looking for: Something watchable.

But the sacrifice for making a film that would only appeal to great minds like mine:cool: is that there will definitely be those that wont like it. This is something I have to accept otherwise I will say “well, it may not be popular…ahhhh I wont bother then”. And if I think that then I’ve failed in the worst possible way…

For me Bakshi makes sense.


#31

As a character animator I can say that it takes me a lot of time and effort to create high quality, believable animation.
Guess when an animation is believable? When you don’t leave the computer much of the inbetweening work.

Which means it takes a long time or a lot of talented animators to create a moving story that people can relate to.

This guy has a point however he does oversimplify things. Computers are still as stupid as a pencil. They can’t do the job for you. They never will.


#32

A short will usually get you no where. See the AWN article I sent.

I will have to disagree with you (Ilive) on that. Then again, I suppose it depends on where you want to be. If you are all about money and getting it as soon as possible, then you are correct. But it’s not all about money. I advocate the short film as a way to make contacts, get known, and prepare for the larger projects down the road. (and you can still make a little cash from that - just ask Timothy Albee)

If you have never even tried to produce a short film, how can you be expected to produce a film 4 times as long? I’ve been working at this for years and I’ve learned a lot already. I’m just now getting my ‘formula’ right. I’m learning things a lot of people either don’t know, or don’t want to hear. Things you have to experience. I put my failures on the wall as a constant reminder of what could have been, and why it wasn’t successful. I know what I did wrong, and I avoid making those mistakes again. I know that this time I will succeed. And when you finish your film, everyone will know that you have what it takes. Especially the ones who also took the journey.

Trying to make a feature length film with no experience is a recipe for disaster. Nothing hurts more than realizing all that time you wasted because you “didn’t do this” or “rushed into that.” And when you’re all burnt out and crying you might just quit and never look back. Making small films first is the best way to go about it… you can keep your day job, piss off the least amount of people, and try again.

Thing is though if you go to any modelling sight, you will see 1000s of models and pretty pictures folks have done of Spiderman, Hulk, Wolverine. If I see another Hulk or Wolverine on Zbrush I’ll scream. Why not throw someone a bone and model a character for fun with the stipulation that if they make money they pay you a profit share for your work based on merit? Those Wolverine models and Hulk models ain’t making you money, why not pop it on something that might while getting the same practice you would get from modelling wolverine? Possibly better spent time.

Ilive, I must say that you should never underestimate the value of practice.


#33

I will have to disagree with you (Ilive) on that. Then again, I suppose it depends on where you want to be. If you are all about money and getting it as soon as possible, then you are correct. But it’s not all about money. I advocate the short film as a way to make contacts, get known, and prepare for the larger projects down the road. (and you can still make a little cash from that - just ask Timothy Albee)

I’ve made a ton of short quick stuff and scenes. It was always part of the bigger picture. I got to where I wanted to be and technology also cut up to my vision. I do agree on doing quick shorts but a whole pixar quality short that takes 3 years to make is not my thing.

I love watching shorts but not a fan of making them. I mean folks are free to do what they will.

My goals are differant. I want to tell my stories, while making a living telling my stories.

Problem is with getting known is it usually only lands you a job in the industry as someone working on a great movie for someone else as a hired gun.

I’m sure there are examples where it leads someone to their own film down the road but more often than not ends up getting them a good job at one of the big studios.

Ilive, I must say that you should never underestimate the value of practice.

That is a great idea. But why not practice and contribute at the same time to a little project. If you want to model a cool superhero I have a library of cool superheroes and characters to model that could be used in a film. You’ll get the practice but at the same time you would have invested in something bigger and possibly share in any profit that could come off your model.

Just a thought.

It would be nice to get the forum motivated to a series or something simliar to Dreamland chronicles meets afterworld.tv

As a character animator I can say that it takes me a lot of time and effort to create high quality, believable animation.
Guess when an animation is believable? When you don’t leave the computer much of the inbetweening work.

Which means it takes a long time or a lot of talented animators to create a moving story that people can relate to.

This guy has a point however he does oversimplify things. Computers are still as stupid as a pencil. They can’t do the job for you. They never will.
It does take a lot of time and effort but at the same time we are not talking Pixar quality animation, although Jeff Lew succeeded in that with Killer Bean Forever, we are talking about a descent, watchable level of animation similiar to how anime uses a limited amount of Animation. They do it all the time in Flash animation, why can’t it be done in CG?

Look at Homestarrunner. Very limited animation. Yet very successful.
I think Lucy Daughter of the Devil does a good job on simple animation with a cool look
http://www.thefluidimage.com/

I think this is a great look and not hard to animate.
You’d have to take shortcuts but could still make a good looking show, movie or web series.

Where you lack in Pixar quality, you make up in story.

We could make a show and take the Hannah Barbara or any anime method and make something good if we are creative.

It does not have to be Pixar for it to be good, watchable and profitable.

B Movies look sucky but there are folks making millions off of b movies they made for 10,000-300,000 dollars. Even ones like UFO films makes around the 2 million dollar mark still make money and they get stories told no matter how cheesy they are.

Time = yes But 20 years = no.

Jeff Lew 4 years one man.
Timothy Albee 5 months
M Dot Strange 2 years

Imagine instead of one man you get the 4 man. That 4 years could turn to 1. 5 months to 2.

heck Thurist puts out 3-6 minutes a month on PLANKTON INvasion at that quality by himself.

Could 4 people get 12-24 minutes a month of that quality (plankton invasion) per month-6 weeks?
What about Lucy Daughter of the Devil quality in 6 months - 9 months?

Some of us knock the idea because it seems hard, which it is, but its not climbing Mount Everest.


#34

It’s exactly like climbing Mt Everest.


#35

Quoted for total agreement on many points… except I’ve been a Bakshi fanboy since Wizards when I was a teenager.

I’ve been chipping away at a animated brand/ series concept pretty seriously for over 3 yrs now (not so seriously for 5 before that) I’ve got most of the legal done, backers, merchandisers and geeks lined up and ready for me to move. I’m planning to finally produce some footage this year and start the initial phases of final production… My life and responsibilities are the only things slowing me down atm

That video really kicked my ar$e even though I am well and truly on my way with the first steps toward my own little bid at global domination. I quote Mr Bakshi “I don’t know why… lethargic… uninspired… terrified” that statement at the end really dug the boot in deep

thanks for the post :beer:


#36

These two are student films (teams of four and five ppl) who HAVE taken at least a year to do.


#37

My computer is working on a film right now…
I can’t wait to see it when it’s done.

Art :rolleyes:


#38

He was right about Warners cartoons. By the early 60s they werent holding up as well as the earlier ones. He wanted to go in a different direction, nudie God stuff(see Heavy Traffic).

People have been making cartoons and features on their own, outside the system for many years.
Even before CG came along! I just read about some students at a university here who made an obscure feature film in the early 60s for $5000.

Some people have no desire or the opportunity to do it, others are afraid of failure or looking bad.

I go to digital film forums and people say: “you cant make a film for $5000! You need $200 000 or $1 million for starters.” They are buying into a similar view as what Bakshi is saying to ignore in CG animation. They all want a Film Out transfer, a big theatrical run, etc. the best lights etc. What’s wrong with straight to DVD? Cable? Festivals?

The technology is there.

And CG people have way more technology at their disposal than many live action filmmakers.
Even if you wanted to do a 2D or clay animated film, you have so many more tools than were available 10 years ago.

He is merely saying the technology is there to do a lot, on your own, or with a few people. And you can make money at it…(that may be the most iffy part)

But you need good ideas, and drive, and luck, etc.

Its not possible or desirable for every film artist. Look at Richard Williams’ Thief and the Cobbler film(30 years in the making? ). Or the stop motion Primevals project that had been in the works by indie animators since the 70s.

I totally want to do a film, and made an effort at a stop-motion, live action silent movie style project some years ago(did some stop motion tests) and recently(starting 4 years ago) took another stab with a different project. In pursuing it I have ignored the possiblities for film employment locally. I have turned down a couple of opportunities there…I just dont feel I belong in it. I dont want to work a long creative day on someone else’s dream and then come home and have no interest in doing my own imaginative pursuits. I have encountered people who wont even talk about film or anything related because that’s what they do at work and are sick of it by day’s end.

If I fail, and the chances are high, at least i can say i tried and followed my desires and sense of purpose as much as I could (although I dont always feel so optimistic–but its been a good creative couple of days).

Anyway I think the question of how you can market it and what the odds are for any sort of financial recoup are valid.

I dont think its that easy for a straight live action indie feature to go to DVD and make a profit.
It might be easier for CG assisted animation because less people attempt it.


#39

Well in a way, I think it IS being done by the brave, extremely talented, and fearless (social-less? hehehe). I mean the guy that did 9, Shane Acker spent every night for two years in the basement of his house and did his short which was later bought by Tim Burton for a feature film. http://www.shaneacker.com/
Kerry Conran, just out of school, also worked on a short that later became Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which is one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen.
“Conran spent four years making a black and white teaser trailer in the style of an old-fashion movie serial on his Macintosh IIci personal computer (much of it 3D work). Once he was finished, Conran showed it to producer Marsha Oglesby, who was a friend of his brother’s wife and she recommended that he let producer Jon Avnet see it. Conran met Avnet and showed him the trailer. Conran told him that he wanted to make it into a movie. They spent two or three days just talking about the tone of the movie”.
The same kind of situation happened with Hoodwinked.
Regardless, it has and always will come down to those who are willing to sacrifice aspects of their lives to follow a dream, combined with an incredible talent or idea. I see Disney and Pixar getting a bad rap here, but frankly the guys they are hiring are those who have developed their own short films and ARE bringing something new to the table. I mean most never get their pieces completed because they are not stupid, they take the money and run to a studio for financial security. I would and I think most people also would. Personally, I see nothing shameful for working on Shrek 4, which is still artistic and creative. Especially, if you are working on your own projects in your spare time.


#40

I, for one, would have to agree that technologically it is feasible for one person or several persons to produce quality independent animation films. I have started to embrace that notion and even on a small scale (with limit budget, knowledge and time) decided that I would at least give it a tremendous try.

I just finished up the third episode of my web animation series - Subject 99. Which, if anyone who is interested, can be watched on my website www.animace.biz

I feel that a large hurdle to overcome in any production is the notion that you, as an artist, are putting yourself out there for others to judge and criticize. We all have our pride in our work. And it stings a bit to have someone disregard something that took alot of hard work to create. But, we have to start somewhere, we have to walk before we can run, and all that.

There are a hundred reasons for not doing something (not enough time, money, resources, etc); but, only one reason why you would want to do it.