Scotland Loves Animation – Education Day 2015

By October 18, 2015Honours Project

Earlier this weekend I was able to attend the Scotland Loves Animation – Education Day, a series of talks held at Edinburgh College of Art.

Although the subject of the talks were mainly orientated around Japanese animation, I still found it to be educational. This blog post will mostly contain my observations, notes and discussions regarding these talks. While they may not directly apply to my project, they did expand my knowledge on animation as a whole which is beneficial in the long run.

 

Hibiki Yoshizaki, in addition to Mahiro Maeda explained that the Japanese animation market is changing: anime used to make money through DVD sales, theatre tickets and TV broadcasts. That portion of revenue is falling as internet as a platform is growing in use.

While the Japanese market has been slow to adapt, it is making progress such as the Animator Expo which is utilising the online reach to expose new unknown talent and give them a chance to collaborate and express their ideas.

The new talent are making use of new technology while still maintaining traditions in Japanese animation which help to define its style and charm. Mahiro Maeda showed some of his own work which often featured hand drawn characters, composited into a 3D environment, He also showed how he put a lot of focus on compositing to ensure emotions in scenes come across strong.

Most people in the room were surprised to learn Mahiro Maeda had directed and animated the ME!ME!ME! music video, a reasonably well known animation that had some controversy in Japan but was well admired in the West for its risqué nature. The use of new technology helped aid the creation of the animation and allowed it to be composed in digital stage space with traditional drawings, further enhanced with digital paint data. And although 3D is the big thing, he’ll always have an appreciation for the Japanese traditional animation culture.

 

Tom Bryant, the founder and creative director of Interference Pattern then gave a short history of his journey into the animation industry. I found this particularly interesting as a student also looking to work in the animation industry. Bryant showed some of his work including some from his time at Axis Animation and Passion Pictures.

He told us about how he formed his own animation studio after working for others, he outlined the potential challenges a studio can face such as securing a steady supply of work and finding artists with required skill-sets.

Bryant also gave us an idea of what employers look for in graduates:

  • Good level of ability in chosen field.
  • Show desire and potential.
  • Teamwork.
  • Never say no, don’t take no for an answer.
  • If you don’t know how to do something, take the job and work it out.
  • Stay in touch.

He gave us some tips and advice which is probably what I’ll find the most useful from the talks, which included:

  • To search for opportunities.
  • Read forums and books, find techniques to try.
  • Aim to overachieve, try something new.
  • Look out for paid internships and trainee placements.
  • Be realistic
  • Keep on trying.

I find this especially relatable as someone who wants to work in the animation industry and there are often times of doubt and uncertainty of what I’ll be doing in the future. Advice like this is reassuring that there are others in the same situation and that if you keep trying you’ll get somewhere.

 

Finally Jonathon Clements gave a talk on the current state on the anime industry which was based more on statistics and trends. The biggest feat is that Studio Ghibli may eventually shut down feature film production. Studio Ghibli have typically taken in 5x more money than the second highest grossing anime film due to their worldwide presence.

He explained there was a problem in having one visionary director such as Hayao Miyasaki as the face of a company, because when they leave there will be a difficult decision on who to replace the visionary director. Statistics show that there is a 62.4% brand loyalty to Miyazaki whereas only 43% for Studio Ghibli. They tried using Miyazaki’s son to lead the studio but that not work, and luring Hayao Miyazaki back for one last film is only a temporary measure. Like Disney, Studio Ghibli are trying to create a more reliable income by opening up a theme park.

For animated movies to be profitable they have to be in the top 20. However even a loss on paper is not always a loss in money, as the production committee funding the movie often get something out of it in the form of advertising or merchandise,

There is also a worry about money for TV animation as well, as there are a greater number of channels there is less of a market share for an individual program. Content creators are responding to a generation of single 30-something males who have more of a disposable income by focusing a lot on merchandise,

Although more technical and statistic based I found the talk very interesting as it is good to know how all aspects of the animation industry are performing. It is a rapidly changing industry that has to adapt to many things and understanding as much as you can seems important to be able to adapt to future changes in the industry.

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