How to make a living with 2D

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Paul Fierlinger
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How to make a living with 2D

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 14 Mar 2015, 13:04

momo wrote: I cannot help but to wonder how is one suppose to feeds himself if for 10 years I am outputing less then 1 minute a week. Meanwhile the competition is doing twice as much work. This is very sad fact but there is no way to animate for 8-10 hours a day for 10 years and feed myself. Simple example: starting out in a 2D studio in Seoul you are not making enough to pay for rent if you have a flat. A director in the same studio makes just enough to make ends meet. That is the cold reality that hits hard those who want to draw...

I knew this would be controversiale topic...I guess we should move it because it seems like it isn't of the realm of "feature and improvement" but rather "How to live an animated life" or maybe "Drawn from memory" :wink:
I took the liberty to move this topic here.

I think it is a mistake to put oneself into competition with mass taste studios on TV or movie house venues, because it is not necessary anymore with the possibilities online programming is gaining. For this new venue it has become an advantage to cater to individual tastes rather than mass taste consumption.
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by slowtiger » 14 Mar 2015, 18:03

I cannot help but to wonder how is one suppose to feeds himself if for 10 years I am outputing less then 1 minute a week.
Just to put some perspective to this:
There's a list from Disney in 1938 with the daily output of their animators. It ranges from 2,5 to 7 feet a day, which roughly equals 2 to 5 seconds of animation. (It doesn't mention the quality, it could be rough animation only, or completely inbetweened and cleaned animation, which I doubt.) 5 sec a day was the record, held by Norm Ferguson. Assuming they didn't work Saturdays this would be 25 sec a week.

My fastest student just finished rough animation of her final film, completely drawn in TVP. I calculated she did about 2,5 sec a day, which would be 12,5 sec a week. (2 characters, Anime style, lots of long hair.)

I once had a job using Anime Studio, characters came rigged, I only had to do "digital puppetry". I was able to create 1 minute per week, but very limited animation anyways. But that was my highest output rate ever.

I don't think there's anyone on the planet creating 1 minute of hand-drawn FBF animation every week (5 work days). Any production manager expecting this would be either clueless or ruthless.

Whatever system they use, pay per footage or pay per day, if the job doesn't earn you enough to pay your rent, don't do it. We heard about overworked artists in USA last year, last month we heard something similar from Japan: http://www.cartoonbrew.com/artist-right ... 10074.html
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 14 Mar 2015, 18:59

Granted, I work 12 to 16 hrs a day including weekends, but within those hours I also do other tasks, such as beta testing experiments, emailing, client calls and Skype meetings, walk my dogs, watch the news, take breaks to read a little. All of this is related to the performance of an animator's job and I rightfully call it work.

I used to tell my students to make a pact with their parents after graduation: to allow them the opportunity to stay home another three years to complete their studies. This requires drawing 12 to 16 hours a day including weekends and taking no holidays off -- year round drawing. This will equal 10 years of work.

To become a freelancer one has to drop all rational thoughts. If you have a tendency to not act upon impulses but on the contrary clearly think out all future moves, you are not fit for independent work.

Markus, I really can draw one minute of animation a week, although I don't need to do it anymore at my current age but that is not only that I have become too old to keep that tempo up, but also because I don't have any of the bills to pay as I used to. When I produced one minute a week(and I have the films strewn about the Internet to prove that) I also had a family of four to feed (my then wife refused to take a 9-5 job but took good care of the kids, which I didn't do as well except for providing all their material needs.)

The reason why I could always produce quickly was that I seldom break my characters into layers; I prefer to draw them in one fell scoop, which is very efficient. I do not draw particularly fast and ever since I switched to digital animation I tend to use the eraser a lot too. To split a character's drawing into a layer for each limb and one just for the mouth is crazy because it robs you of an enormous amount of time. On top of that it won't help you any to acquire good drawing skills; on the contrary, it stifles creativity.

Finally, it is most important to teach oneself an uncomplicated style that flows naturally from the wrist and fingers. The first reason for that is, that paying internet viewers will appreciate such animations far more than any Animes or Disney style 'tooning, and the second reason is that it's faster to draw such characters even for a person who can't (and shouldn't in my opinion) draw particularly fast.
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by Animark » 15 Mar 2015, 20:59

Paul Fierlinger wrote:To split a character's drawing into a layer for each limb and one just for the mouth is crazy because it robs you of an enormous amount of time.
I totally agree with your statement. I stopped breaking my characters a few years ago (with a few exceptions) and I am able to do about one minute film a week - incl. Idea, Script, Voice, Sounds, Colors etc.. But I don't like to do it every week and I don't think it is possible in a commercial way. And, yes of course, it is not comparable to disney or other high end handrawn animation. It works only for my own personal style and my own personal ideas. It is a lot of fun to do. Normally I also don't like to animate more than 6 to 8 hours a day. If I try more, I am getting slower and loose concentration.

Here is an older example (one without colors):

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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 15 Mar 2015, 21:27

Oh (blush) you must be still very young... but right, this is the best way to work when you have the freedom to follow your own style. But this is also becoming the only way to create animations unique enough to attract buyers online, which is just one element of the whole business idea.
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by momo » 15 Mar 2015, 22:40

Paul Fierlinger wrote: I took the liberty to move this topic here.

I think it is a mistake to put oneself into competition with mass taste studios on TV or movie house venues, because it is not necessary anymore with the possibilities online programming is gaining. For this new venue it has become an advantage to cater to individual tastes rather than mass taste consumption.
Good you created this topic. :)

I am still not understanding what you are saying. Are you thinking of "Simon's cat" or something else? Simon's cat is the only internet animated series that I know of is surviving with it. All the other guys that make their own stuff which can be seen at the festivals are usually teaching as their main money making job. The reason behind is simple: online we tend to watch what is easily watchable.
Paul Fierlinger wrote: that paying internet viewers
Who are the internet paying viewers? Patreon? Kickstarter?
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 15 Mar 2015, 22:50

The paying viewers are intelligent, educated, thinking, soul searching adults hoping to meet their equals inside of enlightening, thought provoking, self searching entertainment. Not Japanese or Korean (sorry) or American or Irish shmaltz. Anything reminiscent of what the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries had to offer in literature.
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by slowtiger » 16 Mar 2015, 08:58

Anything reminiscent of what the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries had to offer in literature.
Funny coincidence: I just grabbed a bunch of books from an author's personal library, with lots of old stuff in there (18th to 20th century). I really like these old books, some of them very far from what books are supposed to be constructed of today. At the time of their writing categories like "novel" just had been invented, and there were no books about creative writing or "the Hollywood scriptwriter's guide".

Paul's statement made me realize which quality it is that I like so much: it's the absence of any worn-out formula. This explains my taste in music, as well as my taste in books and films - and could explain Paul's dislike of "Japanese or Korean or American or Irish shmaltz".
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 16 Mar 2015, 10:16

That's it, I'm so glad to hear you are now following my drift. Are you familiar with the German author Robert Walser, for instance A Schoolboy's Diary? But he wrote one or two more just as strange and mesmerizing books (Jacob Von Guten) is another one of his, both illustrated by himself and what ideal pen and ink drawings, so fit for the small screen. Is he all but forgotten in today's Germany? Or A Month in the Country, by the English writer J.L.Carr. about a soldier who has just returned from the trenches of the Great War, as WWI was still called when this book was written. Then there is Stefan Zweig, "The Post-Office Girl for instance.

There are dozens, if not hundreds of such gems still in print if one looks hard enough (actually not even that hard anymore) and these "properties" are no one's property anymore because they are in the public domain; free for the taking. These stories can be told without actors, using text on screen or a decent reader voice over, and the way I would handle them would be as animated illustrations -- lots of illustrations. Some fully animated, others as stills (but nothing in between such as animated in 3's and 5's because the targeted market is a sophisticated one).

These books can be produced as shorts (does anyone remember the Reader's Digest condensed books?) because those who have already familiarized themselves with the book will be delighted to meet an old friend in a new coat and those who aren't will be delighted to go out and buy the complete book because this market loves to read.

About the market: there are legions of such people world over (and this includes Asia, by the way) but you will not find them en mass because they are not joiners but surfers; an audience of one at a time, always willing to pay for quality because they can't stand what's playing at the movies ... or on TV.
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by slowtiger » 16 Mar 2015, 11:52

Walser has already been exploited by animators: http://nyrbclassics.tumblr.com/post/365 ... ert-walser. But I'm not reading that "old stuff" in search of a story or, as Hollywood puts it, a "property" to be "developed" for "today's market". I have a preference for literature which doesn't translate to film at all. There's stories which would work in nearly every medium (book, film, comic, stage, game), and there's stuff which only works in one - but then perfectly. If any, I only take some inspiration from this in form of "wow, this creates an image and mood, how did they do it, and how could I do something similarly intense in animation?"
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 16 Mar 2015, 13:05

Ech, Quay brothers... they can never even understand any of their own films, not to mention Wasler or Svankmayer. Dismissed.

You disappoint me and I wish you would follow the intentions of this thread: How to make a living with 2D. So far you have told us what you like to read. If you dislike the words marketing and target audience you will become an obstruction to this discussion (if you haven't ruined it already) because to make a living you can't allow yourself to be annoyed with the expressions of the trade of making a living.

You say: "wow, this creates an image and mood, how did they do it, and how could I do something similarly intense in animation?" and to that I say you are already making the capital mistake of ignorance if you want to make a living with 2D animation. You are now actually useful for my argument, so stay here, because you demonstrate what not to start out with. You are approaching the task backwards.

To make a living with your animation you must start by first finding out what kind of film you should make so that it will be useful to a large enough group of people who will be willing to pay for what you can do for them. It has been time tested that good books have the potential to make for good films, unless the filmmaker messes up the book (like the Q.bros. mess up everything, including their self imagery).

Follow the money if you want to make a living. You won't make a living out of reading old books you like. Make something that is useful for a sizable group of people even if they are thinly spread across the world and you will never find more than one or two of them together ... once you solve that riddle than this is how the Internet pays your bills.
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by Animark » 16 Mar 2015, 16:46

Yeah, the Q-Brothers :D. I remember when I started with animation at filmschool everybody said, the Quay Brothers are very very very important and they are one of the gods of author animations. But I never understood their films and felt too stupid for that kind of art. Some years later I realized, they had simply not addressed my feelings. :D

About the topic: How to make a living in 2D.
I am really not sure if there is an audience willing to pay (little fees) for animated stuff away from Simons's Cat or typical comedy for the masses. (I don't want to jugde about jokes here and Simon's Cat is really funny and touches everybody's heart.) I also think that Simon's Cat is financed by advertisments and merchandising products and not because someone paid for the watch. So, is there any animator with classical short animations able to make a living with internet streams? (And I don't mean that someone became rich with it.) I know in any case no one. Maybe Bill Plympton?
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 16 Mar 2015, 18:56

There is a need for serious content. It's not just about the form or "the" story, but the content which must serve the market by filling an intellectual void.
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by momo » 16 Mar 2015, 23:17

Animark wrote:About the topic: How to make a living in 2D.
I am really not sure if there is an audience willing to pay (little fees) for animated stuff away from Simons's Cat or typical comedy for the masses. (I don't want to jugde about jokes here and Simon's Cat is really funny and touches everybody's heart.) I also think that Simon's Cat is financed by advertisments and merchandising products and not because someone paid for the watch. So, is there any animator with classical short animations able to make a living with internet streams? (And I don't mean that someone became rich with it.) I know in any case no one. Maybe Bill Plympton
That's true few or no animator does his own work and makes a living out of it. Most of independant animator either: teach, do illustrations, do some commercial work, work in studios from time to time (which I have see a lot in France. France has a wonderful system to support animator who do some work in the studios) or start their own studio. Internet does make certain thing easier but the big challenge is the sea of stuff that is being put online. Here is a very interesting documentary on the topic http://www.presspauseplay.com/.
Paul Fierlinger wrote:There is a need for serious content. It's not just about the form or "the" story, but the content which must serve the market by filling an intellectual void.
I am not sure I fully grasp the intellectual void you are discribing. There are plenty of animated films that are very stimulating, like "The monk and the fish" or Feeling from Mountain and Water .
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Re: How to make a living with 2D

Post by Paul Fierlinger » 17 Mar 2015, 00:53

You are underestimating the story telling power of drawings. There are feature 2D animated documentaries or animated novels that unravel important and complex social issues, or can move audiences to tears or exaltations of wonderment in the same way as reading a novel or watching a feature live action film are expected to do. So far I have heard only frivolous, charming or amusing vignettes brought up here. You are missing my point.

Why is it not surprising, expected actually , of a novelist to type alone an 800 page novel, or even a six volume serial novel of 600 pages each that is currently riveting readers worldwide, me included (Karl Ove Knausgaard's "My Struggle") yet considered almost impossible for an artist to draw several feature films all by himself. I see little difference between the two occupations. This is the intellectual void I am talking about. Millions of people are now taking to their Kindles to download and read literature and the time is ripe for solo animators to follow suit.

Think of the creation of a hand drawn film more akin to the creation of a book than a film. Book writing and animating long metrage films have a lot in common -- both on the creative and consumption ends. Large and medium size animation studios are not at all equipped to undertake such projects just as much as it is not expected of a team of novelists to collectively write a single novel.
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