ACTING for ANIMATORS
"Italia! Italia! Italia!"
Italy is not only one of the most beautiful countries in the world, its culture has produced some of the world's most celebrated and revered artists. Can you say Michaelangelo? Massacio? Da Vinci? How about Carlo Collodi, author of The Adventures of Pinocchio, the novel in which the beloved puppet appeared in 1881? When I traveled to Europe from the U.S. for the first time 25 years ago, Rome was of course my initial stop, and I knew as soon as I stepped off the airplane that I was..."home". For all these many years, Italy has occupied a very special place in my heart and mind, and it is therefore surprising to me that I have not yet taught Acting for Animators there. And now, suddenly, I will be teaching in Italy twice in two months! To understate the case, I am thrilled.
The first event, immodestly called "Ed Hooks–Acting for Animators Masterclass–Special Edition!", meets September 1-3 in the historic city of Perito, on the southern Amalfi Coast. The event producer is Karin Kempf, animator (Despicable Me, Minions), animation teacher (ISART Digital, Goeblins, Paris), pre-vis artist, and dreamer extraordinaire (see below for details).
The second event, meeting 23-27 October, is the fabulous VIEW Conference, in Turin. Organizer/host Maria Elena Gutierrez has invited me to present Acting for Animators at this year's conference. I am excited to be joining many close friends and animation industry leaders at VIEW Conference (see below for details).
Even though Acting for Animators is the spine of what I will teach in both September and October, each event will be unique. VIEW Conference is well known and showcases many international speakers and presenters; "Ed Hooks Special Edition" in September is one-of-a-kind, featuring me alone for three full days. It presents an opportunity to isolate and highlight performance animation with a small and dedicated group of serious animators. Ms. Kempf has put all of this together for a very reasonable fee which includes room, board and local travel.
Ed Hooks Acting for Animators Masterclass
Special Edition! Perito, Italy (1-3 September)
Here's the plan: We will have three days together, you and me and a small group of serious animators. My goal is for everybody to walk away from this with a rock solid understanding of acting theory as it applies to character animation, plus a good grasp of how story is intertwined with performance. During the three days, we will have plenty of time for feedback on whatever projects you are working on – and for you to seek fresh ways to approach storytelling in general. Along the way, we can take time off to enjoy some of the local historic sights, enjoy the Amalfi weather, have some meals together – and generally talk about the animation industry and career choices. The fact that all of our basic lodging, meals, and local travel are included in the admission price is pure gravy. The group size will have to be limited, of course, so please enroll as soon as you can. If you sign up before August 1st, you will receive a free inscribed copy of Acting for Animators, 4th Revised Edition, or my new book Craft Notes for Animators: A Perspective on a 21st Century Career.
VIEW Conference, Turin, Italy (23-27 October)
VIEW Conference is the premiere international event in Italy on Computer Graphics, Interactive Techniques, Digital Cinema, 2D/3D Animation, VR and AR, Gaming and VFX. As I prepare this newsletter, 25+ elite speakers are confirmed to present and teach workshops at this year's event, including The Little Prince director Mark Osborne; game designer ("World of Warcraft") Rob Pardo; Kim White, tech director on Cars 3 for Pixar; Shannon Tindle, writer/director from Sony Studios Animation... and on and on. There will probably be half again this number of impressive speakers before Maria Elena is done with the invitations, and I am honored to be included in the line-up. At VIEW Conference, I will present my complete Acting for Animators masterclass. VIEW is widely known to be an animator's feast, an opportunity to tune in and learn from the 'best of the best' artists and visionaries in the industry. Don't miss it!
"I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, 'Where's the self-help section?' She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose." George Carlin
Ed Hooks' On-Camera Interview from FMX 2017
Dan Sarto, the esteemed editor of Animation World Network, participates in the FMX animation event in Stuttgart, Germany, each year. One of his assignments is to interview speakers and presenters on video for the FMX archive and for AWN, and I am fortunate to be included in that list. This year, I think Dan out-did himself: The interview is just about a perfect introduction to me and my work. Thanks, Dan! You are the best, my friend the very best. You can watch it on my home page. Enjoy!
Acting for Animators Workshop Schedule
September 1-3 Acting for Animators Masterclass–Special Edition!
September 27-Oct. 2 Komiza, Island of Vis, Croatia
October 23-27 VIEW Conference, Turin, Italy
Crowdsourcing Alert! The Golden Apple – Bulgaria
This is a prime example of animators empowering themselves in the cut-throat media marketplace, and I urge you to toss in a few dollars or Euros from your cookie jar if you can spare it. As you will see in their promotional video, this forward-looking group of artists has already accomplished quite a lot on this project, for which they have earned an enthusiastic round of applause. Now they are asking for a mere US$140,000 to take it to the next step. A pittance! Let's hear it for Bulgaria, everyone! Go, Golden Apple!
An Antidote to Outsourcing...
Take another quick look at the crowdfunding campaign above, for The Golden Apple, a TV pilot based on Bulgarian folk tales. We need to see more of this kind of thing because it is the best antidote available for animation outsourcing. Animators in the 21st century must take control of their own destinies–or silently accept whatever crumbs the marketplace tosses their way. The situation is, seriously, as simple as that. An animator in the U.S. costs a studio US$100+ per hour. An animator in India costs a studio US$25 per hour (Wikipedia). It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out where we are heading as an industry. The USA, UK, Canada and a few other countries will retain creative and marketing control -- and keep the money -- while outsourcing to animators in other less-affluent countries the legwork of creating animation.
Recently, CartoonBrew.Com ran a feature article by Amid Amidi, "Nigeria Wants to Train an Army of Animation Professionals in 4 Years" (28 May 2017) telling how the government of Nigeria is investing big-time in the development of an in-country animation industry. That is good news, of course, if you are an entry-level Nigerian animator, but you know where that leads? Yep, outsourcing. Nigerian animators will soon discover that they are bumping against a salary ceiling, and there are only two ways out: (1) get involved with producing original material, or (2) migrate to one of the major markets (where, incidentally, their Nigerian-acquired skillset is probably not going to be competitive).
We should not blame the big studios for outsourcing. Businesses have only one purpose: to increase profits and maximize shareholder value. And there are two primary ways to accomplish that, particularly for labor-intensive enterprises: increase revenues (find new customers) and/or cut costs (pay employees less). Outsourcing animation to cheaper labor markets is a no-brainer business strategy and, if you were the CEO of one of the studios, you would probably be looking at the same model. Free market capitalism is a marvelous engine for innovation and investment, but it isn't so good for the arts. France spends US$500+ per capita each year on the arts; the United States spends 45 cents per capita. And the challenge for artists is compounded because there is usually an imbalance between supply and demand in the marketplace. There are more artists applying for jobs than there are jobs to be had. This is precisely what drives down wages and benefits. Back in 1933, movie actors in the US formed the Screen Actors Guild in response to low wages, unsafe working conditions and such. But, in today's digital environment, the formation of a new labor union is not going to solve much. A unionized industry in one country will simply drive the jobs to a non-unionized country, which is exactly what is happening with the outsourcing of animation.
Let's all support The Golden Apple team in Bulgaria while simultaneously learning something from them. We are living in the 21st century. It is time for animators to take the wheel.
Until next month . . .
"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."
(All's Well That Ends Well, I:i)
Copyright © 2012-2017 Ed Hooks