I came across this recent post recently about our *ahem* dying animation industry.
One of the paragraph below.
4 years ago, I, like many other animator- wannabes, joined the bandwagon of a series of upcoming courses that promised us a lot of things. They promised us that if we take their diplomas, their certificates, we will join the ranks of animators around the world. With honeyed words, advertisements and more, me and my cohorts were misled and fell into a trap, a conspiracy."
He is bitter that what was promised to him didn't appear after he followed the prescribed steps. And he start blaming the school. And what is most funny and insulting at the same time is the phrase "Unlike most polytechnic students, I and my like-minded friends saw animation not as a fan-boy obsession but a true career."
If this dude was serious about animation, he wouldn't have need to be convinced by *ahem* honeyed words and advertisement. And at the same time, he just dissed his own classmates by saying they treat animation as a fan boy obsession.
Of course it is! Most of us got into animation precisely because we are fan boys (or at least closet fanboys if you want to get laid) For me Star Wars (not ep1-3. I refuse to acknowledge their existence), of Looney Tunes, Miyazaki movies, the awesome Paul Dini's Batman series, hell even He-man and Mask. Why else would we want to be sitting in front of the computer clicking the mouse and getting recurring Repetitive Stress Syndrome. And what the hell is a true career? CPF? AWS? 14 day holiday? BMW?
Sorry to be brutal. But I am glad you is not in the industry because you will become a very angry young man. I think you will be glad eventually he is not working in animation.
"We met this man, an industrial veteran who is the managing director of a local CG firm in Singapore. He offered to critique our work and we were for a nasty big shock.
“You want to know something? The polytechnics have not prepared you for the industry. This kind of portfolio is below the standard of what the industry is looking for.”
And his studio "once had courses that only costed $2K with government subsidy. But now with government funding cut, the courses now costs $10K. These put a lot of financial pressure on artists with the passion for the animation industry but are financially tight."
Have it ever occurred to you that this man who is offering you advice also happens to run a course? That maybe.. just maybe there is a financial incentive for him to offer you the course at the expense of the govt. And perhaps.... just perhaps... the course isn't working which is why the subsidy was cutted? Did you manage to find a job after attending the course? Or did you also conveniently happen to be hired by his company? And is disgruntled because the wages are low because
" To make matters worse, the government managed to woo top foreign animation companies to set up shop in Singapore, effectively killing the local companies. Many of these foreign animation companies hire lesser locals and receive government funding while local companies are left to fend for themselves. If you think about it, with the billions of dollars it makes every year, does Lucasfilm Singapore require that government funding to set up shop in Singapore?"
Dude seriously, I know you are a student and I do not blame you. But such a statement just for sensationalism is dangerous.
Lucasfilm is in Singapore precisely because the govt is partially funding them to be here.
Animation isn't frying char kway teow or making fishhead curry. Or even making lor mee. It isn't a localise skillset that is catered to the local population.
The skill and tool sets that you are competing against is international. Not local.
You can ask all the people working in these multinational companies if they have learnt a lot in there. The companies bring with them skillsets and expertise. And with that, it is opportunities. If not there is no skill or knowledge transference to us.
If the govt make up his mind that bio science is not profitable, they will stop funding for it.
And if the govt makes up its mind in a few years that animation is no longer viable or profitable because they are not seeing any returns for the massive investment they are putting in... then I do not think the big companies will stay for long.
Then long term wise its even more determent for the people who worked in this field. But every country out there are subsidising their companies for a share of the pie until it have become part of the supply/demand equation. And the investment in proven industry players are a safer hedge.
Unfortunately the fact is that for most companies as most businesses they would rather lose the investors money then their own. Its just business and it is in the interest of the company to cut cost. Hence they are here.
You need to understand that it is to their advantage to take in Singaporeans. They are pressured to encourage locals because of the investment involved by the govt. And the govt wants to see returns by locals filling these positions. Unfortunately the level of local hires isn't there yet. But its is getting there. Just not fast enough for you.
The lower wage cg workers is a reality not only in Singapore but all over the world. But if there is two similar level of workers, the foreign companies here have more incentive to hire locals.
While ironically it is the local companies that hire the lower wage workers. Because the quality and skillset that they are have are not at the demand level that can afford otherwise. (I do not like the word lower wage workers. I am sure given the chance they would like to have more too.) And if anything its an uneven playing field to your favor. You have an advantage more then the rest of the developing countries with the high end facilities and internet downloading speed. Do you think these fellow workers have any better lecturers or facilities then you? If so why are they here?
If they succeed, and are good enough, they will raise and maybe get out of Singapore because they can. Would you want to spend 1/3 -1/2 of your salary on rent and eat local food that you are not used to? But you will learn as well (Maybe just from the good ones.)
I remember last year the head of a local studio actually tell the students at a graduation show that he will not hire local students because they complain a lot, cannot take hardship and are pampered. (Not that I cannot see his point, but lets just say that the working environment and working hours there aren't the most socially friendly). I am more pissed off that he will make such off the cuffs comments to students. Then why is he doing at a grad show? Just to put the students down and hunt for cheap talent?
If the locals leave these big multinational companies, they will have more options. To go aboard, or to jump to another multinational company here. Their salary is pegged to the amount of talent and skills they have and shows that they have worked on. If they are only going to be working on cartoon TV shows and commercials (doesn't matter 3d or non 3d), its very hard to move on to movies and full length feature films and get more money. And then you are stuck. But the opportunities are here now. Its just whether you are good enough to get in.
With these skill sets transferred, some may open their own companies, maybe eventually do their own movies and expand the industry. Or even decide this is not the career for them and move on to other fields. (its common). But its options that was not really viable before these companies come in. So I do not think the industry is dying. Is it in the pink of health where everyone can have bonuses, creative working environment and high salary? Hell No. In order for that to work, the companies need to make money. The IPs need to make money. And right now, they aren't. I am more worried about the locals guys in the local companies then the foreign ones. They do not have the mobility because of the projects they worked on. But its in a better state then it was 10 years ago. With more skills and knowledge transferal then some of the hacks that we got. And it will take time for it to filter down and you will need to be ready to work for it.
"My mentor’s studio was far from the only victims. In 2010, Egg Story Creative Production led by a local talent, Nickson Fong, has closed down in light of the recent downturn that hit the industry It has laid off about 30 employees and rendered a major production; Kung Fu Gecko, dead. A word with a former employee there spoke of funding cuts from the government which hastened its demise. Nickson Fong is now nowhere to be seen or contacted."
I do not know Mr Fong. And the word talent is debatable after the media painted him to be the great hope (I blame the media partially). But I believe he popped up in Malaysia where they are offering subsidies too. (hopefully they will offer him the 1.6k salary that he seeks for his staff. Best thing is its in RM)
Maybe someone should tell their PM if he wants to have lunch with Mr Fong too.
There are some policies that the govt makes that I feel is flawed regarding animation.And its mistakes from the early 1990s even until now....
I would not expect them to know what is a good project to invest in. Seriously there is no guarantee. But I take offense with the bloody wayang that is generated. And how everything is swept under the carpet.
Personally, I strongly advocate against govt subsidy courses for the animation industry. It is easy to say from hindsight but I always felt it cannot be subsidised because it is not a real reflection of market demand and is not sustainable. Because its cheap, people will take it and the people running the courses is making a profit from the govt. Its not a reflection of the supply and demand. Of course that might not be the case, but the motive is arguable.
My advice to you, do your best and give it a try. If your talent and skill level isn't going to allow you to compete with these lower wages talent then you are probably not going to succeed at a higher level.
If it does not work out. Then change career. Its ok. I know its a few thousand dollars and a few years down the drain for you. But I have friends who switched career while still relatively young and are happier for it. They still love animation and enjoy watching animation. (in fact even more since they do not have to do it anymore).
You have a whole life ahead of you. To carry so much venom and anger blaming everyone for the next few years is going to be hard on yourself and your family. You need to ask if its worth it.
I agree that the current situation is severely lacking. But it is what it is at this point in time.
IF you wish to vote for a change where there is only perhaps hope for a better system and mentality, then by all means go ahead. Do it with your vote and ask your friends/families too if you feel so.
But if the motivation for writing this article was to blame the state of the industry locally on the govt. Then I think you need to do more research and not do it just to vent your anger. It makes you look bad and to the rest of the people reading the article, the rest of the local animators look bad. We are better then this. We have to be for this industry to work long term.
What I tell myself everyday.
To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien