Animation Guild We Are 839 Fri, 23 Sep 2016 19:08:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Notes — Craft Meetings Thu, 15 Sep 2016 22:22:42 +0000 The Guild has been holding craft meetings over the past five weeks. Below find the notes for all meetings that have taken place in the upstairs meeting hall at 1105 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, California:

Craft Meeting #1 — Board Artists and Revisionists

One year into the 2015-2018 contract, there are 3750 people at signator studios.

Staffing levels continue to be robust, and board supervisors at some studios continue to say it’s difficult to hire and hang onto seasoned talent.

Disney Television Animation is doing some restructuring, and outsourcing some shows to Rough Draft (recently signed to a contract), Wild Canary, and Robin Red Breast/Titmouse in Hollywood.

New Media (Streaming Video On Demand and other internet-delivered content) will be one of the major negotiating items during 2018 contract negotiations. A number of new artists are working below minimum wage rates because their jobs happen to be under the New Media sideletter, and none of the New Media productions reach budgetary tiers that trigger higher minimums.

The Business Representative noted that the sideletter in the 2015-2018 contract reflects live action budgets that are considerably higher than TV animation budgets. But the sideletter is almost identical to other New Media sideletters, and one size doesn’t really fit all, but that’s what we’ve got.

Studio tests have been a hot button topic at recent General Membership Meetings. A Guild Testing Abuse Committee has been created and is reviewing a sample studio test. It’s recommended that the test be no longer than thirty panels with ten of those panels being “clean-ups”. It recommended a 72-hour turnaround time for each test. The committee is now waiting to hear back from the studio on its proposal.

Uncompensated Overtime. The biz rep said that uncomped o.t. has been a long-term problem. Artists continue to work free extra hours because production deadlines are too tight and a number of artists are perfectionists regarding their work. Several veteran board artists said that individuals need to stop working free o.t. and sepak to production when schedules can’t be met. Too many employees do uncomped work because they’re frightened of blowing a deadline.

It was pointed out that that artists need to communicate how much work they can get done in forty hours, and work looser where necessary. Several artists said that production needs to be told “no” when something can’t be done. Quality artists who are somewhat slower than the norm continue to be employed because talent remains at a premium in the Los Angeles labor marketplace.

Several artists stated it was important for story crews to communicate among themselves and share information. Exchanging work-load info about different shows in on a TAG 839 private Facebook page operated by members was noted as a good way for artists to know how much work was expected (and done) on various TV series

Many Production Schedules are tight and unreasonable because production managers have a distorted idea abut how much work can be done on a forty-hour basis because of uncompensated overtime. Several artists said a culture and community needs to be built that can push back on free work being done.

Freelance Work. The business agent and two executive board members reviewed the Unit Rate Wages in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (pages 76-79). All three noted that the minimum wage rates are low and no studios use them. The bigger problem are the Pension and Health contribution hours are low, although they were raised 30-35% in the last contract negotiation.

Questions were asked about daily minimum wage rates vs. weekly minimum wage rates. The business agent said that daily rates are 117.719% above weekly rates, 10% of which is a premium, while 7.719% constitutes vacation and holiday pay.

Animatics were discussed. The business agent emphasized that animatics work is under the jurisdiction of the Editors Guild, not the Animation Guild. The biz rep said that the Editors have filed a grievance against Cartoon Network over animatics, and under which guild’s jurisdiction it should be placed. Several Warner Bros. Animation artists said that Warners has them doing animatics work. The business representative stated he’d reported this to the Editors Guild.

It was noted that many board artists do animatics where the Editors Guild has no contract. The biz rep said artists should charge for the time they do animatics because it’s important they be compensated for their time. One board artist said that since employees are asked to be layout artists, storyboard artists, writers and animatics editors, they should be paid for each of those jobs. The business agent said if the extra work puts them into overtime as storyboarders, they should charge overtime for it.

There was general agreement that members need to push on issues that could become bargaining proposals in 2018.

Craft Meeting #2 — Timing Directors and Animation Checkers

The Business Representative reviewed current employment (now north of 3500 staff and freelance employees) and the numbers of shows in work at different studios.

Footage rates, part of the contract for the first time, were discussed at length. The current rate of $3.35/foot was thought too low by many, especially if lip assignments are included as part of the job. ..

It was also pointed out that action shows with casts of thousands took more time to do than two-character comedy shows. The current rate will be in effect for 12 months, at which time the footage rate will rise to $3.45/foot.

Directors thought there should be proposals to revise the footage rate in the 2018 contract negotiations, and also revise weekly and daily wage rates. It was noted that the footage rate for timing had been $3 per foot for twenty years, and that reported Pension and Health Contribution hours were “all over the map”, with some freelance animation directors being paid 20 hours for a week’s work. Under the current contract, for every 100 feet of freelance animation timing, 8 hours of health and pension contributions are provided to the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan.

There was discussion about animatics, how the slugging of boards has been supplanted by animatics. The only show being done without animatics is “Samurai Jack”.

It was felt that freelancers should make more than staff animation directors, incentivizing studios to being animation directors in-house. The Business Representative noted that the Guild negotiates wage floors, not ceilings, and directors, board artists, designers are free to negotiate about the minimum rates. No freelance board artists work at the unit rate minimums because no studio used them.

Freelance directors could budget the time spent on assigned footage. Discussion of quantity vs. quality; some attendees thought that it was important to maintain quality to keep the work in Los Angeles. Almost all directors attending were working. The Business Representative said he knew of few directors who weren’t working either staff or freelance.

This was a major change from five years ago, when there was far less working many directors weren’t employed. Cartoon Network, which has many successful shows, uses timing directors on almost all its productions and most enjoy solid ratings. Many in the room attributed the success of CN’s timed shows to more timing work at other studios.

Animation checkers are under pressure to work uncompensated overtime, which continues to be an issue on various shows at different studios for many classifications.

Meeting adjourned at 9:35.

Craft Meeting #3 — Designers, Layout and Background Artists, Color Stylists

Members were urged to attend the September 27, 2016 General Membership Meeting, as there will be discussion and vote by the membership on TAG’s future dues structure. There will also be nominations for board members and officers of the local, and approximately half of the board will be departing, including the Business Representative, President, Recording Secretary and several board members.

There were questions about the duties of officers and board members, also election procedures. The Business Representative described the roles of various Guild officers, who was eligible, and how and when the vote would take place (detailed in TAG’s Constitution and by-laws, pp. 10-20).

Review of the 2015-2018 Agreement — One Year In — The Guild disavowed piecework for designers, layout and background artists in the 2012 negotiations; a few studios still assign piece work to freelancers, but the rule is: freelancers are paid for work at the daily rate, with a four-hour minimum call.

Work at most studios is robust, TAG has received continuing complaints from supervisors that they have difficulty staffing shows with experienced people. The Guild has record-high employment which will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

New Media — The Business Representative reported that the 839 New Media sideletter, (Sideletter N — pp 99-113) which allows production work for Subscription Video On Demand and other work delivered over the internet, to be paid below contract minimums. The largest employer using the New Media sidletter continues to be DreamWorks Animation TV, which pays employees new to the industry below contract rates. At this point, other studios aren’t employing many individuals under the sideletter, but it continues to be a concern. New Media will be on of the major contract issues when the sideletter is renegotiated in 2018.

Studio Tests — There were lengthy discussions regarding studio testing. Members reported that some studios are asking for 2-3 layout designs plus color backgrounds from the designs, and that these tests take 3 or more days to complete. (The test length is considered by the Guild to be abusive). Many employed veterans refusing to take tests. The Business Representative reported that he’s told some studios tests are becoming counter-productive because talented, experienced artists won’t take them and so studios self-limit the pool of job applicants.

Uncompensated Overtime — Many design and layout artists reported tight schedules that were impossible to meet in forty hours of work. The Business Representative and several artists said it’s important to communicate with other artists on a show’s team, compare work-loads and time needed to complete assignments. Studios sometimes use the fastest artists as the standard for the amount of work required.

Several veterans reported when they ask for overtime they get it (although there is some resistance). Production assistants and coordinators are as uptight about confrontation as artists. Members said it was important to share information with co-workers, to build team solidarity, and to communicate with production about how much work can be done in a given period. When a show is overlong and the number of designs/backgrounds required cannot be met within a forty-hour schedule, artists need to communicate that overtime or a longer work schedule will be needed. (Some half-hour episodes are more labor intensive than others).

Production Schedules — Members said that some production schedules are unrealistic. (See uncompensated overtime, above). Veteran artists pointed out that uncompensated work taken home or done in-studio by artists 1) undermines their co-workers and 2) gives studio management a false idea of how long it takes to complete tasks. Some veteran artists will continue to do uncompensated overtime, but it’s important to build team spirit and discourage free o.t. wherever possible.

Craft Meeting #4 — CG Animator/Modelers, Technical Directors, and Compositors

Review of First Year of 839 Contract: There was a discussion of collective bargaining agreement, how Tech Directors and CG animators are being impacted. At the feature studios (Disney and DreamWorks) overtime is being paid and there have been no major complaints. Production schedules are compressed, but opinions are divided on the negative impacts. Some people like the extra overtime pay; others would prefer more weekends and evenings spent with family. At tv animation studios – principally DreamWorks Animation TV — more work is being piled onto leads and supervisors, with more job stress.

For CG Classifications, there are no job descriptions and no clear parameters about what the jobs entail. This is a problem. Companies can reconfigure and redefine what a CG lead is, what a supervisor is, at a moment’s notice. There needs to be some controlling language in the CBA. Business Representative described the history of CG classifications getting into the contract in the mid-90s, when non-Guild tech directors working on “Dinosaur” at Disney agitated to be covered by the contract and to have pay rates track contract rates. At that time, numbered classifications were introduced.

New Media: Studios are hiring artists and tech directors at below contract minimums (this is happening at IA locals covering live-action as well), but studios ARE paying the 6% Individual Account Plan pension percentage at the contractual minimum rate, not the actual rate of pay. The New Media Sideletter (Sideletter N – pp. 99-113 of 839 CBA) enables studios to negotiate freely below minimum rates. The budgetary tiers that would mean 85% of minimums would have to be paid reflect live-action budgets, and animation budgets are way lower so “budget tiers” in the Sideletter are never reached. This was an issue at the last negotiation, will be an issue at next IA and TAG negotiation in 2018.

Simplifying Contract classifications: There was discussion of simplifying contract categories, keeping categories broad-based and simple and having fewer classifications and categories (Senior artist; jumior artist, apprentice artists, trainee). Some CG artists wanted definitions and more specific names in classifications. The Business Representative said that studios had resisted defining classifications in the past, that it might be more doable to get descriptive names in contract than definitions.

There is also an additional concern at some jobs about the combination of different job classifications into one; some people have reported doing multiple jobs in the same deadline, whereas before they only had one. The issue there is that people are taking those jobs and not fighting against the job compressions.

Wage Suppression Lawsuit: Individuals have gotten letters regarding the Wage Suppression class-action lawsuit involving Blue Sky Studios, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation (etc). A number of attendees had received letters. Business Representative said that the Guild is not directly involved, although it held a meeting with one of the lawsuit attorneys and referred people to his law firm early in the process. Business Representative said he was subpoenaed for a depoition and that documents were also subpoenaed. It was noted that Blue Sky Studios and Sony Pictures Animation have reached settlements on the suit, but Disney, DreamWOrks and Pixar have not settled.

Live-Streaming: Some artists thought that live-srtreaming was a viable way to involve members who could never get to General Membrship Meetings; others though meeting conversations need to stay in the meeting room. There was a worry that the streaming of meetings would keep people from speaking up.

CG Classes at Guild: There was a discussion of reconfiguring the computer lab so that in-house classes could be held. Right now, CG classes are held off-site under the Contract Servicies Administration Trust Fund.

Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Craft Meeting #5 — Animation Writers

The Animation Guild’s fifth craft meeting took place Tuesday night in the Guild meeting hall at 1105 N. Hollywood Way in Burbank California.

It was noted that TAG Vice President Earl Kress passed away five years ago yesterday at age 60. Earl was a prolific, talented writer who was instrumental in securing better conditions for freelance writers, negotiating health benefits for freelancers who wrote two half-hour outlines and scripts.

New Media: There were discussions regarding the Guild’s New Media sideletter (pp 99-113 of the CBA), how its production budget tiers are tied to live-action that don’t reflect the budgets for animation. New Media will likely be a central issue in 2018 negotiations, and there will be early indications where New Media language is going when the WGA and DGA negotiate their contracts next year.

Some writers at DreamWorks Animation TV are writing at below minimum rates, which is allowed under the sideletter. Animation work that’s distributed over the internet (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) comes under New Media. If a negotiated contract fails to be ratified, then contract talks resume until a new agreement is reached or the talks reach impasse. …

Script Fees: Only one studio has script fees (payments on top of salaries); that studio is Nickelodeon.

General Membership Meeting: Members were encouraged to attend the September 27th General Membership Meeting and run for the board or an officer position, since several officers and board members are departing.

Bank of Hours: Why hasn’t the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan’s Bank of Hours been raised? Because the bargaining parties (AMPTP and IATSE) haven’t negotiated a hike. The 450 hours has been in place for a number of years, though the threshold for health coverage was raised eight years ago from 300 hours to 400 hours per 6-month period. This had the effect of knocking some participants off the Plan and there was some anger from members about it. Five years ago, premium payments of $25/month for participants with one dependent and $50/month for participants with 2 or more dependents were introduced.

Writer Categories: Animation Writer is a job classification in the contract. Story Editor in not in the contract, though the AMPTP told the Guild in negotiations four years ago it was part of the writer classification.

Discussion of how story editors get paid: Some writer/story editors in attendance liked total fees divided over 26 episodes and being paid weekly, and didn’t want the fees tied to a weekly salary because payments would be lower. It was noted that TAG negotiates wage floors, that individuals are free to negotiate better pay and conditions.

Discussion about animation writers forming their own union. Mechanics of this are difficult, there would have to be de-certification then a new union created. There was also talk about making the Animation Guild into a national union that covers the whole country, the better to organize studios in Atlanta and elsewhere.

Screen Credits: It was noted that the contract requires screen credits for story on features and half-hour broadcast “non-segmented” half-hour television shows. It was suggested that screen credits should be required for all lengths of programs, since screen credits trigger foreign levies.

Storyboard artists should be allies with writers; where storyboard artists/writers and outline writers work together on non-scripted shows, they should share script fees.

Production Schedules: Writers/producers and show runners need to insist on reasonable production schedules. Story editors need to do the math and build reasonable time lines for scripts (and storyboards).

Many studios are using freelance writers, but some studios have staff writers. There’s beginning to be more integration. DWA tv has staff story editors and small staffs of writers. Writers are in demand so studios are starting to employ staff writers to have their services full time.

Writers who know what the board artists can do are more effective because they can write scripts that reflect what can be achieved on storyboards.

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Current Studio Employment Fri, 12 Aug 2016 22:22:16 +0000 As is our occasional habit, we present to you the number of people employed at our larger* signator studios.


Bento Box — 89
Cartoon Network — 300
Disney Television Animation — 382
DreamWorks Animation — 584
Dr4eamWorks Animation TV — 309
Fox Animation — 243
Marvel Animation — 66
Nickelodeon Cartoon Studios — 288
Paramount Animation — 65
Rick and Morty — 54
Robin Red Breast (Titmouse) — 117
Original Force Animation — 23
Six Point Two — 27
Sony Pictures Animation — 85
Walt Disney Animation Studios — 570
Warner Animation Group (WAG) — 47
Warner Bros. Animation — 275
Wild Canary — 45
Woodridge (Hasbro) — 35 …

Animation work in Los Angeles has grown steadily over the past four years. Studios still strive to hold down costs, laying crews off as soon as a current project has ended, but show supervisors continue to complain “We just can’t find enough qualified people out there!”

Some studios are restructuring, and some shows are outsourcing storyboards and design work to Canada, but the Los Angeles animation industry continues to do well, even with the cascade of Free Money happening in the country to our north.

Globally, animation continues to be a growth industry, booming in Canada, growing in the United Kingdom, making gains at various studios across Europe and South America. China and India are also growing their domestic animation studios, and China is setting up satellite studios (like Original Force) in Southern California.

* Studios with less than twenty (20) employees are not listed.

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Animation Guild Craft Meetings Thu, 14 Jul 2016 23:37:47 +0000 As many know, the Animation Guild covers just about every kind of artistic and technical job related to animation: writers, board artists, animators, designers, background artists, and technical directors. (The Guild doesn’t cover production people).

As we come to the end of the first year of the 2015-2018 contract, the board’s officers and board decided it would be a good idea to hold craft meetings to review how people are faring under the new agreement, and to share information. To that end, Guild membership will come together on the following dates at 1105 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank California:

Craft Meetings – August and September


Review of the 2015-2018 Agreement – One Year In
New Media
Studio Tests
Uncompensated Overtime
Production Schedules
Piece Work

1) board artists and revisionists – Tuesday, 7 p.m. August 16

2) timing directors – Tuesday, 7 p.m., August 23

3) designers, background artists – Tuesday, 7 p.m., August 30

4) CG animators, modelers and tech directors – Tuesday, 7 p.m., September 13

5) Writers – Tuesday, 7 p.m., September 20 …

The Guild has 3,747 people working under its jurisdiction; this is a big jump from where it was five years ago, when the total was 2,718, and slowly climbing out of the employment doldrums of the early oughts.

Even with record-high employment, there are abuses that continue: non-comped overtime; overlong storyboard and design tests; unrealistic schedules. Many of these issues have existed for decades, and they are much like plastic pop-up moles in arcade games. A problem gets taken care of on one studio production, and (whattayaknow!) up pops its bristly little head on another show.

These meetings are open to active and inactive Animation Guild members. As we get nearer to meeting dates, handy reminders will go out via e-mail.

Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have, the more effective you’ll be steering your career through the booby traps put up by our fine entertainment conglomerates.

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The Guild Contract … One Year In Tue, 05 Jul 2016 21:11:09 +0000 THE 2015-2018 ANIMATION GUILD CONTRACT

We are now twelve months into the latest Animation Guild contract, one of the best the Guild has negotiated in long time. 365 days ago:

There are no rollbacks in wage minimums, and TAG negotiated higher contribution hours for storyboard artists working under “unit rates”, as well as improved hours for freelance timing directors.

Contract talks started on Monday and continued until late Wednesday night. Negotiations are never a walk through a flower-filled meadow, but this contract session was less rancorous than the 2012 talks, and achieved better results. …

The good news? One year later, there have NEVER been more people working in the cartoon biz in the entire history of Los Angeles animation. And more freelancers are getting more pension and health coverage hours, thanks to the Guild’s success in negotiating increases for freelance rates.

The less-good news? The New Media sideletter allows studios to pay below Guild minimums for artists and writers working on Netflix and Amazon shows delivered via the internet. DreamWorks Animation TV in particular is taking advantage of sideletter language and paying less for some storyboard artists — especially new ones — and rookie animation writers.

New Media rates will no doubt be a major issue in contract negotiations two years hence.

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New Contract With Rough Draft Studios Fri, 24 Jun 2016 16:22:39 +0000 Rough Draft Studios, Inc. and the Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE have reached agreement for a term contract covering animated features and television series created by the Glendale California studio. Rough Draft Studios (Glendale) is known for its work on “Futurama”, “The Simpsons Movie”, and a wide variety or animated television shows and commercials. Its sister studio, Rough Draft Studios (Korea) has been the production facility for “The Simpsons” for over two decades, also creating work for Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Television Animation, and Warner Bros., among numerous others.

“Our talks with Rough Draft were smooth and productive,” said Steve Hulett, the business representative of The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE, “and there were no major issues that slowed down our bargaining. I can tell you that we’re very pleased to come together on a deal. Rough Draft has been one of the premiere animation houses in Los Angeles for years, and reaching agreement on the studio’s future productions means a lot to the Guild and its members. Our officers and executive board members are very happy Rough Draft is signing a contract.”

The Animation Guild represents the lion’s share of animation work in Los Angeles County, with contracts covering Disney, Warner Bros. Animation. Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, and a number of smaller studios. The Guild has over three thousand members, most of them employed in L.A.’s ongoing animation boom.

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About “New Media” Wed, 01 Jun 2016 17:42:08 +0000 The term “new media” refers to live-action and animated product produced by studios for delivery over the internet.

This usually refers to “Subscription Video On Demand” (SVOD). The one-offs and series produced for that new age pipeline by signator studios are covered by the Animation Guild Contract under “Sideletter N” … “Productions Made For New Media.” … .

The Sideletter goes on for multiple pages (pp 99-113 to be exact) and declares that New Media Work is covered work, and that wages, health and pension benefits will be paid to employees performing it.

That’s the good news.

The less good news is that the contract’s minimum wage rates don’t need to be paid if the budgets for New Media productions don’t hit certain tiers . And guess what? Currently no productions hit the budgetary tiers (pp 106-107) that are required for minimums. And so … the studios are free to engage employees at lower weekly pay rates.

Last year, when we negotiated the guild’s new collective bargaining agreement, TAG’s negotiating committee knew that every other entertainment guild and union, the DGA, the WGA, the Editors Guild, the Camera Guild (etcetera, etcetera) had negotiated the exact same language.

We also knew that animation budgets were lower than live-action budgets, and argued that fact with management. (I jawed with the head of the AMPTP on the subject in an Alliance hallway.) The killer for us was that SAG-AFTRA’s cartoon voice over unit had negotiated the same terms and conditions we were faced with, and they had already accepted the deal. In the end, we ate the same Vaseline sandwich that they did.

What does all this mean one year later?

It means that DreamWorks Animation TV, which produces all its half-hour shows under “Sideletter N” can negotiate lower weekly wages with employees. (The company provides fulltime employees with ten sick days; new hires are prorated if later in year, but not less than three days. Overtime work is paid at time and a half and double time. DWA TV pays New Media employees IAP contributions based on classification minimum rates, even if the employ is paid below the rate. However, the division does NOT pay dismissal pay.)

DreamWorks Animation TV is currently the only major employee doing lots of New Media work, but more companies will be getting into Subscription Video On Demand) as this platform grows and matures. Because the market is relatively tight, we haven’t seen lower pay rates across the board, but there are certainly newer employees who are working under scale.

It’s important to know that the current terms and conditions of “Sideletter N” sunset on July 31, 2018, and the Animation Guild and every other entertainment union will be negotiating new terms and conditions for internet delivered work at that time. It will be the Animation Guild’s goal and aspiration to equalize “New Media” pay rates with all the other minimums in the contract.

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Storyboard Deadlines … Storyboard Timelines Wed, 16 Mar 2016 16:57:02 +0000 A veteran board artist writes:

I’ve been doing TV storyboards for 25 years and this deadline thing is really getting ridiculous.

It was insane when they moved the deadline for 11 minutes of board from 6 to 5 weeks but 4 weeks for a finished board is NUTS. I am assuming that this squeezing of the deadline screws is just as bad for the rest of the preproduction folks out there but since storyboards are my area, I cover what I know best.

Here are the facts: every panel for a television storyboard based on a written script takes 10 – 20 minutes AVERAGE per panel WITHOUT revision time included. This is also based on a board that is done on paper with out adding the timing or dialogue tracts required in Toonboom Storyboard Pro or Adobe Flash.

So the fact is we are all doing a lot of unpaid overtime and not doing anything about it. If your production manager says that someone else is able to do the work in the 4 week time frame that 4 weeks is really 6 weeks and they have no life.

My suggestions :

1. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR TIME. Get one of those little paper book diaries and write down how many hours you REALLY work every day. You will understand yourself how much you are working, and you will have physical proof to show anyone exactly what’s going on.

2. TALK TO OTHERS. Don’t just complain, get a real consensus of what is happening and get them to keep track of their time as well.

3. GIVE A COPY OF TV STORYBOARD TIME REQUIREMENTS to your Production Manager / Associate Producer. If you are afraid to hand it to them personally, slip it under their door. If they actually read it, It might give them an understanding why they can never seem to get “those slow board artists” to turn in their storyboards on time. …

The Veteran Board Artist estimates the time that the storyboarding will actually take. …


NOTE: The following is based on the actual PHYSICAL time requirements to create a storyboard for TV animation. Although there is some variance to the speed at which artists draw, the following is based on the AVERAGE time needed to create the necessary work based on a script with equal parts action and acting and NO REVISIONS.

The following is what is required in any fully cleaned-up panel of storyboard:

1. Suggested background
2. An on-model character – either a) establishing and/or b) acting / expressing story point.
3. Scene description, and camera action. special effects description.
4. (TBSBP) Initial rough timing / anamatic set-up

MINIMUM time required to complete panel: 10 minutes/panel

Average Time: 20 minutes/panel

(A complicated action with camera moves and armies can take over an hour.)

For a 3 act script consisting of 36 – 40 pages:

#Panels / script page: 24 – 36 (8 -12 bd.pgs.) Time: 8 – 12 hrs, 1- 1.5 8 hr days*

#Panels / 1 minute of film: 60 – 72 (20 – 24 bd.pgs.) Time: 20 – 24 hrs, 2.5 – 3 8b hr days*

#Panels / 7 minute film: 420 – 504 (140 – 168 bd.pgs) Time: 140 – 168 hrs., 17.5 – 21 8 hr days (3.5-4wks)*

# Panels / 11 minute film: 660 – 792 (220 – 264 bd. pgs) Time: 220 – 264 hrs., 27.5 – 33 “ “ (5.5 – 6wks)*

# Panels / 22 minute film: 1320 – 1584 (440 – 528 bd. pgs) Time: 440 – 528 hrs., 55 – 66 “ “ (11 – 12wks)*

* (Time is based on average time of 20 minutes x panel count WITHOUT revisions and going straight to cleanup. If revisions are required, multiply all times above by 1.25X)

!!(Special Note: ACTION takes at least 2-3 times the amount of drawings that acting does. If the show is heavy on action, multiply numbers given above by 2X to compensate for the additional drawing and panels needed)!!

If working in Toonboom Storyboard Pro add .25X to the equation for the additional amount of work added to create a working animatic.

Simple formulas for calculating adjustments to the average time:

Average Show

Hrs x .75 thumbnail and rough only
Hrs. x 1 finished board no revisions
Hrs. x 1.25 finished board with revisions on the roughs
Hrs. x 1.5 finished board with revisions on the roughs in TBSBP

Action / Comedy Heavy Show

Hrs. x 2 action heavy board no revisions
Hrs x 2.5 heavy action board with revisions the on roughs
Hrs x 2.75 heavy action board with revisions on the roughs in TBSB


Parameters of 10 – 20 minutes for each panel described above is not an arbitrary figure. Consider the analysis below for the explanation of why it takes this amount of time for a professional storyboard artist to produce each frame for a cartoon’s blue print. Consider that every panel of storyboard requires the three steps: Planning, Drawing and

Usually a board artist considers a minimum of a scene at a time (3-10 panels) and how that scene works within a sequence (1/4 – 1 script page) and how that sequence works within a section (1 – 3 script pages) then how the sections work into each other and to the full script.

Storyboarding for animation is NOT just rapidly drawing a sketch. Even if a story artist is doing a pitch session and is quickly throwing up post-its, those sketches have to be taken down, reworked, and put into a blueprint like format so that the team working on the film can use them effectively.

Storyboarding for television requires that the artist do the following jobs: storyboarding as layout; writer of all action and gags and clerk for scene descriptions dialogue, action and camera action; and initial acting, action, camera, and timing direction. Also, sometimes, they are background, prop and character designer. All characters are required to be as close to “model” as possible, many times without the artist ever having drawn the characters before.

Every panel created requires the following:

1. Planning: reading the script to decide on the image

A. Staging – where and how to set up the shot in relation to:

1) Location choice
2) Camera position
3) Composition
4) Camera motion
5) Emotional Note
6) Cutting, timing and transitions

B. Acting – How the character(s) are to act in the shot with relation to

1) Personality of the character
2) Style of the show
3) Event taking pace
4) Actual action the character must commit
5) Point of dialogue delivery
6) Plot through line
7) Break down of action over successive panels
8) Action of relationship between multiple characters and their reactions

C. Continuity – maintenance of continued visual plot points

1) Correct costumes, props and locations
2) On-model / character proportions and physical attributes
3) Maintaining continued existence of Point of Interest characters, props or costumes not associated with on screen action but necessary for story through line or plot (Example: Evenrude in
the Disney series “Tail Spin”)

2. Drawing : creating the image

A. Thumbnail – initial skeletal composition, staging, continuity, acting and action – work out unresolved story
and action neglected in script.

B. Rough – rework of initial ideas, draw in backgrounds, refine acting and action.

C. Cleanup – tighten all character acting and visual information.

3. Description: verbally describing the panel

A. Scene Description

1) Verbal description of action
2) Camera information
3) Staging requests (i.e. overlays, animating BG’s, Bi-pack)
B. Dialogue
C. Special Effects
3) Sound FX
4) Visual FX
5) Special timing requests

Here’s a given line of script: “The warriors attack the fort.” What has to be added that the writer left out? How many panels do you think it will take? How long will it take to execute??
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

* The above e-mail and attached notes were triggered by a recent discussion with a veteran production board artist who has worked at most of the major animation studios … and a good number of small ones … over the last two and a half decades. I made the suggestion that they send along their descriptions and break downs of the time needed to execute storyboards of different styles and types.

Happily, they already had estimates ready to go. I said we would post the whole kaboodle here on the blog, which we are now doing. Understand this is one veteran’s analysis of what’s required to execute a professional cartoon storyboard. Other artists’ mileage may vary.

— Steve Hulett

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The Animated Productions Among Us Wed, 09 Mar 2016 18:45:11 +0000 As I write, this minute, the Animation Guild has 3.467 people working under its jurisdiction.

This is a long way from the 700 artists, writers and technicians who were employed under a contract in 1989, but hey. Twenty-seven years ago, animation was the ugly, beaten step-child of the movie and television industry. Now it is not only beloved, but a big profit center in Tinsel Town (which explains why it’s now beloved).

TV work has steadily grown over the past three years, and looks to be growing some more in 2016. DreamWorks Animation TV is steaming ahead with new orders from Netflix, and the conglomerates (Disney, Time-Warner, Fox) are developing new content.

There have been a number of new studios that have entered the Los Angeles market. Some, like Original Force 3-D Animation, the Guild has signed contracts with. Others, like Alpha Animation Inc., remain unorganized. (Both of these studios come from mainland China). There are small TV animation studios (like Wild Canary and Robin Red Breast) doing sub-contracting work for the majors, and a few like Splash Entertainment (formerly Moonscoop, formerly Mike Young Productions) doing original content with larger partners.

The long and short of it is, the Los Angeles animation scene is active and vibrant; if there wasn’t a country to our north giving away fistfuls of Free Money, it would be even more vibrant. But even with the subsidized cartoon work force in Canada, Los Angeles is doing all right. As the list directly below will attest. …

Kindly note that there is big overlap with this post’s previous incarnation, but also a lot of new projects. As before, feel free to comment at the bottom; we will add or subtract shows as needed, for we are not all-seeing nor infallible. …

(Mainly guild work, but also some non-guild productions. Obviously the list will be amended as we go along, no?)

Alcon Entertainment/Appian Way

Pete the Cat

Bento Box

Legends – multi episodes
Bob’s Burgers – multi episodes …

Bureau of Magic – Amazon

Lost in Oz

Cartoon Network

Power Puff Girls – multi episodes
Ben 10 – multi episodes
(Above shows = high international demand.)
Regular Show – multi episodes
Adventure Time — multi episodes
Stephen Universe – multi episodes
Clarence – multi episodes
Royals – multi episodes
Uncle Grandpa – multi episodes
Mixels – episode
We Bare Bears
Samurai Jack
Various pilots
OK-KO – Let’s Be Heroes
(Additional unannounced shows in development for multiple distribution platforms.)

Cosmic Toast (non-signator)

Lalaloopsy – multi episodes

Disney Television Animation

Star Vs. Forces of Evil – multi episodes
Mickey shorts – ongoing.
Big Hero 6: The Series
Mickey and the Roadster Racers (CG show) – multi episodes
Tangled – multi episodes
The Lion Guard – multi episodes
The 7D — multi-episodes (wrapping end of season 2)
Pickle And Peanut – multi episodes
Future-Worm! – multi episodes
Duck Tales – multi episodes
Billy Dilley’s Super Duper Subterranean Summer – multi episodes
Wicked World – multi episodes
Sophia the First – multi episodes
Elena of Avalor – multi episodes
Goldie and Bear — new episodes
Billy Dilley’s Super-Duper Subterranean Summer — new series
Country Club — new series
Vampirina — newer series
Puppy Dog Tales — newer series

Dream East Pictures(non-union)

Magic Deer

DreamWorks Animation

Puss in Boots 2

(Other jams and jellies in development).

DreamWorks Animation TV

Croods – multi episodes
Vegie Tales – multi episodes
Peabody and Sherman (wrapping up)
King Julien – multi episodes
Dinotrux – multi episodes
Puss in Boots – multi episodes
Unannounced projects – multi episodes)
Dragons of Berk – multi episodes
Felix the Cat – DHX/Dreamworks
Harvey Girls
(Projects in development.)

Film Roman

(Note that FR has recently been sold by Starz Media to a new holding company, that corporate topkick Dana Booten has resigned from the company but founder Phil Roman has returned, and that there are various projects in development.

However, the company is no longer doing “Ultimate Spiderman” or “The Simpsons”. Spidey moved to Marvel Animation under a different title, and the Yellow Family shifted to Fox Animation as of January 1st.)

Fox TV Animation

Family Guy – multi episodes
The Simpsons – multi episodes (moved from Film Roman)
American Dad – multi episodes


Rescue Bots – multi episodes
Transformers: Robots in Disguise
Micronauts (2D series)
Stretch Armstrong

Illumination Entertainment

(Some feature story work done in L.A.; production at the MacGuff studios in Paris.)

Marvel Animation Studios

Spiderman (new version)
Avengers Assemble – multi episodes
Guardians of the Galaxy – multi episodes


Pinky Malinky
Shimmer and Shine
Pig, Goat, Banana, Cricket
The Loud House
Harvey Beaks
Sanjay and Craig
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Spongebob Squarepants
Fairly Odd Parents
Welcome to the Wayne
Bunsen Is a Beast

(The above show are multiple episodes in various stages of work. Several have just been announced as new series or renewed series.)

Original Force 3-D Animation

Duck Duck Goose Goose
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

(A new company recently signed; located in Culver City. See information here.)

Paramount Animation

Sponge Bob 3

(Also, too, multiple other feature projects in development.)

Renegade Animation (non-signator)

The Tom and Jerry Show

Six Point Harness (non-signator)

Hollow Gauntlet

Shadow Machine (non-signator)

Bojack – multi episodes

Sony Pictures Animation

Surf’s Up 2

Starburns Industries

Rick and Morty – multi episodes
Animals – multi episodes

Stoopid Buddy Stoodios (non-signator)

Robot Chicken
Lego Scooby Doo
WWE Slam City

Titmouse* (Robin Red Breast)

Fancy Bastards – pilot (waiting series pickup)
Niko and the Sword of Light (with Amazon)

Universal Cartoon Studios

Land Before Time
Alvin and the Chipmunks

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Moana (in production)
Gigantic (next up)
Frozen 2
Wreck-It Ralph 2

Warner Animation Group

Lego Batman
Lego 2
Billion Brick Race
(and various others)

Warner Bros. Animation

Scooby Doo Wild West
WWE Meets Jetsons
Be Cool, Scooby Doo
Bunnicula – multi episodes
Justice League Action – multi episodes
Mike Tyson Mysteries – multi episodes
Teen Titans Go! – multi episodes
DC Girls (online show)
Green Eggs and Ham (online show)
(Unannounced shows in development.)

Wild Canary

Miles From Tomorrowland
Puppy Capers
Sheriff Callie

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Tucking Money Away For Retirement Mon, 29 Feb 2016 19:49:38 +0000 I’ll be racing around doing 401(k) enrollment meetings for the next month or two, so kindly note this:

… The median household approaching retirement has a nest egg of between $10,000 and $20,000. This number is drawn down significantly because 41% of these households have no retirement savings whatsoever. … That doesn’t necessarily mean these retirees will have nothing to provide income in retirement. Consider:

56% are homeowners, with 22% having paid off their house in full.

32% have a defined benefit plan (i.e., a pension).

Furthermore, though the report doesn’t provide a specific number, most of these retirees will eventually claim some type of Social Security benefit. As the authors note, “Social Security replaces a higher percentage of earnings for lower-income workers and their dependents than for higher-income workers.” …

Animation Guild members are in better positions than the unfortunate wretches above; they have two automatic pension plans going for them: 1) A monthly annuity known as a Defined Benefit Plan, and 2) an Individual Account Plan, which is a lump sum payout that happens when participants are retires. Few pension plans around today have both. Most have the second item, and that’s about it.

Guild members are among the few lucky duckies in the cartoon biz who have three pension plan available to them. On top of the default pensions named above, there is also TAG’s 401(k) Pension Savings Plan, which enables TAG members to defer up to $18,000 ($24,000 for 50+ folks).

Enrolling in the Guild’s 401(k) is a matter of filling out a couple of sheets of paper. But it also takes a recognition that the more you tuck away now, the less you’ll have to save when you’re nudging up against retirement and suddenly realize it would be great to have more money.


Wild Canary Animation — Tuesday, March 1st, 2 pm — North Conference Room (Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake)

Dreamworks Animation — Wednesday, March 2nd, 10 am — Dining Room B & C (DWA Glendale Campus)

Dreamworks TV — Thursday, March 3rd, 10 am Conference Room 2508 (Central Avenue location)

Disney Feature — Tuesday, March 8th, 3:30 pm — Room 2401 “Caffeine Patch” (Hat Building, Riverside Dr.)

DisneyToons Studio — 2:00-3:00 pm — Room 102 (833 Sonora Ave., Glendale)

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Board Artists Sat, 30 Jan 2016 00:16:07 +0000 At Tuesday night’s General Membership Meeting, there was a lengthy back-and-forth on storyboard artists, their current pressures and current schedules.

Show schedules are too short.

Production people want way more panels than a “Bill Peet” style board. You have to almost animate the action for the animatic.

In features, they throw out part of a sequence and want you to reboard three new pages of script Friday to Monday, so you work all weekend.

There are feature supervisors who brag on-line that they’re working on a show until 2 A.M.

Artists work unpaid overtime because they’re afraid they’ll get laid off if they don’t keep the quality up and meet the show’s deadlines.

New board artists come in and have no problem working late for no pay. They’re happy to be working and have a job. …

The issues that cropped up at Tuesday’s gathering are much the same as those here, a couple of years ago. Among the complaints then:

1) Cramped work schedules.

2) The general corporate/department rule (with exceptions) that: “There’s NO money in the budget for overtime, so DON’T ASK.”

3) The issue of multi-tasking. Board artists today often have to A) Design, B) Be layout artists, C) Work as animatics editors, D) Pose out animation. …

Members noted that a lot of artists are frightened of losing the gig, and so work uncompensated overtime to hang onto their jobs.

The Business Representative (me) responded that studios complain that they can’t find skilled, experienced board artists now, so there is not a lot of truth to the fear of layoff.

(Another artist said that he knows of a slow co-worker who has been late with his assigned shows time and again, yet has never been laid off. In fact, the artist has seldom if ever heard of anyone being laid off because of slowness.)

Steve Hulett’s take: Evolving technologies have made storyboarding more challenging over time. Paper story and production boards are finit. Animatics (digital story reels with demi animation, layouts, sound effects, voice tracks) are the coin of the realm.

Production management expects a lot more drawing, acting and movement in digital story reels than it did fifteen years ago. The observations that a “Bill Peet storyboard” wouldn’t work today is right as regards the number of drawings a modern board requires, but not right as regards acting and image quality.

What’s needed in the workplace is:

1) A culture where no overtime is worked unless it’s paid for. (“Forty hours means forty hours.”)

2) Sharing of information: Production schedules, wage rates, etc.

3) Collegiality and support.

4) The knowledge that every studio (and every show inside a studio) is somewhat different. (The production manager on Show X is flexible and understanding about problems; the show creator on Show G wants the characters precisely on models and you’d better not be late turning in your work.)

If you have the chops to create a superior board, in today’s job market you’ll likely be in demand. Right now, the studios need artists who know what they’re doing.

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