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'I Have Some Horror Stories': Animator Talks Industry's Problems, Hopes for the Future


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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 14035
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 8:32 am Reply with quote
Murder, She wrote:
Although Chung does not believe that Japanese workers are in a position to organize and maintain unions, she firmly thinks that studios need to take responsibility by negotiating for higher rates with their business partners. With these higher rates, she wishes for the leaders to circulate more of the cash flow to their employees. This is particularly true when working with high-profile companies; Science SARU's impressive talent can be better leveraged with higher rates and schedules that do not burden its employees with overtime.

But there's only so much that individual animators can negotiate for. As more money flows into the anime industry by the year, Chung advocates for anime studios to communicate with each other and collectively determine their worth for investors. Instead of competing in a race to the bottom, studios can band together and pressure financiers to provide for reasonable schedules with equitable pay.


Heh, something similar I mentioned not too long ago
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Studios should band up and agree together to raise the absolute minimum they would accept on different types of works, and then give recognition to the names of good clients who meet that minimum
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MagicPolly



Joined: 26 Nov 2020
Posts: 290
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:04 am Reply with quote
It's sad to see that even a studio like Science SARU, one that I thought would be much better with this kind of stuff, is still vulnerable. Hopefully something will happen in the future to change this (I honestly don't know what else to say)
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SHD



Joined: 05 Apr 2015
Posts: 921
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:31 am Reply with quote
Yes, it's the usual problem. The client wants to pay as little as possible for the work; and that pushes down prices overall because studios know that no matter how low they go, there will be others who offer even lower rates. There will always be studios that will snap up any work for however low a pay, and then either do it themselves or outsource it to a studio that will work for even lower prices, maybe in some other country.

Studios banding together and agreeing on a minimum price is a good idea, but I think it would only work as long as the client is intent on working with those particular studios, and who knows about that. Currently I think a lot of Japanese anime studios are basically coasting on clout and reputation that eg. Netflix can use to drum up hype around a project, and also the fact that the studios have staff that the client can be assured have the know-how to handle a project. But in the long run it may lead to large companies like Netflix simply buying studios to make shows in-house, which is about the cheapest way to produce content that they can get; and only turn to more expensive third party studios with prestige projects.

So I dunno. Maybe clients should be less bloodthirsty about saving money, there should be fewer middlemen and other moneysinks and and and...
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xxmsxx



Joined: 06 Sep 2017
Posts: 161
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:53 am Reply with quote
It is interesting Astro Boy from Mushi Production was brought up. I always hear people talk about how that TV anime, being the first, started the whole problem. Hayao Miyazaki may have said this as well. I am curious to how valid it is. It sounds reasonable as I have heard Tezuka artificially depressing prices when negotiating with Fuji TV, but unsure if it is true or not.
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Tenebrae



Joined: 26 Apr 2008
Posts: 449
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:52 am Reply with quote
This reminds me of something I've wondered about before. How much of a thing an anime industry omerta is in Japan? If a worker drone airs their complaints with their name on it, how much of a chance these "subversives" have finding a job in the industry afterwards?
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Shay Guy



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 1305
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 11:02 am Reply with quote
Quote:
“Currently, American animators' entry salary ranges around $50,000 with the average being $68,661 (Glassdoor). The rates in Canada are comparable, though the higher brackets – particularly in storyboarding or development – spike higher in the States. The American national average for a storyboard artist is $97,073. In comparison, entry salaries for Japanese animators is around $20,000 or lower, depending on whether they are salaried (the aforementioned amount) or are paid per cut.”


I've been wondering -- how common is it for Japanese animators to be salaried? My sense is, not very.

Quote:
Although Chung does not believe that Japanese workers are in a position to organize and maintain unions


Everybody familiar with the matter seems to agree on this. Sad Wonder what it'd take for them to become viable.

Quote:
It's also not helpful to accept a blanket rate when animation cuts can vary wildly in terms of detail and complexity. She believes that each scene should be priced according to the number of days required to draw it, with 7,500 yen for an “easy” cut, 15,000 yen for a “medium” cut, and 30-45,000 yen (or more) for “difficult” cuts.


Back in 2007, Peter Chung said that one of the biggest influences on the anime production process was animators being paid by the cut/sheet, whereas American studios pay by the hour. What kinds of effects would this shift in pay calculation cause? Maybe character designs being simplified so studios don't have to shell out for as many harder cuts?

Chung also said that in Korea, American shows pay by the "foot" (16 frames of film), and the rate for Avatar was around $16-17 for one second of key animation. Which means pay's controlled for cut length, but not complexity. I don't know how much each of those contribute to how much work it takes to animate.
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omiya



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
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Location: Adelaide, South Australia
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 11:34 am Reply with quote
One exception to low pay rates in Japanese animation is the pay for the voice actresses / actors.

Has ANN ever done an article explaining how voice acting ended up achieving decent pay rates? There may be something in not being able to switch the people providing particular voices as easily as switching studios / animators / other production staff (Minami-ke comes to mind) but would appreciate some pointers to articles on the subject.
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Doodleboy



Joined: 23 Dec 2013
Posts: 296
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 12:39 pm Reply with quote
To be honest I'm not sure the companies banding together will work, at least not if it's formally organized.

Just because of Anti-trust laws (at least in Canada and the USA).
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Lord Geo



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 1947
Location: North Brunswick, New Jersey
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 12:52 pm Reply with quote
xxmsxx wrote:
It is interesting Astro Boy from Mushi Production was brought up. I always hear people talk about how that TV anime, being the first, started the whole problem. Hayao Miyazaki may have said this as well. I am curious to how valid it is. It sounds reasonable as I have heard Tezuka artificially depressing prices when negotiating with Fuji TV, but unsure if it is true or not.


The general story is really more a case of "Tezuka literally couldn't produce a weekly animated series without cutting costs to an extreme amount", hence why limited animation became the norm. Tezuka simply just didn't have the money to pay for more elaborate animation.

Toei tried combatting that with Ken the Wolf Boy, which initially had more fluid animation, but even that show eventually moved over to limited animation, because otherwise Toei would have lost too much money producing it. Simply put, back in the 60s you either did animation for TV as cheap as possible, or you'd go out of business.
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Greed1914



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 3773
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 1:59 pm Reply with quote
It seems like an all too common situation where a studio wants to do better by its staff, but eventually gets to a point where it can't because it basically can't afford to not fall into the same trap.

The ones paying for the show paying better rates on their end would be an obvious place to start since so many studios wind up taking on more work than they can manage just to cover the bills as they go. But I don't know how you convince them to do that, especially if unionizing isn't likely. Most for profit businesses won't pay more just because it seems like the right thing to do, and I'm sure they'd point towards the risk on their end since so many shows go on to fizzle or outright flop.
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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
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Location: Virginia, United States
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 3:57 pm Reply with quote
Considering the artists comments and the dog eat dog world of Japanese animation, I don't see anything changing.

The best course of action for those of us outside of Japan, is to hold our American companies who fund Japanese animation production responsible for Japanese animation studios bargain basement salaries/pay and their 'death march' work hours.

We did this for the clothing industry who used foreign 'sweat shops'.

Netflix and others can, by contract, set the minimum wage and acceptable work hours for the Japanese anime studios for their productions. Naturally, Netflix would be funding that, and this would be merely Netflix directing where certain funds had to go to.

This really is no different than the shaming of American clothing brands that were found out doing bad things overseas.
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AJ (LordNikon)



Joined: 14 Apr 2009
Posts: 413
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 6:27 pm Reply with quote
SHD wrote:
Yes, it's the usual problem. The client wants to pay as little as possible for the work; and that pushes down prices overall because studios know that no matter how low they go, there will be others who offer even lower rates. There will always be studios that will snap up any work for however low a pay, and then either do it themselves or outsource it to a studio that will work for even lower prices, maybe in some other country.

Studios banding together and agreeing on a minimum price is a good idea, but I think it would only work as long as the client is intent on working with those particular studios, and who knows about that. Currently I think a lot of Japanese anime studios are basically coasting on clout and reputation that eg. Netflix can use to drum up hype around a project, and also the fact that the studios have staff that the client can be assured have the know-how to handle a project. But in the long run it may lead to large companies like Netflix simply buying studios to make shows in-house, which is about the cheapest way to produce content that they can get; and only turn to more expensive third party studios with prestige projects.

So I dunno. Maybe clients should be less bloodthirsty about saving money, there should be fewer middlemen and other moneysinks and and and...


This! Thank you. To add insult to injury, anime is commodity now which makes matters worse. In time even current market rate will be too much, and eventually push more animation work to China who is cheaper than Kora and Japan combined. I also see Nutflicks buying studios to do in-house also. But there are more animators than jobs which only drives down JDM labor rates that does not help.
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Zeino



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 968
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 11:36 pm Reply with quote
SHD wrote:
Yes, it's the usual problem. The client wants to pay as little as possible for the work; and that pushes down prices overall because studios know that no matter how low they go, there will be others who offer even lower rates. There will always be studios that will snap up any work for however low a pay, and then either do it themselves or outsource it to a studio that will work for even lower prices, maybe in some other country.

Studios banding together and agreeing on a minimum price is a good idea, but I think it would only work as long as the client is intent on working with those particular studios, and who knows about that. Currently I think a lot of Japanese anime studios are basically coasting on clout and reputation that eg. Netflix can use to drum up hype around a project, and also the fact that the studios have staff that the client can be assured have the know-how to handle a project. But in the long run it may lead to large companies like Netflix simply buying studios to make shows in-house, which is about the cheapest way to produce content that they can get; and only turn to more expensive third party studios with prestige projects.

So I dunno. Maybe clients should be less bloodthirsty about saving money, there should be fewer middlemen and other moneysinks and and and...



The real thing is what's going going on the anime industry is but a microcosm of one of the major problems with Capitalism in general. That it will exploit it's labor for as long and hard as it can while given the minimum pay as it seeks to reap maximum profit. Only major disruption could probably force through the needed changes and I doubt too many fans would like that if it effects their viewing output.
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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
Posts: 5004
Location: Virginia, United States
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:25 am Reply with quote
Zeino wrote:
That it will exploit it's labor for as long and hard as it can while given the minimum pay as it seeks to reap maximum profit. Only major disruption could probably force through the needed changes and I doubt too many fans would like that if it effects their viewing output.


In regards to labor and Capitalism, I think you are viewing it too simplistically. It is supply and demand at its roots. The more workers available to do a certain job, the lower the wages are going to be, and the less workers available to do a certain job, the higher the wages are going to be. The statement I just said, is also too simple, because things are far more dynamic. You are certainly right, that there are evil companies and people that exploit their workers. Luckily for me, I haven't had to work for such companies or people in my 35 plus years of employment. Which means not all companies or people are evil like that.

As for anime industry changes, not going to happen, because it is all about the money and the current configuration of anime production. What is needed is a company with alot of money that will make that change possible by contract. And the only ones that can really do that now, is the new anime money, western companies like Netflix. But they are not doing that, and the fans are really not holding them to the fire for that. So unless that happens, not much is going to change.
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Igetin



Joined: 06 Apr 2019
Posts: 8
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2021 2:32 pm Reply with quote
Shay Guy wrote:
I've been wondering -- how common is it for Japanese animators to be salaried? My sense is, not very.


You would be right. According to JAniCA’s report in 2019, roughly 69.6 % of the people in the industry are fully freelance or self-employed. Only about 16.8 % are full-time employees, and about 6 % are contract employees.

(I feel like the amount of freelancers is still on the rise, since foreign freelance talent in anime is becoming more and more common recently.)

When it comes to contract types, the answers spread like this:

  • Project contract: 43.6 %
  • Paid per cut: 21.1 % (this is basically just key animators and animation supervisors)
  • Yearly contract: 12.5 %
  • Monthly salary: 8.7 %
  • Other contract: 7.3 %
  • Unit price contract: 4.5 % (this probably mostly means episode-based pay for directors/storyboarders)
  • No answer: 2.4 %
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