Tony Sealy is an animation and VFX director with more than 25 years of experience in animation and post-production.
Tony established Intense Animation Studio in 2003. Intense has created a peerless reputation for high value technical and creative execution of TV commercials, broadcasting, engineering and interactive projects.
In these pages you will find TV commercials and broadcasting projects. For engineering and interactive, kindly click the Intense Animation Studio link below.
There is real trouble in the VFX industry in the US. Despite the massive number of VFX-based movies being regularly produced, VFX is an industry in crisis. The US dollar has been under severe pressure for some time, so this isn’t helping. Films being released into overseas markets are not making the money they used to, but this is only one of the symptoms.
The real crisis is the financial pressure applied to VFX, animation and post production studios who are being squeezed by movies studios and clients like never before to create more work for cheaper fees. The US has a very transient labour market in this industry, many people are hired on contract or freelance basis so they work without health benefits or any kind of insurance plan. Because VFX is deadline sensitive, many artists are obliged to work long hours and weekends, often without additional compensation. The VFX companies are delivering content for movies and TV shows at a fixed price so they are hardly in a position to pay overtime.
This author has some very strong views: http://www.visualeffectssociety.com/node/2425
But the pressure has moved past squeezed budgets and tight deadlines. Movie studios outsource as much work as feasibly possible. Asian and European countries with lower socio-economic levels can provide cheaper labour than the US, although the quality is debatable. The result is US artists are working longer, for cheaper wages (with little job security) in an effort to compete.
Therein lies the dilemma. What can US studios (or artists) do to stay competitive? Adapt and change? With such high living standards in California in particular, this is not easy without severe economic changes (rationalization) and history tells us society resists this to the bitter end.
This author has some very sensible responses to the first: http://www.awn.com/blogs/idea-pioneers/examining-ves-open-letter
It’s not often that rugby league and animation collide. Now I have a chance to share something with you from both of these seemingly disparate worlds.
First a little bit of background. Rugby league is a game played primarily in Australia, although also played in the UK, New Zealand and France, Australia is the primary market. Rugby League is not to be confused with Rugby Union and the recently completed Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. These are actually different games (although very similar).
Like most professional sports, Rugby League has its fair share of controversy. Sydney newspapers are filled with Rugby League player indiscretions and adventures. One of the most notorious is a guy called Todd Carney. He’s been shown the door (Aussie term for sacked) from 2 clubs and now moves onto his third next season. He is still only 25 years old. All of his misadventures are alcohol related and he admits to having a drinking problem. But Carney is a professional sportsman and drinking and sports are closely related in Australia and therefore excesses are generally tolerated, no matter how damaging.
What made me laugh was the Taiwanese animation company, NMA caught onto the drama surrounding Todd Carney and created one of their funny animated shorts about him. Now he is up there with Obama and Tiger Woods.
Check it out here: http://www.nma.tv/rooster-todd-carney-blown-chance/
I have read Moneyball and agree with the general feedback that this is a great sports book. When I hear that a film is to be made based on a book I enjoyed, it makes me a little nervous. Especially when the lead role is to be played by Brad Pitt.
The last baseball movie I really enjoyed was The Natural, and this was a fable. Moneyball is about Billy Beane’s enigmatic, but very successful management of the Oakland Athletics. Real people, real team.
We are all awed by modern production techniques, no one more than me. But this story details a very interesting method used for crowd duplication in Moneyball.
Read it here: http://www.awn.com/articles/article/filling-stadium-moneyball
A very interesting article is this one. I am sure going to keep this for future reference when a prospective client adds “realism” to their list of requests.
Oh man, I’ve really been waiting for this article for a long time. I can only lament that this is unlikely to change too many people’s opinion.
It has often confused me why so many clients want animation to mimic humans or photography, thereby creating realism. Many, especially in that terrible industry called advertising, base their qualification process for an animation company on their ability to make “realistic animation”.
What is realism anyway? And whose measuring stick are we using?
The truth, borne out in this article is…realism is boring. For those folks who try to create realism and don’t quite get there…it’s creepy.
If we’re honest, we all got into the animation business to make cartoons. We fell in love with different characters (depending on your age) that made you laugh. Somehow we all managed to personally relate to cartoon characters because we saw something of ourselves in them (or those close to us). Whether they were going ballistic with rage or falling down laughing, even their deepest pain was funny (think Whylie Coyotee about to get squashed with a massive rock).
As soon as I view realistic animation (think Final Fantasy), it’s no longer enjoyable to me. I am expecting (rightly or wrongly) realistic animated characters to perform the same kinds of emotions and expression as a live action character. Consider some of the greats like Nicholson, De Niro or Pacino and how much emotion they can convey with the subtlety of their facial expressions. No animator with a thousand blend-shapes using advanced software will ever manage to mimic this.
Why? Is it the tools? No, it’s years and years of acting study and experience.
So why are we, or our clients, or big studios seeking to make realistic animation and therefore remove the enjoyment?
There’s an interesting paragraph at the end of the article suggesting that realistic animation might come full circle and eventually fool the viewer, perhaps making it difficult to determine real from fake (animation). I think this will be a very sad day if we are viewing animation and trying to play Sherlock Holmes to determine what is “real” and what is “animation”.
If this situation arises, I fear we are all out of business.
I was in Korea last week as a guest of a department of the Korean Government called KOCCA (Korean Creative Content Agency). They asked me to make a presentation about my company and feature some of the technical stuff we do as part of the Cultural and Technology Fair. As far as I know, I was the only presenter from a creative company, the others were academics or very technical people involved in research.
They paid my airfare and put me in a nice hotel for a couple of days. Unlike Singapore, they also paid me a speaking fee. How about that?
After my presentation, I was instantly taken away to a luncheon appointment with some government officials. There I was questioned, very politely, along with the other guest speakers about a number of matters pertaining to the Korean animation industry. While I admit I am not really familiar with the state of the business over there, some fairly typical questions were asked.
The first one was a fairly universal issue. It went something along the lines of “How important is creative content in these times of rapidly advancing technology?” To answer this question honestly posed something of a embarrassing problem. I was in a luncheon with other guest speakers who are academics and made their living from technology and the subsequent advances that came from of it.
I tried to be diplomatic and said that without great creative content, technological advancement was rather pointless. In other words, if the content is boring and uninteresting even the best delivery mediums (3D touch screens, lenticular displays etc) make no difference. Thankfully, the academics seemed to agree.
It’s an interesting question in the broader context. What comes first? The creative ideas, or the technology that’s used to execute the ideas? Maybe that’s not a fair question. It can be re-phrased this way; does the technology used to make amazing images exist before those same images exist in the directors mind?
As a creative director, I admit to applying my creative ideas via the technology we currently use and then later finding myself limited by the same technology. At times, I have arrived at a road block in the technical execution of a particular project. I am forced to change (or compromise) my creative idea to accommodate a limitation in the software (or rendering time). This is not new and I’m sure most creative people have experienced this frustration at one time or the another. I’m not fortunate enough to have a programming department where I can call some boffin who’ll write me a new piece of code to solve the problem (unlike Lucas).
So, is there someplace that develops really cool software and hardware specifically for creative people who can think of all manner of cool effects and ideas that need instant solutions?
I think it’s called Pixar.
Do check out the photos from the event.
The funniest thing of it all is that the Singapore Government is bringing foreign animation and VFX companies to the island (ILM and LucasFilm being the biggest names) while it lets their own domestic start ups to let it die. Lack of funds and support seem to be the main reasons for their closure. A sad day for the industry indeed.
Two animation firms close in Singapore
Two Singapore-based animation companies have closed down in recent days.
Egg Story Creative Production announced its demise and the redundancy of some 30 staff in the week before Christmas. That was followed by the announcement that a rescue attempt at Storm Lion, which had dismissed most of its staff earlier in the year, had finally proved fruitless.