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  1. #1
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    In Defense of Overseas

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    Ever since animation has been outsourced, there's been a lot of criticism of the practice. Now don't get me wrong, I think it's unfortunate that a lot of work that used to be done here is now done elsewhere, and that includes animation. I wish there were more key and in-between animation jobs in America that aren't Flash/CGI based (nothing against those styles, either; I just would prefer drawing in traditional styles). And yes, sending work overseas without constant communication or a good overseas supervisor can be a problem, because the overseas artists can go on autopilot and specific directions can get lost in translation.

    But some take their criticism a little too far. I'm specifically thinking of the accusation that overseas studios are inherently inferior to domestic studios, that the only "good" animation is done by a domestic studio. Not only is this incorrect, but it bears a disturbing undercurrent of xenophobia and racism. People from Korea, India, and the Philippines (and more) aren't some inferior batch of artists that deserve derisive (and pre-emptive) bashing.

    Some have claimed that overseas studios water down the animation. The thing is, 9 times out of 10, overseas studios only work with what they're given. If they are given bland storyboards/layouts, they're going to retain those in the animation unless instructed otherwise. Most of the time, the overseas studios merely in-between the key frames of whatever they're given. So if any blame should be given, it's to the domestic studios who don't provide any flair to the animation or facial expressions.

    So really, enough with the hatred. If you don't like a show or film's animation, fine, but don't always jump straight to "well the overseas studio butchered it; this wouldn't have happened if animated domestically." You don't know that to be true.

  2. #2
    MadMan400096's Avatar
    MadMan400096 is offline World War I Flying Ace
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    I think the problem most people have with overseas studios is the idea; sending animation overseas fro the sake of reserving money. However, overseas studios, when given the right stuff, can do well, like was the case with Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.

  3. #3
    Bakertoons's Avatar
    Bakertoons is offline Don't break a Pinkie Promise.
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    A while back I researched the practice of overseas animation, even interviewing few people (Kent Butterworth being one of them).

    It was (and still is) a touchy for many animators. The animation union actually went on strike over it in 1978; the deadline for the fall season was approaching so the studios hastily agreed to employ people in-house first before sending stuff overseas.

    The union went on strike over off-shore animation again in 1983. However by then the studios were prepared, having made deals with overseas studios before the strike happened, so when the artists walked out they simply sent work overseas and met deadlines. The strike lasted 3 months and a few artists were forced to scab because resources were running out. Eventually the union had to admit defeat and studios were allowed to sent any work to other countries.

    I've talked to alot of animation guys and some are still angry about it. The first cartoon to truly send work in another country was Jay Ward with "Rocky and His Friends" (which was done in Mexico). Ward himself hated the practice; it was something forced into him by his sponsor. It actually didn't make much difference in the cost because of the custom forms they had to fill out over the film prints added more, money wise. In spite of that, the practice caught on, from Rankin-Bass co-producing with Japan to Gene Deitch producing work for American companies at his studio in Czechoslovakia. Hanna-Barbera opened a studio in Australia and even DePatie-Freleng subcontracted some of their theatrical shorts to Spain (the quality was so bad that United Artists had to tell David and Friz to quit it).

    Filmation, to their credit, produced much of their content (as crappy as they are) in-house. The only time they sub-contracted was their "Zorro" show from the 1980s (to Tokyo Movie Shinsha). That was only because they were producing four shows that season and the staff artists was being stretched thin.

    Alot of Flash shows are done in-house, but even they're getting outsourced. "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", for example, is animated in the Philippians.

  4. #4
    Martin Juneau is offline Cartoon/comic-artist
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    The problem i see with most overseas animated shows (It still my perception) is the inconherent mistakes who appears in for no reasons and all of the facial/specific expressions and ideas being watered down after. Yes, i guess overseas studios have improved since but this is again a effect to find more moneys but to paid less to the employees when it cost more in the native country.
    I like any kinds of arts forms who exist, but the ones who catch my attention is the ones i mostly care.

  5. #5
    Hordesman's Avatar
    Hordesman is offline slashor
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    It ultimately comes to an issue of budget and resources. Preproduction has gotten better at making the packets of boards, layouts, etc. for overseas animation houses. And increased competition has led to overseas animation houses not simply offering the cheapest animation but greater quality as well. The fact is that the 2k2 He-Man show looked infinitely better than either of its predecessors. To be sure, technology has played a part but so have decades of constant production

  6. #6
    Philmister978's Avatar
    Philmister978 is offline Alvight, you vin
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    This is a topic where I need my two cents thrown in here:

    *Throws two cents*

    Well, I did my part.


    In all seriousness, this topic is one that is viewed differently by anyone. Personally, I don't mind outsourced animation if it's decent to excellent. Stuff from the 80s and nineties are quite possibly what I'm talking about. This is, there were dozens upon dozens of studios running during this time for America to outsouce to (Like Wang, Hanho, AKOM, TMS, Toei, etc.). And a lot of the time, it was usually Japan doing the good quality animation.

    Flash-forward to the present where Korea's being the most used country to outsource animation. And at the same time, Flash animation's being used more. Personally, watching many flash cartoons make me yearn for the old outsourced cartoons where I can laugh my butt off at how they would screw up.

    That said, I don't really have a personal preference on animation, just as long as companies don't go the way of the dinosaur. Though American animation (Disney largely) is superior.
    Last edited by Philmister978; 04-22-2012 at 01:31 PM.
    Aw come on, you expect me to put something witty here?

  7. #7
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    A specific example I'm thinking of is Ren & Stimpy. Granted, the domestic Carbunkle Cartoons did the best work on the show, but Rough Draft and Toon-Us-In both did very respectable work as well; they retained the cartoony nature of the show and didn't tone down the extreme poses and facial expressions. From an aesthetics standpoint, it was not harmed by being outsourced. As I said before, all you need is two things: Talented domestic artists, and a strong overseas supervisor who can communicate what kind of show it is and what the animation requires.

  8. #8
    KarlOlson's Avatar
    KarlOlson is offline Art Imitates Life
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    Quality of overseas work definitely hinges a lot on the work delivered in the first place, and the willingness of the studios to force retakes when needed. The Invader Zim commentary had more than a few references to sending bad work back for retakes, but they obviously started with a fairly devoted staff that aimed to make great work in the first place. Similarly, when I visited AKA Cartoon, they mentioned more than a few points where they sent stuff back for retakes, and they were very devoted to starting with really good storyboards and direction. They knew they had to give people the right information to work with. They were also willing to take a piece in house if they were really worried about it.

    Actually, that reminds me, what should be considered overseas at this point? I mean, I am in Canada at the moment, and so when MLP had a season animated up here (with a number of ex-AKA-cartoon staffers at that,) that's domestic production, and I know the animators aren't struggling to get by either.

    In that sense, that maybe be the best case against the complaints overseas work. Animation work that keeps animators somewhere employed is a net gain. If nothing else, being able to send stuff overseas means animators in countries with more high-standards of living are typically doing more interesting animation jobs. They aren't hand drawing tweens, they are doing direction, storyboards or key-frames.

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