FMX 2013: CG Animation for TV – Shuzo John Shiota
Not many people saw Shuzo John Shiota’s lecture ‘CG Animation for TV’ and it’s a real shame because it was one of the better lectures. He talked about the business side of TV animation and also about workflow. It was great to hear it from a boss’s point of view. I’ll just make some brief points I found interesting but check it out next time if you get chance to. Shuzo is the CEO of Polygon Pictures in Japan.
TV markets are unstable so you have to be diverse. For example Polygon Pictures also works on mobile games, live projections, features, game cinematics, pachinko (a very popular kind of gambling machine in Japan) and Merchandise.
One of the biggest challenges in TV animation is the volume of it. This is a list of facts about their Transformers TV series:
- 68 episodes
- 1496 minutes – total running time
- 476 sequences
- 350+ assets
- 200+ TB of data
- 250+ people working on it
- 4 countries producing it
- 43 months – total time it took
That is A LOT! Like many other people (like the CEO of Crytek) Shuzo mentioned that asset creation takes a great deal of time so should sometimes be limited as much as possible. It is also very important to keep a good ‘asset library’, which could include anything from base models, textures, rigs, backgrounds etc. He also mentioned that it is helpful to keep the number of sequences down because (for example) 4 separate shots will take longer than 1 shot of the same length. This is because of the extra assets, set up time etc. Another good piece of advise was to be diverse in creating the shots. If 2D animation that looks the same as 3D is faster to use on some shots then use it.
If your luck is strong you can have a TV series for a long time. Transformers has been with them for 3 years and 7 months. This can also be a burden however as the deadline never goes away in that time (there is always another episode to make). Therefore it is important to keep a consistent and maintainable workflow. He said the rule of TV animation is “don’t stop and don’t look back because there’s too much to do”. The goal is to create a massive amount of animation at a good quality for a limited budget.
22 minute show = $150,000 for a standard show. $170,000 – $300,000 for more advanced shows.
All episodes must be a similar pace and have a similar number of shots. Agree with the producer ALL parameters like length of episodes, number of characters, number of assets, types of effects required for shots etc BEFORE signing a contract.