August 10, 2014
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CANADALAND
#44 Cartoon Sweatshop
Canada produces top animation talent but lousy animation content.

Animator Adam Hines, co-host of the Guys With Pencils podcast, on how to save Canadian cartoons.

Episode Rundown

00:31 Norman Mclaren (link)

00:41 That’s right, a Canadian made Ren and Stimpy, John K

00:50 Alias, the creators of the 3D modeling and Animation program Maya. Maya has been used in Game of Thrones, Finding Nemo, Frozen and Monsters inc.

01:08 Rocket Robin Hood is a strange thing (link)

Racoons (link)

01:19 The Guys With Pencils podcast (link)

03:31 I dare you to watch this theme and not want to watch all of that series, it’s all on Netflix just to let you know. (link)

04:09 “The Warner Brothers that you know is dead” Hines quoting Paul Dini. Dini also said that Warner Bros doesn’t like large female fan bases (link)

04:18 “Watching cartoons can be a ton of fun, and then you get into the business side of actually making it… It can feel a bit like a death march.” Hines

05:11 Turbo F.A.S.T (link) made by Titmouse (link)

05:27 “In Canada, we have a fraction of the budget and the schedule to make the shows that we make. You hear that as a student and you’re like ‘ok’, but you don’t really have and point of reference or experience.” Hines

05:51 “When I was working on an American production as an animator I had to do 16 seconds a week.16 seconds of good animation, that’s reasonable. I’ve worked on (Canadian) productions that wanted 80 seconds a week.” Hines

06:32 “ I work for this American company (Titmouse) from my living room, it’s freelance. Yet they trusted me more… in Canada a lot of the productions I’ve worked on, you’re more their hands. It’s basically ‘if I could make this by myself I would but I can’t so I’m going to treat you like an extra pair of arms” Hines

09:21 “I love this industry and I love the people that work in it but sometimes it feels a little sweatshoppy.” Hines

09:53 Steve Wolfhard (link) and his comics here (link) (link)

10:17 Adventure Time is Cartoon Network’s top show (link) (link)

10:40 Spoiler Alert, (link)

10:48 “Remember kids’ movies in the 80’s and early 90’s where it’s for kids but real shit happens?” Hines finding a parallel for the serious content on Adventure Time. Mufasa dying still chokes me up.

10:59 “There was a point when I started in the industry and you’d hear execs go ‘we want the next Spongebob’, now they’re saying they want the next Adventure Time.” Hines

11:17 John K’s book about what Jesse was talking about (link)

12:47 “Is there a Canadian show that’s like- ‘that’s the one where we got it right’?” Jesse

“No” Hines

I thought Reboot was a good show.

12:55 “You look at a show like Adventure Time, that’s so out there that it’s brilliant. That show would get noted to death and get changed (in Canada)” Hines

13:15 “ Who’s the client? Who are we making this for? Who’s the client? Who’s the network?” Hines

13:45 “ The people writing for cartoons in Canada- we have to use this union, and to them this is their Mcdonalds job. They all want to be writing movies.” Hines (link)

14:29 “We have world class game studios in this fucking city, and I’m not even talking about Ubisoft which is this big international thing. I’m talking about Capybara and Drinkbox who are making critically acclaim well-selling games as independent studios.” (link) (link)

18:20 “Animators are actors, I would look in a mirror and and would think how does a character move when they’re angry” Jesse chanelling Chuck Jones

19:25 “Are there old systems in place that back then worked but are fucking us now?” Hines.

Looks like Adam was right (link) (link)

19:42 “Lets talk about Adventure Time, that show is probably horrifying to an exec.” Hines

20:47 “If you’re making a video game, theres no government bureau that has to stamp it as a CanCon video game. There’s also not the middle man of a broadcaster. You make a video game, put it on the internet.” Jesse

23:33 “I know with a lot of Canadian TV production, it’s not about having a hit show, it’s about getting a green light. And you get money to make a show and the profits for the production company lie in making it as cheaply as possible and keeping what’s left over.” Jesse

23:57 “One of the shows I worked on ended after 3 seasons and we were under the impression that ratings were good. Apparently this was a really popular show, as far as the studio goes it was a really popular show for them. But they were more interested in cutting it after 3 seasons and put it into syndication.” Hines

24:43 The episode they talk about is here (link)

25:25 “(Ricardo Curtis) Was saying the difference between America and Canada is that in Canada you have a bunch of safety nets, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the attitude of Canadians could be ‘why bother?’. Whereas in America, they have the attitude of ‘why not?’.” Hines

27:05 “You’re an animator working in television who doesn’t have televsion?” Jesse

“No dude, why bother?” Hines

28:00 More on Robert Khoo (link)

30:45 Frederator Studios (link)

31:15 “Let’s work around these roadblocks that we seem to have to deal with in the Canadian ecosystem” Hines

32:02 “ I wonder if we’re going to hit a point where it’s not really possible to have any original Canadian shit and we’re going to become an outsource…We are referred as ‘overseas’ by the States. We are the equivalent of sending it to China or Korea.” Hines

32:26 “We’re like a banana republic for cheap labour.” Jesse

33:45 “See, I fall into this trap too. You see a part of me is ‘we got to make it better, we got to take risks’. But then I’m like ‘fuck, I gotta pay rent.” Hines

33:55 “The reality kinda kicks you in the dreams.” Hines

34:25 Justin Chan is very talented, eat it Hines (link)

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