Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Animation - Marsupilami

I explained before how I chose to work on Marsupilami as a character designer.

In retrospect.... it probably was a mistake.


Well there are probably some reasons that I will forget to mention, but for starter...... the very first second that I started working on the show...... I was already 2 weeks late.

That is something that happens wayyyy too often in animation.

They get you started on a project that is already late..... and it is expected that you will work nights and week-ends to deliver the show on time. To get the project back on schedule.

And even when you do so..... gratitude is NOT something you should expect in return.

Heck I mentioned before how the people that almost lost the Papyrus contract were the ones chosen to work on Pirate, the next project after Papyrus. That was a great example that you should not expect any gratitude from a studio.

Most studios do not remember that thanks to you... the show was delivered on time, or that they did not lose a contract thanks to you.

But they sure as hell remember when you came to work 5 minutes late or something like that though.

But that is to be expected.... it usually is how it works.

Do whatever it takes to get the show on time... and don't expect anything in return.... other then your paycheck that is. ;)

In the case of Marsupilami.... to make matters even worse..... I had never worked/drawn in such a style.

So not only did I have to put the show back on track.... but I had to learn to draw like the artist that created Marsupilami.

It was not easy.

And to make matters even worse..... one of the designers was under the illusion that he was the art director of the show or something and kept on insisting for revisions/changes to be made.

And to make matter even more worse.... yes it is always possible to be worse.... the director left the project and was replaced by some "Big Shot" who would keep on bragging that "he would turn this crappy show into a great one".... or something like that. So once again... the "Big Shot" would also ask for a truckload of revisions to "improve" the quality of the show.

But despite all the bragging in the world..... what he ended up doing was as "crappy" as what was done before he was there..... heck maybe even more crappy for various reasons.

It happens.

There often are some big egos who think they can do a better job then everyone else.

And when it turns out that what they did is no better then what was done before, then they come up with a laundry list of excuses as to why it is not their fault.

And to make things again once more even worse.... yes again it can always get worse.... working on design pay by the week. So working on Marsupilami paid something like $900 per week... no matter if I was working 40 hours or 90 hours per week..... it still was $900.

Which is fine since it is how it usually works..... but when I was offered the job.... no one told me that I would be 2 weeks behind schedule right from the start.

Already for someone like me.... being paid per week at the time usually meant taking a pay cut. And it is even worse if I have to work 90 hours per week instead of 40 hours per week to catch up with the crazy deadline.

I was offered to work on layout and posing on various other projects which paid for each scene that you make.... on any of those.... I would have made about $1200 per week for about 40 hours of work. Heck if I had worked nights and week-ends like I did the first month or two on Marsupilami I could have made $2000 per week or more.

So at the time, for me, I was making more money when I was paid per scene as opposed to when I was paid per week??


Was I such a fast artist??

Not really.

But I had developed some working habits that allowed me to be as effective as I can be.

The first time I was being paid per scene.... it was when I was working on Bob Morane. I tried to work during the day the same as when I was part of the design team.

Not a good idea.

During the day in the studio.... you often get interrupted. For example there are always people who are eager to chat.

So if you take an hour to chat with a buddy..... then you end up having to work one more hour at night since you were not paid for the hour you were talking.

So it quickly was obvious that if I wanted to get my work done... I had to take certain steps to maximise my production.

So what I did is that when working on layout & posing, I started working at the studio from 8PM to around 6AM or 8 AM.

Just doing that allowed me to greatly increase my productivity. So I was able to make a lot of scenes per week.... and heck I often was able to make my workload in 3 and a half or 4 days. So I would end up with a longer week-end..... or I could do some extra work for a bigger paycheck.

Sure it was a little drastic, but it was the best way to avoid any distractions and be 1000% (not a typo... I really mean 1000%) focused on my work.

It allowed me to not only do a lot of work.... but some damn good work as well.... if I can say so myself. ;)

Heck at some point I started working during the week-end instead and would take my week-end off during the week.

On a great week.... I would come to work on Friday around 8PM, and I would stay at the studio and work until the following Monday morning (I would get some sleep and eat when I would need to) around 6AM or 8AM.

And often my work would be done and I would be off until the following Friday.

Ahhhh....... how I miss those days.

Although that is something that you can do when you have no obligations. I can't imagine someone with 3 kids working with that kind of schedule.

But sadly when you work on design that is not an option. Even if you work at night or during the week-end, you HAVE to be at the studio from 9AM to 5PM.


There are always people who will need you around to answer whatever questions they might have concerning the designs.

Heck there are times when all you do is answer poeple's questions from 10AM to 4:30PM. So sometimes the only time you can actually do your work is before 10AM and after 4:30PM.

So while I was on Marsupilami..... I had many reasons not to be very happy to be working on that project. And I am sure that I forgot to mention another reason or two.

At some point, the contract of the other character designer on Marsupilami was almost finished. So I was expected to finish the production being the only character designer.

It was not going to happen.

I called in a meeting and asked that they keep the other guy and that they let me go instead.

I had been offered to go work on the Arthur Christmas Special and had decided to accept that offer.

Despite being up-front with the studio and leaving them in the good hands of the other designer who was drawing in the Marsupilami style much better then I did, and although the studio said that everything was fine, it was the last time I worked for them. I got the impression that they really weren't happy that I did not stay on Marsupilami until the end.

But I may be mistaken.

So at long last.... working on Marsupilami was behind me.

And that was good.

Until next time.


Didier said...

C est qui le Big Shot mon Pete???

Unknown said...

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