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Animation Toil. Storyboard/animatic twofer. Are you working two jobs, and being paid for one?

buy-eye-patches-2-for-1We never talk anymore. You  know, just sit down and have a good chat. Granted, I’m not always the best communicator. This site is basically a glorified job board these days. But it’s good to have a chat every now and again.

Yesterday, Toronto artist Mark Ackland started a conversation on his Facebook page about the emerging trend of asking board artists to cut their own animatics. Turns out it’s a bit of a growing concern.

I heard a rumour that one of the animation studios in Toronto is asking board artists to cut their own animatics including sound effects…without extra pay. If this is true and you are a board artist, please refuse. Otherwise you are not only being completely ripped off, but you are screwing all your fellow board artists AND editors.

Take pride in what you do, it is of great value. Don’t give it away for free! If you are a studio who is doing this, you should be embarrassed. Knock it off.

He got a lot of response. Private messages, and comments directly on his wall.

Today he followed up with this:

Wow! It’s a worse problem than I thought. In regards to my last post, I instantly started receiving private messages from people saying that this is happening at a few different studios in Toronto, but they don’t want to speak up because they are concerned about their jobs. These fellow artists need our help and we have to make sure this doesn’t continue.

Therefore, I am asking you to share my last post to spread the word, or at least post something about the issue. If board artists across the board refuse to do this, then hopefully it will cease.

So let’s share, and let’s talk about it. I’ve got a comments section that you can even log into anonymously. Just sayin’.



  1. B Bowen B Bowen December 6, 2013

    I’ve had to do a few tests here in Europe that have had this required, but I’ve turned them down. Part of the issue is that now we’ve moved to digital and some software has the ability to edit to a soundtrack, we’re sometimes – not often, mind – being asked to edit it to the voice records. I’ve turned down work like this quite flatly as usually the pay doesn’t equate to the amount of work required. It IS two jobs in one as you have to splice the records and keyframe along to it. It’s not the same as having the v/o’s and working from them, no matter what anyone might say.

    I’ll also add that some of this is purely out of ignorance as to how much work it can end up being – I don’t believe every employer asking really knows how much it is. As such it’s also up to us to say something about it too.

    I’m not being anonymous about this because, frankly, it’s something that people should stand up to.

  2. J Caswell J Caswell December 6, 2013

    I agree absolutely. If the client ain’t paying for the cutting, cut it out.

  3. Troy Sullivan Troy Sullivan December 6, 2013

    I agree. I’d like people who have been told they need to do it as part of the boarding job, to not only say no, but post here what studio it was saying this nonsense.

  4. Carlin Carlin December 6, 2013

    It is very true that this is going on, and becoming more and more common. It also is true that many other positions are being overloaded with extra work outside their job description for no extra pay. How can people refuse work or push back when it feels like companies are trying to work their employees to death and save all the bucks they can in the process ? Refusing work means not working, not many can afford to turn work, even unfair work, down.

  5. Greg Bailey Greg Bailey December 6, 2013

    Sounds like a bad creative practice anyway but I’m sure it’s on the cheapest productions that this happens. I find that the timing experience of storyboard artists is not very strong. Not surprising since it’s not likely they were ever invited into a dialog timing or an edit session since they are usually banished to work at home on their own equipment and software. If the show is long I hardly think the S.B. artist has enough authority to cut a few words or lines of dialog. Anyway it sounds like a really cheap practice. Must make the sense of timing different on each show. How much worse can animation get before the golden egg laying goose is cooked for everyone. Thanks for the raising this point.

  6. Mike Magnan Mike Magnan December 7, 2013

    They’ve been trying to fly that kite for years.
    I happily, don’t know anyone subjected to this crap, but I’ve heard of it.
    I’d just move on and not deal with clowns like that.

  7. Mike Magnan Mike Magnan December 7, 2013

    Note: to Mr bailey. You might be VERY surprised how good SOME SB artists are at timing and cutting. They rarely get the opportunity, which is jealously guarded. That’s the allure..
    But yeh…Two jobs..two paychecks the way I see it.

  8. James Caswell James Caswell December 8, 2013

    BTW The production companies will rightly say their fees for broadcasters have gone down. So then, for example, Nelvana (owned by Corus) should ask for a raise in the broadcast fee from say Teletoon ( owned by Corus) or YTV (owned by Shaw who own Corus.) If the fees go up, all production companies will have more to spend. I say owned for the purpose of demonstration. Technically, “equity stake.”

    Oh and maybe Toon Boom (owned by Nelvana) should lower it’s price so more can use the software that is costing editorial jobs or increase their push to train animators in lower cost jurisdictions ( All Canadian Harmony animators take note.

    Oh and all of these companies access federal and provincial tax credits and production funds (contributed to by cable operators such as Shaw) to produce their shows/ software, to promote themselves and to encourage employment in the growing digital media sector. In Canada but not necessarily.

  9. Tdorondo Tdorondo December 14, 2013

    A lot of this is symptomatic of the modern economy. Businesses can’t afford to grow, so they’re trying to have people do the jobs of 2 & 3 people. Whenever I’ve had these issues with a studio, I’ve told myself I would negotiate my contract more aggressively in the future. The problem is a lot of studios pretty much say ‘cya later’ the moment you begin trying to negotiate a fair arrangement. I recently took on a gig where I accepted a lower rate than normal on a per-final asset basis. What I neglected to ask for was their delivery schedule & overall revision process. I ended up working 70 hours a week, and the rate I agreed to quickly become the equivalent of minimum wage. Also, they would simply tack on new responsibilities as I’d go, and because it was freelance, they seem emboldened to just ask for whatever they wanted, and the minute I raised concerns about the schedule, they cut me off. The industry I’ve experienced is riddled with many questionable business practices. The studios have too much power and the artist none.

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