Mass Animation = Mass Exploitation?


When Mass Animation announced their goal of creating a CG short film by “crowd-sourcing” the animation to a global community of thousands of animators, I had two initial reactions:

1) They’ll never pull it off, and 2) They shouldn’t pull it off.

Last Wednesday, the New York Times proved me wrong on the first count. Mass Animation’s five-minute short, “Live Music,” (trailer) will open for TriStar Pictures’ feature-length animated film “Planet 51” on November 20th.

But my second charge—the ethical one—is still in tact.

How’d They Do It?

Through Facebook, Mass Animation distributed the story, soundtrack and 3D assets (created by Dallas-based Reel FX) for “Live Music” and asked animators to submit scenes, which were then voted on by a jury for inclusion in the film.

Mass Animation received thousands of submissions from around the globe, but only 51 made the final cut. According to the Times, each of the animators will receive on-screen credit and $500 for their efforts.

Why Mass Animation Won’t Work

Despite the seemingly earnest intentions of its creators, “Live Music” will ultimately be remembered as a brilliantly orchestrated publicity stunt. Right now, the spotlight is shining on Mass Animation and its corporate backers—which include Intel, Dell, Autodesk and others—largely because of the novelty of the Mass Animation production model and the fact that it gives them all a reason to toss around buzzwords like “social networking,” “crowd-sourcing” and “open-source.” A second short film produced in the same way would garner much less attention.

Mass Animation, of course, understands that. And so they’ve set their sights on creating a feature-length film. Feature films, though, require much larger budgets than the paltry $1 million drummed up for “Live Music.” And with larger budgets come expectations of a concrete return on investment—not just good PR.

Feature films also demand complex story lines, nuanced character development and the ability to work and re-work scenes dozens of times over. The Mass Animation model is essentially a gigantic net thrown wide across the ocean of the web. It pulls up a dazzling array of beautiful fish, but when you need a very specific fish for a very specific purpose, you’re out of luck.

Of course, you could hire experienced animators who’ve spent years perfecting their craft, but then you’d be straying from the “democratization of animation” that Mass Animation embraces. (Apparently, traditional animation is an oppressive regime of the elite?)

The Future of Spec Work

From the perspective of the animators, this is the menace of spec work writ large. Spec work is “any requested work for which a fair and reasonable fee has not been agreed upon, preferably in writing.” (Source: No!Spec).

In the case of “Live Music,” only 51 animators made the cut with just $500 awarded to each of them. While it’s probably rewarding for them to see their name in the film’s credits, that’s hardly enough money to live on. Mass Animation doesn’t need to pay them more, though. There are thousands of other animators waiting in line to do it for the same amount—perhaps even for free.

And that hurts all animators. The fundamental problem with the widespread creation of spec work is that it undermines the economic incentives driving competition in the creative workforce. In the short term, it seems like a win-win for everyone involved. Played out to its logical conclusion, however, a spec model of feature-film creation sacrifices quality for quantity.

It also relegates animators to mere cogs in a machine. There’s no real dialogue between director and animator, there’s only a mandate for more.

One More Turn of the Screw

I find it interesting that the filmmakers decided to farm out only the animation portion of the filmmaking process. Were this truly an open, democratic approach to filmmaking, wouldn’t all aspects of the film be crowd-sourced? The script, character design, voiceover, lighting—all the hundreds of roles it takes to successfully create an animated movie—would have been created by thousands of participants, right?

No, that obviously wouldn’t have worked. That would have been Mess Animation.

To executives, though, character animation is the most mechanical part of the process, the most easily produced. After all, animation has long been outsourced to India and China. Perhaps there’s a way to do it for even cheaper.

As long as animators are willing to toss themselves into the ring for $500 a try, it would appear so. The promise of being a “Hollywood animator” is still too great for many to pass up. As one commenter on Mass Animation’s Facebook page wrote, “Awesome idea of working with independents. I hope it catches on.”

Make no mistake: These aren’t “independents” that Mass Animation is working with; these are lowest-bidders. To be sure, some are professionals with spare time on their hands, but none of them could sustain themselves on projects like these. (Mass Animation, however, is going to be just fine.)

The (Rotten?) Carrot on the Stick

One popular rebuttal to all this is that while the winning participants in “Live Music” may not have been paid much money, their involvement in this project will open up doors for them. It’s their big break, in other words.

This idea is predicated on the notion that the traditional model of production will remain the dominant form, while ventures like Mass Animation will simply function as talent scouts. If that’s true, it severely limits the “democractic” model. If all film production were crowd-sourced, there’d be no such thing as a “big break.” There’d be no reward of making it to the big time, just more $500 gigs that you may or may not win.

What Do You Think?

I don’t mean to paint Mass Animation as a bunch of bad guys. I really think they believe in what they’re doing; but I also think the basic model raises some serious issues and may do some lasting harm.

What’s your take on all this? Are you a no-spec purist? Or do you agree with Mass Animation that this is the dawning of a new age of distributed creativity?

For those attending SIGGRAPH in New Orleans, you might want to check our the Mass Animation panel. More info here.

Feeling feisty? Join the ANTI-Mass Animation Facebook Group.

Photo by Kevin Utting,

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About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



all great points. and one more thing, creating animation is best done in a studio with your fellow artists around for feedback and support. continuity, acting, expressions and a whole host of other aspects that make an animation truly memorable will never be created by artists working not only independently but not even in the same room/building/zip code/time code, etc.


I agree. Can you imagine a truly original animated film, think WALEE or James and the Giant Peach, coming from a process like this? Most certainly not. I bet Dell and Intel spent more money setting up and marketing this contest/gig then they wold have if they hired 50 pro animators to work full time on this thing for six months.

The trailer looks like a mediocre rip-off of Disney’s Fantansia circa 1940… Just another example of web 2.0 garbage pretending to change the world.


I know it’s strange and I personally wouldn’t be supporting or participating in something like this. But just because it is a new way to do an animated short film doesn’t mean that it will be “the” way of how animated short and feature length animation will be done in the future.

Anyway, I think this will be a fun exercise for animators. The fact is, there are people out there outside of the US who knows how to use programs like Maya, C4D, and After Effect but just never have the opportunity to work on an animated film. They learned those skills only to graduate and get stuck in a low pay ad agency job somewhere in Asia or South America slum. This global scale thing is a great opportunity for these guys. I am not one of them, but I know a lot of people who are like them. And that is why people are participating in it. I highly doubt it’s the 500 dollars they are after.

Being a motion graphic designer I know that Art Director and Animator often time are the same people, especially on the works that are featured here on this site. BUT it doesn’t have to be. I am an art director and I love doing the pre-production stuff like story, art direction, character design, type design, etc. right down to editing. Yes I was trained and know how to do animation. But do I like it? Heck no.

That’s why there are people out there who only likes to do Animation. I have three of those guys on my team. They don’t want to come up with a concept. They don’t want to think about color, symbolism and plot. They animate what I told them to and they enjoyed it. I told them many times, hey you guys can I have more creative input as far as story is concern because I felt guilty. Sometime they do have some but most of the time all they want to be responsible for is animation. They spent countless hours studying feet movement when walking and they studied the lips and body weights and all the other goodness that I just simply suck at and they are just too good at. You can’t be that obsessed about something that much and not like it. I was obsessed with typography and as much as it was a pain the ass to remember all the rules I wouldn’t have done it unless I like it.

For those who have the opportunity to go big, not only able to find job in motion graphic studios or production house, but also get to make something they want to make instead of just following their boss’s order; this little stunt here wouldn’t be too appealing, obviously. But this is not for them.

NOTE: You all did see the end credit of the Simpsons movie, and all the names of Korean animators right? I’m not going to pretend to know how that works, because I don’t. But I just assumed it’s something similar to this, albeit more official.

Joe Clay

I agree. I think the concept is neat. It would be an interesting way for small groups of people to make short films—kind of like the Postal Service—but I don’t like the idea that features with studio backing could come out of this method.

There are two scenarios in my book. One I’m OK with and the other, I’m not. If a small group of people decide to work on a film together or they want to produce something and share the profits with all involved, I’m all for it. Think of it like open sourcing a production. Everyone is involved and everyone has input—but most importantly they’ve been “hired.”

If, however, a production house is making assets somewhere and says, “here make something with this and we’ll pick the best ones,” I’m not OK with that. That’s working and not getting paid for your work. It’s one thing to do it for the love of the craft but that is obviously not the goal here. These people aren’t hired. These people are working without the promise of money. And the ones that are paid are paid a measly sum lined with open doors that will probably remain closed.

And what’s up with the budget? A million and all they can devote to animation—on a film that is entirely animated—is $25.5K!? I realize that producing everything else costs money, but I don’t see it costing $974.5K.


Hi on behalf of all the third world dwelling Animation Mentor trained will never ever get a chance to work in hollywood animators. I speak.

Firstly while i didnt personally particitpate in Mass Animation i found out via a couple of guys on AM and I followed it, I personally think that the idea of distributed animation will eventually find its place, after all AM puts u throught the production of a one minute short with nuanced and complex character animation and do so for the about one thousand students on the programme put that together and they have done over a feature.

Secondly while $500 dollars may not seem to be much money add another $500 to it and ul have the more than the average starting salary of a bank worker who are my countries largest well payed demographic. Projects like this allow those of us who have spent our lives in front of one screen or the other marvelling at what has been done and wondering if we will ever get there to get a chance at touching the untouchable without worrying if we are elligible for visas or work permits.

The main issue i see will be the issue of payment but with the dollar acting is a universal currency and master cards being almost as ubiquitous that should not be too difficult to do.

Finally through AM i have met people from around the world I have classmates who are working on James Camerons Avatar, mentors who have worked on everything from Transformers to Kung Fu panda. Fortunately or unfortunately the web has created a new paradigm which we do not completely understand, but it means, that I can be sitting down in my chair listening to the sounds of my petrol generator, cos there is almost never any mains power and say I am a proffesional animator and I would one day like to see my name of the credits of a hollywood movie in my local cinema. We all have our dreams and things like this make it possible for thousands of us to even have a shot at those dreams, so for better or worse remote or crowd animation will happen the question isn’t if but when.

Femi Omoluabi Lagos Nigeria 02:57 PM 20/07/2009


All respect and sympathy to our animator friend in Nigeria who posted above, but I must pose a question: projects like this give you a chance at “touching the untouchable” Hollywood world…but then what? Does this experience translate into a job for you? Will someone send over a visa so you can come work in the first world?

Perhaps a few of the animators involved in this project will be lucky enough to get such opportunities, but if this experiment goes anything like the typical crowd-sourcing project, the majority will see nothing for their efforts.

As Joe pointed out, a minuscule fraction of the budget for this project actually ended up going to the animators, and only a fraction of the animators who participated were compensated. The rest of the money went to marketing, executive lunches, the salaries of those involved in this project who are respected enough to actually be paid for their work, etc. Don’t kid yourselves–this isn’t about “democratizing” animation, anymore than a first world nation invading a resource-rich third world nation is about “democratization.” Your supposed benefactors have something to gain from you, and they are investing a pittance in you to get a rich return for themselves.

You are skilled workers. Don’t allow yourselves to be exploited like this, or the “untouchable” world you dream of will crumble, and all of us will suffer as a result.

Joe Clay

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Bran Dougherty-Johnson

Hold on. This five-minute short had a $1 Million dollar budget?! And 51 animators x $500 each = $25,500 …
Yair Landau must be laughing all the way to the bank.

If I were Intel and Facebook, I’d ask for a refund.

Marc B.

Exactly! Where did all the money go?!?

Justin care to interview Yair to ask him this same question?

Joe Clay

Feature films, though, require much larger budgets than the paltry $1 million drummed up for “Live Music.”

Marc B.

So what exactly about this short film is innovative? It looks like complete garbage. Something out of the early nineties done with Truespace and PovRay. Or something done by Rhythm & Hues as inhouse short in 1992 by CG artists without any artistic talent whatsoever but mullets and jean jackets.

It looks worse than Pixar’s Luxo Jr from 1986 and yet that one is still nice to look at and features a sweet story too.

The creators of this Mass Animation project got caught up in the web of web 2.0 and social networking thingy instead of thinking how to utilize the workforce around the globe to create something truly stunning, innovative and tell a great story too. I for one don’t give a damn if it’s done by 100 or 10 people or what tools used. If the end result is crap the whole open source and social networking aspect won’t save it.

The blender open source community and blender foundation projects are much more impressive

And speaking of Rhythm & Hues. It’s 2009 and they still have one of the most hideous logos I’ve ever seen.


Given the current economic conditions, I can understand the attraction to these types of projects. However, I feel, like most creative outsourcing, this is a flawed approach that will end up biting the creative industry in the back side in due time.

I appreciate that this work flow will help individuals that may not otherwise be able to work on a project of this scale. But how long will that single paycheck last? Long enough to support themselves and their families until the next one comes along? With wide open competition worldwide, it is very unlikely that designers and animators abroad would be selected often enough to make a viable living. Holding a day job to get by and then picking up the rare animating gig is not how top talent works. The technology changes as does the standard of quality. If one does not have the availability to stay on top of these changes, the turn over could be devastating to the individual, while the issuing company would remain unaffected.

The market is currently flooded with talent that is starving for work, both abroad and locally. However, unless those people are hired and can provide a living for themselves, they will have to shift industry to acquire regular wages. I can’t help but be an advocate for hiring talented individuals and building a long lasting relationship with them. A company will get far greater, more consistent results this way, as well as they will be making a steady positive impact to the economy.

I don’t have a problem with the creative aspects of this concept, I just have issue with the long term fall out. If you open things up once in a while and hire those that produced the best results, I would be all in favor of it, say, once a year. But this becoming a standard model is ill advised in my opinion. Shooting money out of a barrel isn’t going to stabilize any industry nor individual.

Just my 2c.

-Tim Burkowske


Whenever I hear (or read) ‘democratization,’ I get immediately skeptical. At some point, the one vote per person model breaks down. Here, of course, it breaks down with the selection committee that admitted only 51 animators. On what were those selections based? I would assume the same criteria by which animators (in the professional world) are selected. So, it’s really just a guided reel submission job application, but with much less possible payoff.

This project is also not collaborative in that the animators are not working jointly. At best, they’re working simultaneously yet separately. In childhood educational circles, this is known as ‘parallel play’ which differs significantly from ‘cooperative play,’ in which children actually play together. As a result, this film, more than most others, will be created by the editor. Since there was no ongoing direction throughout the animation process, the fitting will have to be done in post.

As for the question of exploitation, it seems that (by FAR) the entity that stands to gain from this is Mass Animation. The very (negative) definition of the term. But, this type of exploitation is not a new trend. It is, to a degree, what makes the business models for reality shows from Survivor to American Idol so lucrative. The content is provided by contestants, for FREE! The payments made to winners are paltry compared to the costs of paying actors for an entire season.

Despite my negative feelings about this in the context of it becoming a feature model, I do think that, as an exercise, it could have enormous value. In fact, I used to produce for an animation studio that would sometimes have internal exercise projects that were very similar. Sometimes we would set up certain parameters, such as the last frame of one scene needed to be identical the the first frame of the subsequent one, but otherwise let animators ‘play.’ Like ‘free writing,’ it can fire some creativity without too many restrictions. But as a means for a final product, well, it looks as disjointed as you would expect.


No one should work for free and I am not advocating that or cheap for that matter my statement more ties to models that allow for greater global participation, and not the “Lets get the enthusiastic artists to work for as low as we can get away with” which in a lot of ways is the mind set of the industry and why Dreamwoks will pay actors millions to do voice overs and pretend like they where the main contributors to the movie and pay the animators a fraction of that for their work. I do both and believe me voice acting is much easier. But whether we like it or not it will happen and the people who get on board and in charge of the system will be the beneficiaries. Animation is a very hard thing to learn master and the people who have taken the trouble to acquire the skill should be paid for doing so . Id just like to see a situation where there is enough volume of work to go around so we can all get a share of the proverbial cake.


there is no point to participate in this project logically, no money, no pr (except for the producers clearly) and no finished piece to use for your own means to get more work. lame all the way around and crappy for taking advantage of young animators naivity


This is an insult to every artist, in my opinion. I’m surprised that they gave the animators any money at all, they probably could have pulled this off without paying them. That’s the sad part.


If someone is willing to spend their time working on a project in the hope that it might get selected and actually be seen by some people, I dont see why anyone else has a problem. And if they are even getting paid $ 500 for it, which I might add- for some people might be pittance but for others is enough to sustain another couple of months. This kind of animation is never going to take over the hallowed portals of hollywood. Perhaps this might be a publicity stunt, but if out of the 51 animators, even one gets noticed and gets an offer for a visa or a work permit to get into hollywood, i think it would seem worth it.I personally know people for whom the hope of getting into hollywood is enough to work for free.


Please don’t hate me, but I think I might enter this in my freetime.

Sadly, I’ve never been much a business man, but it would allow me to play with a few ideas that no sane paying client would ever go for, and to have a little fun with some Nick Knight footage in the meantime. My ultimate goal is still to kick Saville in the nuts. Besides, it’s only a matter of time until it’s You vs. 10,000 Indian You’s. ;)

Bran Dougherty-Johnson

At least that contest lets the film-maker retain ownership rights in the films submitted. That’s a step in the right direction.

I wonder what the terms for Mass Animation are? Work-For-Hire?


How can they call this democratisation? I work in the UK, where we have a minimum wage for those aged above 22 of £5.73 ($9.47) per hour.

It has a democratic mandate. It was brought in by an elected government to protect honest workers against the worst aspects of the market. The minimum wage system is used in the vast majority of countries, from Algeria to Zambia, Australia to Ukraine.

Mass Animation is a system that bypasses these ethical checks. A TV show inviting audience participation does so in the name of entertainment. Its meant to be fun for the people involved. In this case its not a hobby, its not for fun, they’ve created a saleable product based on a system where they abuse workers rights.

Mass Animation is an amoral system dreamt up by marketeers and naive technophiles – its gets talented people working for next to no money. And worst of all, it lowers the value of the animation for everyone.

I say don’t participate. Don’t enter competitions where the reward is having your work seen. Stop this shameless devaluation of a genuine craft.

frequent flyer

I’m in agreement with everyone here. But what if we turn it around? I’m an animator, motion graphics artist and 3d artist who has recently gone solo. And I have to say I’m not rolling in money just yet but I’m managing to hold my own for the last month and a half.

At my last job I had a Boxx workstation and access to a fairly decent render farm. Now, I’m using an old iMac and my laptop and, quite frankly, for the short logo reveals and only slightly longer promo videos I’ve done, I really haven’t missed the speedy graphics too much. And if I needed to render out an animation in a hurry, I could buy time on a render farm for about $0.15/Ghz-hour and pass the cost to my client.

So, what I’m asking is why do we need a huge, high rent studio space downtown somewhere? Why do we need a dedicated render farm? Why do we need upper management and supervisors who (and let’s face it) really don’t know all the technical details of how to get a shot done? Why can’t we be the ones in charge?


@Frequent flyer

Hey I see your point – BUT, a ship full of Captains goes nowhere fast. Unfortunately there are those who need direction. Trust me, I run a studio and just so I can get what I need to do done, I had to hire a manager ot deal with fragile egos and artist who INSIST that the way they want to do it is better than the guy who paying them to do it his way.

That said, until artist get like the Mafia and form a SERIOUS UNION that fights on behalf of its members, we will all suffer from what I call The CrackHead. Because there is always some crack head junkie on the earth willing to do creative work for nothing. And being that most of the ‘Civilized’ world got super fat off of slave labor for centuries, what makes you think that anything regarding that mentality and lust for cheap labor has changed?

Right now Hollywood is FORCED by unions to use union workers on ANY film and in every department – EXCEPT Art / CG. So my Dear Brothers and Sisters – if you want to get real about this – UNITE!

Otherwise, don’t be surprised.

frequent flyer

Hey mpdStudios, I totally agree about the union thing. And, I’ll admit, there are times when working in a team is very rewarding. But never before has there been a better time to be an independent artist. It’s so easy to showcase your talent and get massive exposure. So, if you want to use that exposure to land a better-paying job, more power to you. We all can benefit from this amazing and free technology to expose ourself to a worldwide audience.


Unfortunately as long as there are people stupid enough to work for nothing (or close to it), there will always be people there to exploit their ignorance and stupidity.

Although, Craigslist used to be littered with hotshot “producers” asking for free labor and the promise of future work. Now due to the response of people such as ourselves those same producers have figured out you can only rip off someone twice at the most before they catch on. Hopefully this same reaction will carry through to these large production studios.

I sometimes wonder if this country will ever get back to the mindset of considering labor an asset instead of a nuisance trying to always undercut them.


Not to sound too socialist here, but it’s the laborers themselves who enable the devaluation of their own labor. Some people are willing to work for bread and water and empty promises, which hurts the entire labor market. Producers exploit them, because from a business standpoint, it makes no sense *not* to exploit cheap labor. In turn, we continue to buy and support the products of this exploitation, keeping these people in business and hastening the demise of our own industry.

It’s not an exact analogy, but I see a lot of parallels to this in the music industry. Content creators (musicians), naive and eager to become stars or just make a living off of what they love, prostituted themselves to producers, and were systematically exploited and marginalized to the point that signing with a label ultimately meant financial ruin for all but the lucky handful of mega-stars. Of course, those mega-stars were enough to seduce more young hopefuls into signing their lives away for a chance at uber-stardom.

We all know how it played out: prices for product and compensation for the actual content creators became so ludicrously out of balance that the entire system collapsed, and now we have the great entertainment of watching this corrupt leviathan that was the music industry flail around woefully in its death throes.

I hope that the animation/VFX industry as a whole doesn’t go the same route, and I think its inherently higher technical skill level barrier may offer some protection from so grisly a fate, but projects like this continually disabuse me of that hope.


wonder how much the ‘producers’ got paid, bet it wasn’t $500…


we’re all talking about the young victims here.
I don’t believe anyone can be taken advantaged of unless he or she permits it.
I’m sure the young talents working on this project saw a chance to be creative, perhaps they even needed this push, this competition.
I’ve done similar things before. Im not sorry, it was all part of a growing up process in this field. But no one stays a free worker forever, we all eat and pay bills, So I don’t do this sort of thing anymore. Im sure these people won’t work for free forever.
It is ugly if you look at it from a romantic point of view.
The big bad corporation vs the naive talent. But this is human nature. We take advantage, we push to the limit until the other pushes back, survival of the fitest…but i diverge

frequent flyer

Again, (and I don’t mean to bang on the same drum here) why work for a huge production house at all? Presumably, freelance artists own their hardware and software. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly or being exploited then quit. I did. Go from laborer to entrepreneur.

At that point the tables turn, believe me. Within a month of half-hearted looking I got three new clients and two new jobs. Is it sustainable? It’s probably as sustainable as any freelance gig and certainly more profitable. And if you like working within a team but feel you’re being treated unfairly by your employer then form a union and strike. It worked for the Hollywood Writers Guild.

I agree with leahzero. The laborers themselves enable the devaluation of their own labor. But I don’t think this will lead to the collapse of our industry. Case in point – during the writers strike, Joss Whedon coughed up about $200,000 of his own money to produce Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. He didn’t have to buy airtime on any network or any film distribution rights. He just put it up on YouTube, Vimeo and Hulu. And every penny of the millions of dollars that 45 minute story is bringing in from iTunes and DVD sales is going to the cast and crew who initially worked for free.

Even in our industry, simple, low budget but tasteful productions like The Crisis of Credit Visualized and The Story of Stuff can reach an audience of millions. And Ruairi Robinson’s Fifty Percent Grey – a one man production (except for the sound) on a super-small budget of €10,000 was nominated for an Academy Award. Who needs a big production company to produce great stuff? Any artist who grows his talent and finds an audience can be well compensated.

So, Mass Animation is exploiting animation artists – I agree. It’s right up there with Nike exploiting the Indonesian labor force and I’m sure Mass Market is going to get a lot of bad press for this poorly conceived folly. But this was an open competition. And only those who had no problem with the limited prize purse signed on. As dragonhorse said, “…as a means for a final product, well, it looks as disjointed as you would expect.”


My thoughts.

I don’t see anything wrong at all with what they are doing.
Personally, I think we have to stop seeing movie making as art and more as business cause thats what it is. Mainly.

This whole debate reminds me of this old documentary I saw about the tree logging business. Back in the day, a lot of loggers were very upset about the introduction of the chainsaw. Thats only natural, most of them would loose their jobs and there was no longer any need for “manual” logging.

This is similar to the Horse and carriage business wanting to stop the introduction of cars some 100 years ago. Or the book business a few hundred years ago trying to ban the first commercial printers (Page duplication)….

This is a normal progression.
Animation must to some extent become more automated as “science” and software move forward. Instead of crying about it, we should embrace it.


“Personally, I think we have to stop seeing movie making as art and more as business cause thats what it is. Mainly.”

You should watch Hearts of Darkness, then see how you feel about that statement.


“So, Mass Animation is exploiting animation artists – I agree. It’s right up there with Nike exploiting the Indonesian labor force and I’m sure Mass Market is going to get a lot of bad press for this poorly conceived folly”

Those “exploited” workers are very happy in their “sweatshops”. If not for Nike, they’d be on a farm, breaking their backs for 10% of what Nike pays them.


In Italy, the last two years, there was a big project called Ovo to made an entire encyclopaedia in which hundreds of freelance motion designers were hired through agencies to do 3 min motion clips for a lousy €600 each. People as Hitler, Stalin, John Mc Enroe, Henry VIII, were in the clips. The project fails last March (5 mln debt) and they never paid.


Always wondered what happened to Ovo….

Anyway, I say refuse this type of spec work. Find an up and coming band instead and do a music video. Then you’d really be helping out someone who doesn’t have the money to pay and might actually reward you with more and possibly paying work if you do a good job.


I’m glad to see another article questioning the ethics of the Mass Animation project. I actually can understand both sides to the argument. The problem is that for the young animators who lack experience, this project may have also served as a fun exercise to work with others. But I have a feeling that as these artists have more experience, they won’t be working for free. Eventually, I believe most people will really see what that project really is, especially if the end product really isn’t that all impressive.

I believe it is a bit harsh to call the younger, more naive artists “stupid.” No need for name calling unless you’re just bitter. Angry and bitter behavior does not help enlighten others to change their minds.

My question is then do unpaid “internships” also count as exploitation? To me, those internships are just as bad as the Mass Animation Project then. Because that’s just plain working for free as well in the name of gaining experience and a college credit here or there.

Great Article!

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