If there is one thing Tunari Animation CEO Garrett Martin Anime fans want to know about the Japanese animation industry, it’s how long it takes to produce an animation.
“In one anime episode, you take about six months with a team of people, all working from sunrise to sunset,” he told ANN. “So you take 100 people who work for six months, and then you somehow create a weekly release schedule out of that, which means we basically produce an entire season of animation at once.”
The reason such intense schedules can work is because the studios support each other regularly. one of the outlets Tunari Animation fills as an outsourcing company, providing animation for select episodes of Boruto: Naruto Next GenerationsAnd blue lockAnd Zombieland sagaAnd another group of series.
Although the studio is headquartered in the United States, it hires animators from all over the world. Its very existence is a consequence of the globalized anime product line. As Japan’s aging population struggles to keep up with the global demand for animation, the industry is increasingly looking to outside talent. Tunari Animation It employs many of its animators in Southeast Asia, a region that the Japanese animation industry has traditionally relied heavily on for outsourcing, making it uniquely attuned to the nuances of the animation production pipeline.
“It’s a brutal industry, and it’s not for everyone,” said Martin. People generally don’t realize how low wages are. If you just look at it on the face, it looks exploitative because it’s like, “Oh, these animators make $4 an hour.” If you’re in the Philippines, you make $1 an hour.”
So what can help? Martin suggested that new technology trends like AI and NFTs can be a boon — if implemented carefully.
“The problem with AI stuff right now is that all datasets are stolen art. It’s basically just cleaning up the internet, stealing everyone’s art, and then you can even type any artist into this generative AI, and then it will steal a bunch of their images.” And make a new version of that,” he warned.
On the other hand, studios using internal datasets to train their AI programs shouldn’t be a problem from the rights holder’s perspective. Martin said so Toei Animation In the best position to exploit this trend, being the largest anime studio with access to a private server.
“Artists are now in a position where they are, they can’t keep up with the demand of the anime industry, and we can only train people so quickly. I don’t see that we can keep up with demand unless we are open to new tools. I think it might be similar to what happened when anime went digital We were able to save a lot of money and time by digitally painting with the cellulite technique.”
There is, of course, the fear that AI will replace jobs. Existing applications still leave a lot of room for human intervention, however Netflix And Wet StudioThe last anime short that uses AI-generated backgrounds.
According to Martin, the AI would have saved the production team about 30 minutes per background. “They basically drew the background layout, and the AI did the first pass, and then the human did the second pass. So I think that saves you time on compositing. That’s it. It doesn’t do them much good.”
He continued, “But, that just adds up over time. So, if you’re creating backgrounds for an entire series, 30 minutes per background is a lot.”
NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are a murkier case, especially in the context of consumer reaction. Martin argued that NFTs have a place as an additional funding source, and that animation production companies are increasingly interested in them.
“There are actually a lot of artists out there making good money producing NFTs based on their illustrations and auctioning them off online. It gets a little bit more value than just posting something on Art Station or something. It allows people to own digital art, Which is interesting.”
Selling digital art can be a cost-effective way for animation studios to raise money separate from the production commission system. It’s more efficient than, say, direct crowdfunding, which requires organizers to spend extra money and work toward rewarding backers.
“I think I’ve seen businesses that make $300,000 [through crowdfunding], but this is just enough to show the network that there is interest in it. So when they see boredom or monkey like Azuki Or people like that who make hundreds of millions of dollars or billions of dollars from just a PNG file that they can produce in an afternoon, everyone’s like, ‘Okay, well, if we can do something like that, we can produce anything we want to make.’ Artists can create anything, and they don’t have to worry about it.”
Tunari Animation itself owes a portion of its existence to NFTs; One of its biggest early clients was an anime NFT project called Second Self. Although Martin said he was initially skeptical of the project’s relationship to anime, he saw it as a good opportunity to develop an original IP – something many fledgling animation studios struggle to accomplish.
“I thought we could go from doing odd jobs and subcontracting animation and then go to being able to create original IPs. So that was the goal. So we gave it a try. We didn’t make as much as we hoped.”
Tunari Animation He no longer owns the IP to Second Self. Martin said they spun it into a new company called Kurogane Corp, which is developing IP separately from Tunari Animation.
“Basically, what happened was we raised enough money to develop a pilot. And in the process of developing the pilot, we learned that even more than money, you need to have people around you who are willing to work on your project, your idea. We had a lot of artists at Tonari. They’re protesting the whole NFT thing. They were like, “We don’t want to be associated with this.”
Despite Tunari’s mixed history with NFTs, Martin said he hopes people will be more open about it.
“I think maybe the problem now is that people just talk about the technology too much. Maybe every photo online in ten years will be an NFT, and we don’t care about the fact that it’s an NFT. They’re just like, oh, they’re the authorized owner of this artwork.” Digital. That’s it. It’s like a receipt. It’s like getting excited about receipts.”
For now, Martin said hiring world-class talent is the right way forward when it comes to tackling the animation industry’s immediate problems.
“All experienced staff are getting old. There are only two answers now. First, either the Japanese start having more children so we can get more artists from within Japan, or we have to look outside of Japan. And I think this is what happens in order to meet the labor shortage.”
Low wages are a problem, Martin said, though it could well expand in countries with favorable yen exchange rates and a low cost of living.
“If you work in richer countries, you will find it hard to afford anything. But $1,200 a month working on anime is actually a very well paying job in the Philippines. I think it created the perception in Southeast Asia that animation is really a good paying profession.” High to be pursued. One of the interesting things about this kind of globalization is that people can get a lot of purchasing power even if the wage is low.”
After setting up a studio in Tokyo late last year, it was Martin’s biggest goal Tunari Animation is to create more full-length anime episodes, increasing the studio’s reliability in the Japanese production pipeline.
“Anime is a global phenomenon that inspires so many people all over the world, and it has attracted so many artists. Everyone knows that kid in their high school that all they’ve been doing all day is drawing anime in their sketchbook. These are the people who make up the genre of the new workforce in the animation industry.
“Back then, it was like you wouldn’t draw anime for a living. Well, well, now they are.”