Blame Canada … and COVID | Global Animation Network



Last week, Walt Disney Animation Studios has announced the opening of a new production facility in Vancouver to meet demands for streaming content from Disney +. The Vancouver studio began recruiting for an opening in January 2022 and will focus on quality long series and special projects, starting with the musical spin-off of Moana.

Returning to Burbank, Walt Disney Animation Studios will continue to grow – remaining home to flagship animated feature films, related short series such as Baymax and Zootopia +, as well as story development and production design for the long series produced in Vancouver.

As might be expected, Disney’s announcement of the Vancouver studio was met with dismay and turmoil across the Hollywood animation community – with social media forums worrying about everything and why the installation was not open to the United States, to the question of whether or not the studio would be a union shop, to boilerplate pleas for a return to 2D animation.

I’d like to tackle them in reverse order, starting with the last two before digging into the first.

3. People only have to look up from the axes they are adjusting to see that 2D animation is alive and well around the world – in studios ranging from Disney to Netflix to overseas stores that are alive and well. do it instead of deploring a “lost heritage”. Speaking of legacy, Walt Disney Animation Studios has made the creative / business / logistical decision to synthesize the best aspects of its traditional CGI animation and animation practices into an innovative, expressive and 3D animated feature pipeline. cinematic that Walt himself would be proud of – and the results are evident.

2. How many of you are wondering whether or not the Vancouver studio will be a union shop that employs unionized (or even legal) domestic workers for housekeeping, gardening, or babysitting? Do you care about sustainable employment, benefits and the general well-being of your workers? If you let them go during the pandemic, did you feel responsible for their survival? Probably not. Or if you did, you quickly streamlined your decisions based on financial considerations. Yet do you expect your own employer to heed you on these fronts? Why would they behave any differently from you?

1. Americans are spoiled in a way that they do not recognize and / or vigorously challenge. We are waiting for the best possible opportunities and the most affordable goods and services possible. So how is this possible? Operation. How many of those who complain that Disney didn’t open the new studio in the United States are buying products made overseas? More. Why do Americans buy products made overseas instead of products made in the United States? Price. People don’t want to spend more money than they need to. Corporations – which are made up of people and owe a fiduciary duty to their shareholders (many of us) – are no exception.

It comes down to costs … and COVID

It just makes good business sense to open a production studio in Canada during the pandemic as it did before the pandemic, taking into account Canadian tax breaks and other incentives. It also makes good creative sense, given the supply of the best animation talent in Canada. Disney has historically called on graduates from Sheridan, Vancouver Film School and others – more than enough to fill the available positions.

It’s understandable that those who have been stuck at home since the start of 2020 may not understand how difficult or impossible it is for people to cross borders and accept job offers: whether you are a Canadian. hoping to work for Disney in Burbank, an American hoping to work for Disney in Vancouver, or a citizen of a given country hoping to work in another given country. The world is confined and will continue to be so for some time.

Could you work from your Los Angeles home for the Vancouver studio? Theoretically, yes – and some people undoubtedly will. But territorial tax breaks usually come with requirements for local hiring and spending, no matter where you are. Thus, the phone is more likely to ring if you are Canadian than if you are American.

Production incentives aside, it makes logistical sense in times of a pandemic to manage the risks by distributing your eggs to different national baskets. The operational efficiency of a given country varies from week to week depending on viral vicissitudes and social stupidity, whether people are working in the studio or from home.

Finally, where do you think employers would currently prefer to be forced to pay employee health benefits: in Canada or the United States? I could elucidate, but a picture is worth a thousand words (and over 630,000 dead) …

Like it or not, opening the Vancouver studios is a smart move on Disney’s part – a move that will provide more pie for everyone, not less – in the new normal of creation and production. content consumption.

As for Disney’s foolish and foolish decision relocate thousands of jobs from Walt Disney Imagineering to Florida, America’s coronavirus cesspool, I only have one word: odious.

Kevin Geiger's photo

Kevin is the author of AWN’s Reality Bites blog, his thoughts on the art, technology and business of immersive media (AR, VR, MR) and AI. You can find Kevin’s website at and he can be contacted at [email protected]



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