It’s been an interesting couple of days, with the animation industry still a bit stunned at the announcement from Dreamworks about their immediate downsizing. They are closing one of their physical locations and laying off almost a fourth of their workforce. A healthy portion of the upper level management has already left or are on their way out the door now. Jeffrey Katzenberg has been quoted quite a bit, with his emphasis seeming to be on lowering overhead to make their entire company more likely to be profitable for the next few years of reduced film output. Several recent Dreamworks releases have suffered multi-million dollar losses at the box office, undoubtedly making these layoffs and closures necessary.
Before I go further, we do wish to express sympathy for those who have been adversely impacted by these lay-offs. It is a sad day in the animation industry when a large group of artists and animators are forced out of a paying job. The industry seems to keep taking sucker punches, having faced similar mass-downsizing scenarios in the recent past.
This leads us to the true crux of the matter: The decisions by those in management to continue to do things in a vastly inefficient manner are causing the problems. I mean, let’s face it, the major studios are primarily in California. California has some of the highest power costs, hottest air temperatures, highest tax rates, and most expensive land and building costs in the entire United States. Gee, that sounds like a great place to build a render farm for a major animation studio! <rollseyes>
The animation industry, and really a portion of the entire movie industry, needs to wake up and smell the invoices. It’s time for them to acknowledge the foolish (costly) decisions they’ve made and make changes for the better. Outsourcing the render farm portion of their pipelines to Pixel Plow would be an easy financial choice. Our background has been almost entirely in the tech industry, so we bring a fresh and needed perspective to a crippled animation industry. We’ve known all along that you can’t keep render farm costs down unless you focus on literally everything that can generate a cost. That’s why every aspect of what we do, from facilities, to power, to cooling, to hardware, and finally to software, is purpose-built and designed expressly to keep operating costs low for the pinnacle of efficiency.
So, the animation industry can use our experience to lower costs substantially, or they can continue throwing money away on buildings, power, cooling, hardware, and software. Hopefully those in management at these studios will begin to “get it”. The script of their own demise has already been written if they don’t.