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Old 2009-03-10, 02:45   Link #121
cyth
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Interesting tidbit from MOON PHASE

Compared to last year's 52 new TV anime productions, we'll be seeing quite a decrease this Spring season, as they plan to start 40 new shows. I remember we had a slight noteworthy increase last Fall season, but it seems the much needed decrease is finally coming.

I'll still have 15 new shows to check out. orz
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Old 2009-03-10, 08:16   Link #122
Slice of Life
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Originally Posted by Toua View Post
lol, surely it won't last only 12 months (Obama isn't a miracle maker, and by the looks of it, it's not happening), but otaku aren't very practical to begin with when it comes to spending, so I doubt it'll have THAT big of an impact. At least in Japan, the U.S. market was artificially inflated anyway. That's also where the economic downturn will hit the hardest.
Obama can't even do a mahou shoujo transformation but the economy will simply start growing again when the economy is ready to do so. Predictions are a tricky thing, especially when dealing with the future, and historically, economists never did a great job in that department. And those who know best (those who actually do science) don't appear on TV because they know how little they know. At the moment doom scenarios are just en vogue because they make you look so gar while doubting that the end of the world has come makes you look like a sissy. In any case, 12, 120, or 1200 months of recession, that doesn't change my argument which has two parts after all.

But here and now, the average otaku will have to cut down on spending considering they are already spending most of their disposable income on anime goods.

As for TRL's comparison. It seems that the average otaku doesn't care much about big budget animation or things that look like big budget animation. And I agree even though my tastes aren't necessarily the same. And I said it before, Miyazaki is a complete different world from the industry that produces the bulk of anime discussed here. So how he fares or what his productions cost isn't really relevant when discussing the future of anime.
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Old 2009-03-10, 08:21   Link #123
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
How much lower are we talking about, actually? Happily, it turns out that a Makoto Shinkai fan has done some of the homework for us. Given the frequent comparisons between Shinkai and anime-god Hayao Miyazaki, he decided to compare the budgets of some of their movies.


Credit: Nick's Anime Weblog (Oct 13, 2008)


The Y-axis represents US dollars, adjusted for inflation. Caveat: He got his figures from IMDb, so they are by no means authoritative. Nonetheless, an important point is still served: New computer technologies are both enablers and destroyers of future anime content.

Makoto Shinkai and his small team of amateur collaborators independently produced a roughly 60-minute animated movie, of comparable quality to a Ghibli film, on the most raggedy shoestring budget you could possibly imagine: around US$220,000 in 2007.

With costs that low, you don't really need that much to break even, now do you?

So, yes, the times are a-changin'. Amateur or professional, if you're talented enough to produce top-quality content that someone is willing to pay for, you're in business. Then and now, necessity will always be the mother of all invention.
I definitely think so too. Overall a leaner industry is a good thing, both on the production/technical and business side. It reminds me of the fan-made Star Wars Revelations film which had a budget of $15k to $20k according to wikipedia. Now this makes me wonder about the costs of other smaller or more independent producers, like from doujinshi circles. Touhou projects? Eve no Jikan?

I also wonder about those who have broken out of their doujin origins, like Type-Moon and authors of Higurashi and how compare with other TV shows, like Samurai 7 for example which I heard had huge costs. In a documentary, it seems like the two persons working on the original Higurashi game worked with a bugdet of like.. ¥0

Going back to production methods, I'm still surprised at how much manual labor goes into the animation. Even if you don't use traditional cells and everything is digitized and painted digitally, the animation itself for many shows is still completely done by hand. I guess even Korea's becoming too expensive for the in-between frames so that work is going to Philippines and China. But I don't think it has to be that way. Even key-frame work can be more streamlined. A lot of US cartoons (e.g. Saturday morning toons) are completely vectorized. You can use skeletal based animation, even cell-shaded animation without having to stick with the physics of the modeling (i.e. do free-form adjustment of the final 2D-projected object and interpolate the frames from those points).

I'm not sure if there is software to do this yet, but I think that VA work can also be improved with some method to automatically sync and animate lip flaps. There are a few methods to do this. You can do beat analysis on the audio to extract the timing for the syllables and combine that with the script to perform the automation. Or you can do full blown voice recognition (probably not accurate); or either attach motion sensors to the VA's mouth or do video analysis on their lip movement. This would also greatly assist with dubbing in other languages as well, if you had a process to re-render the entire show, keeping everything the same but changing the lip flaps. I think this would improve dubbing VA performance too, in my humble opinion.

Anyways, none of this will matter if much of the cost -- and compensation -- is on the business side.
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Old 2009-03-10, 13:07   Link #124
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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
As for TRL's comparison. It seems that the average otaku doesn't care much about big budget animation or things that look like big budget animation. And I agree even though my tastes aren't necessarily the same.
Well, if you put it that way, there's always porn. Necessity, as usual, is the whore of all invention.
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Old 2009-03-10, 13:29   Link #125
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Well, if you put it that way, there's always porn. Necessity, as usual, is the whore of all invention.
Ah, I think it's gonna be the fallback for some studios. Yep, sex also sells.
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Old 2009-03-10, 13:39   Link #126
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Supply/Demand

same as the Music industry: They are churning out SO DAMN MUCH, they're flooding their own market

if there was no illegal downloading, many shows/artists would have been dead and forgotten already, simply because the consumer can't keep up anymore

Everyone is trying to sell me toiletpaper while I only have one *** to wipe
and bitching on me because I get the cheapest available
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Old 2009-03-10, 14:09   Link #127
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightbat® View Post
Supply/Demand

same as the Music industry: They are churning out SO DAMN MUCH, they're flooding their own market

if there was no illegal downloading, many shows/artists would have been dead and forgotten already, simply because the consumer can't keep up anymore

Everyone is trying to sell me toiletpaper while I only have one *** to wipe
and bitching on me because I get the cheapest available
Ohh, that gives me an idea for a new completely inappropriate metaphor for fansubbing! "Fansubbing is like going into a public bathroom and swiping the toilet paper rolls from the stalls!"
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Old 2009-03-10, 15:21   Link #128
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Well, if you put it that way, there's always porn.
There is a market. And there is an audience. And there is the question whether there is a bursting anime bubble. And when you look at what generates the traffic in this forum, then - random popular example - Toradora beats Miyazaki's whole opus. So the question what happens to the anime subculture is not decided at Studio Ghibli but at the studios that produce the Toradora's.

Oh, and Toradora definitely is nothing one has to be ashamed of watching - but its appeal is not based on a big animation budget or that somebody at least makes it look good. On the other hand, big budget anime especially when targeting the international market can be very soulless, mechanical and appealing to lower instincts. Maybe not the instincts that demand moe blobs in fetish costumes but others. And Makoto Shinkai is a one-trick pony in my eyes.

In any case, to say it once again: the question what happens to the anime subculture is not decided at Studio Ghibli. And for the question how webtwopointoh affects movie or TV series production I see Ghibli rather in the same boat with Pixar than with e.g. Gainax. Because Ghibli's target is the mainstream audience.
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Old 2009-03-10, 17:17   Link #129
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Ohh, that gives me an idea for a new completely inappropriate metaphor for fansubbing! "Fansubbing is like going into a public bathroom and swiping the toilet paper rolls from the stalls!"

What? You're trying to claim people AREN'T cheapskates?
because believe it or not, people actually do swipe toiletpaper from the stalls



But my point was that -keeping downloading out of the picture-
there's only so much anime you can watch while the studios keep churning out more and more
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Old 2009-03-10, 23:13   Link #130
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But my point was that -keeping downloading out of the picture-
there's only so much anime you can watch while the studios keep churning out more and more
Actually, if we go by Toua's observation, there are already fewer new titles scheduled for this spring than last year, so it appears that supply is falling in tandem with declining demand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
There is a market. And there is an audience. And there is the question whether there is a bursting anime bubble. And when you look at what generates the traffic in this forum, then - random popular example - Toradora beats Miyazaki's whole opus. So the question what happens to the anime subculture is not decided at Studio Ghibli but at the studios that produce the Toradora's.
Ah, then you've taken my comparison out of context. It was not my intention to use Ghibli as a representative for the entire anime industry.

Regardless of Shinkai's relative merits as a creator, the point remains that a production of comparable quality to those churned out by full-fledged studios can be be carried out on a very small budget. (I highly suspect, though, that Shinkai called in several favours in order to get by on just US$220,000 for 5 Centimetres Per Second.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life
Oh, and Toradora definitely is nothing one has to be ashamed of watching - but its appeal is not based on a big animation budget or that somebody at least makes it look good.
I highly doubt Toradora! was "cheap" to make. According to industry representatives, a single episode of a typical anime series costs around US$120,000 to produce. So, a 20+ episode project like Toradora! could easily cost a studio between US$2 million and US$3 million. That's hardly small change, even for a show aimed at a highly-targeted audience.

Finally, to what extent is the anime market driven by otaku spending? They may be the most vocal segment, but that doesn't necessarily mean they've got the biggest spending power. Also, the industry is likely to ruin itself by catering only to a niche, instead of expanding its appeal.
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Old 2009-03-10, 23:29   Link #131
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post

Finally, to what extent is the anime market driven by otaku spending? They may be the most vocal segment, but that doesn't necessarily mean they've got the biggest spending power. Also, the industry is likely to ruin itself by catering only to a niche, instead of expanding its appeal.
I certainly hope that isnt the case. Its one thing to recognize the fact that the market may be a niche market, but catering it to that market rather than having wider appeal isnt something that will work forever.
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Old 2009-03-11, 04:46   Link #132
cyth
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The series themselves may have wider appeal, but what it comes down to is how anime is marketed. For wider appeal, they usually need dumb down the product so that small children can accept it, invest more money in advertising, get earlier TV slots... You can follow TOEI's example (early morning TV series for children -> merchandise -> theatrical release). The problem is, there is no middle road between mainstream and niche, so studios make an extensive assessment how much market potential the original has, then they tailor the anime product accordingly. Why not take risks once in a while? Because they just don't have the money. The mainstream is the motherfucking juggernaut, bitch. You don't mess with it unless you have all the means necessary.

Japan has been selling anime for a while now, the R1 industry tried a new approach but failed. Most of us in this thread, on the other hand, are just armchair quarterbacks with a Western salesman mentality and just assume that the industry is doing something wrong because it's not doing too hot. Industry reps themselves have said that the market's sales potential has been reached. They had enough time on their hands to learn from past mistakes (over 40 years!). Let's have some faith in what they have to say and their methods.
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Old 2009-03-11, 07:17   Link #133
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I highly doubt Toradora! was "cheap" to make. According to industry representatives, a single episode of a typical anime series costs around US$120,000 to produce.
Compared to a Ghibli movie, TV productions are obviously cheap and not far away from what 5cm costs per minute, probably without calling in favors. And I'm sure Toradora is still cheaper than a Gundam or anything that relies on animation-heavy action scenes.

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Regardless of Shinkai's relative merits as a creator, the point remains that a production of comparable quality to those churned out by full-fledged studios can be be carried out on a very small budget.
I simply don't get you budget fixation. An anime should have a big budget or at least look like it has one. Why do you compare to big budget productions at all? Animation is what eats the budget. And animation is what Shinkai stands for(*) A well-written script is dead cheap in comparison.

And when I point out that (real or seemingly) big budget isn't everything, all you think of is "porn". Actually, porn could benefit more from a big budget than a dialogue heavy show.

(*) Or rather the visual component in general than animation in particular. Which is one reason he can keep his budget tight. In any case: he delivers eye candy.

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Originally Posted by dahoosafeth View Post
I certainly hope that isnt the case. Its one thing to recognize the fact that the market may be a niche market, but catering it to that market rather than having wider appeal isnt something that will work forever.
Wrong. Trying to maximize your profits by optimizing your "appeal" is what doesn't work forever, just look at the music market. At some point everybody produces the same shit that appeals to the same 5 percent of the population (but without really exiting them at least) instead of doing something different that might appeal to only 4 percent!

Oh, and Sazae-san has the widest appeal IIRC.
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Last edited by Slice of Life; 2009-03-11 at 07:32.
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Old 2009-03-11, 09:29   Link #134
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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
There is a market. And there is an audience. And there is the question whether there is a bursting anime bubble. And when you look at what generates the traffic in this forum, then - random popular example - Toradora beats Miyazaki's whole opus. So the question what happens to the anime subculture is not decided at Studio Ghibli but at the studios that produce the Toradora's.

<snip>
I think you hit the core of the discussion here. I don't think the anime market is collapsing. People still want to watch quality anime, going mainstream will not help the subculture. Going mainstream means catering for a mass audience, with the result being a bland product that is somewhat to everyones taste all over the world, like Disney.

What keeps anime interesting is that it serves a niche market ( or several niche markets given the number of genres in anime). Compare it to the independant producers in music or comics who tailer their products for a smaller fanbase that wants something else then what the mainstream delivers. Therefore anime is still as viable as ever. The current economic crisis will hurt but it wont be worse then the fallout of the 90s economic crisis for Japan, if anything the companies should be more resilient due to their previous experiences.

The current problem is twofold:

1) A sector problem:

the people who make anime are not earning enough and a lot of talent is lost as these people leave for other better paying employers. The cause is not a bubble/burst in anime but an inefficient system of subsidaries that loses to much of the money before it reaches the production companies. The solution is mergers between studions for market power or vertical intergration. Production companies merging with the production commitees or merchandise manufacturers. An example is studio Satelight which joined the Sankyo group in 2006 for financial safety or in the 80s Bandai purchasing Sunrise.

2) Captalisation issue:

Dvd sales are dropping (for whatever reason). It's not the first time the anime sector has to adapt to a new way of making money of their product. From different formats (movie/TV to OVA market) to changes in audience (tastes of a more mature audience). At the end of the day the core product is entertainment trough the medium of animation. No matter the audience or way of distribution. New ways of earning money can be online distribution (Kadokawas Yahoo experiment), more focus on merchandise (more Haruhi dolls anyone?) or a new way we haven't even thought off.

As long as people want animated entertainment there will be a way to make money of that desire and the anime industry will have a future.
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Old 2009-03-11, 12:12   Link #135
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Compared to a Ghibli movie, TV productions are obviously cheap and not far away from what 5cm costs per minute, probably without calling in favors. And I'm sure Toradora is still cheaper than a Gundam or anything that relies on animation-heavy action scenes.

I simply don't get you budget fixation. An anime should have a big budget or at least look like it has one. Why do you compare to big budget productions at all? Animation is what eats the budget. And animation is what Shinkai stands for(*) A well-written script is dead cheap in comparison.

And when I point out that (real or seemingly) big budget isn't everything, all you think of is "porn". Actually, porn could benefit more from a big budget than a dialogue heavy show.
Heh, points taken. However, the "budget fixation" is basically a counterargument to my own points about how new media is a threat to animation studios, because it may drastically reduce future revenue streams and thus force the industry to consolidate, downsize or use any other means to adjust production costs correspondingly.

Assuming, of course, that new media is even to blame. There are, no doubt, other economic factors at work.

Meanwhile, make a good-enough product for a well-targeted audience and, yes, people will still buy.
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Old 2009-03-11, 19:43   Link #136
npcomplete
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Regardless of Shinkai's relative merits as a creator, the point remains that a production of comparable quality to those churned out by full-fledged studios can be be carried out on a very small budget. (I highly suspect, though, that Shinkai called in several favours in order to get by on just US$220,000 for 5 Centimetres Per Second.)
Wasn't that also because he did a lot of the work himself? He seems to have a lot less overhead than the traditional pipeline of an animation production.
5cm/sec credits:
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Screenplay: Makoto Shinkai
Storyboard: Makoto Shinkai
Producer: Makoto Shinkai
3DCG Work: Makoto Shinkai, Yoshitaka Takeuchi
Camera: Makoto Shinkai
Cinematography: Makoto Shinkai
Color design: Makoto Shinkai
Editing: Makoto Shinkai
Sound director: Makoto Shinkai

edit:
Looking at Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place, there's even less people involved. Also, another similar style of production is Hoshizora Kiseki, where's it's practically all Akio Watanabe
other small scale examples would be with Touhou's A Summer Day`s Dream and Kinema Kan.


Quote:
I highly doubt Toradora! was "cheap" to make. According to industry representatives, a single episode of a typical anime series costs around US$120,000 to produce. So, a 20+ episode project like Toradora! could easily cost a studio between US$2 million and US$3 million. That's hardly small change, even for a show aimed at a highly-targeted audience.
I've always wondered how are the figures computed anyways? I'm assuming that they are including much more than the man-hours needed at J.C. Staff to produce a single episode.

Last edited by npcomplete; 2009-03-11 at 21:13.
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Old 2009-03-11, 21:09   Link #137
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Finally, to what extent is the anime market driven by otaku spending? They may be the most vocal segment, but that doesn't necessarily mean they've got the biggest spending power. Also, the industry is likely to ruin itself by catering only to a niche, instead of expanding its appeal.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dahoosafeth View Post
I certainly hope that isnt the case. Its one thing to recognize the fact that the market may be a niche market, but catering it to that market rather than having wider appeal isnt something that will work forever.
Most anime produced has been targeted at niche markets for a long time. Most of it is targeted at Otaku, who I would think comprise a large portion of the money spent on the anime. They're almost the only ones willing to pay the amount of money asked. The industry targets the ones willing to pay them. It keeps them alive but it's not a system that offers much potential, in both a business and anime sense.
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Old 2009-03-12, 03:11   Link #138
cyth
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I've always wondered how are the figures computed anyways? I'm assuming that they are including much more than the man-hours needed at J.C. Staff to produce a single episode.
They are. An anime episode costs from $100k to $200k. This is the usual price for screenplay, storyboard, supervision, key animation, in-between animation, effects, music, seiyuu, and per-episode OP/ED royalties. Some recent figures have been leaked through Winny for Bamboo Blade, which confirm the numbers.
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Old 2009-03-12, 08:50   Link #139
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They are. An anime episode costs from $100k to $200k. This is the usual price for screenplay, storyboard, supervision, key animation, in-between animation, effects, music, seiyuu, and per-episode OP/ED royalties. Some recent figures have been leaked through Winny for Bamboo Blade, which confirm the numbers.
So I guess you could also throw in account manager and secretary costs and people involved in GENCO and associated personel at AT-X and TV-Tokyo
But in all seriousness I wonder if it has to be that much though..

I would assume it didn't cost Touhou that much to produce their 30 min episode
Like I alluded to before about animation methods and what not I believe some of the costs can be driven down. Looking at some behind-the-scenes/making-of footage I see a lot of going back and forth between animators and staff with animation director and director and upper level supervisors for like every little thing.
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Old 2009-03-12, 09:30   Link #140
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How about rights fees for the original work? I know that some of the larger houses like Bandai have both anime and manga arms, so the pricing there is a bit obscure. But in general don't the anime studios have to buy the rights to the original work from its publisher?

Then there's marketing, which I'd guess could account for a quarter of the entire budget for a show. Websites, advertising, seiyuu public appearances, it all adds up, not to mention the cost of buying the TV time to show the programs themselves.

So let's suppose for the moment our modest little show sells 5,000 copies of each DVD (which makes it relatively successful according to the figures in the DVD sales thread). For a 12-episode series, there could be as many as six discs at $50 each, for total revenues of $1.5 million. At $100K per episode ($1.2 million total cost) there's not much profit even in a relatively successful show. I'm guessing the real profits come from licensed products and other paraphernalia.
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