I've been to the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival twice now, and it's given me a tiny peek into how people find work and get noticed in the independent animation community. Cards are exchanged, demos are handed out, promotions are held and there are competitions even for high school and undergraduate students just starting out. It struck me as very healthy to the community of artists and filmmakers, to discuss eachother's films and get references, and learn a little more about what works and what doesn't in the film and television industries.
That being said, I can't properly express my mixed feelings and creeping nausea when I spot the Telétoon booth each year. Based out of Canada, it's become a rather formidable player in children and teen-aimed television and cartoons, mostly featured on the Canadian station, but over the past decade or so has begun leaking into popular United States' children's networks. This is sort of okay, but also sort of not-- the shows are largely produced in Flash and are easy and cheap to animate; the character designs are angular and gaudy, and the stories and writing are poor even for children's shows. They choose demographics easiest to exploit, and little care is put into their pilots and premises.
This is all my personal opinion, of course, but what else can it possibly mean for young North American animators? Telétoon is a large player in the industry, especially for novices just starting out, but little hand-drawn or stop-motion is practiced, and the shows are mainly produced in Flash. Now, Flash can be a wonderful program when used well (see Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends) but experience shows that this is rare, as it is time-consuming and the purpose of using Flash in the first place, I imagine, is to save time and money. Young animators get lured in by the promise of steady income and a gateway into the market, and soon grow complacent. This doesn't mean it happens to everyone, but the thought of it makes me twitch.
It's so mind-boggling to me that each year at Ottawa, I am witness to scores of amazingly talented and hard-working North American animators, and yet the biggest thing out of Canadian television is cookie-cutter exploitative fodder. Some truly amazing artists make themselves known at festivals just like these-- it doesn't mean they absolutely have to go into children's entertainment, but can't I hope?
I'm also going to stop myself before I start spouting even more baseless nonsense and sounding like John K. But hey, what do you guys think?