YOU CAN'T SAY THERE'S NO PLACE
October 05, 2011 11:43 Filed in: Hollywood
I have written before about how the world of animation, both 2D and 3D really, tends towards monotony. In contrast, a film like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is considered a colossal failure, and as such, people apparently don't like this kind of animation and there is no place for it in the market. This, however, is simply not true. The fact of the matter is there is no place for it in the market at that cost. To illustrate this, I will provide a simple example.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within grossed just over $30 million at the domestic box office. That is a lot of money when you think about it. Most people would be overjoyed to see that kind of gross on their film project. The problem, however, is that Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within cost over $130 million to produce, and probably an equivalent amount to market. This makes for an incredible loss of money for those involved. As a note of contrast, The original A Nightmare on Elm Street films of the 1980s, starring Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, also grossed around $30 million at the domestic box office. These films, however, cost from $2 million to $4million to produce, making them amazing successes. That same box office take, in this case, means people love this kind of movie and it spawns 5 or 6 sequels.
This brings us to the question, then, if 2 films can gross the same $30 million at the box office, and this box office take means that people love one of them and that there is a big enough market for it, how can the other be a failure? We already know, of course, it is because the other film cost entirely too much to produce. The matter then turns to whether or not the the film considered a failure could be produced for the same cost as the one considered a success. This can certainly be done, though with a few caveats.
Such a production will likely never happen in the U.S. through Hollywood. It is also not likely to come out of the bloated studio system of any country. In the world of independents, though, it becomes a real possibility. This, however, will even require said independents to think differently and abandon prejudices often imposed by the mainstream industry. Just to give an example, from a recent thread on CGTalk, there still seems to be a heavy prejudice against certain software applications, such as Poser, Daz Studio, Vue, Bryce and a few others. While it may be true that there is a vast amount of low quality images associated with these particular tools, it is by no means the fault of the tools. Also these prejudices are years old, and often those who tout them are unaware of the major strides these tools have made since their opinions formed.
Just a quick look around the Daz3D gallery and I see examples that show that quality approaching FInal Fantasy: The Spirits Within can certainly be achieved using these tools, if in the right hands. From what I read there, it seems these tools are constantly improving, offering cloth simulation, better rigging and a host of other features commonly associated with more professional CG applications. Their latest character models are some of the best I have seen, and they beat many original character models built from scratch that I have seen recently. The key is to get in your mind the question of what is important to you. Do you want to make your movie, or do you feel the need to say you did every little thing in it?
If you truly care about getting your movie done, then you will use the tools that remove as many barriers to entry as possible. If your movie must be done in Maya, with Zbrush sculpted characters and every single element built from scratch, you will likely find there is no place in the market for it, if it should ever be finished at all. This movie will require immense man power, like any other, and the budget will inflate to a point where it is no longer viable. The people who think like this never start, because they need millions of dollars to even consider doing so. The people who really want to get it done, however, will use whatever tools make this possible at the highest level of quality in the shortest amount of time. They will find a place in the market, because their films will cost little and be enticing to buyers.
If, like me, you like realistic characters and dark, mature stories in your animation, there is no reason to look around at the funny, family friendly mainstream films and conclude that there is no place in the market for what you like. Those films have to be funny and family friendly because when you spend $100 million or more to make it, you have no choice but to appeal to as many people as possible. The answer is simple. Don't spend that much. Keep your movie, and budget, small and do it quickly. You may be surprised at the niche markets out there just waiting for exactly what you want to make!
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