Business of animation and voice over.

The animation production market is between $50B to $70B, yes it is B with billion. The per hour cost of animation is between $250k and $300k in US and about one fourth of that in Philippines, India or China.

But the days of outsourcing because of the price difference are essentially gone. Outsourcing purely based on price only works for a short time. During the transition period, one might say. As companies have found it to be the case for software outsourcing, once the niche for outsourcing a particular product is well established, the prices see an upward trend and then the focus shifts on quality.

Another part of the animation business is the voice talent. In a way, that part is expanding because an animation that has been done right, lends itself to different localized version with local voice artists.

Let us take an example of a show Ed, Edd n Eddy. It has gone through different versions in terms of animation techniques.

Ed, Edd n Eddy was animated wholly using traditional cel animation up until its fourth season. Though the show is still entirely hand-drawn, all cels are colored digitally as are most other series.

To give the impression of movement, Ed, Edd n Eddy uses shimmering character outlines. The reviews focus on the this animation technique, which tends to make the character look active but also unstable; sort of like watching a really old movie where the film itself wobbled.

But what saves the show is the voice talent.

One of the character in the show is Nazz. Nazz is the stereotypical cheerleader/unattainable love interest. Trendy and attractive.

Erin_Fitzgerald_nazz All of the boys except Rolf and Jimmy are infatuated with her. Whenever she approaches, the Eds begin to sweat and lose the ability to speak coherently. She is the head cheerleader at Peach Creek Junior High. Although Nazz is usually depicted as sweet and smart, she can occasionally be a bit eccentric and acts as the stereotypical dumb blonde. She generally does not mind the Eds unless they bother her.

In this paragraph, there are so many nuances that Nazz has to display and incorporate. It requires complete control of the voice tonality, full understanding of the culture, and talent of vividly bringing it alive with slight exaggeration to make it sound funny.

It is even more important for the non-named characters to achieve this, because they can’t rely on the history or the availability of the screen time to convey what their character is. Just a few words, and the listener has to get an idea of where the character is coming from. Not an easy task.

In the Ed, Edd n Eddy Show, the character of Nazz is played by Erin Fitzgerald of ErinFitz voices.

The point that is worth making is that there are important pieces of the animation business that are very difficult to outsource and the quality, the main ingredient, which keeps the viewers keep coming back, requires that parts with local nuances be retained locally.

Didn’t realize that so many other characters that I have seen and talk on TV and in video games have actually been done by Erin Fitzgerald.


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