This time, we’re gonna take a look at the work that goes into making your favourite Anime shows and movies. The extent of this work cannot be covered in a single blog but we’re gonna be scratching the surface of what makes an Anime, a great one. There’s amazing studios and their artists all over the world working tirelessly to create something that is nothing short of a masterpiece. Let’s start this journey with Japan, home to some of the biggest and the best Anime studios in the world.
Toei Animation is considered to be one of the oldest and the first Anime studios in Japan, started in 1948. You already know some of their biggest hits – Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Digimon, One Piece... and so on! They’ve created some of the most successful series that are still being watched to this day. Founded by two animators, this studio currently has 1,200+ employees and a net sales of 380 million USD yearly (as of 2021).
The artists are also well compensated for their work here – an animator here makes an easy 2,000 USD per month on an average for someone who’s newly hired. Toei Animation actually has a higher average p/m salary than that of most others; for instance Studio Ghibli and Kyoto Animation pay a salary of 1,700 USD and 1,500 USD p/m on an average as a newbie.
Even a casual Anime watcher has heard about Studio Ghibli. Some of the greatest movies of all time have been made by them – from critically acclaimed Spirit Away to My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke among some of the best feature films till date, they never fail to make you laugh, cry and thoroughly enjoy their beautiful animations. Under legendary screenwriter Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli is definitely one of the most popular Anime studios out there.
Other great studios from Japan include KYOTO ANIMATION, SUNRISE, MADHOUSE & UFOTABLE. Working at any one of these is considered to actually be a very honourable thing in Japan, besides being the coolest!
Japan undoubtedly is a hub for Anime and therefore has the most profitable studios in all of Asia... But that doesn’t mean other countries don’t! India and China have a vast and diverse population of animators and VFX artists that usually collaborate or work independently for these king-sized studios. In fact, one of the most well-known animated films in India was made with a multi-nation collaboration of Japan and USA in 1994, titled Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama. It combined 3 styles of animation, and was extremely well received. Similarly, there are animation studios like PIXAR & DREAMWORKS that have created classics that we will all remember for ages to come (and they too, have artists all over the world working together).
Ok, so we know a bit about the studios and how much artists are paid. But how does it all come to life? It is an extremely complicated process, arduous to say the least and also time consuming.
From ideation, to scripting, to storyboarding, and then finally animating and dubbing, the job is far from over. You need to sell what you’ve made obviously, so then comes pre and post release promotions, marketing and tons of merchandising! A studio can barely make it if it doesn’t generate enough money to break even the cost of producing and marketing their films and series.
As an example, let’s look at Princess Mononoke. It took almost 5 years to complete it! And there were more than 200 people working on it constantly. Fun Fact – a scene in the film that lasts for no more than 2 minutes long took around 18 months to complete. Apparently, it took 5,300 drawings in total. CRAZY!
Most feature films do take that long; around 3-7 years depending on length and a few other factors like technology and workforce. These days, it takes lesser time, although it is still considerably long.
Does it mean that animators work 24/7? It’s a popular belief that they’re always creating something without breaks, but it’s not true. They have regular 40 hour weeks just like any other job! Of course they have to do a bit extra to meet deadlines sometimes, but it’s no different than a regular job. I mean, the level of creativity and artistry required is without a doubt on another level. Having said that, animators do have very regular lives! But they will always be cooler than the rest of us. They make an average of 79,000 USD per year and upwards of 110,000 USD per year if they’re in the top 10%. More than 50% of all animators are actually independent; i.e. they are self-employed or work as freelancers.
Fun Fact II: Almost every single animator and artist we know at Iced Tea is 100% awesome and chill asf. Well, that’s that! Now why don’t you take a look at some of our latest designs since you’re at the end of this blog?