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Animators Draw Together at Forum

April 01, 2002

Faced with industry layoffs and the outsourcing of work overseas, Hollywood animators are in a grouchy and fearful mood these days. They'll get a chance to vent their frustrations and learn how to better cope with the downsizing of their craft when the "online water cooler" Animation Nation hosts its fourth annual open forum today at the Pickwick Center in Burbank. It begins at 1:30 p.m., and admission is free.

The gathering is intended to be a spirited discussion on the current conditions and the future role of the animation artist in a changing industry, according to Brian Reynolds, a moderator with the online message forum www.animationnation.com.

"The purpose of the forum is primarily a means of getting people in the animation industry, the actual artists, to get a better assessment of their own place in the industry," Reynolds said. "There is a sense going around that animators are expendable and the studios are abandoning or discarding their employees without assessing what their contributions are."

Reynolds said there is a fear among animators that traditional two-dimensional animation is out of favor at the studios and that computer-generated, three-dimensional animation such as "Shrek" and "Monsters, Inc." will eventually replace it.

He noted that there are rumors that Disney could scale back on 2D animation after it releases "Sweating Bullets" at Thanksgiving 2003.

Disney has plans to reduce its worldwide feature animation staff to about 1,000 to 1,100 by next March from its high point of 2,000, adapting the model used in live-action movies where crews are hired on a film-by-film basis.

But the studio has a number of 2D projects in the pipeline, including "Lilo & Stitch," which arrives in theaters this June, followed by "Sweating Bullets" in 2003, "Bears" in 2004 and the combination 2D/3D animated movie "My People" in 2005.

Meanwhile, DreamWorks has a number of 2D animation projects coming up (though computer animation is also used in these films), including "Spirit," a story about a horse in the Wild West, which opens May 24, and "Sinbad," which is scheduled for release in 2003.

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Compiled by Times staff writers

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