streaming

The Business of Animation Looks Rosy

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People love animation. In fact, people love animation so much that it's a $254 billion industry! In fact, it's due to grow 6% over the next two years to $270 billion, according to a new report from Research and Markets. It covers animation, visual effects, and games around the globe. While the lengthy report is stuck behind a paywall, several of its key findings are available to view. Here are some quick highlights, and some thoughts about them:

  • VFX Growth: Audiences are watching films and movies — Infinity War is due to cross the billion dollar mark after only a week! According to the report, audiences are looking for more "engaging visual effects and realistic animation." As a result, most productions are spending 20-25% of their budgets on the effects. With film budgets now hitting $300 million or more, that's a lot of money being spent on animation! People are looking for more spectacle, the kind of spectacle that only animated effects can create.
  • Streaming: Audiences are continuing their drift over to streaming platforms. Netflix and Amazon, as well as Facebook and YouTube, are becoming an important channel for animators to consider. In 2017, streaming animation was worth in $2.4 billion, but is growing fast at eight percent a year. More and more major studios are hopping onto streaming services, especially the Walt Disney Company. Especially as more and more people worldwide get connected to faster internet, streamed video content will become even more popular.
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  • Video Games: Video games alone were worth $92 billion in 2017. New services are allowing publishers to better analyze players and tweak their games to maximize satisfaction. The report also mentions "availability of low cost micro-payment systems" for digital content, calling them "the key for online games market to grow." This part should be taken with a grain of salt, though, considering recent controversies over microtransactions. Some countries have placed restrictions or even outright bans on these microtransactions, and a few states are considering doing the same. 
  • ESports: Connected with video games is the continuing rise of eSports tournaments, which feature players competing at huge events. The report mentions that the industry is growing at a massive rate of thirty percent annually, and will be worth a billion dollars next year. With spectators and fans flooding these events, eSports may very well dramatically change the culture of gaming and how it's seen — and embraced — by the general public. That means a changing market, and potentially even more room for growth and expansion.

These are just some key points to be found in the report, but there's so much more to unpack. One thing is for certain though: animation as an industry continues to be strong and vibrant, with lots of new opportunities in the near future!


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

What's In a Name? How to Tell Between Films and Television

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A couple weeks ago, we posted a blog about Disney's upcoming streaming service, and how they are planning some big-name releases for it. It seems that eleven years after Netflix introduced its services, digital streaming is definitely here to stay. That is not to say, though, that its effects are not fully realized. Digital streaming has enabled a convergence of different outlets, blurring the lines between different distribution services. For any entertainment firm to survive in this new age, it needs to take steps to understand this convergence.

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Much has been said about Netflix and others' impact on filmmaking. Just a couple weeks ago, Steven Spielberg spoke about the matter, saying that films that release on streaming platforms should not be allowed to be considered for the Oscars. Instead he insisted they should only be considered for Emmy Awards. His concern grew out of the fact that it's increasingly difficult for filmmakers "to raise money, or to compete at Sundance and possibly get one of the specialty labels to release their films theatrically." Christopher Nolan has also criticized the practice, saying that it takes away from the theatrical experience.

It doesn't change the fact though that more and more, studios are turning to streaming services as more than just secondary distribution after a theatrical or television run. It's now a primary distribution outlet, with original series made by both the streaming companies and established studios. Just this year, Annihilation opened to a domestic theatrical run, while simultaneously launching on Netflix abroad. Films and television now rub elbows on computer screens around the world. As a result, they're beginning to look awfully similar...

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Take for example the question of budgets. This past December, Netflix released Bright on its platform, an urban fantasy film that cost about $90 million to produce. That's the same budget as the smash hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle which hit theaters about the same time. Made for TV films have historically carried far less production value than their theatrical counterparts, but that gap is starting to disappear. Even looking at serials, budgets are ballooning. For example, in season six of Game of Thrones, each episode cost roughly $10 million to make. Contrast that with films like 2017's Split, with only a $5 million budget.

Serials themselves pose a myriad of other questions. Some have neat little thirty-minute episodes that all tie together, quite distinguishable from stand-alone films. Some, however, boast hour-long episodes that feel cinematic in their own right. In any case, films often connect into series as well. How great is the difference between, say, Batman Begins/The Dark Knight/The Dark Knight Rises and Gotham episodes 1-3? And what about series, such as Black Mirror, where the episodes do not connect at all? 

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Film and television have evolved as media for decades, changing to fit their environment and viewers. The two-parter episode, the cinematic universe, so many ways have been found to manipulate the media to deliver unique experiences. In the past, they tried to distinguish themselves through methods ranging from outlandish (TV sweepstakes and better theater experiences) to the mundane (tweaking aspect ratios to be unwatchable in other formats).  The reason we should care about the convergence of television and film into streaming is because we can now find even more ways to tell better stories. Anthologies can be assembled and released simultaneously, for example. It poses new challenges as well; television producers can't listen to feedback on early parts of their seasons and use it to alter later parts, everything must be released at once.  Streaming, in a way, has become a medium of its very own, and it may be a decade or even more until its potential is realized. Like it or dislike it, it must be considered as a force to be reckoned with today.


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

Disney Names First Production For Upcoming Streaming Service

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Earlier this week, news broke that Disney plans to remake the 1955 classic Lady and the Tramp into a live-action movie.  This doesn't come as much of a surprise. Live-action remakes have made a lot of money for the Walt Disney Company; last year, Beauty and the Beast was the second highest grossing movie worldwide with over a billion dollar gross. The interesting part of this announcement is how Disney plans to distribute the film. Instead of a theatrical release, the studio intends to release the new Lady and the Tramp on their yet-unnamed digital streaming service.

Disney's streaming service, due for release in 2019, stands to be a strong competitor with established companies like Netflix. On top of holding Disney's existing library of films and television programming, it will also reportedly feature "four to six" original works every year. The selection will come from across Walt Disney's holdings: Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Disney Animation, and so on. With a big name title like a Lady and the Tramp remake heading straight for streaming, it indicates how seriously Disney is taking this venture.

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As an interesting note, it's worth pointing out that Disney currently stands to acquire streaming service Hulu. Walt Disney already owned 30% of the service, while 21st Century Fox owned another 30% — and with the acquisition of Fox pending, Disney will soon get a controlling stake. How Hulu will run alongside Disney's service remains to be seen.

So what does this mean for animation? It indicates another shift towards streaming as a distribution channel, to complement or even supplant theatrical and broadcast releases. We've seen steps in this direction with films like The Little Prince, which played theatrically around the world but in the United States released on Netflix. Major studios like DreamWorks have also released exclusive series for Netflix, featuring spinoffs of Puss in Boots and their Dragons franchise, as well as original series like Voltron and Trollhunters.

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Disney's steps will probably point even more big-budget productions towards streaming first. For comparison, let's look at the recent Netflix original Bright, which turned heads with its $90 million budget. Now let's estimate the budget for Lady and the Tramp. The film will have the same producer as 2016's The Jungle Book, which cost $175 million. Even if that number shrinks a bit for Lady and the Tramp, it still looks to be one of the biggest productions to directly hit streaming services.

Streaming has already impacted the entertainment industry in different ways. It's already upset existing distribution channels, but it seems that the effects are not fully realized yet. A very big step looms in the future, and all eyes will watch to see if the step is solid or shaky.