Friday, December 2, 2016

More DreamWorks Layoffs

News finally broke this week of additional layoffs happening at DreamWorks Feature Animation.  This actually occurred several weeks ago, the day I flew into Burbank for the CTNx Conference - so I heard about the news that night (appropriately over several beers).

This round is 170 employees, notable hitting the production artists hard, who had been spared in the last round or two.  Overall I'm told the company has reduced it's staff by about 400 in the last several months.  Even the Animation Dept, which usually is the last to get hit, is taking some losses - including the notable voluntary departure of several supervising animators.

Some major news that is the direct cause of this is that Croods 2 has been cancelled, and possibly other film in production going back into development mode.  Also, some big unspecified changes seem to be happening for the studios in India and China.  I actually really dissapointed that we won't be seeing Croods 2.  The initial story pitches I saw looked really fun and already there was some great animation tests under James Baxter being done.

I remember how stressful times like this are in the company and the industry.  It was very bittersweet to be back in Burbank the other week and see all the old friends, co-workers, neighbors and hangouts.  But this waiting-nervously-for-news cycle seemed to be coming more often and more dramatic each year.  It was an interesting weekend to visit, and reminded me of all the stress I've left behind in that world.  It was also interesting at the conference to see what all the amazing artist that were let go when they closed PDI have done.  Many are working on their own projects, and VR studios in Silicon Valley have sucked up most of them.  At the studio it always felt like there was nothing outside those walls, which amped up the stress level among everyone.  But honestly, most artists are thriving post-DW and creating amazing work.  It's just a shame such a talented pool or artists was broken up.

Rumor is more layoffs might hit in January and I'll be hoping for the best for my remaining friends and DreamWorks.