To Be or Not to Be?

Outsourcing Animation Overseas

In the era of globalization, we all know the word outsourcing or have at least heard it spoken.  It’s nothing new, we are all aware that both big and small companies outsource processes or products from manufacturing, to IT help, to animation work.
Outsourcing is occupying a lot of space in the animation industry. Companies outsource both to save money and to make as much profit as possible. At the same time, there are tons of articles about the nightmares of outsourcing animation overseas and why you may not want to do it.

What we have is studios feel like it’s too expensive to do it domestically and too risky to outsource it.
We agree, it is still very risky because of:

  • Language challenges – yes, it is sometimes harder to explain what you exactly want, get your point across, subsequently you have to spend more time (money) to get the desirable result.
  • Piracy issues – once I came across the story about outsourcing art production. The client get ripped off pixel art from another product. As a result, they wasted time and money hiring people who didn’t understand the importance of intellectual property and copyright laws. I was shocked reading it…
  • Lack of business structures – working with outsourcing partner you may have such issue spending more time on wrangling project management problems and creative quality control problems especially when your project is a huge one. Be aware!
  • Cultural differences – No doubt, there’s a cultural divide between the people drawing the series and the people who dreamed them up. Something very funny to us might not be funny to them, we should realize we have a different approach to everything, including body language and expressions.

The last and one of the most popular arguments is that the quality of work is not as good, and when you outsource value of production will definitely go down.

We don’t deny that there are issues, this could happen to anyone.

Let’s take a step back and examine the much-loved Walt Disney Company and Imax. These companies outsource an increasing amount of their animation production to Asian countries . . . and we still watch and love their cartoons.

Did you know that most of the animated American TV shows have been outsourced to companies overseas: The Simpsons, Camp Lazlo, Venture Brothers, Hey Arnold, Phineas & Ferb, Gravity Falls, The misadventures of Flapjack, Rick and Morty, The Real Ghostbusters. Almost every big name cartoon we watched as children was pretty much outsourced.

It could be a trouble finding anything that wasn’t outsourced, honestly.

So you cannot say that just because a product is developed overseas it’s guaranteed to flop.

What are the most popular destination to outsource animation work?

Many regions are positioning themselves as outsourcing destinations and there is more talent, but also more confusion over whom to partner with and how to reliably do business in so many countries.

North Korea, Ukraine, Russia, India, Philippines, China, Latin America?

For US-based clients, one-hour time difference and proximity to L.A. is a benefit of looking to Latin America.

Korea also has a long history working with US projects and has a highly-competitive market.

Another region with a great potential is Eastern Europe. Most people recognize Eastern Europe as a source of talent on the technical side, due to excellent math and engineering education. At the same time, we are close to the Western business world in terms of business attitude and ethics which is extremely important.

By the way, recently held Europe animation forum was impressed by the Ukrainian cartoon Mavka. The Forest Song’. It was Cartoon Movie’s first Ukrainian pitch that had a great success at the event. This shows that Ukraine is not only favorable region for outsourcing but also has a great potential for creating own product.

In summary, there’s not a definitive answer to the question, “Is outsourcing good or bad”.

Despite all the above-mentioned tricks that lay between the client and vendor you will find that working with an outsourcing partner will require you to contribute serious effort, you will need to provide the vendor with clear and complete guidelines, and you will carry as much responsibility for a project’s success as the vendor.

Whether or not your outsourcing partners is a pain in the neck or the driving force of your business depends on you too.

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