Calum Marsh reports: There’s general agreement that this is a golden age of television. But less apparent is the fact that it’s also a golden age of animation, spawned by the same subscription video-on-demand companies — such as Netflix and Amazon — that are ushering TV’s shining period.
“Usually it’s like, OK, we’re doing this 10-episode season. As an independent animation studio, it’s great to be able to project that far into the future. These are nice long runs.”
— Chris Prynoski, president and owner of Titmouse
The rise of streaming services — which are ordering season after season of animated shows for children and adults — has created an urgent demand for original content, leading to a surge in jobs at all levels of production. For now, the deluge shows no signs of letting up.
“There’s more animation work now than ever,” says Chris Prynoski, president and owner of Titmouse, an independent animation studio headquartered in Los Angeles. More than half of the programming the company is working on is for web-based platforms, including “Niko and the Sword of Light” for Amazon Studios and the upcoming “Big Mouth” for Netflix.
The content is extremely valuable to the streaming services. “Animation is a medium that works very well for SVOD,” explains Tara Sorensen, head of kids’ programming at Amazon Studios, which also collaborates with Titmouse on the animated kids’ series “Little Big Awesome.” “It’s somewhat evergreen compared to live-action content, which can age more quickly. It also travels well internationally because it can be dubbed easily.” What’s more, shows for little kids are never without viewers: “A preschool audience essentially regenerates every three to four years,” Sorensen says. “That’s appealing for us.”
Titmouse has grown a lot over the past several years as a result of the influx of shows, Prynoski says; the company has expanded to more than 500 employees. “We’re doing so much work for SVOD companies now, it’s crazy,” he says.
Titmouse produced the first animated original series for Netflix, the Emmy-nominated “Turbo FAST,” as part of the highly publicized deal the streaming service struck with DreamWorks Animation for 300 hours of programming in 2013. And with “Turbo FAST” alone, Titmouse had a very full plate.
“These shows are pretty hefty orders,” Prynoski says. Titmouse was quickly commissioned to develop more than 100 episodes of “Turbo FAST.” Soon after, DreamWorks came calling with a commission … (read more)