2020 AnimState of the Industry Results

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Leadership and Direction

When it comes to animation team leadership, 84% have a Lead Animator, 43% have an Animation Director, 32% have a Lead Technical Animator, 14% have a Lead Animation Programmer, 12% have a Technical Animation Director, and 2% have an Animation Programming Director.

Looking at who is responsible for team member’s career growths (e.g. 1:1s, performance reviews and career management) it is their Lead in 55% of cases, for 36% it was either their Director or Studio Manager/HR.

Digging into those numbers a bit more, the next two questions were around how often team members interface directly with their Lead, the chart going from 1 (Daily) to 5 (Weekly).

As you can see, most team members interact with their Lead once a day, but only interact with their director once a week.

Our next question was about who is responsible for an animation team’s schedules and scope. 1 means it is 100% the responsibility of the Lead/Director and 5 means it is 100% the responsibility of the Production Partner.

The numbers were fairly spread out across the board with a 50/50 split of responsibility being the highest percentage at 32%. 43% of respondents stated the majority of that responsibility fell to Lead/Director and 26% stated the majority fell to Production.

Since Individual Contributors (Animators, Technical Animators, Programmers) may get their tasks from their Leads/Directors, but behind the scenes Production Partners are more involved, I decided to cross check these results against each other. When breaking these apart, there was indeed a difference.

Leads/Directors report higher levels of responsibility in terms of scoping and scheduling than Individual Contributors. Now before we throw Production Partners under the bus, what this tells me is that we have a need to better train them in regards to animation. There is certainly a trust and proficiency gap happening here that would be in the benefit of everyone to solve. This will become more of an necessary discussion as we get into the follow up questions about the reported studio and industry struggles.

Digging into a Lead and Director responsibilities more, we separated the roles for the next two questions.

A common idea when it comes to leading a team is that 50% of the time is spent creating work and 50% of the time is spent supervising other people’s creations. However the majority of leads (38%) report that they typically spend 75% of their time supervising. Only 24% responded with a 50/50 split and 13% said they spend all their time creating their own work. For clarity, here is the graph.

Next we asked how much of the Lead’s time is spent driving the creative vision vs driving production. Though weighted slightly more towards meeting production deadlines, it was pretty spread across the board with most saying it as a 50/50 split.

When asking those same two questions of Directors, Directors have a more varied set of responses in regards to hands on creating vs supervising others creations.

And when it came to driving creative vision vs production, it was again pretty spread across the board with the majority saying it was a 50/50 split, but this time the numbers was weighted slightly more towards creative vision.

It would be certainly be interesting to cross check Directors with Leads on their teams vs Directors without Leads to see if having Leads is enabling Directors to have more flexibility in their responsibilities.

It is time to see how all of this adds up with our general Miscellaneous results.

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