12/05/20 • Animation Insights

What Does Covid-19 Mean For Animation?

Three Signs The Industry Will Survive The Pandemic

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Animation festivals have been cancelled and studios have closed their physical doors. Yet there are some signs that the Covid-19 crisis may not be all that devastating for the Irish animation industry.

Animation studio heads meet on a recent Zoom call hosted by Animation Ireland

Demand for Content Remains

As generally tough as the Covid-19 pandemic has been for all of us, there is still a place for light relief. Streaming services such as Disney + have reported a significant rise in the number of subscribers signing up to their platforms as audiences want and need some form of diversion from current events. This has led to an increased demand for visual content. And while work from home measures have seen live action productions ground to a halt, the animation industry has remained very much open for business.

Even outside of the home there has been a growing demand for animated content. With such reduced access to live action content, brands have been looking for new ways to tell their stories and market effectively. Animation can deliver highly sophisticated and nuanced messaging in a very clear and understandable way. And while we can guess that live action will be back up and running before too long, businesses may well come to appreciate just how effective animation is as a visual medium and begin to factor it into longer term plans.

Economic Factors

Covid-19 really is the gift that keeps on giving, with many economic experts predicting a global recession. Of course, in Ireland we know only too well what that means. Following the financial crash of 2008, Ireland experienced a severe decline in employment levels and government funding. However, the Digital Content sector (animation included within this) was one of the few sectors which experienced job growth during the recessionary years (Honeycomb Creative Works, 2015). If the industry can rely on ongoing support in the form of government funding and tax incentives, and if the past recession is an indicator, then it could deflect a hit from any looming economic crisis.

Niamh McHugh, Facilities Manager, shows off her home-working setup

Animation has gone virtual

Working virtually as animators would not have been possible until very recently. Advances in technology have meant that animation crews all over Ireland have been able to log on remotely to get their work done. At Lighthouse, multiple departments came together to facilitate a smooth transition. The IT team spent countless hours getting crew set up with remote access to VPNs and animation software. Our facility management team physically delivered any equipment left behind in the studio to those who needed it. The HR department developed initiatives to encourage communication and collaboration. While the transition was not without some hiccups that were beyond our control – internet connectivity, for example – our production schedules have not suffered.

We aren’t the only Kilkenny animation studio that has adapted to virtual teamwork. Read how Cartoon Saloon’s latest production, Wolfwalkers, has been faring during lockdown here.

As the weeks turn into months, we are taking the positives where we can find them. Stay ‘tooned’ for our pending release back into the wilds of our animation studio!

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