Conquest, war, famine and plague notwithstanding notwithstanding, it’s probably not a bad time to be one of the busy London animation studios. People may be broke, scared and more interested in proving sourdough than being nudged along your marketing funnel but that will change soon enough.
Of course the main benefit of animation over live-action is that it’s much easier to do from a distance. In fact, for most animators, the more distance the better, particularly if you don’t have to talk to anyone, ever.
Shooting live action is a different story. Even the smallest of productions need at least 500 people to fuss around making you redo a shot you were happy with on the first take anyway. It’s expensive, fiddly and very hard to do at arm’s length. For now it seems hard to plan for much beyond a simple greenscreen shoot in a studio.
Like most London animation studios, Hocus Pocus switched to remote working pretty easily. The main difficulty has been adjusting to the general tone. We tend to make colourful, positive, personality driven films. Most of the time they’re flogging something ultimately, or at least getting people to go somewhere where they might buy something. So when people are only buying bog roll and dried pasta, there’s not much for us to say.
But as the lockdowns around the world begin to lift, so does the tone and visual language. We move away from the DIY adverts, the zoom captures, the regional reassuring (or patronizing) VOs and we emerge to a brighter, colour-filled (albeit CGI) world. And us animation studios can get back to doing what we do best: getting people to buy a load of stuff that of course they don’t know they need yet.