Manimation 2019 – The Shock of the New

Posted on: Thursday 14 November 2019 12:07am by Helen Dugdale

James Stevens: PowerPoint

Richard Cooper: Power Point

John Knowles: PowerPoint
James Stevens, CCO, YellowDog: Presentation

Three separate presentations discussed the latest in tech, animation on the new platforms and new sources of funding.

Top Takeaways

  • The TV industry has a duty of care – datacentres spill massive of carbon pollution
  • Technology is great but the story is king
  • The Young Audience Content Fund is a great resource

Shock of the new in technology

James Stevens looked back over the last few decades exploring the trends and patterns that have emerged in tecnology – from the early Intel days and the personal computer which meant everyone could produce content to the birth of mobile communications and the boom of the internet which changed society. And now, YoutTube…  17-year-olds in their bedrooms are the creators. These have led to a potential break-up of the studio set-up and changed how animation might be created.

In animation in particular co-working collaboration between production teams on different sites (on different continents in some cases), has put huge strains on the transfer of data.  “We’re now building data centres so studios can plug-in from anywhere. But the TV industry has a duty of care – the carbon output of data farms will soon be greater than that of the entire carbon output of global aviation. What are we doing to the planet?  Now anyone can knit together talent from around the world and the opportunities are limitless.”

He showed an illustration of the house, lifted by thousands of balloons in the ‘Up’ movie.  It raised a question…

“For the movie ‘Up’, Disney calculated how many small helium balloons it would take to lift the house – in reality.  And they came up with the figure 20,622.  But then they hit a problem. The software to model balloons and make them react as a group to wind conditions etc – only stretched to 500 balloons…  So they spent  year writing software to model 20,622 balloons perfectly so that they all react accurately and consistently together.  But amazing though this is…. it’s irrelevant.  In the end we watch ‘Up’ for the story, not the balloons.  The story will always win and is always the key to success”. 


Richard Cooper, Research Director, Ampere Analysis  Presentation

Richard Cooper took the Manimation audience on a whistlestop tour of the latest Ampere research into the practices and plans of the FAANGS..

It’s a time of evolution for on-demand services:

  • Disney + is focused on recognisable brands and doing spin-offs of their Pixar movies and rebooting shows.
  • HBO Max focusing 0-4 age range. This is a change for SVoDs.
  • Amazon and Netflix are defining how we view on demand.



Amazon Prime –their focus is animated movies and their catalogue is twice the size of Netflix’s. They have exited the series market, for now.

Amazon has a big focus on animated kids’ movies or the next 12-18 months.

It’s more focussed on older kids and needs to acquire 165 titles to maintain its current catalogue growth. Most titles will be coming from non-English language speaking titles 91 titles from anime. Amazon is looking at the UK and Ireland for 11 titles.



Netflix is concentrating on TV shows – with a particular focus on Anime from Japan. Also, a lot of investment in adult animation and comic book animation.

Netflix TV comedy animation shows are moving into 3rd and 4th season and they have the world rights to it. This helps with subscriber retention.

Netflix – heavy focus on kids and family animation. 18% of the content is animation commissions.

The only UK animated shows so far is an adaptation of a Roald Dahl book. Netflix opened its own animation studio in 2018 and the result of this is a reduction of animated commission to 44 titles. Netflix will be looking for commissions in the UK and now has a UK children’s executive..


John Knowles, Production Executive, YACF. Presentation

John explored the future of funding from government supported sources for animation

The YACF is a £57 million pound, 3-year pilot scheme, funded by the government and dedicated to children’s and young people’s content (0 – 18). it’s intention is to increase UK-made and focused content with a public service remit, delivered on free to air platforms.  The fund recently announced its first slate of production grants – which can constitute up to 50% of a production budget.  John said that the Fund is still developing and is listening to the industry, so please talk to the team about what your aspirations might be.

Fund Priorities:

  • Quality
  • Innovation on and offscreen
  • Diversity
  • New Voices
  • Audience Reach
  • Additionality
  • Nations and Regions

The Fund has two components:

Development Fund – no limit, new voices are a priority, non-recoupable and no broadcaster commitment required.

Production Fund – cam finance  up to 50% of project budget, commitment needed from UK broadcaster with a significant UK reach that is free to access, and Ofcom regulated.

Animation is not ruled out, though the first awards went almost entirely live action programmes apart from one animation intended for Milkshake!

John also talked briefly about another fund more familiar to the animation community – Creative Europe’s Media Fund, which has supported many UK animation projects in the past.  Under Brexit, UK involvement with the Media Fund is under great.  John said that detail on all of the implications of Brexit to Media were available on the BFI website.

Headlines are:

  • UK access to the Media Fund continues until we leave the EU
  • The Media Fund goes into a new phase of its existence 2020 – 2027
  • Rejoining the Fund after we leave the EU will depend upon the manner of the exit.
  • Leaving with a deal will almost certainly mean continuation in the new Fund.
  • Leaving with out a deal will mean that we certainly don’t participate.
  • in that event DCMS is c considering what the alternative to the Media Fund might be – across all the sectors that access it.
  • If we leave without a deal and applications have been approved by the Fund, the British government has committed to honour the amounts concerned.
  • So productions should continue to apply.

Manimation Blog

Helen Dugdale

About the author

Helen Dugdale

Scribble, Writer/PR Consultant

Helen is founder of Scribble - the little, but mighty PR and writing agency based in Altrincham. She has over 18 years experience writing for and promoting events and brands aimed at children and families. Helen has written and created content for children’s books, educational resources, TV and radio and… Read more