Obtaining financing is one of the biggest challenges facing television producers today. Many options for financing production have disappeared, as investors became more risk averse and government incentives are few. International pre-sales, which were more prevalent in the feature film industry, are an option for television series or shows as well.
However, the estimated return on pre-sales must be high enough to cover the administrative costs such as tax and legal issues. Budgets can be set based on successful pre-sales but, a pilot show is required.
This has become a problem for 3d and motion graphics studios as well. The number of hours required to create sample graphics package for a pilot is much higher, making more expensive than subsequent shows. Once a formula is established, a team of 3d artists can replicate the process and it becomes faster, and therefore less expensive to create.
In some cases, production companies have contracted speculative work from 3d studios to get fantastic 3d for their “sizzle reel” and pilot which helps to sell the show. Once the contracts are signed, they use the template and attempt to hire less experienced studios to produce similar graphics at a cheaper cost. This can be a very expensive mistake.
Less experienced 3d animators can quickly bog down as episodes begin to stack up. It is quite likely also that the 3d animations requested will become more complicated as the series goes on. An inexperienced studio that cannot manage the production of 3d well, can create legal trouble, as contracts are defaulted on. It has also been our experience that networks that purchase shows based on pilots, have subsequently turned down later episodes in which the 3d or graphics package did not have the quality that was agreed upon in the pilot. Re-doing the 3d causes the budget to skyrocket, which no producer wants to see.
Operating in this global landscape, and in an industry influenced by risk aversion requires extra assistance from tax and legal teams. In some cases, it was the cost of insurance that brought the show down, not a lack of distribution deals or quality. Just another thing to consider when looking at the amount of money required to fund a project.
While CGI is not a super low budget solution, it has become far more affordable for television. It can be especially helpful and budget friendly, for otherwise expensive or impossible shoots, such as historical scenes, international travel, outer space, or deep sea diving, for instance.
Due to the complications involved in international shoots, such as permits, and travel expenses, insurance and tax issues, it can be far less expensive and faster to have a 3d artist create and render it for you.
In fact, it’s quite often the reason TMBA gets hired.
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