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“On se rend compte qu'une grande partie de ces mesures peuvent être mises en place rapidement, même si ça requiert un certain effort au début”

Dossier industrie: Animation

Ilija Brunck • PDG et fondateur, Woodblock


À la conférence FMX sur l'animation, les jeux et le transmedia organisée à Stuttgart, le PDG du studio d’animation allemand nous a donné un aperçu de ses idées en matière de durabilité

Ilija Brunck • PDG et fondateur, Woodblock

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

At this year's FMX VR, XR and animation conference in Stuttgart (25-28 April), sustainability was one of the most prominent topics. Ilija Brunck and his team at Woodblock are developing a specific catalogue of measures to enable the Berlin-based studio to work in a more sustainable way. We talked to him about his team’s ideas and their initial results.

Cineuropa: Which processes consume the most resources in animation?
Ilija Brunck:
What is needed the most is human resources. Animation is a labour-intensive process that takes a lot of time and effort to learn. The training takes several years, and it's a highly specialised profession. That's why we relate sustainability not only to the climate, but also to social and economic aspects. In addition to human resources, there is, of course, also computing power needed. We specialise in high-end, 3D animation, and that requires a lot of computing resources.

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What are your goals, and how do you plan to achieve them?
We've been focusing on responsibility ever since we founded our studio ten years ago. It's on the agenda of many companies because it's politically relevant. But usually, the measures don't go very far. We've now set out to specifically formulate what we want to achieve and to start implementing it. There are different angles from which to approach it: for us, it's crucial to look at the issue in an all-encompassing way. It starts with the fact that we know we need a lot of electricity for our computers, so we use green electricity. We've also made it a habit to cook for our team. When we do this, we make sure the ingredients are only organic, regional and vegetarian. This creates less waste than ordering food, but it also ensures a balanced diet and human well-being. We pay attention to clean waste separation and try to no longer order our technology and materials on the internet. When possible, we buy locally, which also supports the local economy. Then we also have a clear rule when it comes to travelling. We don't ban flying or driving, but we only cover the costs of train travel, of course, when it comes to travel within Europe. We realise that many of these measures can be implemented quickly, even if it entails a certain amount of effort at the beginning.

Could you elaborate on your idea of the social aspect of sustainability?
Apart from a healthy diet, we also manage to enable the employees to come together on a different level through catering for the team. That was very important, especially during and after COVID-19. Many studios have completely switched to remote working, giving up their offices, which lowers costs. But this has awful consequences for interpersonal relations. We don't force employees to come to the office; they're completely flexible, but we create incentives for them to like coming to the office. Another important issue concerns gender equality. It's traditionally the case that there are fewer women than men in this industry. But we want to have more women, and we've gone from 10% women five years ago to 30% now. This makes the community stronger and more productive. Of course, there are no differences in terms of salaries, and we also want to promote women to management positions.

Do you have difficulties finding staff, or is there a new generation coming up?
The last few years have been tumultuous in the animation industry. During COVID-19, traditional filmmaking became difficult, but the demand for content remained the same, or even increased. Consequently, animation studios around the world saw a surge in orders, leading to a high demand for animators, who became hard to come by and expensive. However, since the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, the situation has returned to normal, and it has become quieter. Many studios have had to let some staff go, and freelancers are no longer as booked up as they were before. As far as young talent is concerned, I believe there is plenty of talent excited to join this industry. Young people are increasingly drawn towards the digital world, and the merging of computer games and animation is fuelling their interest. This growing interest among many young people will provide the next generation of talent.

Are there any clients you don't work with or jobs you don't accept, in line with your company guidelines?
We do not accept certain jobs. For instance, we do not work on projects coming from the arms industry. However, some issues are more complex, such as working with fashion brands, financial institutions or technology manufacturers that tend to be irresponsible with resources. In such cases, we have an internal voting system whereby 12 people make a decision. For assignments where we compromise, we decide to donate a portion of the profits as compensation.

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