Walt Disney Animation Studios

www.disneyanimation.com

Walt Disney Animation Studios Reviews

28 Reviews
4.0
28 Reviews
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Walt Disney Animation Studios President, Pixar and Disney Animation Ed Catmull
Ed Catmull
17 Ratings

9 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 4 people found this helpful  

    Pros and Cons, just a wider margin

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Walt Disney Animation Studios full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    Nice benefits, individual offices with doors are great for focused work, amazing talent under one roof.

    Cons

    Amazingly short-sighted leadership that focuses on retaining employees who are young, cheap, and lack experience. Very little loyalty to individuals who strive for long-term payoffs.

    Scheduling is poor; the studio dictates a release date, but the leadership takes far too long to put the work into production, which leads to unnecessary tight schedules that are completely unreasonable. Artists work hours off the clock to meet these deadlines, and management turns a blind eye to it because there is no other option. Rinse, repeat, but with a tighter schedule the next film.

    Advancement and retention is skewed by how well you manage your relationship with your boss. No turnover of leadership, and very easy to get pigeon-holed in your job. Cross-departmental shifts are rare. Lots of closed-door politics.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The major complaint has been work/life balance. The complaint is #1 year after year.

    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Studio that respects the artists

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Walt Disney Animation Studios full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    - great people to work with
    - talented people
    - lot's of out of the box thinking

    Cons

    - lots of history that makes it hard for new people to "fit in"
    - executive team not at one page

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    let go of the past

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 3 people found this helpful  

    Good place, but watch your back

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I have been working at Walt Disney Animation Studios full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Good studio, good artists. There have been lots of new artists recently. It is headed in a better direction than it was in the past 10 years

    Cons

    tough to trust others and a bit secretive. Lots of backbiting and talk behind closed doors. A difficult work environment unless you have a network of friends within the system

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    It's a lot like high school

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Studio is full of top-notch artistic talent and it's great to rub elbows with the greats. Everyone is on a first name basis.

    Cons

    It's very clickish, like high school. Sometimes it's not enough to do a good job- you have to click with the right folks to get promoted.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Help your employees by teaching them and mentoring them. Tell them what they are doing right and what they can improve on and help them soar.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    OK

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Assistant in Burbank, CA
    Former Employee - Assistant in Burbank, CA

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Pros

    Working with such creative people.

    Cons

    No flexibility and career advancements.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    People won't stay just because they get to work for the mouse. Be more fair with benefits.

    Approves of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Fun, but fickle

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Pros

    The work itself is creative and enjoyable. The potential for long term employment is better since the projects are longer than the typical VFX house project.

    Cons

    Young, cheap talent is sought after. Age and experience is not highly regarded. You are only as good as your latest job. Of all the good qualities of an employee: speed, innovation, reliability, dedication, practicality, accuracy etc., etc, flash reigns supreme. The management can often be naive.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The greatest motivator for an artist (aside from salary!) is personal feedback that is specific and real from someone "in the know". General praise is generally void of any real meaning.

    Recommends
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 3 people found this helpful  

    From Software

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I have been working at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Pros

    There is a pretty good interaction between software and production, at least in some departments. Software gets to sit mixed in with production unlike some other studios. No one shares a desk but you do sometimes share offices, and sometimes have to work from a cubicle. The upside really is getting to work closely with the artists though and not being segregated as a separate unit that just releases software and is thought of as "those guys".

    Cons

    Production is still king. Even when it comes to areas where clearly they know little, and you know best, they will trump you and dictate the approach. It is always clear who is in charge and that can make things difficult when it comes to creating the best software for the job. The artist might always know what they want, but they might not always know how it should be designed, created, and delivered to them. Some things should be left to software to handle.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop cutting costs in software and technology while continuing to spend big money in production. It hurts morale that there are no perks left for the software group while there are weekly "happy hours" for production. It also hurts that there is "down time" with off-site fun activities for production but that time is always spent by software to "redouble our efforts" to get even more cool tools ready for production when they get back to work. Some equality in these perks and in down time (time to recharge) would go a long way to making everyone feel like they are on the same team.

  9.  

    All hail Pixar!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Burbank, CA

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Pros

    * You get a silverpass to the parks...if you're full-time non contract
    * Disney Animation is an awesome name to drop when talking to people not in the movie industry
    * Much better balance of work to life ratio then most studios/vfx houses
    * Got to love the history of the place!

    Cons

    * Since Pixar took over WDFA is pretty much the red headed step child.
    * Production is really click oriented. Skills are fine but connections are better.
    * With the production of money losing picture after money losing picture the moral isn't the best.
    * How long can WDFA survive without producing a picture that makes any money? Thus, most don't expect too many future opportunities at Southside (a reference for the real FA vets out there).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The stories coming out of WDFA are nowhere near the quality of the ones coming out of Pixar. Is it the legacy of Disney that constrains or is it the Story department?

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  10.  

    Disney continues to evolve. I have faith.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Manager, Technology
    Former Employee - Manager, Technology

    I worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios

    Pros

    Overall Disney is an enjoyable place to work, and I'd recommend it to you if you're interested. The company is well established, there are some of the best people in the world working there, and has a large amount of internal support for it's employees, including operations, training, technical support and human resources. Many people at Disney may not take advantage of all of these, but they are all there to make the company run smoothly. Benefits are better than average, including extras like a special annual educational reimbursement, tuition reimbursement, 401k, etc. Pay is good to mediocre, but not terrible (negotiate up front as much as you can, because pay raises are not normally very substantial since Disney Animation movies are not really making money). Overall, main benefits are:
    Great people (friendly and skilled), great films, good employee support structure, good benefits, humane enough hours

    Cons

    Disney's Animation division is the place where Walt himself started the company, by creating that well known cute little animated mouse we've all grown to love. Unfortunately, Disney today is an arm of a huge corporate megalith conglomerate multinational publicly traded media corporation, whose main purpose is to create IP for marketing, merchandising, theme park rides, and huge blockbuster hollywood animated films. Well, Disney has not been able to succeed at the "blockbuster" part (not even at profits that cover operating costs) for the last decade. This weighs heavily on the entire company, including executive management... especially since this is the place where Disney started! Pixar has done a fantastic job at generating IP for the company, though, pretty much replacing Disney Animation's role in this area from a marketing, merchandising and theme park perspective, and Pixar executives are now running Disney Animation as well. Disney Animation has gone from what was once purely born of creativity, inspiration, and the thrill to see new appealing characters come to life on the big screen, into what has been over-taken by the intense pressure to make profits by deploying strict corporate reporting hierarchies, flawed human resources practices, indecisive green-lighting and canceling of projects, nit-picking ideas stories and scripts until they are such vanilla fairy-tales so they differentiate from Pixar that they are no longer fun to watch and no longer edgy or applicable to today's audience, unable to establish a relationship with their own internal studio marketing group that will bring people into the box office, and even still some executives that don't know anything about animation. Pixar is at the reigns, though, now, (even though it's a part-time effort) and Ed & John continue to steer things into a much better direction, so hope still exists (but probably only for a few more unsuccessful films).
    Overall, all of the "corporate" things are to be expected, though, and are fairly easy to navigate, dodge and avoid so they don't get in the way of your everyday life - so long as you know about them in advance and can be on the offensive. If Disney Animation can start making grosses even close to what Pixar does from the films produced, they can win back the love of studio marketing, theme parks and merchandising (so the profits trickle across the divisions based on their IP) -- if they can do this, then I would predict a long and prosperous life for the place where Walt Disney himself breathed the first breath of life into the company. If they don't... well, that's anyone's call, and ultimately, who knows what the board of directors would decide in terms of various actions and how they could effect stock prices. It seems like more and more aggressive actions keep taking place from a strategic perspective. It will be really interesting to see how this unfolds with Dreamworks, Fox, Pixar, even Sony now, and almost every other company making animated films grossing more at the box office than the world-famous Disney Animation is able to do.
    Overall, main cons are:
    Meetings, bureaucracy, politics, internal power struggles, unsuccessful films cause project-hire mentality and lots of stress on internal corporate relationships as well as executives & managers, and, still there are some bosses that don't know what you are talking about that are making major decisions without much understanding of the subject

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep trying! Keep steering the company in the right direction. I believe Disney still is the leader of animation and still has the ability to earn back that title with today's audiences.

    Approves of CEO

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