Shaq is obviously part of the fairly beloved Inside the NBA crew, and this week he’s been in the news after a little back-and-forth with Kobe Bryant.
Last night, though, he tweeted out a message crowdsourcing animation for his upcoming TNT show Shaq Life, a video which TNT also posted on YouTube.
Are you an animator or artist? Visit https://t.co/UnY2lbSeBB to download one of my stories and use it as the inspiration for an original cartoon that YOU draw to life. If selected, you’ll be awarded $500 and your animation will be shown on my new show, Shaq Life. Good luck! pic.twitter.com/l4wo6CBNSp
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) August 28, 2019
In essence, Shaq wants artists to go to the site, listen to a story, and then create an entire animated cartoon around that story (in less than a month!), and then submit it back so the show can use it. For the reward of $500 and the age-old promise of exposure. Although actually, Shaq promises a bit more in the ad:
“Submit your submissions by Friday, September 20th. That’s right animators. I’m gonna make you famous.”
Is that fame offer a binding one? Because “get one cartoon into an upcoming episode of Shaq Life is probably not the easiest way for an aspiring animation artist to become famous. Nor is doing that kind of work for $500! Creating a cartoon is time-consuming, even in the modern world of digital design. There’s a reason the show isn’t just paying real animators, and it’s not because of some kind of altruistic desire to elevate up-and-coming animators. If it were, they’d have announced it more than a few weeks ahead of time, and they would be offering more than $500.
Update: After the backlash, Shaq upped his offer to $10,000:
To all my animators out there, I heard you. I love your work and want you to feel the love. If your cartoon is selected, you’ll be awarded $10,000 and your animation will be shown on my new show, Shaq Life. Can’t wait to see what you got! https://t.co/TKzJu2kWWm pic.twitter.com/BZEaaoSB8S
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) August 29, 2019
Here’s some of the backlash that helped prompt this change.
Ummm can't y'all see he's being generous here???? HE'S GONNA MAKE US FAMOUS
— 👹Goblin Wife👹 (@Driiadi) August 29, 2019
— oh (@erkImWw) August 29, 2019
Shaq, I’m a fan, and I know you probably don’t understand animation costs, so here’s a website to help you. $500 is insulting. https://t.co/dlpE3Z01Ni
— Lawrence Becker (@SamplerTimes) August 28, 2019
$500 will buy about 30 seconds of a cheap animator's runtime. I can and have been paid more for doing single still images in a day or two.
— idjit melange (@MintPossum) August 29, 2019
im on twitter dot com n shaqs tryin to get me 2 do un paid work ahhhhhh (dats me yellin)
— Chutley Wrungus (@Ostkex) August 28, 2019
So, yeah, that’s not a great look. Just pay some professional artists what they deserve; trying to undercut things like this not only solicits underpaid labor, but takes a job opportunity away from animators or studios who actually do this for a market rate. And while shifting to $10,000 (20 times the original deal) is much better, there’s still some deserved criticism here for how Shaq approached this.
Whether anyone actually takes them up on it or not remains to be seen. As does Shaq Life, although based on the likely quality of crowdsourced animation with a three-week deadline, it’s going to remain unseen by most people for a long time.
[Image: screenshot, TNT/Shaq]