Recently, I got this email from animator Terrence Walker at StudioArtFX. He does bring up some interesting points. However, I look at the proliferation of 2D animation on the internet and see a new frontier. One that hasn’t totally been exploited yet. With PBS stating that over 30% of children are finding their content on the internet, 2D may have found a new distribution market. The question becomes, how can artists and animators monetize from it to continue creating content? Can animators create television or film quality animation and distribute it through the internet in a cost effective and timely manner? Are skills being lost or are they transforming and adapting to a new medium of distribution?
What do you think?
Here’s Terrence’s editorial. And check out his tutorials and “anigen” shows at www.studioartfx.com
Miyazaki Was Right. 2D Will Die!
I was putting off writing this message because it makes me angry even to think about this issue. Then, someone went and posted a quote on Facebook that got me into wanting to write about this. I figured better here than in a comment which will be lost in a sea of meaningless traffic. The quote goes:
“…it’s important to keep passing it (knowledge and inspiration of 2D animation) on, even though there’s not a huge studio anymore – at least in this country, in the U.S., who does these kind of films – you never know where it’s gonna go.
Just going back to when I started at the studio in 1980, it looked pretty bad then, too. It looked horrible, because THE FOX AND THE HOUND came out, did okay business, BLACK CAULDRON flopped, and it looked horrible for 2D animation and they had meetings upstairs about folding the department then, in the early 80’s and so, to see it swing, and come back, in this glorious way, that we were all a part of – it was kind of surreal, that this actually happened, from almost dying to almost staging a full comeback, and it can happen again. I’m telling you, it can happen again.“ – Andreas Deja
Unfortunately it may very well NOT happen again. The reason won’t be because of the financial aspects. It will be because, as Miyazaki said, the skill to do so will be lost. Miyazaki believes it is already lost! He says most animation out there is garbage because the skill with the pencil is gone. How can this be true?
I was watching some modern anime films recently, and it suddenly hit me. Anything which would be even remotely difficult to draw is done in 3D cel shading now. ANYTHING. When was the last time you saw a car, bus or plane fully hand drawn? Compare that to Akira, in 1988, when everything, even the most detailed crumbling building, was hand drawn. These things are done in CGI now for time and cost saving reasons, I know, but the skill to draw it is being lost as a result. Yes, there are guys who can still do it, but they are all getting old. Is the skill being passed on?
Young people are learning 3D and going into games because 2D animation doesn’t pay well. You can’t even make a living wage working for a studio in 2D animation. You have artists living four to a room, packed like sardines into a box in a high rent district in Tokyo. Did you know even a successful director makes about the same as a minimum wage worker at McDonalds in the USA? They don’t own the rights nor profit from their creations after all.
For years, studios in Japan and the US have been outsourcing the “grunt work”, and it is sad that it is even considered grunt work, of 2D animation, to studios in Korea, and then China. Interestingly, we are seeing some incredible 2D skill popping up in China. In a recent trailer, I saw this amazingly detailed, fully hand drawn dragon that blew my mind. Unfortunately, it is already becoming evident that these movies can’t make money in the local market. College age students realise that you can’t get a job in this industry, and so everyone is learning 3D and going into games, where there is a new startup every few days. In the countries DOING the outsourcing, artists only need to focus on design, since the actual 2D animation work is being done elsewhere. As a result, the skill is being lost.
And then there is Flash.
I’m not even going to talk about that.
When you watch a film like Akira, I think there is a certain awe that comes with the knowledge that someone draw that amazing thing you’re seeing. Even though modern cel shading has gotten really good, and it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference, there is something missing when you watch it moving on screen. It’s that awe. The same as the difference between a 007 film, where the car stunt is real, versus a Fast and Furious film where it is obviously CGI, even though both LOOK very good.
Financial reasons cannot, of course, be ignored. People want to make money and put food on the table so they are going to learn the skills that are in demand or that can make some money. Studios expect a profit on the huge investment they put into making a film. 3D is now much much cheaper than 2D, at least in the higher echelons of quality, and excluding sweat shop labor. All of this is, however, leading to one result. Young people are not learning traditional 2D animation, and they have absolutely no reason to.
Audiences still love 2D, though, so what is one to do? THE INDIE will have to keep it alive. If you have a dream of making your own 2D animation project, make it now. There will be less and less competition.
Click here to learn how to get started: http://www.studioartfx.com
Catch up with you soon,
And Here it is. Having spent the last 3 years working for a company that produces training manuals and computer based training for the mining industry, this reel really doesn’t have any character animation in it. More of a demo reel demonstrating machines and props that I have modeled and animated.
Now to discuss the real issue….. LETTING GO! No, not Disney’s Frozen!
I don’t know how many times I have watched this and I still see something that I want to change. It is a never ending critique and eagerness to put out there the best you can. But if I did that it would never get released. there would always be something to change or add to it. As my beautiful wife told me tonight, as I was complaining about the lack of character animation in it, that my demo reel is fluid and always changing and being updated. I have to view it as a living thing, constantly growing and displaying different personalities and characteristics. Some might be good, others, not as good.
And yet, does it demonstrate that I know what I’m doing, that I can use the software to communicate ideas? Some of these animations have pretty complex models and rigs, and you are only seeing a snippet of the actual animated scenes and movies. Some of the training material that I animated were 20 – 35 minute pieces that I had to take from start to finish.
I always wonder after I finish a new reel, not if it is good, but if it is good enough? Let’s be honest here, a reel is to help you get work or a job. It’s a visual resume. Over the next few days I will constantly be haunted by the question “is my reel good enough to get me a job or freelance work?” It’s a question, I’m sure, all creative types have to deal with. Is it good enough? I might think it is when I get a call for a job or job interview, until then I won’t know.
And here we come to, probably, the most important part, I had a freaking blast making this little minute long beast!! I felt the passion, the drive, the love for a medium that has always dominated my life. I have been trying to get my web series “STARFISH” off the ground for a while now. Doing this reel has renewed my lust to see, what I have called, Sponge Bob meets Star Trek in an episodic series. If all goes well, I just might have a few episodes coming out in the near future.
And the greatest joy of this whole experience, was when my 4 year old son, Bane, wanted to sit next to me at the light table so he could “work on his animation with Daddy”. Maybe, it is just that. That moment when a little boy wants to work with his Daddy and do the thing that his Daddy loves doing. Maybe that is the answer. Is it good enough to get me a job or work? I don’t know. However, to that little boy, to have that moment to sit next to his father and share his love and passion, it is good enough.
I’m very excited to be working on a new demo reel that will include some new work that I’ve done at PAI inc. here in Tucson. I’m also going back to my roots and trying to produce some 2D material. Some test footage from my ongoing STARFISH project. I’m even contemplating taking the plunge into freelance work. I image that I’m going to be pretty busy in the next few weeks. However, I will enjoy it. I love animating, and getting a chance to produce my own material makes me giddy with joy.
Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Made with Blender, Gimp, Octane and Natron.
Thanks to Blackschmoll, Boby, Christophe, Clouclou, Cremuss, David, Félicia, Frenchman, Sozap, Stéphane, Virgil !
And Thanks to Ton Roosendaal, the Blender community, the developers of Blender, Gimp and Natron !
Check out this Interview with Flash Gordon Classic Creator Robb Pratt!! It is very inspirational!! Then go back and listen to the other Rubber Onion Podcasts! Great information on animation. Positive, funny, and upbeat, these guys are becoming one of the best animation podcasts that deal with independent and professional animation!
I’ve created a graphic resume, something a little bit different than the average run of the mill text on paper resume. I am trying to go for a retro 60’s -70’s feel, not sure that I succeeded but hey it’s the beta version. Just thought I would share since it’s been a while since I posted my own work up here.
Check out this story about illegal wage fixing in the animation industry. Even the bright colors of cartoons have a dark side!
I knew Frozen was a huge hit, but this is pretty amazing! A little boy with the powers to freeze like Elsa in Frozen!
Crazy, huh? 😛
With the current announcement that the studio that did the visual effects for the movie NOAH lost money on the contract and watching the following documentary about the state of the Visual Effects Industry I had to make a post. I’m outraged, upset, and just down right mad about what the movie industry is doing to the visual effects industry. I remember looking at issues of Starlog for hours just marveling at the visual effects shots and wanting to know how it was done and wanting to do that for a living. I’ve been working professionally in the animation industry for 15 years and, I can tell you, what I’m hearing about the visual effects industry is breaking my heart. As it is stated in the documentary, if something isn’t done there will be no more visual effects industry in the United States.
Please watch this in full! And support the people that make our blockbuster films special!
Wow! It’s taken me forever to get these episodes uploaded. Battling with sinus infections suck! Slowly my voice is coming back, so hopefully we will have some more episodes soon. Episode Six is all Will talking to the crew of the Project Sword Moonbase Central Blog. Toys and Sci Fi Television and movies, all the way from England! Enjoy!
Episode Seven is our rambling round up of 2013. And boy do we ramble on. I sound like I’m coming down from a meth amphetamine high and crashing bad! Seriously, this episode could be a drinking game you play with your friends, with how many times Will says “absolutely” and “excellent”, and how many times I say “awesome” and “um”. You’ll be drunk in no time! With that and the technical problems we were having should make this a rather interesting if not humorous episode. Good books mentioned, and good fan boy conversation.
As always please feel free to comment on anything we comment on, wither it is negative or positive, it is welcomed.
The 100th post! Yay!