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.
Dreamworks has been working on updating a classic cartoon that I use to watch as a little tike. It doesn’t have the Mr. Peabody’s voice or Sherman’s curious attitude, and it looks like they have introduced a girl character to give it appeal to a wider audience. However, with the voice talents of Ty Burrell, Patrick Warburton, Mel Brooks, and Stanely Tucci, it might just have some serious funny moments. However, Ariel Winter who plays Penny, did not impress me at all as Robin in the The Dark knight Returns, but we will have to see how her performance works here. Directed by Rob Minkoff, who has the Lion King and Stuart little under his belt adds some serious clout to this production. And it’s pretty darn cute!
Here’s a little gem for you!
I grew up reading and being inspired by the articles in a magazine called STARLOG. Especially, issue 8, which had the lost city set from Land of the Lost and an animator animating “Grumpy” on the cover. I read that issue over and over and over again. Well, now you can read it too, because STARLOG is on internetarchive.org! Here’s the link:
If you are a student or even a freelance artists you need to see this and heed his words. I’ve even seen professionals low ball themselves. Really?!! Don’t let others bully you around . You as an artist are worth much more than that. Be proud and stand up for your talent.
This is a must see! The VFX industry is trying to create a union and a global trade organization to address the issues that plague the effects community.
Here they talk about the issues and creating a union. This could cause ripples through out the entire industry. These are the guys that make your summer block busters look good. What do you think? Should they unionize? Check this out, this is serious and could impact the entire animation community.
Well, It looks like Disney is cleaning house and stopping production on the Clone Wars animated series as well as the proposed live action series to create a new series taking place in a time frame that is unfamiliar to audiences, or recreate a star wars series. Personally I like the idea. The movies are dealing with the original characters let’s see something different. What do you think?
The last episode?:
Television, video games and feature films are not the only fields that require animation. Medical, forensic, e-learning, and even industrial animation are all fields that are growing and demanding animation. As an animator you can making a living working in an alternative field for animation. It doesn’t have to be just feature films. I work for a company that produces e – learning materials for the mining industry through out the world. They are moving into new territory and are using animation and 3D graphics to help illustrate the training materials. I thought I would take a moment and share our demo reel with everyone. This is a compilation of animations and interactive simulations using the Unity Game Engine and flash that I put together. The animations were created by Brad Beam and myself.
While roaming the notorious World Wide Web I starting thinking about possible projects and how I can fund them to get them out. Wouldn’t it be freakin’ awesome to be able to animate your own stuff full time and get payed for doing it?! Not getting political, because that isn’t what this blog is about, but recently While driving home from work I heard a very disturbing story by a caller on the radio. I was so touched by this guys story that I immediately thought “DAYUM! This would make a very interesting, intense and emotional animated movie. Done as a documentary in the style of Waltz With Bashir. If you haven’t seen Waltz With Bashir you need to go watch it, NOW! Go on, it’s only an hour and a half movie, I’ll wait right here for you. Here’s the trailer…. Oh, and you can find the full movie on youtube as well.
Ok, back to funding, So I started searching for how i could fund such a project. I stumbled upon a Loyola Marymount University page that listed a bunch of sites for funding, which I will reproduce for you here. It’s all public information so I’m sure they won’t mind. Check out the links maybe they might help you as an artist, animator, or filmmaker to get your projects done. Here you go, from the Loyola Marymount University website;
National Endowment for the Humanities
Planning and Scripting Grants
NEH supports television documentary programs or historical dramatizations that address significant figures, events, or developments in the humanities and draw their content from humanities scholarship. Projects must be intended for national distribution during prime time hours, whether on public television, commercial television, or cable networks. There are a number of funding opportunities available in this discipline such as the NEH PLANNING GRANTS which can be used to draft a treatment and the SCRIPTING GRANTS which can be used to prepare a script or detailed treatment.
The National Endowment for the Arts
The media arts — film, radio, and television — encompass a variety of genres including narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated film as well as video and audio art. The National Endowment for the Arts is committed to encouraging the artists and organizations that participate in advancing and preserving the media arts, and to supporting the production of media art works that celebrate the arts; visual arts, music, dance, literature, design, theater, musical theater, opera, folk & traditional arts, etc., in an engaging and creative manner.
The Roy W. Dean Foundation
Film and Video Grants
The foundation want films that are unique and make a contribution to society. They fund compelling stories about little known subjects, historical films and films that touch hearts. They like films that expose and bring important information to light; they are story-tellers and that is the main criteria for entering and winning our grants, stories that can change and stories that can heal and enrich our lives.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)
Academy Film Scholars Program
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) established the Academy Film Scholars Program in 2000 to stimulate and support the creation of innovative and significant works of film scholarship about aesthetic, cultural, educational, historical, theoretical, or scientific aspects of theatrical motion pictures. Each applicant must propose a new work in the English language encompassing some aspect of theatrical motion picture art, science, commerce, history, or theory. Proposed projects may be books, multimedia presentations, curatorial projects, DVD-ROMs, or Internet sites.
California Council for the Humanities
California Documentary Project Production Grant
The PRODUCTION GRANT of California Documentary Project supports the work of experienced radio producers and filmmakers that bring to light compelling stories and explore issues related to California’s past, present and future. The Council is particularly interested in projects that can be used to spark community discussion.
California Council for the Humanities
California Documentary Project Research and Development Grant
The RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT GRANT of the California Documentary Project enables experienced film makers and radio producers to develop projects that explore issues related to California’s past, present and future. California Documentary Project Research and Development Grants cover a wide range of activities, including meetings and individual consultation with humanities scholars, field and archival research, preliminary interviews, and preparation of program treatments.
California Council for the Humanities
Youth Digital Filmmakers
The mission of the California Council for the Humanities is to foster understanding between people and encourage their engagement in community life through the public use of the humanities. The YOUTH DIGITAL FILMMAKERS PROGRAM will involve teens from a variety of communities in making short films about what they see and experience. Award-winning filmmakers and humanities scholars will guide the teens’ efforts.
Creative Capital Foundation
Visual Arts and Film/Video
Founded in 1999, Creative Capital acts as a catalyst for the development of adventurous and imaginative ideas by supporting artists who pursue innovation in form and/or content in the performing and visual arts, film and video, and in emerging fields. FILM/VIDEO may include experimental documentary, animation (including vector animation), experimental film/video, non-traditional narrative (in all formats), and interdisciplinary projects. VISUAL ARTS may include painting, sculpture, works on paper, installation, photo-based work, contemporary crafts, public art and interdisciplinary projects.
There are many more out there. If you know of any that might help other artists, please reply and post them. I’m sure i’ll be finding more and posting them up.