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.
Finally, the 2D animation software CACAni that in betweens your keys for you has been released! Compared to other 2D animation software, price wise, it is a steal! Currently, a promo price of around $167.00 US makes this software a must have. Made to create cel style digital animation and to increase productivity for the artist, CACAni does some amazing things. Understanding CACAni’s workflow is important to getting the inbetweens to work right. Creating strokes in the right order and right direction makes auto inbetweening easy and fast. The smart paint feature lets you paint one frame and then the software will paint the other frames in the sequence with a push of a button! There are other tools that make the automation of the animation fast and efficient. CACAni Amazingly gives the ability for a small number or even one person to create a full feature film! This software could possible revolutionize the 2D animation industry. I can see the internet erupt with 2D animation made amazingly fast and with full feature quality, not the “flash” minimalistic quality we have come to expect from animation created for the net. Get it! And show the world what you can do, fast and with television or feature film quality! Then let me know what you think of CACAni!! Go to:
Check this out! Independent Horror, Scifi and fantasy films now have a way to afford visual effects! Watch and be amazed!
We all know about the free 3d software called Blender. It actually is a very good alternative to high end 3d programs like Maya or Cinema 4d. I’ve used it from time to time and once you get the shortcut keys down you should be doing some amazing stuff with it. There is a huge user base and tons of tutorials for you on the internet as well as a plethora of books and videos out there. My wife sent me the following link. Check it out. You might be surprised.
I saw this a while ago and was blown away at the amazing cheapness, the poor acting, the WTF moments, and the very cool use of stop motion animation. I immediately got on the phone and call my friend Will and told him that this movie had got to be the worse movie ever made or an absolute amazing piece of brilliant cinematic genius! I endured multiple comical derogatory comments from my wife while watching Manborg, yet I had to watch this train wreck, or piece of magnificent art. Will watched it, and could not take his eyes off it. You have to watch it all the way through. Even to this day I can’t get the image of this film, that was burned on to my retinas, out of my head.
From Wikipedia: “Production began in 2009, with approximately one year of filming followed by two years of post-production. Chroma key backdrops were used for most filmed scenes. Production costs were approximately $1,000 (CAD).”
So When I saw it was on Hulu I knew I just had to post it for the world to see. I present to you, so you may judge for yourself, the magnificence of Manborg!
Anyone who has listened to The Secret Space Base Podcast or have read my rants here or on the 21st Century Stop motion Facebook page, know how passionate I feel about animators not working for “Free”. We are trained professional artists, who have gone through training and schools like every one else to learn how to do the things we do. And yet constantly we are taken advantage of by people who want us to do something for free. Would you ask a carpenter to build you a house for free just to get the experience and because it would look good on a resume? Of course not! so why would you do that to an animator? I won’t go into it here, I’ll let angry Hitler express the frustrations of running an animation studio.
From Cartoon Brew:
“Creating free animation for companies has never worked out for anybody, not even Hitler. Animator Dennis Sisterson imagines the downward spiral of the German dictator’s animation studio after his company agrees to produce a music video without being compensated.”
On this episode of the Secret Space Base Podcast we talk with the Amazing Ron Cole! Our first guest and we out did ourselves this time. We talk to Ron Cole about stop motion animation, practical effects, Puppets, Muppets, Ray Harryhausen, Monsters, In the Fall of Gravity, and being on the cover of CineFX magazine! Wow! You are going to like this one!
Secret Space Base Episode4
Ron’s Animation Reel
Sinbad The 5th Voyage
In the Fall of Gravity
I have found Ralph Bakshi to be very inspirational because he shares such insights and emotions with his experience in the animation industry. I admire Ralph because he is so candid, his stories are not all warm and fuzzy. They are real life, in the trenches, stories of the difficulties and struggles of being an animator. Watch, listen, and be inspired by the wizardry of a force of nature in the animation industry! CAUTION: SOME MATERIAL IS NSFW
ComicCon (I was there, and was blown away by Ralph because he echoed my thoughts!)
Fire and Ice
Ralph Bakshi Interviews