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,
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.
I saw this today and was giddy with joy that some one actually did it in a fun Cartoon Network sort of style. Well played sir! Well played.
Thanks to Adam Hines and Andrew Murray over at the Guys With Pencils Podcast for talking with Adam Brown about his recent posting of his animation of Calvin and Hobbes and drawing attention to this excellent cartoon based on a speech Bill Watterson gave at a graduation in 1990. I thought this was very inspirational and a wonderful celebration of one of the greatest comic strips ever to be produced.
Thank you Bill Watterson! Thank you for the inspiration, the laughs, the joys and the tears when we had to say good-bye to these two beloved characters. And most importantly, Thank You for the book collections of Calvin and Hobbes, so I might share the joy you brought to me as a kid, to my son.
I had a great weekend with my little boy, going to Tombstone, His Grandparents, His Auntie Kim’s to celebrate my Nephew’s birthday, watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Veggie Tales and chasing him around laughing hysterically until he puked. I mean really Puked! With all this fun, I really didn’t have anytime to work on my puppet, so I’m feeling very guilty and a little blue. With that said, One of my favorite animated films in recent history is Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues. The style is fun and the story telling is so funny, different and interesting, I really think this movie deserves so much more. However, the story behind the film is just as interesting, and a learning lesson for all animators. Here’s some Wikipedia snippets:
Sita Sings the Blues is a 2008 animated film written, directed, produced and animated entirely by American artist Nina Paley (with the exception of some fight animation by Jake Friedman in the “Battle of Lanka” scene), primarily using 2D computer graphics and Flash Animation.
It intersperses events from the Ramayana, light-hearted but knowledgeable discussion of historical background by a trio of Indian shadow puppets, musical interludes voiced with tracks by Annette Hanshaw and scenes from the artist’s own life. The ancient mythological and modern biographical plot are parallel tales, sharing numerous themes.
And the troubles the movie had to go through …
The film uses a number of 1920s Annette Hanshaw recordings. Although the filmmaker initially made sure these recordings were not covered by US copyright law, a number of other copyright issues surfaced, including state laws prior to US federal copyright law on recordings, rights to the compositions and the right to synchronize the recordings with images. These recordings were protected by state commerce and business laws passed at the time in the absence of applicable federal laws and were never truly “public domain”. In addition, the musical composition itself, including aspects such as the lyrics to the songs, the musical notation, and products derived from using those things, is still under copyright.
Without a distributor, Nina Paley was unable to pay the approximately $220,000 that the copyright holders originally demanded. Eventually, a fee of $50,000 was negotiated. Paley took out a loan to license the music in early 2009.
In July 2011, Nina Paley made a protest video regarding the film’s deletion from YouTube in Germany due to what she regards as fraudulent take-down notice under the aegis of GEMA, Germany’s major performance rights or music collection organization, but which may be an instance of a larger on-going conflict regarding copyright and royalties between YouTube and GEMA.
On January 18, 2013, Paley announced that she has changed the Creative Commons license for the film from “CC-BY-SA” (the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-alike 3.0 Unported license) to “CC-0” (public domain); she made the ownership rights change in response to the continual red tape of rights procurement, even under the share-alike license.
And a quote from the late Roger Ebert
Film critic Roger Ebert on the Chicago Sun-Times enthused, “I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original. It brings together four entirely separate elements and combines them into a great whimsical chord… To get any film made is a miracle. To conceive of a film like this is a greater miracle.”
Here you go, sit back and enjoy the miracle of Sita Sings The Blues.
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
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.
In the early 70’s I used to run around the house slamming my terry cloth wrist bands together and transform into the mighty Samson. Then turn to my cat and once again slap my wrists together to turn him into Goliath. Well, here is a bevy of classic Hanna Barbera Cartoons to help you feel nostalgic.
Samson and Goliath:
And one of my Favorites – GODZILLA!!:
Check Out Godzilla: The Original Animated Series: The Breeder Beast on Hulu.
In searching for more information I posted on the CACANI Facebook page for more information and when this software might be released. I got a response:
|CACANi Animation also commented on their link.|
|CACANi Animation wrote: “The software is not yet available for sale. However there will be training centers where artist will be able to use it. The software will be available soon enough (will update when ready). Singapore, and China will be the first places where anyone interested can go to. There will be more official information on this matter as the plans materialize.”
My fragile little mind has just been blown apart! My reality shattered to tiny pieces! Today I stumbled upon a piece of software that takes 2D animation to a new level. No More Drawing inbetweens the computer does it for you!
WHAT?!!! YOU SAY!
Computer Assited Cel ANImation.
This is amazing. Speed up you work flow. Just draw two frames and let the computer complete the action. Then adjust the ease, and viola! Instant animation. I’m trying to find out more information about this but I have had no success thus far. If any one knows more about this software, where to get it, how much it costs, please, please, please, dear God please, let me know! Here are a couple videos so you can see it in action.