The return of traditional animation, at least in the form
After a decade, 3D animation has gained the upper hand over traditional or semi-traditional. Just take cartoons as an example: nowadays, the majority are made in 3D, oftentimes poorly... It's quicker, costs less to produce and, unfortunately, this is what prevails in an audiovisual market which struggles to turn a profit. Episodes are mass-produced and a character modeled in 3D takes far less time to animate.
Too much 3D is killing 3D
3D is everywhere, employed at every available opportunity. I'm not referring to animated films in 3D, rather the basic 3D used in advertising: TV broadcast design, music videos, basically, everywhere in the motion design world. It has never been so easy to create something in 3D, even more so after the popularization of easy to use professional software such as Cinema 4D, and their associated tutorials. You only have to look at youtube where thousands of teenagers upload logos to identify their gaming parties, bursting out in 3D.
This is the natural progression! 5 years ago, kids would get hold of a pirate copy of Photoshop and quickly teach themselves the basics with the help of the tutorials found on sites such as psdtuts. 2 years ago, After Effects became the program to master in order to impress your friends, since Video is now the most often shared medium. Nowadays, it's all about 3D.
These 3 media previously the reserve of a professional elite are now available to everyone. Obviously, there are pro and cons to this. Knowledge is freely accessible and youngsters are able to learn quickly and at minimal cost. For me, this is a great improvement and it has allowed me, personally, to get to where I am today.
Coming back to my original point, there are disadvantages: the devaluation of simple 3D animations. Nowadays, a 3D logo breaking into pieces is no longer impressive, in fact it has become cliché. The same goes for simple physical simulations. And yet, it was really astonishing just a few years ago, when the big studios (who at the time were the only ones able to do this) used these animations in their demos. However, times change and so do the techniques.
The added value of being handmade
So, by what criteria do we now judge a good animation? By the true skill of animating. That which has been created by real manual keyframing, or by drawing frame by frame. Animations, which have not been created with click of a button or with the latest plugin that becomes popular.
These animations are exceptional, uniques, and their value is derived from the skill that has gone into making them. In an era when everyone wants everything quickly, it is really worth taking your time to work on something in order to get a real quality in your animation. Precisely because this takes time, lots of time!
This is also part of the problem, not all budgets allow for this...
Combining the best of both worlds
The best compromise is the approach taken by the majority of studios: take advantage of the ease of animation offered by the 3D software, whilst maintaining a style closer related to that of 2D, with a view to combine the two.
Modules such as Sketch'n'Toon in Cinema 4D can help to give a hand-drawn look to a 3D render, for example. This allows you to create your animations quickly, whilst the result maintains a warm, traditional feel.
The above-mentioned are known as semi-traditional animations. Semi, because they have been made with the help of digital devices and not by painting on celluloid, as Walt used to do it. The principle, however, remains the same! It being one of time and talent. Even though it may have been created with the help of After Effects, Photoshop, Flash, TV Paint or whatever, it is the end product that matters. The animation is alive, free from constraints, it has some flaws but this is what lends to its charm.
My family and the Wolf L
Le royaume L
A year of sun with Mr Persol L
Pernod Ricard / Elephant at Work asked our new directing duo Parallel to work on the title sequence of the cultural TV show Pernod Ricard.TV
The complete Animade Lernz L
Little Boat L
Clockwork Reel Intro L
Todur & Petru L
Après la pluie L
Chances are that 2D will regain its place in the world of motion design over the coming months and that can only be a good thing! For me, I'm going to reeducate and train myself, and perhaps you too will spend some time on tutorials for this particular type of animation (although this can be rather a delicate subject since the majority of the work comes from drawing and artistic direction rather than from the technology...) In any case, this is something of great interest to me and I hope that, perhaps, I have sparked a little interest in yourself, too. ;)
Want to go further? Other articles on the same topics:
Hey! Thank you for this article. I also had several conversations where the idea of rising the traditional animation in motion design came. It's really going to be a trend for the near future.
I made a Russian translation for your article for the russian motion design community, hope you don't mind :)
Agreed 100%! There are so many wonderful pieces coming out now, though. I realize I'm commenting 5yrs later than the original post but it's interesting to see the progression of 3D in such a short period of time.