Two weeks ago, we showcased a tribute video celebrating the legacy of hand-drawn animation and championing those who are still in favor of the medium.
Judging from the reaction on that article and the reaction to our Hullabaloo article, there is no doubt a strong portion of the animation community still believes in the mainstream resurrection of 2D animation.
But for all the arguments and testimonials in favor of the ‘2D comeback’, there’s still an important question that needs to be asked: what are the specific reasons for why 2D animation has fallen out of favor? What exactly is stopping the big studios (Disney, DreamWorks, Pixar, etc) from simply doing hand-drawn features again?
As always, we leave it to an industry expert to give us the answer.
In a recent post on The Animation Guild blog, Steve Huelett was kind enough to let a former Disney animation veteran give his opinion as to why the big leagues have abandoned hand-drawn animation.
He starts off simply by giving what is sure to be a heavily debated answer: that hand-drawn features are simply harder to produce.
He continues on by explaining why that is:
I’ve worked on CG features and I’ve worked on hand-drawn features. And hand-drawn features are harder to make. Hand-drawn cartoons take a year to produce. Once you’ve produced sequences, it’s hard to change the work. You have to go back and do everything over.
He then begins to extrapolate on the relative ease of CG animation (here he gives out a few plausible explanations for why it’s now the industry norm):
But with CG, you can animate the movie in three or four months, change things close to the release date. You can’t do that in hand-drawn animation. If you find out the story doesn’t work when you’re two-thirds done, you’re stuck. With CG, we change the story and rework sequences until late in the process.
He ends by making an interesting comparison while comparing the ease of production between the two mediums:
It’s close to live-action in that way. You can rework until late in the production. With hand-drawn animation, the plot, action and dialogue has to be locked down way earlier, or the picture won’t get done in time for its release.
While CG is no less challenging and/or difficult in its own right, hand-drawn animation seems to be viewed as (from a production standpoint) a much rougher process that takes up time and offers little in the way of do-overs. While this may only provide one piece of the answer, it nonetheless reveals a great deal behind why 2D animation is no longer favored by the industry giants.
On the flip side, 2D animation is very much alive everywhere else. And as Song of the Sea director Tomm Moore points out, it’s (oddly enough) free to evolve on its own and free to redefine what it can be capable of.
On a final note, who’s to say that technology won’t assist in the evolution of hand-drawn animation?
What do you think? Is he right about the benefits of CG vs hand-drawn? Are you still in favor of a 2D comeback?
Edited by: Kelly Conley