Thursday, June 4, 2015
CG, 2D or Stop-Motion: is All Animation Created Equal?
Among animation fans this has lead to something of a backlash. So much so in fact that I've noticed a trend among some fans that they regard only 'traditional' animation (both 2D and stop-motion) as "true" animation. CG on the other hand is seen as a lesser medium, and is considered to be cheating somehow.
Don't get me wrong. I love traditional animation. In fact if I was forced to choose between the kinds of animation, 2D would always be my number one. And I'm not alone on that among our staff, as 2D is far way and the most written about style here on AFA. However that doesn't mean that computer animation is in any way a lesser art.
At the heart of this might often be a fundamental misunderstanding for how CG animation is produced. It's easy for anyone who's ever picked up a pencil to understand the hard work that goes into hand-drawn animation. The painstaking process of making stop-motion is also well documented. On the other hand CGI might as well be witchcraft. To an outsider it's hard to understand just how it's actually made. When it comes down to it, just because computers are involved some people believe that the machines do most of the work. It's fair to say that animators don't just press a big button marked 'animate' and sit back and watch the magic happen. Animators at Pixar, Dreamworks and all the other major CG studios work just as hard as any 'traditional' animator. What's more, most 'traditional' animation produced today employs the use of digital in some way- even in stop-motion.
The concept that 2D is somehow a 'lost art' is also not really accurate. Maybe major Hollywood studios are not producing it these days, but elsewhere it thrives. Japan's industry remains primarily two dimensional and wonderful work is being done in Europe by studios such as Cartoon Saloon and others. 2D lives on in the States meanwhile on television and in the web and independent scene. It's not remotely dead if you know where to look. In fact there's probably more being produced today than ever before.
There are suggestions of new 2D Hollywood-made features. Brad Bird and LAIKA have both expressed interest. And I'd be really surprised if John Lasseter allows 2D to stay dormant at Disney for much longer.
Ultimately though, it doesn't matter how animation is produced. Good animation is good animation, whether it's produced with computers or a pen, ink and paper. Computers are nothing more than another tool that animators can use to bring their ideas to life.
Posted by Chris Perkins
Chris writes about movies, games, TV and other stuff you love, and has written for places including MyM magazine, Rant Gaming, KillStreakMedia and Anime UK News. He particularly specialises in the field of animation and spends far too much time watching cartoons for a grown up. He regrets nothing. Follow him at @misterchristor.