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Can the General Public Tell the Difference Between 2D animation and CG animation

Can the General Public Tell the Difference Between 2D animation and CG animation

Simpson’s artist
Luis Escobar raises this very question on his blog as a way of stimulating discussion
amongst the animation community. It’s a good point to raise, especially as
animated films dominate the box office and CGI is wholly dominant amongst
those.

Naturally, the
public was aware of the difference back when Toy Story was released. While it
was initially hoped that it’s groundbreaking nature would be enshrined in the
history books by way of its story, thus far, it is its CGI composition that has
governed instead.

That was back in
a different time though; hand-drawn animation was the dominant form, both
popularity and profit-wise. Today, it’s the opposite with CGI being dominant
and hand-drawn all but eliminated from the mainstream box office.

The point is
that with over 10 years of CGI films being released, we’re getting to a point
where people will soon know of nothing else, and associate ‘animation’ with
‘CGI’. Without some education, there is a real concern that hand-drawn
animation may cease to be recognised for its technical merits and instead be
judged on the quality of its story or plot.

Further blurring
the lines are animated TV shows that, while two dimensional, are CGI insofar as
their production through computers and software. Here, the general public has
neither want or need to distinguish between traditional and CGI animation.

Should we be
concerned that the general public is slowly confining hand-drawn animation to
the history books through blatant ignorance? Or does the lack of an ability to
distinguish lie at the feet of Toy Story, the film that has set the mould for
CGI features for the last 17 years?

This Article is related to: Features


Comments

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation type in 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc…These animations were right on the money and did need any more accuracy. Should we make a 3D version of Mona Lisa so that it could be much more accurate ???? Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both genres living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been bathed in 3D animation mostly. So their appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of a practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go through the same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation type in 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc…These animations were right on the money and did need any more accuracy. Should we make a 3D version of Mona Lisa so that it could be much more accurate ???? Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both genres living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been bathed in 3D animation mostly. So their appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of a practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go through the same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation type in 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc…These animations were right on the money and did need any more accuracy. Should we make a 3D version of Mona Lisa so that it could be much more accurate ???? Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both genres living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been bathed in 3D animation mostly. So their appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of a practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go through the same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation type in 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc…These animations were right on the money and did need any more accuracy. Should we make a 3D version of Mona Lisa so that it could be much more accurate ???? Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both genres living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been bathed in 3D animation mostly. So their appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of a practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go through the same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation type in 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc…These animations were right on the money and did need any more accuracy. Should we make a 3D version of Mona Lisa so that it could be much more accurate ???? Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both genres living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been bathed in 3D animation mostly. So their appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of a practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go through he same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation type in 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc…These animations were right on the money and did need any more accuracy. Should we make a 3D version of Mona Lisa so that it could be much more accurate ???? Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both genres living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been bathed in 3D animation mostly. So their appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of a practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go through he same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation type in 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc…These animations were right on the money and did need any more accuracy. Should we make a 3D version of Mona Lisa so that it could be much more accurate ???? Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both genres living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been bathed in 3D animation mostly. So their appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go through he same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation type in 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc…These animations were right on the money and did need any more accuracy. Should we make a 3D version of Mona Lisa so that it could be much more accurate ???? Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both genres living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been bathed in 3D animation mostly. So there appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go through he same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation in the 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc… Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been only bathed in 3D animation mostly. So there appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go through he same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Jacques Muller

Being personally a 2D Animation lover, I have to admit that 3D features like Tangled are probably the best there is in terms of 3D Character Animation for Features. I personally prefer the Human animation in the 101 Dalmatians (1961). I once tried to voice my frustrations to see the 2D animation niche reduced to almost nothing, during a Forum in Angouleme France. The guy next to me ( a studio head) told me: -" But 3D is so much more accurate!"). Probably this guy never saw Shere Kan animated by Milt Kahl or Medusa or Sir Hector?, etc… Anyhow, 3D is here to stay. I personally love 3D in films like the new Planet of the Apes. That's remarkable! But why can't we have both living side by side; merging into one another from time to time? It seems that there are some people who have absolutely no clue if there are actually watching 2D or 3D. This never ceases to amaze me; pretty much like the first audiences watching the Lumiere Brothers' "Arrivee d'un train a la Ciota" (arrival of train in la Ciota) shot around 1896. Despite the crudeness of that black & white jittery early film, people ran out of the tent in terror, believing that this was a real train heading full speed toward them. Is History repeating itself? Are some people really incapable of telling one from the other ? I for one perfectly understand that kids today have been only bathed in 3D animation mostly. So there appreciation of the artistic side of a Milt Kahl animation is nil. They can't recognize beautiful Art when they see it. I don't blame them for that. But it pains me to see that this kind of Art is gradually falling in derelict because some executives out there have decided to pull the rug under it. History happens in cycle. 3D was the rebirth of practically dead genre: Stop Motion animation at a higher octave. That genre nearly died in the 70s. Let's hope that the beauty of 2D Character Animation will go throught he same rebirth. Done well, it's too beautiful to disappear completely.

Don

BTW for the guy that wrote this article. Ever heard of company called "Studio Ghibli". They still make Hand Drawn Animated Films last time I checked. Too bad you forgot to mention that in your article.

Mark

Believe it or not I've been asked a number of times (when I mentioned I had worked at Disney) "Oh, so you draw Toy Story?" Nuff said.

JcoolArts

I think both mediums have earned respect and with just cause for each their own selling points.
Cgi IS a decent medium. For the general audience, most can discriminate it from 2d. Hand drawn 2D can have random grains, and subtleties only a hand-wielded tool could make.
I find increasingly easy to discriminate between the two. And when it comes to cgi-2d, you can always tell when puppeteering is being over-used.
2d is less profitable obviously, but so long as their are people who are willing to make it, their will be an industry for it that cannot be ignored.
Just like the beatles, george washington, and film itself, 2D animation is imprinted into the eternal populous. I think there is alot of confusion, especially for those just starting out, in how the industry really is. Many animators will turn to doing layout work, or some other branch of the industry. Or..others might quit..and quitters never prosper.

Once you quit your dream, you'll regret forever.
And if 2d is your dream, then do it. Even if not one studio for 2d is open, that just means that the way is clear for you to start up your own without competition.
The mere talk of something going out of style can kill it though, so I wish people would just calm down about the whole thing.

Michael Grabowski

Silent films vs. talkies.
Black & white vs. color.
Film vs. digital projection.
Hand-drawn vs. CGI.

It's the inevitable outcome of technological growth ennabling a new approach to making movies that ultimately becomes more profitable, while the newer generation of viewers comes to think of the older approaches as less preferable, making them less profitable and less likely to continue being made.

Personally my biggest concern is that before long 2D (animation or live action) will cease to be an option for theatrical viewing in favor of the higher-priced 3D ticketed versions.

Hom

Is handdrawn animation being regulated to TV really a bad thing?

I still don't get how people still think TV is considered secondary to Movies. When it hasn't really been the case for years now. Give me shows like The Sopranos, Mad Men, Dexter, Homeland, The Americans, etc. Over most of the movies that come out in theaters any day.

If this is Hand Drawn Animations future than so be it. Just give me quality shows like Legend of Korra and lets start from there.

PKN

I think that indeed people now associate 'hand-drawn' animation (whether it was completed via a Wacom tablet or a Steno pad) as being something lesser. One of my best friends insulted me gravely when she wanted to watch a film from my vast animation collection but insisted it be stop-motion or CG because hand-drawn was 'too flat' and therefore 'too boring' for her.

While I have a nerdgasm when I learn a hand drawn movie was completed with pencil and paper over stylus and software, I do not discriminate between the two – if the characters are expressive, backgrounds detailed, foregrounds lush – I am happy regardless of if the method of execution was more 'traditional' or more 'modern.'

I cannot often tell whether a hand-drawn animated film was drawn on computer or drawn on sketchbook.

I do think that as stop-motion films become more sophisticated and have gone digital, they have become harder to distinguish from CG. Especially with rapid-prototyping of faces and other developments. Once upon a time you could see the fingerprints and imperfections on clay characters, but now with silicone everything is much more clean, sleek. There was definitely a huge jump in polish between Selick's 'The Nightmare before Christmas' and 'Coraline.'

While I find stop-motion films to be more organic, and can definitely discern the layers of flesh from fabric from props — I fear the uninformed public may have thought 'ParaNorman' or 'FrankenWeenie' were just CG films.

I do think it is unfortunate that someday children may grow up with a belief that CG is the animation style worthy of cinemas, while handrawn is only suitable for TV. However, if parents continue to show their children Disney films as they always have (and hopefully some Ghibli films, too – won't hold my breath most parents are educated enough about animation to show anything else such as some Soyuzmultfilm pictures) — if they continue to do this, maybe children will have a respect for hand-drawn animation.

Personally, maybe I am delusional, but I believe I have become quite attuned to picking out any CG among a hand-drawn film even when it is cel-shaded CG. I often watch hand-drawn shows or features and can spot the few seconds of CG for a vehicle or a building, etc. — when most people probably would never be able to perceive the difference. It's my superhero power. ;)

Aaron

"Without some education, there is a real concern that hand-drawn animation may cease to be recognised for its technical merits and instead be judged on the quality of its story or plot."
Wait, why is this a bad thing? Of course movies should be judged based on the quality of their stories.

NicKramer

Dated, phooey. I still find "Toy Story" a nice film despite it limitations at the time. I do hope tradintional animation will come back. Not only because it would be a change of pace, but also I won't have to read as many sour comments about CGI.

Robert Fiore

I recall a world where the plural of medium was media, but that just shows you how old I am. I suspect that the younger people of today think of 2D animation as the cheap kind they do on television. Or as something the Japanese do. It's a dirty shame because the expressive capacity of 2D animation far exceeds that of CG. What one hoped of computer animation would be that it would bring down the cost of animation to where more risks can be taken. To the contrary, we now have the worst of both worlds; every animated feature is a huge industrial undertaking which will ruin a studio if it fails, so animated features are trapped in a lock step of low risk lowest denominator themes and plots, with any creativity at the margins. The other great problem is that the rest of the animated feature business abandoned artistic ambition to Pixar, and now Pixar has abandoned it too. Monsters University is the worst picture they've ever made, worse than the Cars movies.

Matthew Koh

You know, I kinda wish for a world where everyone treated and respected all animation mediums equally.

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