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It’s Time To Admit That 2-D Animation Does Not Need ‘Saving’

It's Time To Admit That 2-D Animation Does Not Need 'Saving'

This is a
problem that has persisted
for years; over a
decade even, and has been
regurgitated so often
that it is now
considered fact. Yes,
it is the concept
that 2-D animation (read:
traditional, hand-drawn animation)
is ‘dying’.

 

Why use the
word ‘dying’ though. It
conjours up images of
a worn and feeble
art style, struggling to
stay on its feat
like the champion boxer
who, eight rounds in,
has taken just about
all the punches he
can and staggers around
the ring in a
foggy daze, unsure of
where his opponent is
or even how to
even hit back. In
this case, CGI is
the up and coming fighter, and
is getting ready to
deliver the one knockout
punch.

 

Except that it
can’t, it just can’t
seem to land in
the right spot. Traditional
animation continues to
duck and weave despite
what the mainstream press
will have you believe,
and what many thought
at the turn of
the millennium.

 

Yet what plenty
of media outlets would prefer to believe
is that the judge’s bell is ringing loud and clear when they
reported on a crowdsourcing
campaign for a 2-D
animated production. Practically
every one made light
of the need to
‘save’ 2-D animation or
at least stave off its untimely death.

 

You could chalk
it up to marketing-speak
(plenty of people will cough up to save a dying anything),
but it conveys a
terrible inaccurate picture of
both the industry and
the artform. It’s 2014
and 2-D animation is
thriving! It dominates
TV and the web
and the most innovative
and creative features are
no longer CGI, they’re
2-D.

 

Switch on any
TV station with animation
and 2-D is more
than likely what you’ll
find. Any Sunday on
FOX will have the
traditional look that
was established with The
Simpsons and continues all
the way through to
the forthcoming Borderlands.
Both Cartoon Network and
Disney have stayed with
2-D for their bigger
shows and even Nickelodeon,
which dabbled with 3-D
CGI has come back
around to 2-D for
hits like Legend of
Korra. Interestingly, newcomers
such as the TBS without
an animated history decided
to pursue the 2-D route
as well. Comedy Central
even increased their animated
presence with a revival
of Futurama, and original
show Brickleberry. While many are no longer drawn on paper
and cels, they are still drawn by hand to a greater extent than 3-D CGI or
Flash.

 

The web is,
for want of a
better word, awash with
2-D animation in just
about any shape and
size you can imagine.
It’s the de facto
style for the simple
reason that’s it cheap
and quick to produce.
Who knew; 2-D animation
is flexible! True plenty
of it lacks finesse
and quality execution, but
the more expensive shows
like Bravest Warriors hint
that 2-D animation will
continue to play a
role as the medium
develops.

 

What about features
though? They are, after
all, the format that
the articles and detractors
seem to take aim
at. Traditional animation does
not dominate the way
it used to, right?
Well yes, but there
is a good reason
for that: it has
competition! Traditional,
2-D animation dominated for
so long because it
was the most viable
solution both creatively and
economically.

 

Once Pixar proved
that CGI was viable,
its prevalence increased, and  while it
currently dominates, that
doesn’t mean that 2-D
is dying. The potential
contenders for the
Best Animated Feature Oscars
contains two traditional
films (Song of
the Sea
, and The
Tales of Princess Kaguya
)
in addition to the
stop-motion Boxtrolls. While
they are the minority,
they are they ones that are pushing the artistic boundaries of
animation these days.

 

It’s time to finally shake off the
lingering aftertaste and indigestion of the Disney renaissance and look forward
to a much more varied future where both technological and creative films can be
possible and popular. There’s a few more rounds in this fighter yet.

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