Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why Flash absolutely stinks

So, because budgets have reduced with Flash, stuff can be produced at home. Good, eh? Yes, but the huge problem is that, in each of these steps, budgets have been reduced. And reduced. And reduced.

And reduced some more.

When limited animation was used to cut budgets, it must have been quite a similar scenario. Okay, so the quality wasn't the same as full animation but you can still get really entertaining animation from limited techniques if the right people are doing it. Just like Flash now.

But what happened to limited animation?

Before long, it was shipped to the Far East. The craft of animation was soon seen as almost a production nuisance. More than that, budgets fell and the craft was severely devalued. Animators who had spent years honing their skills found it tough to get work and, when they did, they were being paid less for it. Many people had to leave the animation industry for good.

And now, people are celebrating the fact that Flash can allow people to produce stuff at home. But, in the process, it has once again devalued the craft. And how long do you think it's going to be before all Flash animation is shipped to the Far East for even less? Honestly? It's already happening and once more facilities are all up and running, there isn't a producer on this planet who won't take advantage of the cheaper production. Animation will vanish once more and the craft will have lost so much value that, if you could find work, you'd be lucky to make minimum wage.

That's the future of animation. Once again.

So, yes, it's allowing some projects to get going that otherwise wouldn't have been greenlit. But the lowering of budgets also means that many projects that would have been funded before will now not get funded. A cheap-shit Flash show will get off the ground way easier than a high-quality production. The animation will vanish, the work of animators devalued.

That stinks.


Mitch Leeuwe said...

Maybe does the internet offers a chance. I mean online commercials, webgames and stuff. That sort stuf is made by small advertisement company's. You can earn money with that.
Maybe it is a chance to bring shorts back?

Lol, some funny post about flash on cartoonbrew

Bitter Animator said...

Thanks for the pointer to that cartoonbrew post, Mitch. That should lead to some interesting discussion.

Andy Latham said...

It certainly does suck!

I common phrase amongst animation enthusiasts is "it's the story that counts". While that may be true, we shouldn't forget about who is telling the story.

I guess it's like a motivational speech being read out by a really boring person in a monotone voice. It just doesn't work!

Mr. Trombley said...

Dear Sir, personally I wonder if the problem (as to the business) is a lack of entreprenuership. Disney's Ub Iwerks actually invented a great deal of mechanical equipment to work on, for instance building an early multiplave camera out of a primative camera and chevy auto parts.

The analouge today would be animators getting up and building a computer system (software and hardware) designed from the ground up to animate by themselves.

There are two steps (or as I call them "flaws") to enact this theory, the first is to find an Iwerks, an experienced animator with technical know-how and inclination to enact this. The second flaw is finding a Disney, an entreprenuer willing to risk a short term loss for a long term gain.

The second step is the essential difficulty. Executives are infamously conservative in their idea for markets. Psychologically, the primary motivation of executives is to minnimize risk rather than maximize gain, causing illogically cautious behavior.

Take, for example, Palo Alto Research Center(or PARC, at the time owned by Xerox) invented nearly everything that makes up modern computers (laser printing, ethernet, object oriented programming, mice, GUI, WYSIWYG), but the executives dissmissed the inventions believing that what the market wants is old goods, but faster. This kind of behavior and mentality is typical.

Ron said...

I just saw this blog today, and WOW, I love it!!! I've been using Flash for 10 years now, and have been involved in television animation productions for 8 years straight now, all using Flash, trying to use in a way to make it look as classically animated as possible.

Your rants to me are like you've been able to dive deep into my mind and put into words exactly how I've been feeling for 8 years.

I love Flash to death, my first job out of college was in Flash even though I was totally traditionally trained on paper, and when I started using Flash for full blown production work it was exactly what I sub consciously thought was missing with the 2D animation industry (even though I was very inexperienced and had no clue what I was doing at the time). For me personally I loved everything about the process of designing, creating developing, animating, cleaning painting my animated characters but couldn't stand the slow pencil testing process and the frustration in revising your own work at times.

With Flash and it's vector art and easy-edit-ability functions to scale, zoom, quickly fix lines and instantly render a line test was just the thing I was looking for to solidify my eternal relationship with animated cartoon production.

But now I totally realize how very GOOD and very BAD Flash has been for the industry as a whole.

It has brought work back to the studios, studios can now do everything again in-house from concept to completion, from designs and boards to final ink and paint all with Flash and Wacom Tablets. But just as you've said, PRODUCERS have seen this as an excuse to drastically reduce budgets across the board. Here I am in a small town in easter Canada, and in the last 8 years budget shave dropped to half as much as they were just 8 years ago, only because Producers caught on to the fact that they can give revisions at every stage now cause 2D-computer generated cartoons "must" be obviously easier to edit and completely overhaul now and MUST be much cheaper since computers do all the work now.

A friend of mine anonymously started this blog up:
It has some similarities with yours.

It depresses me how the fact that producers expect 26 half-hour episodes to be completed in 9 months now, that's everything from designs/boards to final post production, when 8 years ago a season was only 13 episodes in the same amount of time.... that alone cause mass chaos amongst a Flash animation studio.

So Flash has made it possible for animators to actually animate again(in the Canadian Television Animation System that I am familiar with). When before it was all sent over-seas and you were lucky if you got a job in the animation industry compositing, or boarding or doing character or BG layouts, you rarely had the chance to fully (or limitedly) animate your character animation scenes. Thanks to Flash it's cheaper, therefore animators can be taken advantage of by producers, Canada has become the new "over-seas" but budgets are lower and when I arrived in the biz 8 years ago, 20-25 seconds per week per animator was the norm, now it's 60 seconds per week minimum for the same salary. Traditional Background Layout artists got paid $40/scene now they're lucky to get $10/scene.

So I've had a love/hate relationship with Flash as well, it's undeniably helped the industry, allowed animators to get jobs that would have only gone to China, India, and Korea otherwise, but the crappy shows under ridiculously low budgets that have been produced as a result are atrocious.

In summary, you are my hero, keep up the rants, I love them.

Bitter Animator said...

Heh, thanks Ron. You make some really good and well thought-out points that clearly come from experience.

Especially about the good points of Flash - and they are good points. I mean, it's fantastic just how much one person or a small team of people can do with just a good idea. The handiness of Flash is very attractive.

But, yeah, the budget squeeze and the end results are getting worse and worse.

It's funny in the studio I'm currently in. The producer is always talking to other companies and channels etc about producing new shows. Every single time, he comes to me with some visual reference like a painted storybook, or beautiful ink illustrations or whatever and says, "have a look at this. I was thinking..." and then he pauses as if to show he really has thought about it, "I was thinking this would be perfect for Flash."

Every single time. No matter what it looks like and regardless of the fact that Flash couldn't possibly reproduce much of what he shows me.

It's quite funny.

Anyway, welcome to the blog, Ron!