Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why Flash stinks some more

Mitch commented on my first Flash post expressing a fear that Flash animation will be detrimental to the craft itself. People use it who don't have a clear understanding of classic principals and it could happen that, over the years, those skills are lost completely.

Others would argue that Flash is just a tool and that it's down to the animator to get the best out of it.

Flash is a tool, yes. But it's a tool for producers - to get volume of product for less money. It's really not a tool for animators because it in no way helps you create better animations. It's all about cutting corners. That helps producers, not animators.

A) You're a lazy-ass animator.

B) Or someone who just learned computer skills and call yourself an animator because you can move stuff around.

Or, more positively...
C) A creative person who wants to get an idea out there quickly and easily or a writer who is just happy seeing their script 'illustrated'.

'C' offers a perfectly valid reason to be excited about Flash and similar programmes. But that makes it great for writers and creators and, especially, producers. Not animators.

So to continue with the 'tool' theme because people who argue the merits of Flash often come back to that, Flash isn't a tool in the way that a hammer will help you drive nails into a plank of wood to stick it to another plank of wood. Because a hammer can help you do a far better job at hammering in that nail than you can without it. Flash is more of an instant glue spray - okay, so it won't hold as well as hammering four nails will but it's way quicker. A shortcut. With serious comprimises.

This, ultimately, is bad for animation.

I have worked with Flash animation. I have worked in Flash animation studios. I have seen animation directors have to fight every day against the corner-cutting Flash provides. I've seen animators who were hired on the strength of their traditional animation work for a year on a Flash project and lose the ability to create a strong pose from scratch because they became so used to working in the cut-out Flash method. And, though it may seem ridiculous to some, I've seen people like that guy above hired because sometimes it's quicker just to get someone who already knows the programme.

I've also seen directors love that they can keep their crew close to them and keep the creative process alive all the way through.

But the sacrifices are great and, even then, I don't think that will last all that long.


murrayb said...

Amen!Keep preaching the truth.

I dunno how it happened,(haha-->$$$)
but it seems like flash has all but replaced traditional drawn animation, and the few shows that are drawn on paper seem like the best thing ever. Have you seen the new tom and jerry? or avatar? If it was the mid nineties and stuff like tailspin or darkwing duck were around it they would be Ok, but right now they seem amazing.
The only real hit right now is the hand drawn show spongebob, wouldn't producers want to make a hit?
Well, they get paid if a cartoon only lasts a season, but they get fired if they go over budget.
flash "cheating" is safe.With todays budgets cheating with style seems the only solution right now, or in the words of a crude veteran I know, "putting a swirl at the end of the turd you crap out."

Bitter Animator said...

Yep, Spongebob is a huge hit and is done right in so many ways. It is a genuinely entertaining cartoon and looks lovely. It offers something that most (all?) Flash cartoons can't offer.

I love that turd quote. It's absolutely spot-on.

pmaestro said...

you can't say flash doesn't help animators improve their craft. you make many valid points and for the whole of your argument, i agree that the producers take advantage of the artists through flash.

but the speed at which i learned animation in school with paper and such, varied greatly from the speed at which i learned animation in the industry, and while an argument Must be made to support the atmosphere and people working alongside me, i can't help but credit flash's accessibility with much of the growth. onion skinning and immediate playback trumps flipping pages.

flash is FAR from the perfect tool for digital animation, but it sure beats Harmony. symbol animation is the problem, and while Flash opens doors to such puppetry, Harmony streamlines it.