As many of you know, I started in this business animating traditionally and have since moved into Flash because that is the way the idustry would have me go. I blogged about why I thought Flash both rocked and sucked before, here, and here and here. Oh and here too. And here and here. That series of posts seemed to strike a chord with people who had been working with Flash far longer than I have so I reckon my initial feelings were on the right track.
That's probably not a good thing because some of my feelings on where it could lead the industry were pretty bleak - especially regarding the devaluing of the craft and outsourcing of even cheaper Flash animation. But that's not what this post is about (or series of posts actually, because I'm realising this will be too long for one post).
It is, however, about the demise of animation. But not from a financial/production end. From an artistic end.
I was discussing animation recently with an animator who has some really good traditional skills in terms of movement and timing and is now working in 3D. We were just talking references and stuff and then something hit me. Hit me hard. I realised that this animator was now at a disadvantage. And then, the next day, I was looking around the studio and I saw it - the beginning of the end. The decay of animation. Not just old fashioned bitter 'animation ain't what it used to be when I were a lad' stuff.
No. I'm talking proper end is nigh stuff.
The first thing you have to consider to know where I'm going to go with this is that Flash (or Flash-equivalents) and 3D are dominating the markets. Flash is cheap, can be produced with small crews in high volume and it makes perfect sense for television production. 3D is shiny, works for games (which employs a huge number of animator and shouldn't be discounted), and right now dominates the larger budget productions. Flash and 3D dominate.
Traditionally-made frame at a time 2D is slow and is reserved for very rare features (which industry-wide don't employ a significant percentage of animators) and still some television production (which is shipped to Korea etc. and will likely be replaced by Flash in the very near future).
The next thing to consider is - what leads to a good animator actually getting good?
Here's the way it used to work - a person with decent drawing skills would study animation in college, then they'd get employed inbetweening or cleaning-up or, if they had a serious amount of raw talent and were going into a tv studio, they may even get to start directly as an animator. And off they'd go, moving up the ladder and getting better.
Here's the way it seems to work now - a person with decent drawing skills would study animation in college, then they'd get employed as a junior or trainee animator in a Flash studio or games company or whatever. And off they'd go, moving up the ladder and getting better.
So what's the difference?
Well, the difference, as it turns out, is pretty damn huge. Feel free to let me know what you think it is. I'll let you know my take on it in the next post.