Friday, May 12, 2006

2D or Not 2D

Is 2D over..?? People keep asking me the question over and over again..and I keep reassuring them and myself by saying ,” of course not ! 2D will always stay.” But is that really the truth. I mean, when was the last time when we saw a feature length film that was done with good ol’ fashioned traditional style of animation.. Its apparently been three years now and I haven’t seen any thing other than 3D animation films getting nominated for the Oscars. Walt Disney studio’s decided to shift the focus primarily to 3d feature films..though they will still be producing episodic animation done with the traditional style. So where do these figures leaves us. Why the shift, why not 2D, is that because 3D is cheaper. Obviously not , 3D episode costs almost the same as it would if it was done in 2D ,which is something like $300,000. Maybe producing a film or an episode in 3D is easier. Which is, once again, not true? If you have been lucky enough to witness the making of any3D episode you would notice that even a 3D animator has to slog as much as any 2D animator, any given day.. The matter still remains unresolved..the other perspective could be that of the masses ..people don’t like to watch 2D films anymore. And why is that so. Well! I think what missed in last few 2D animation films was the originality and novelty of a idea . There was a ‘Treasure planet’ and then there was ‘Sindabad’ , big budget over the top animation films personifying heroism ..But what’s new? Haven’t we heard same stories over and over again? In the meanwhile we had films like shreak, Monsters Inc, The Incredibels, Medagascar etc. these films were ingenious in there subject and there approach. And the script demanded them to be executed in 3D. Personally I cant think of Monsters Inc being equally effective if it was done in 2D. Where as, I guess it wouldn’t make much difference if a ‘treasure planet ‘ or a ‘sindabad ‘ was made in 3D. Think of ‘Bambi’ , Jungle book , Hercules, Snow white or Lion king .. and now for a minute just try to picture them in 3D doesn’t works for me and I am pretty sure it wont work for the most of us. So you see, the reason 2D features are not being produced is because the chain of demand and supply has been altered. Or , it has been assumed so. But who is to be blamed. I think I would blame the half hearted approach of film makers and there bias towards 2D animation. Human have inclination towards technological advancements and we are all a participant of a rat race to adapt to the technology as and when some radical changes happen. And that’s exactly what’s happening now 3D is new kid on the block , which has opened various avenues for the right side of the brain . Suddenly we have discovered things which would take days if we decided to animate them in 2D, can be done in an hours time now. Besides, If we look at the whole picture with a broader perspective, we also need to keep in mind that when it comes to episodic animation, most of the work is offloaded to Korea and India. Now, these countries have a huge pool of talented animators who had been working for U.S and European clients for a very long time, but it has all been 2D animation series. Ever since the shift has taken place from 2D to 3D, things have never been the same for these countries. India is having a hard time coping with the increasing demands for 3D animators. Although there are lot of individuals who knows the software’s but the implementation is the problem area , because very less of such people are actually people who knows animation , and the people who are seasoned in the industry (I am talking about animators with more than seven or eight years of experience) are even lesser. I think its time for us to realize that the only way to change things is to pick traditional animators and train them in 3D . Its going to take a lot of effort from organizational point of view because training animators means lot of unproductive man hours but then these man hours are like investment which will yield results a little later. But once we break out of this vicious circle there will be no turning back. I always dream of a studio where there is no 2D animator or no 3D animator, but it only has animators who are eqully proficient in all the styles of animation. The idea is .., ‘there is no such thing as 2D or 3D animation its just a tool like a 4b or 6b pencil. Whatever you do with them or how ever you use them, the end product will always be the same. ‘

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