Monday, December 31, 2007

Is 2D dead?

No, it's just starting over. It's a whole new animation world out there. The days of inking and painting cels are gone, and that is not a horrible thing. Cels were extremely difficult to work with, organize, and keep clean. I was lucky to have some remarkable people working for me over the years, thank you, oh powerful universe. Knock Knock could produce some very innovative styles even with the limitations of an acetate world. Todd Myers and David Fedan were master inkers, Bev Chiara, one hell of a cel painter. All those talents are still valuable, but there are thousands of styles to be explored now due to that digital thing that seems to be happening everywhere. The digital age that gave birth to 3D animation, that has changed photography forever, and that has now changed 2D production as well. 3D had to innovate since it's inception and now it is 2D's turn. Programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, After Effects are all getting more sophisticated. It would have been impossible to create the image above in cel work. Well, maybe not impossible but would have been a huge pain in the ass. It probably would have taken most of the day instead of ten minutes. As 2D artists, we must continue to innovate, create new images and styles , we are at the beginning of a whole new art form and even though old production techniques still have some value, we now have the tools to finish without limitation.


Erik Westlund said...

Boy, could I go on and on in agreement with your conclusion on this Gav, as you already know... and will see below. ;)

As far as I am concerned, 2D has never been dead, but quite often 3D has... hence the need for so much innovation. Now, with all the development of tools and techniques in 3D (in many cases to reinvent the wheel), 3D has opened the door for 2D to explore and redefine what we take for granted when we say 'animation'.

One example that just showed up on Cartoon Brew is a series of Hip-Hop styled Iraq war protest pieces Sorrow of the Soldier. Regardless of your politics regarding Iraq, hip-hop animated videos as art, or of the quality of these particular examples, one thing is very clear: using a common narrative of 2D animated sequences, James Harvey created five different 'flavors' of the work, each with its own underlying tempo, rhythm, and length. This level of flexibility for being quickly reworked and re-edited is something 2D has over 3D. How many 3D animated music videos show up in five versions, and 'more to come...' as the website for these productions promises.

From its inception, 3D animation has always struggled with one of the strongest assets for animation, flexibility. Just check out the variety of methods and aesthetics represented (again, Cartoon Brew) in Oscar Possibilities listed by Jerry Beck. Besides the beauty of the 2D Moya Lyvbov and fabulous environments in the stop-motion Peter And The Wolf, I particularly like the 2D on top of 3D aesthetics used for The Pearce Sisters from Aardman. It is, and always has been a rich and flexible artform open to many types of media.

Sony is backing feature length 2D animation in the form Persopolis and Disney has already announced their hat is back in the ring.

2D is far from dead. And what this medium becomes in time is something I'm looking forward to seeing unfold.

Now that I'm commenting on other people's blogs it looks like I'm going to have to start posting again as well.

Tobias Schwarz said...

Its a catchy line, but maybe the wrong question. Maybe, why does life always have to change and why is it so hard to change with it?