I was recently watching the epic, summer blockbuster Independence Day Resurgence. Of course, as with many huge budget Hollywood outings these days, I immediately noticed the appearance of famous Chinese actors and a number of lines spoken in Chinese language. I couldn't help but laugh, though, when I saw them video chat using QQ.
This QQ software happens to be the very chat software I use on a daily basis here in China. It's one of the most popular messengers around. The company behind it, called Tencent, is also a coproducer on the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sequel. We are seeing greater and greater involvement of the Chinese government and huge Chinese mega corporations in the creation and distribution of Hollywood movies. There are two reasons for this. One is to get past Chinese censors, which limit the number of foreign films allowed in the local market. By entering into a coproduction deal, the film counts as a Chinese product.
The second reason is that these films can potentially make more money in the Chinese box office than is possible in the US box office, and this has happened on a handful of recent films. When you spend $150 million or more on a movie, you have me double or triple that back to be profitable!
Does this mean China will eventually take over Hollywood? Well, lets not forget that in the 80's the Japanese economy was rapidly expanding and they were buying up US land, hotels and movie studios. Then in the early 90's their economy tanked and pretty much never recovered. There's nothing saying the same will happen in China. Maybe things will go the way Joss Whedon predicted in his Firefly TV series.
I want to talk about why 2D animation will eventually die. I am speaking entirely from a commercial perspective, as the reason will certainly be because of money.
I know many fans don't like cel shaded, CGI anime shows, but you look at some of the current shows, like Bubuki Buranki, Ajin, or Knights of Sidonia, you can see that the quality of said cel shading just keeps getting better and better. It stands to reason that there will come a day when that quality looks identical to the 2D animation that fans know and love. This has already happened with CGI in other aspects of the industry.
Take spaceships for example. In the old days, spaceships were done with really large and heavy plastic models which had to be hung on a motion control rig in a studio to shoot. Not only that, they had to shoot it in multiple passes, to get the different lights, the glowing parts and so on. This was a tedious and expensive process. Along comes CGI, and while the early shows using CGI for spaceships, like Babylon 5, or Space Above and Beyond, didn't look as good as the models, by the time you get to shows like Firefly, or the new Star Trek films, CGI has 100% replaced models for spaceships.
The same thing has happened with other hard surface objects, like cars or planes in the real world. I recently wrote to a buddy of mine still working in Hollywood and asked him if we have reached a point where it is easier and cheaper to do a plane flying by in CGI rather than go out and shoot a real plane. He said we have long since passed that point.
Another case where we have seen incredible improvement is in human characters. In early work, like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the CGI characters looked a little off, or creepy and there was much talk of the uncanny valley. In more recent efforts, though, such as in Superman Returns, you have many shots where a CGI double is used and people, even some profession artists, can't tell. You see CGI human characters getting more realistic like in Tron Legacy, with the CGI Jeff Bridges, or Terminator Genisys, with the CGI Arnold. The best example might be in Fast and Furious 7, where they needed CGI to finish the scenes involving actor Paul Walker because of his untimely accident. They did nearly 400 shots of the Paul Walker double, using a few different techniques. I have watched the film numerous times looking for them, and I have found lot, but nowhere near 400. This means that there are a lot of shots in there that have fooled us all.
I mention the CGI humans because I believe that it is a lot more involving to create a realistic human character on screen than to make a cel shaded character mimic a 2D drawing. The day is surely coming where they will get there, and audiences will no longer be able to tell. On top of that, once they get there, the only place to go is faster, cheaper and easier.
2D animation has never gotten cheaper. If you read the Disney book, The Illusion of Life, you will see how the company had to deal with enormous financial burdens as 2D animation just kept getting more and more expensive over the decades. It will only continue to get more expensive. There has never been an innovation that made 2D animation cheaper. The reason is there is no technology which can make a human artist draw better or draw faster. To achieve this, you need more time and/or more manpower, and both make the process more expensive.
I am aware that there will always be artistic reasons to want to do 2D. People love to draw and love to see drawings in motion. I love 2D animation and always will. Another thing to consider, though, is that the people doing artistic 2D works, like Richard Williams, Bill Plympton or Glenn Keane, are getting up there in age, and will one day retire. To make matter worse, if the schools around here in Asia are any indication, fewer and fewer students are even bothering to learn 2D. The reason is simple. If you learn 3D, there are more job opportunities and the pay is better. A LOT better.
You can't even survive on a 2D animators wage anywhere in Asia right now. If, however, you learn 3D animation, and get good at it, you got it made. You will have a good salary, a good career and a good life. So in the future, if a commercial publisher or company wants to do a 2D animation project, the manpower may not even exist to make it happen. Yet, there will be dozens of cel shading artists or studios who can make it happen for a tenth of the cost.
Learn more at: http://www.studioartfx.com
"In a post-apocalyptic times, where a rogue government collect children for tax, we visit a small township where an extraction starts to take place and its already taken a turn for the worst when you deny them."
The technology is here. It has been for a while. Writer/Director Julian Herring decided to make use of it to bring his own dreams to life. Thanks to the tools available to every creator today, he was able to write, direct, edit, and using Lightwave 3D, do all the VFX for his project.
Entered as part of the My Rode Reel 2016 short film competition, Herring hopes to win the equipment from the very large cache of prizes offered by Rode, and partners such as Blackmagic Design and Adobe, so that he may own the means of production and continue his quest to create original content his way. Check him out and vote for him here.
The question, is 2D animation really dead? There are some cases, and some places, where this may seem to be the case, but the reason is not what you may think. It's not because audiences out there are tired of 2D, traditional animation and no longer want to see it. The reason is largely because of the cost to produce said 2D, traditional animation.
When you go to make a $150+ million movie, you can't take any risks. This means the studios are going to go with what has worked before. In this case, the animated movies that have made a lot of money in recent history, have all been 3D. But that's not the only reason.
2D animation has survived on television mainly because of Flash or other forms of vector based animation. It is only through the use of these vector based tools that 2D animation can remain competitive in the modern market. You see, the cost to produce a half hour episode of animation in Flash, can be as little as a quarter of the cost to produce traditional, 2D animation, and this is talking about the kind of limited animation used in anime TV series!
The cost to produce 3D animation, however, just gets cheaper and cheaper, as is the case with any form of technology. I talked in the previous episode about game engine rendering. Tools like this are making the production of high quality 3D animation fast and inexpensive. So now you see a lot of shows on television, especially here in China, being done in 3D animation. They are simple, but pleasant to look at and audiences are connecting with them.
This isn't to say that audiences don't connect with 2D, but there is yet another reason. You now have a generation of young people who grew up on video games. They live in a world in which 3D has always existed. Toy Story is pretty old after all. For this generation, 2D animation is something old. They are simply more used to 3D.
On top of this, there are more job opportunities in the world of 3D animation, and they pay more. In some places, a LOT more, which is certainly the case in China and Japan. So what are kids going to study? They are going to go where the money is. This means there are fewer and fewer people even interested in learning how to do 2D, traditional animation.
The famous film director Hayao Miyazaki said that when 2D finally dies, it won't be because people no longer want to see it, it will be because the artists with the true skill to do it will have all disappeared.
All of this can make it seem like 2D is dead, but there is one arena where it doesn't have to be. That is the arena of the independent creator. The indie creator can use the amazing tools available today to create fast and cheap 2D animation, without the restrictions of the big studios. The indie can take those risks! The independent animator can leverage the techniques and software on the market today, some of it even free, to create the way they want to create, and keep 2D alive.
Finally we take a look at Anigen Final Secrets.
This is the fastest and easiest animation technique ever developed, to help any indie creator get started on the road to seeing their dreams come alive on screen!
This is the first in what I hope will be a series of informative videos to help creators on the road to getting your project done. It doesn't matter whether you want to do independent animation, comics, games or films, you will find, in this series, information on the industries, the tools and software being used and even learn new and innovative ways to use them.
This series will help introduce you to The Indie Life, which is who you, as a creator, can take control of your destiny by using your skills, as an artist, musician, filmmaker or game designer, to make living doing what you love. Yes, I am going to talk about how to make money doing what you love, be it graphic novels, animation, games or films.
In this first video, I will discuss realtime rendering using Game Engine technology and some thoughts I had about this after coming across Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. I tell the story of how I used to go into this small restaurant in Southern China, near my office, and always notice the bosses son watching Kung Fu Panda. It took a while before I realised he wasn't watching the film every day.
After I started looking into the Kung Fu Panda TV series, I started thinking a lot about rendering in real time with Game Engine Technology. If you look at the trailers for amazing PS4 games like Uncharted 4, you will see that game engines can render the most amazing images and scenery today. The question then becomes: Can this technology help you create your own show? I believe it can! Today, with tools like MODO 10, which has many new features ideal for work in games, and Unreal Engine 4, you have a pathway to create freedom before your eyes!
We'll take a detailed look at this in the video.
Finally, I will show you Anigen Final Secrets, the fastest and easiest animation technique I have ever developed. A WYSIWYG method of creating shows that puts everything in your control, and your dreams at your fingertips.