WHY NOT PAPERLESS?
I recently got into a discussion about anime production budgets and CGI versus 2D hand drawn. Because of the BLAME! animated film, which I wrote about earlier, I had been thinking about digital paperless animation. Here in Asia, be it China, Korea or Japan, many studios still draw on paper. They are feeling the economic crunch that affects everyone these days, and in a bid to save money, many are turning to low budget CGI. It looks absolutely horrible and audiences hate it. (I don't mean BLAME! I am thinking Berserk) I think that only because of the prevalence of video games, younger audiences are getting more and more used to it.
One would think to ask the question, wouldn’t digital paperless be cheaper? On the one hand I DO understand why many don’t do it. Many of the veteran animators, the guys you hire when you really need to get things done, work on paper. That’s where their skill is. Because they work in large teams, they always know there is someone to scan that stuff into the computer, clean it up, color it and work with it from there. The artist doesn’t need to be able to do it himself.
The problem with this line of thinking is that when these guys are gone, 2D goes with them. Their skills aren’t being passed on and younger people are mostly into learning 3D, and going into games, because it pays better.
There is also the expense of equipment. Getting every artist a workstation and a Cintiq can be expensive, and then there’s the downtime that would come with retraining them. Most studios work on such thin margins that they are always a hair away from going out of business. They couldn’t afford the process to switch over.
Most TV animation in Japan is done at around $150,000 per episode. The CGI shows are supposedly coming it at $90,000 to $100,000 per episode. They still look horrible though. Also, in the case of CGI, you can’t just do anything. You can draw anything you can think of, but in CGI, you have to build the 3D models, texture them, put bones in them for animation etc. You are limited in what you can do. This shows in some of these programs, because when they come across something they can't do, it is drawn in 2D. The transition is so jarring it completely ruins the viewing experience and makes the show unwatchable. (To me at least, but I read similar feelings from a lot of people on the internet)
There might be some upfront pain associated with making the switch to digital paperless, but I believe in the long term, good quality shows could be made cheaper than, or in the same price range as, the CGI shows.
I may try to develop some courses along these lines and push this idea to studios around here.
Hopefully, coupled with that, I’ll be able to spend my off time working on some longer form animation projects of my own… And PROVE it!