Sometime ago I wrote about the state of 2D animation. Nothing's changed since. I also wrote a piece on what animation is and if motion graphics could be considered animation as well. I've changed my tune a bit, though I felt like I should elaborate a bit more.
Just from observational a lone you can see just how much animation a seat into almost every platform available to us. From commercials to explainers, from television shows to web cartoons, video games and just regular run-of-the-mill infographics, it's everywhere. It really hit me after watching Jurassic World (strange right?). I was talking it over with a friend about how the world that was developed and designed for the film was very intricate and how far we've come in the world of CGI. That everything there was very believable despite more than half of the film being CG. And that's really the case for animation. It's all about creating the illusion of life. It doesn't matter whether it's drawn, vectorized, or noded out; it's all about the illusion of life. As a person who's done hand drawn animation for almost two decades, who's aspirations are to continue in this tradition, I've come to terms with the fact that the kind of work that we do is ever shrinking. Things have the appearance of hand-drawn without being hand drawn. There either CGI or their motion graphics and most of the work and believability that comes into the work is handled via the graph editor and some very skilled people who understand very elements of timing and spacing. It's not that it will ever disappear entirely, but after surveying the land scape I can definitely see that the fields are looking pretty dry. Schools have just about phased classical animation from their curriculum, many studios in North America have just about abandoned classical animation altogether. It's expensive to do both in money and time. That's easy to understand.
It all comes to value. Where do people see the value in the work. Take explainer videos. They're helping to explain complex ideas to their market. Clients will pay top dollar because they want to ensure that the info that they're passing out is going to be understood and is entertaining, so spare no expense. Try that same idea with the web short. What kind of value is the individual who is putting money behind it going to get? What is the return on investment? It's simply can't be about entertaining people with jokes or thrills, there has to be some kind of payback for it. Motion Graphics are also greatly used for commercial outlets too as they begin to take on more of a classical feel with each year. When was the last time you saw an classically animated commercial?
As a business model classical animation for entertainment has always been a hard sell. Unless it's for children you can count out your idea from the running without breaking a sweat. It's not because the product you're making isn't going to be any good, it's just that as a business the distributors or investors want to make sure they're getting their money back and more. It with everybody posting their personal work and wears on social media, the concept of how taxing and labor-intensive the work is his overlooked by many individuals who seek to purchase the service from other people. I say this from experience as I continue to watch budgets continually shrink down to 1999 rates, and how little people understand the animation process still. Where in the 21st-century, there is a plethora of resources and knowledge to pluck from, yet so many people just have no idea how the sausage is made.
Think about it. People who are crowdfunding their project, whether longer short, are you doing a tit-for-tat in order to get the resources to make their project happen. In that instance there's value because however much money you throw down you get a gift or merchandise of equal value. Unless your name or your studio carries "brand power" you're not going to get much in the way of sponsorship or otherwise. People want to invest in things that they already know. That already have a reputation. That already has grounds for trust.
But because animation as an entertainment medium is very niche, its place in the future is still so very gray. When Windsor McCay brought a vaudevillian act to his short films, and as marvelous as they were during his time, the question continue to linger: what is this good for? What do we do with this? That question has yet to be answered.
These days, I'm a lot more open to CGI and Motion Graphics. Just to prove it, here's me trying it on for size: