Today: May 26, 2024

Opinion: Time To Wave Bye To Traditional Animation?

February is set to be a great month for feature length animated movies. DreamWorks kicked off the fun with Mr. Peabody And Sherman – dazzling kids and adults with the time-travelling adventures of Peabody and his human pet Sherman. Next came a double whammy of excitement as both Tinkerbell & The Pirate Fairy and The Lego Movie (Main Picture) hit UK silver screens at the end of last week. The Lego Movie in particular has been eagerly awaited, and is it any wonder? Not only do the trailers make it look hilariously corny but its directors, Chris Miller and Phil Lord, have assembled a team of excellent A-List voice actors – with the likes of Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, Hunger Games’ Elizabeth Banks and Moneyball’s Chris Pratt adding to the buzz surrounding this film.

Wonderfully, it doesn’t stop there. The rest of the year is packed full of CGI magic with sequels Rio 2 due for release in April and How To Train Your Dragon 2 in July. No doubt much to the glee of kids everywhere.

However, with such an abundance of kid’s film popping up left, right and center one can’t help but notice that the new wave of animation appears to have had a complete make-over and is now sporting a 3D face.

Over the past few years children’s films have undergone a transformation. Since Woody and Buzz first swung into action on pull toy strings and plastic wings there has been no turning back. Toy Story was the first CGI full-length feature animation and kids and grown-ups alike ate it up. Since then there has been a surge of computer-generated kiddie flicks. And as it grows in popularity, CGI seems to be leaving traditional animation behind in the dust. Is it possible that we could be seeing death of traditional animation?

Disney Studio’s shocking announcement earlier last year makes one wonder if this might not be true. Last March, Chief Executive Bob Iger revealed that none of the studio’s animation companies was working on any 2D, hand-drawn animation for the big screen. “There is a fair amount of activity going on in hand-drawn animation but it’s largely for television at this point,” said Iger. A surprising move for the pioneers of 2D animation? Yes, although if you take a brief look at their recent past it becomes less so.

Once upon a time, Disney churned out one fabulous 2D animation after another. From 1937’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarves to 1998s Mulan, kids everywhere looked forward to their ‘annual’ dose of hand-drawn Disney. However since 2006 the Studio has made only a handful of 2D animated movies – among them 2009’s The Princess And The Frog, which received only a lukewarm reception. In its place came Cars one and two, a couple more Toy Stories, the acclaimed Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen being the latest success story. Even the beloved Winnie The Pooh took on a new CGI look when the movie was released in 2011.

3D’s dominance looks set to continue and other mainstream animation studios are getting into the act. In 2015/6 DreamWorks is set to release the long awaited Kung Fu Panda 3 followed by How To Train Your Dragon 3. That’s not to say that the Toy Story revolution – shall we call it – has eradicated other forms of animation from the big screen completely.  Cinema has had – and continues to have – its brief flings with stop-motion animation as proved by the Wallace and Gromit chain of movies, Fantastic Mr. Fox, ParaNorman and more, this years’ CG/stop motion hybrid Boxtrolls by Laika. However they’re still a drop in the ocean compared to the influx of 3D movies suggesting that, perhaps in the future ‘animation’, will mean something entirely different to the cartoon lovers of tomorrow.

Agree? Disagree? Why not join in the debate on Twitter.

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