News & Media

Classical Animation Isn’t Dead!

March 16, 2018 By: in Animation Blog

The importance of classical animation | Max the Mutt

Any rumors, or even statements of fact from ‘experts’, that classical animation is dead proves the truth of they old saying “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.

In a curious repetition of history, every time a new medium comes along, claims that the old media are dead seem to come from anyone with a voice.

Here are some examples of what we mean.

  • After commercial radio took to the airwaves in the 1920s, doomsayers announced the death of newspapers. Today, 100 years later, not even 24-hour, on-demand online news has managed to entirely kill off traditional newspapers.
  • When televisions became common after World War II, it was considered the death knell of radio.
  • And then the internet was supposed to kill television

Yet, with all those lessons from the past, we see the same thing happening with classical animation. The ongoing development, availability and ease of use of computer animation, CGI and 3-D animation, has lead to news of the death of classical animation coming from almost every corner.

What is Classical Animation?

Classical animation includes two-dimensional cel animation and stop-motion animation. Traditional animation can include some digital processes for movement, scaling, morphing, soundtrack matching, special effects and editing. But the animation itself generally involves hand-drawing, hand-inking and/or hand-painting of individual frames on paper and/or cels. Classical stop-motion animation is done by manipulating  physical models and objects and capturing each step in the animation on camera one frame at a time.

On the surface, the demise of traditional animation seems to make sense. Digital animation takes the art to new levels and forms, including games and ultra-realistic movie animations. At the other end of the process, with that much animating power at their fingertips, who would want to take the time and make the effort to layout backgrounds and painstakingly draw individual animation cells to appear over them?

But traditional animation is alive and kicking, and will be so well into the future for two basic reasons. First, it’s an integral part of most 3-D animations in movies and cartoons, especially in storyboarding and other pre-production processes.

Second, while computer animation speeds up the process, it does so at the expense of the idiosyncratic styles, charm and personality that can make every traditional animation unique. Many different computer-animated works can have a similar quality, depending on the characteristics of the system on which they were produced.

Why It’s Important to Learn Classical Animation

Many millennials and generation Z’s have grown up with little or no exposure to or understanding of traditional animation. For them, it’s crucial importance as an art form itself, and as an integral part of 2-D and 3-D computer animation, can be lost.

Classical animation is alive and well as a profession too. With an explosion in the animation industry based on dedicated television networks, like the Cartoon Network, and the popularity of animated movies, there are more animation jobs available than ever.

Many current animated cartoon series are still produced largely based on the techniques of traditional animation.

Disney studios have probably produced more animated films and television series than any other company. They still stipulate that their animators, even those who work entirely with computer animations, must take life drawing classes and traditional animation techniques. The idea is that a better understanding of how to capture and express anatomy, motion, emotion, gestures, clothing, etc., improves even computer-generated animations.

In fact, considering the Disney program has been in place since the 1930s, it’s interesting to note that it has recently been expanded and is more popular than ever, even as computer animation has come to the fore. If you would like to learn more about learning classical animation, contact us here at Max the Mutt.