In a recent post, I blamed the demise of 2D animated features on market saturation; there were just too many features out there. But in CG land, there are more animated features than ever, with many of the same artists behind them. Are CG animated features facing a similar fate? Anyone who was around during the 2D renaissance of the 1990's knows this is not out of the realm of possibilities.
So what can we do to protect ourselves? As an artistic cog in the production wheel, all you can really do is keep growing as an artist. Try to make contributions that are unique - don't repeat yourself. Sometimes this is difficult, because that's what the people paying you want, but remember - they only know what they have already seen, it's up to you to be creative.
I have a massive pet peeve about artists who constantly plagiarize the old animation masters. Animators like Milt Kahl applied his artistry to his animation. Taking inspiration from it is great, but frame-by-frame appropriation only creates forgeries. There was a time when Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, and Maurice Noble had their unique personal styles ripped off every day. They were copied so much that their individual styles have cross-pollinated to create a stylistic hybrid that now permeates the industry. Where animation studios once had their own flavor, today's studios are offer only vanilla with slightly different toppings. Homogeny, friends and colleagues, may be our undoing.
Genres go in and out of vogue. This summer's movie slate is chock full of super hero flicks, but there was a time when studios avoided such projects like kryptonite. Pirate movies sank. Zombies were ice cold. Then some breakthrough brought these genres back for today's generation.
There is now a whole generation of young adults who grew up during the 2D renaissance. Why not make films for them? I'd like to see 2D come back as an auteur's medium. Sylvan Chomet's films show how it is possible to make great animated features with not only a different look, but a different speed. I would like to see more 2D animated films created by studios supporting filmmakers going their own way.
I know, that's crazy talk.
Check out some earlier posts:
Maurice Noble and the Zen of Animation Design