I keep reading articles saying how hand-drawn cartoons are on the cusp of a comeback. Maybe in Europe, where hand-drawn features continue to be produced, but not in Southern California. A Disney animation veteran recently clued me in as to why: ...
I've worked on CG features and I've worked on hand-drawn features. And hand-drawn features are harder to make. Hand-drawn cartoons take a year to produce. Once you've produced sequences, it's hard to change the work. You have to go back and do everything over.
But with CG, you can animate the movie in three or four months, change things close to the release date. You can't do that in hand-drawn animation. If you find out the story doesn't work when you're two-thirds done, you're stuck. With CG, we change the story and rework sequences until late in the process.
It's close to live-action in that way. You can rework until late in the production. With hand-drawn animation, the plot, action and dialogue has to be locked down way earlier, or the picture won't get done in time for its release.
From a production standpoint, hand-drawn animated features are clunkier and take more production time. But from the executive suite, the superiority of CG animation over hand-drawn is glaringly obvious.
It makes a hell of a more money than traditional animation. The faster production time for CG long-forms is simply icing on the cake. Hand-drawn features have small-company disciples in Europe and elsewhere that create them, but the big entertainment conglomerates are done with the old style.
Sad, but the way it is.