Monday, July 27, 2015

The BIG Question

... to nobody but geeks.


No, Brandon my lad. Bad hand-drawn animation, uninspired and limp, killed hand-drawn animation.

Think about it. There was Quest for Camelot. There was Atlantis and Home on the Range and any number of other tepid, hand-drawn candidates from Disney and DreamWorks Animation .. and from which audiences stayed away in droves.

Is this because Pixar's CG films were all that people wanted to see? I think not, because when a zesty, older-style offering like Tarzan rolled down the pike, audiences flocked to see it. This wasn't so much because CG was the medium of choice, but that Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc. were better made and owned more interesting characters and stories.

Because, Brandon old top, it ain't the medium, but the quality of the tale that lies beneath the textures and surfaces. Tangled would have done well whether it was hand-drawn or CG. Hell, with Glen Keane supervising the animation, it was the closest thing we've had to hand-drawn in years.

But at that point, hand-drawn feature animation was O-VER.

Produce a picture that the public wants to see, and it won't matter whether it's CG or hand-drawn. Except that studios won't sink money into hand-drawn features anymore because they view CGI as a far better bet. (And the box office keeps proving it.)

The market for hand-drawn animated features withered away a long time ago, when a string of stinkers left a bad smell in movie-goers nostrils. Sad, but the way it is.


Jamil R. Lahham said...

Both studios (Disney and Pixar) operate under the same "genius" "visionary" brain, and that very brain decided to push invent and invest in one medium while pigeonhole and limit the other to remaking uninspired and limp princesses stories like The Princess and the Frog. So in a very indirect way, yes they killed it, at least that's how I and many like me see it.

brandon smith said...

I loved every bit of this response to my article, Steve. Part of my hope for this article (regardless of what people thought of it) was that it would spark a more adult, fruitful discussion that is all to rare in the animation community.

To the point, I do admit that my article was more focused on the 'old standard VS. new standard' POV and what drove the industry to accept the latter and reject the former. To that end, I probably should have devoted at least a few sentences to the underlying problems with the storytelling that eventually became the ruin of hand-drawn animation in the US (luckily, I already planned a follow-up article that will address that in full). That said, I do think that the box office strength of CG-animated films did play a solid role in the industry's current hesitance to go back to hand-drawn. In some cases, that's a good thing, since that means that hand-drawn animation can evolve into something more, while hopefully finding its feet in the storytelling apartment.

The main reason why I wrote this article was actually to present (and simultaneously poke holes in) an exaggerated point of view based on the more passionate and incendiary comments I've seen from those who are hardcore supporters of the hand-drawn medium. No, I don't think that Pixar was responsible for the 'death' of hand-drawn feature animation as it were. That said, Pixar did have a helping hand in solidifying CG as the 'safe' bet as you describe. So, it was that correlation and thought process that led me to do this article.

Sorry for the ramble, but this is the second time an article of mine was featured on your blog, so I couldn't help but get excited.

-Brandon Smith

Julien Faddoul said...

God I love Atlantis.

Steve Hulett said...

The reason that animation in theaters is almost all CG (obviously there are hand-drawn European outliers) is MO-NEY>

My information is that John Lasseter wanted to keep Disney Feature in the hand-drawn business exclusively, and let Pixar do the CG. Robert Iger didn't want to have the Burbank studio abandon CG because the company had a lot of money invested in the format, but did okay the Burbank shop doing a hand-drawn project. "Princess and the Frog" was the result, and though it performed respectably, it didn't tead the kind of bucks that CG pulls in. "Winnie the Pooh" barely performed at all.

Money talks.

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