Animated Video Production

Friday Animation Roundup: Collaborative Storytelling and the Future of Animation

Shawn Forno 01.06.2017

As we step into 2017, and animation begins to dominate box offices and small screens alike it’s tempting to get excited about the future of animated video production. New CGI advances, VR technology, and a score of new gadgets and gizmos attract media attention, but the lasting changes being made in animation today are subtler than you might think. Let’s take a look at how animation is changing in 2017.

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The Future of Animation is Collaborative and Open

When people talk about the future of animation, so much attention gets paid to the technological advances—and rightly so. Virtual reality, augmented reality, CGI, new compositing and rendering techniques all make animation, especially computer assisted animation (which is basically 95% of animation these days), better, faster, and more realistic.

And people like those things.

But every now and then an animation comes along and does something much more exciting: it redefines how animation is made and makes us rethink what animated movies can do. Such is the case with the SIGGRAPH award-winning animation project Cosmos Laundromat – First Cycle.

This absolutely gorgeous CGI animated short is stunning in its own right. A compelling narrative, smooth animation, genuine characters, playful camera angles, and rapturous visuals are all part of this masterpiece, but it’s behind the scenes—in the production style—where the Blender Foundation gives us a glimpse of the future.

The entire animation process of this project is collaborative. Not just collaborative, but transparent and even open-source. Everything is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 license, so anyone can access and share this film for free. But there’s more—the entire production process was carefully documented and streamed as it was happening to highlight the struggles successes in real time.

Seriously, there are over 150 videos documenting every step of the animation.

It’s basically a masters class in CGI animation, that let animation students take part in real time. Blender embraced the opposite of the Disney model that has dominated animated production for the better part of a century, and what they got was a fantastic 10 minute animation for around $500,000 dollars (that’s really cheap for feature quality CGI).

future of animation

Cosmos Laundromat is the harbinger of change, not just in the subject matter and animation style of shorts and features (the tone is dark and emotive and they pioneered a new 3D viewing technique), but more importantly Blender is challenging the production process of quality animation by including viewers in every phase of development. The implications of Creative Commons licensing and a transparent production schedule will reverberate through the animation community for years.

Will 2017 see more collaboration? If the results are anything like Cosmos Laundromat, we certainly hope so.

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The future of animation is a constantly moving target. Stay tuned for more animation news, culture, and video marketing tips every week!

Shawn Forno

Shawn Forno is a massive Studio Ghibli fan who does content marketing. In that order. Find his other writing and extensive travel blogging here.

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