I'm a student currently in my final year studying animation at Edinburgh University and I need some help and opinion from some animators as part of the research side of my dissertation.
My topic is exploring if/how CGI, as relatively young strain of animation, is impacting the stop-motion industry. Weather it's having a detrimental impact or it's increasing peoples passion for seeing something handmade and organic.
Any thoughts on this topic would be amazing. It just really helps me build a case for/against with some practising animators opinions to back up my arguments. And if anyone has an objection to being quoted in the essay just let me know! For those of you who don't mind, would it be okay to quote you as an animator/filmmaker rather than just your alias on this forum?
Thank you guys, I know there are some amazing animators on this board I'm guessing with some hot opinions. Also if there's a different thread already started on this topic or something similar, my apologies, just point me in that direction.
The impact on traditional forms of animation has varied over time.
The use of CGI in Jurassic Park had a devastating impact on stop motion for creature effects, pretty well killing it dead.
The stop motion puppet film, on the other hand, has managed to make use of computer tools to raise the standard of stop motion, and following from Nightmare Before Christmas, the output of stop motion features is higher than it ever was in the many years before.
CGI for the purely animated film had almost as great an impact on hand-drawn cel animation. But there have been some exceptions, like Studio Ghibli, who have continued to produce successful 2d animation features. It didn't do the same to stopmo puppet features because they were so rare anyway.
CGI animated films dominate the market, just as CGI effects in live action films are pretty nearly universal.
But with CGI animated films, there are simply more animated feature films being made than there ever were 2d and stopmotion films combined. CGI "cartoons" haven't just replaced other forms, they have expanded the market for animated features. It is possible that this has made the audiences more accustomed to the look of 3d, and this might even make stop motion puppet films more acceptable as they are also a 3d medium. In the past, 2d dominated so that stopmo hardly got a look in, so being the underdog is nothing new.
I think there is a group who appreciate the hand-made quality of a stopmo feature vs CGI, but they (we) are in the minority, the majority are just going to see an entertaining film and don't care if it's from Tim Burton or Pixar.
There is a feeling, not just among traditional animators, that CGI for visual effects has become so ubiquitous it takes a lot of the magic away, nobody goes "wow" anymore. You used to wonder how the hell they did that - now you just say, Oh yeah, they did it with computers. Meh. With more spectacle than ever before, the value of spectacle as a drawcard has been diminished.
A number of animators are hoping that the old-school magic of Dynamation, with the improved smoothness, compositing, motion blurs and other tricks that eliminate the strobing and static camera setups that many used to object to, will give stopmotion effects a new life. Most of us here would look forward to that, and there are many critics and filmmakers who also appreciate real physical objects being animated in real light. But mass audiences probably don't much care how its done.
Several projects are in the works right now, with one (Sinbad the Fifth Voyage) having just had a limited theatre release, with DVDs and downloads to come shortly. All are being done on very limited budgets.
There is a risk that when badly made low-budget films don't do well, stop motion effects will get the blame, when poor script, acting and editing have more to do with it.
Thanks for this Nick, really useful getting an opinion from a practicing animator. Can I quote this material in the thesis?