We wanted to ask experts working in animation where they thought the industry was going in the future. We asked them a series of questions, and here’s what they had to say.
Where do you see the future of animation going?
Steve Cotroneo, President of SAC Design is currently noticing that animation is moving in a couple of noticeably parallel directions. One direction is interactive videos and the second is virtual reality.
We will see a lot more interactivity in the future, with users having the ability to alter content in a unique way to increase engagement. We are starting to see a little bit of this now with interactivity currently being used for e-commerce, storytelling, training, and education. As this technology advances, it will eventually be used for virtually everything. Imagine navigating a virtual environment in which you can interact with your surroundings. This is virtual reality.
Deborah Anderson, an Animator at 3D Gum Shoe thinks that two main industries that are emerging or that we’re in the midst of right now are the 3D printing industry and the virtual reality industry.
The 3D printing industry offers many low cost solutions for many other industries such as industrial manufacturing and the medical industry. Professionals are able to make car parts and machine parts at lower cost to find exact measurements and fit before money is spent to manufacture the actual part. This is true for replacement parts as well. For medicine, you have anything from prosthetic to organs. There’s also the fashion industry that is implementing some 3D printing.
For the consumer or regular person, it provides something that is tangible so it has little bit of power. You can actually create whatever you want and take it home to show someone. There won’t be printers in every home, but it provides an affordable option for people who are really interested.
Virtual reality is an interesting thing because it’s not new, but somehow has had a new emergence. With Oculus, Samsung, and Google making equipment more affordable for both the consumer and the producer, there are many exciting things happening. You have virtual reality video games, movies, and other content that is being consumed. Travel companies, physical therapists and more are taking advantage of it. So many things are happening that have never been done that even lawyers don’t know how to write up certain contracts because they have to come up with the language for the deals they’re overseeing.
There is an unprecedented amount of animation being created today by big studios, small studios, and even individuals. The combination of off the shelf animation tools and Internet access to allow users to tap into a vast knowledge base (as well as distribution and marketing channels) and has democratized animation across the board. With this constant influx of animators across the globe, being able to connect with one another and collaborate in a virtual cloud space is going to be a game changer going forward.
There’s an incredible trend in animation where artistically we are heading towards intentional craft instead of accepting what the computer can give us. The tools have gotten to the point where the artists are no longer fighting so strongly against them to achieve result they want. They are able to work more visually, more freely. You can see it even in mainstream cinematic masterpieces like Zootopia. Artists are collaborating to tell their own stories in their own vision – and this is only the start!
What tools will animators be using?
With a LOT more software (much of it cheap or free) that allows even beginners to create their own moving pictures, there will be a lot more shorts and movies put out independent of major film companies.
There are a few places offering free rigs (characters already molded and given a skeleton) for people to play with and use freely, too. Not just software to create, but pre-existing content. This is super cool in a way, because it puts powerful abilities into the hands of the individual.
There are also many free/low cost online lessons for budding animators and forum communities to show off your work and get critiqued. I think we’ll see a lot of collaborating in the future and likely their creators will profit by getting streaming companies to license their work. Crowdfunding platforms are already giving these individuals a big push.
There are many free animation packages for Mac, PC, and tablets, such as: Blender, Synfig Studio, Open Toonz, and Pencil2d Animation. Other paid animation software include: Moho Pro, CelAction2D, Procreate, Cartoon Animator, Adobe Character Animator, and Clip Studio Paint.
Any predictions you have for your industry?
What is breaking news to me for animation is how ubiquitous animation has become. It is no longer focused only on narrative or interactive entertainment. It is used in:
– Science and medicine to visualize data and teach new physicians;
– Product design and architecture both for presentation and design;
– Courtroom forensic animation;
– Motion graphics, blurring the line between graphic design and animation; and
– Themed environments and environmental animation (projection mapping marketing campaigns on huge buildings); and
– VR is taking us into the animated environment both to tell stories and to experience places we can’t go to (like distant museums, maybe even distant planets).
I now get teachers from other creative disciplines asking me to explain the 12 animation principles outlined by the 9 old men from Disney because they are the foundation for creating persuasive performance in movement of text, objects, and information, and incidentally of animated characters.
I do see the technology pushing animation further in to areas of design, communication and visualization. The skills that narrative and interactive animation programs are teaching are transferable to an expanding area of communication in multiple disciplines. Faculty need to present a wider range of possible uses to students. I know I’d have been more interested in learning science when I was in college if I could have animated my findings rather than having to just write about them, says Shari Nakakura from Shari Nakakura Communications.
According to Cotroneo, It’s a very exciting time. He believes that interactive video and virtual reality will be everywhere in the near future. And as time goes on, it will be easier and easier to create. The trend today is personalized content paired with receiving new information quickly. I don’t see this pace slowing down anytime soon. We will all need to learn how to design in a 3D environment rather than just within a two dimensional space.
It’s a thrilling time to be working in animation, or preparing to enter the field. Experts all see animation expanding and finding new applications in other fields as it grows. Exciting new tools and technologies are also changing the face of the field and opening it up to everyone with interest and the drive to create. In short, there has never been a better time to join the animation industry.