Will The Future Of The Entertainment Industry Be More Animated?

4 mn read

The pandemic has redefined nearly every facet of the suddenly shut-down entertainment industry. As in-person filming could no longer take place in studios, animated movies and TV series spiked in popularity, mainly for the convenience of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. During the early stages of the pandemic, Netflix announced that it gained 10 million new subscribers when countries ordered residents to stay home and it reached nearly 193 million subscribers worldwide, making it tough for its competitors to keep up. The downside mentioned in the company’s statement said, “We expect the paused productions will lead to a more second half weighted content slate in terms of our big titles, although we anticipate the total number of originals for the full year will still be higher than 2020.”

Taiwan animated film No.7 Cherry Lane. Photo: No.7 Cherry Lane/Facebook

The Creative Director at Truba Animation, Greg Sharp, explained how lots of streaming content was already in the works before the shutdown, “The big platforms are putting more animated shows out, but they would have been greenlit well before the pandemic.” The Truba Animation team has created captivating visuals and stories for clients varying from HBO, Rick and Morty, Adidas, to music videos for Childish Gambino and more. Sharp continued, “Since even a pilot can take 1.5 years from greenlight, it’s too soon to tell if Covid will have resulted in more shows!” As a filmmaker, animator, writer and conceptual artist from New Zealand, Sharp has absorbed the art-industry’s “license to be eccentric” and feels almost a sense of obligation to be “intense, surreal, and extreme” in all of his work.

Taiwan animated film The Solitary Pier. Photo: Red Alien Animation/Facebook

The shows that had to put a pause on in-person production and move to remote work had a painful switch according to Sharp, “The brunt of the burden fell on coordinators and line producers, who kept shows running.” He also stated that it caused a slight boost of work between March and June overseas, including in Australia and Spain, where animated music videos were in high demand. However, it decreased gradually over the summer similarly to how it did in the U.S. “From what I’ve seen in other studios, it seems to have worked out alright. For contractors working from home, I’m sure people miss camaraderie, but motivation has stayed fairly high, since animation is largely working at a screen anyhow.”

The growth of new animation styles in recent years is currently causing greater success in an already booming industry. With technology advancing in all mediums, there are many other engaging sectors that have transformed the way we perceive the world around us. From the apps we use to the content we consume online each day; digital animation has shaped the way many experience the world through screens. “Technology plays a big role in the future of the animation industry, with new screens, formats and new experiences, the more we will see animations,” shared Brazilian Motion Designer and Graphic Artist, Rafael Araújo. He told Eat News that he was busier than usual during quarantine in Los Angeles, California, working at Buck, a global creative design and tech company. He added, “A lot of live-action projects were put on hold, so clients were looking for animations as a solution.” Araújo describes his drawing style and 2D animation as “calm and contemplative,” which appeals to his Instagram audience who engage with his animated self-portraits during quarantine and other relatable characters. For inspiration, he not only uses emotions, songs, events or movies, but he gains ideas from visiting museums as well. 

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The pandemic also closed all museums, which rely on motion graphics and animated visuals for exhibitions. “A lot of current contracts were already funded pre-Covid and are still finishing up, and museums have been finding ways to open doors back up to visitors with as many precautions in place as possible,” mentioned Eric Carlsen. In his role as lead animator at Northern Light Productions in Massachusetts, he felt fortunate to have had his workload stay fairly consistent during the shutdown. Carlsen has been creating computer graphics for over a decade, his 2D/3D animated work can be seen in Museum’s acrossNorth America, Puerto Rico, and Canada; as well as in the Emmy nominated “Birth of a Movement.” Although Carlsen believes he is “incredibly lucky” to work in a profession that lends itself so well to remote work, he is uncertain of what is to come. He believes, “It’s hard to predict what things might look like in the future. Obviously museums generally depend heavily on in-person visitors. It will likely spur a lot of changes, like moving more content online and moving away from ‘hands-on’ experiences.”

A positive outcome that stands out from animators making the shift to remote work is the rise in accessibility of animation in the U.S. and in many other countries across the globe. Araújo is hopeful about this outcome, “In my point of view, animation will be in ascension for a long time, if you think about any digital screen, UI design, electronic panels, VR, cars, etc. there will always be a demand for animation; even simple things such as animating the ‘like button.’ ” Along with that, commercial work is continuing to revolve around and transform into shareable content across multiple media platforms. Sharp believes this is beneficial for studios like Truba Animation, “Studios like ours basically focus on creating what we find compelling and agencies can then pick and choose and say ‘this is what such-and-such brand’s customers like,’ and roll with us.” 

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The art of animated characters, moving images, visual effects and other computer-generated imagery is remaining prevalent as a result of the limitless options to choose from. Sharp concluded, “Is the world heading for peak visual stimulus? There was push-back against ‘fast-food’ and now there is a push-back against ‘fast-fashion.’ Will we see a push-back against the barrage of images and content the world is pushing onto people? We’ll see.” As consumers grow their appetite for more high-definition and immersive visual experiences, they might be the only ones with the power to decide.

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Victoria Gonzalez is a U.S. correspondent for Eat News who covers a variety of topics about the entertainment world and politics.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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