Once upon a time, animation was painstakingly hand-drawn in multiple stages by sweatshop teams of artists who mad no pretensions to realism. Preferring in general to portray speaking animals and magical figures, the first cartoon mills freed filmmakers, particularly the late Walt Disney, from the necessity of building sets, costuming actors, and obeying the laws of physics.
In those days, work on a major production like Peter Pan took years of careful, repetitive draftmanship. Today, the gruntwork is done by technological marvels like Flash Animation and high-end rendering programs like LightWave 3D. And the home cartoonist can now unleash their vision from a single desktop, recording the soundtrack from a simple desktop studio, achieving results which, while not necessarily meeting current standards for image and sound quality, would have been the wonder-struck envy of Walt’s team of tireless re-illustrators.
Computer animation goes way beyond funny cartoon images, however. Game designers have eagerly adapted the technology to provide an interactive experience which transcends the boundaries between artist and spectator. The graphics and storylines are often dark and hyper-real, taking advantage of the medium to generate 3D animations which rival the real thing.
Animators of all stripe have one thing in common…they are working in the cutting-edge medium of the age. Multimedia animation is perhaps the ultimate art form, allowing a single artist to write a script, code the actors, compose the soundtrack and distribute it via sites like Aniboom.com, where up-and-coming video artists can compete to spread their work throughout the world.
We’ve come a long way, Walt.