Like most industries, animation has seen an evolution brought on by technology. Animation degree students who are only beginning to step into the industry find themselves contending with the never-ending battle between two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) animation styles. While tradition sides with 2D animation, the appeal of computer graphics and the capabilities of 3D cannot be ignored.
In today’s world, most animated films are produced solely in 3D utilizing computer generated imagery (CGI). 2D animation has been all but phased out by most major film studios. Companies like Pixar and Dreamworks have paved the way for 3D movies and show no signs of stopping. Disney entered the 3D market officially in 2005 with the release of Chicken Little, realizing the success of the 3D market. They closed many of their 2D animation studios and stepped into the future, which marked a big step down for the 2D animation world.
In the TV industry though, 2D animation remains king. Shows like The Simpsons and South Park remain some of the most popular animated series on television, while shows like Adventure Time and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic continue to push 2D animation forward. 3D shows have emerged on television as well, with most of them being spinoffs of popular 3D films, but the production costs and quality of these 3D shows simply fail to compete with 2D.
The gaming industry sees a pretty equal balance. Having relied on 2D animation for so long, the major companies in the gaming industry are mostly populated by high-fidelity 3D experiences. Independent developers, who are gaining popularity, rely on the cheaper and more traditional 2D animation though and because of that, we see a pretty even split between the 2D and 3D titles released every year.
Animators have a tough time with the battle between the two formats. Some find the traditional 2D format to present a more artistic and creative vision while 3D animation is constantly reaching towards realism. Others applaud the endless capability provided by the power in 3D where 2D has limited them.
For years, animators have experimented with the blend of 2D and 3D, but, at least in the mainstream, 3D seems to be winning. Animation students should explore both worlds and attempt to be well versed in 2D and 3D animation when pursuing an animation degree. It may effect where you specialize yourself as an animator, but it is better to be a jack of all trades than a master of none.
Animation degree students will have to find the delicate balance between the two. Their courses when pursuing said animation degree should have them experimenting with both, which should help in the long run.
The fight may never end, but most animators should know that neither format will ever completely vanish. They should instead celebrate the variety in animation and continue to prosper as an industry.
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