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The Changing Landscape of Animation May 6, 2013

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, analysis, animation.
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A couple weeks back I got an email from a young woman thanking me for articles I’d written in the past on non-artists in animation and talking about how there doesn’t seem to be much out there on these areas of the field. Those pieces were done largely in the early 2000s but interestingly enough – and perhaps sadly – her observation remained correct. A lot of what is still covered about the ways people can be involved in animation are the artist and directorial positions; that said, the writer is getting more exposure than the past, but still that usually tends to be all that’s out there. She really thanked me for finding what she had and that someone at least tackled the topic.

I’m mulling over why that hasn’t changed, especially with animation easier to produce than ever before. Perhaps because it has become more of a case where people can write, produce, and direct more on their own and the concern really becomes more about marketing and distribution. Perhaps it is all the changes in the studio system model where things are developed and sent straight to their own networks instead of having to shop around. There’s other factors too and I could probably write a book just on that. The key is that the landscape is ever-changing, especially in the way that created content – animation and otherwise – is ultimately consumed by the end user and that seems to dictate a lot of choices. The two main points here are content being mobile, and content being on demand. The idea of being confined to home at a fixed daypart is long gone.

I think in general a lot of what I’ve written in my columns and books are still relevant when it comes to the larger studio system, but those areas aren’t necessarily the first line of how to break in anymore. It may be very possible to make one’s own way and make a difference in further changing the landscape of the animation industry. The key is to do it smartly and make back on one’s investment in doing so. I wish I had an easy formula to recommend for that, but I don’t. So many aspects are still in flux.

My hope is that people are, despite the unpredictability, still willing to try – as long as they do it in a well thought out manner that doesn’t put their own futures completely at risk. We still need innovative pioneers for animation to grow and evolve.

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