What about the future of 2D animation?

2D animation is a rapid display of images which is made up of single ‘flat’ two dimensional drawings which, when placed in a sequence, creates a moving image. The most traditional form of this style of animation is created by hand drawn single images pieced together, also known as single cell animation. This process means that it can take a long time to create seconds within an animation as most animations move at 24 frames per second.
3D animation is the movement of an object or character created in a three dimensional environment. A character or object is created using a set of basic or ‘primitive’ shapes to form one body. This can then be moved and animated by creating a movement and setting a key frame, similar to a sheet of hand drawn images. The motion between each key frame is automatically placed in or ‘tweened’, never the less this is also still a very long process.

With the development within technology and the progression in different programs and software’s that are available for people, the creative industry is able to do more and more being able to create realistic worlds and making new life. With this development came the dispute over whether 3D animation has now become the standard form of animation and 2D animation is dead.
Is there any future for 2D animation or is it a dying art form with the increase in CG (Computer Generated) animations? Sadly there isn’t much recorded information from professional animators on the subject freely available looking at both sides of the argument. However, there are a few animators out there that do feel very strongly about the matter.


A large amount of the more well-known and established animators still seem to believe in 2D animation and the traditions that it with holds. Here are a list of quotes taken from various videos and documentaries in which they speak about 2D animation and in some cases the actual affect that 3D animation has had upon 2D animation and if it will survive.

John Lasseter (American animator, director and the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.)
“Never in the history of cinema, has a movie been entertaining to an audience because of the technology. It is what you do with the technology, it is what you do with the medium that’s so special.”
“This is why, I do, what I do for a living, it’s ‘cause of the films of Walt Disney and this magical art form, that his artists help create.”

John Lasseter talking about hand drawn animation.

Andrew Staton (American film director, screenwriter, producer, and occasional voice actor based at Pixar Animation Studios.)
“2D animation became the ‘scape-goat’ for bad story telling.”

Ron Clements (American animation director and producer.)
“It’s an art form you just want to see continue.”

John Musker (American animation director and producer.)
“That’s really what’s so great about hand drawn that it can be right from your pencil to the piece of paper, just an instant sort of link between you, you’re hand and the audience really.”

Bruce Smith (American Animator working for Walt Disney Animation Studios.)
“The reason why we got into this (animation) business.”
“The hand drawn craft for me has always been an attraction because it has that sense of quality, anyone associates anything hand made with a high sense of quality.”
“If you can take a series of drawings and move someone, to laugh, to cry, it’s the ultimate illusion. Y’know when you think about it, it’s the ultimate magic trick.”

Andreas Deja (American Animator working for Walt Disney Animation Studios.)
“Make drawings move, that’s a fascination and a thrill that doesn’t get old.”

Princess & the Frog – Return to hand drawn animation.

Hayao Miyazaki (Japanese manga artist and prominent film director and animator.)
“Digital Techniques are extremely useful so I know how it goes on, and there is this digital progression that goes on in our work. Never the less the real strength of our work decreases and this is why I decided to go back to my pencil.”
“Animation is something that needs the pencil and mans drawing hand. I think there’s a need to have freedom to use CG but keeping the element of the hand drawing and the pencil, and I will continue to use my pencil for as long as I can.

Hayao Miyazaki talking about Ponyo.

Brad Bird (American director, voice actor, animator and screenwriter) in an Interview with Michael Barrier.
MBarrier: Having worked in CG, could you return to hand-drawn animation yourself now, without feeling a dislocation?
Bird: I could absolutely do a hand-drawn film. That said, there are certain things about working in CG that I do truly prefer. I love the minute control over facial animation, whereas in hand-drawn, once you get down to the width of a pencil line between drawings it’s very difficult to control, because the line itself becomes more active than any movement it’s supposed to represent. And I love being able to move the camera in space. That said, there is a look, and a tactile feel, to hand-drawn that computer just can’t replicate—computer has its own thing, and it’s a wonderful medium, and I would love to do other things with that medium, but hand-drawn is also something that you can’t get any other way… so I hate to see it abandoned. Just as I don’t wish to see Nick Park abandon clay animation, until he wants to abandon clay. I love “Wallace and Gromit” just the way it is, and I look forward to any stop motion that Henry Selick wants to do. Stop motion is probably the closest thing to CG that there is, and yet it doesn’t look the same. It has its own feel, a little more “touchy.”
Brad Bird Interview.


“I think the idea of a traditional story being told using traditional animation is likely a thing of the past.” – Jeffrey Katzenberg on ‘Sinbad’

Having not done so well in the box office, Jeffrey Katzenberg CEO of DreamWorks animation gave the above statement in 2003. At that time a lot of CG movies had really hit the box office such as Finding Nemo, which had broken box office records within its first weekend of release. The popularity of the CG movies increased and has done so since with every Pixar film beating records and being within the top 10 films within the release dates.
A comment from John Lasseter from one of his interviews in which he speaks about how the CEO’s and other more technical or logical side of the business believe more in CG animation as it takes in more money. With CG animation still being new, a lot more people have taken interest in the movies created in this form this meant a larger amount of people watching it.

If I am to take into account the opinions that I have gathered, I must conclude that with the people in the forefront of the entertainment industry and animation industry; that there will always be a place for 2D animation. Looking at the desire and passion for the art form that is still held within the industry, it seems as though 2D animation is needed as a fundamental process of animation. Without seeing what process it had taken and knowing the principles of animation that where formed within 2D animation people can not go any further with 3D animation. The 12 principles of animation are key points, movements and features within animation that make it feel real. It seems also that they believe in the end product which 2D and hand drawn animation can create.
It seems that the only thing that could ever call the end of 2D animation is if there is no more demand for the art form as well as the next generation of animators, not believing in it, as the current animators working within creative industry appear to believe in it.


One thought on “What about the future of 2D animation?

  1. Thank god, there are a lot of people like John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker, Ron Clements, Andrea Dejas, and Hayao Miyazaki who believe that 2-D animation is still a living art form.
    While I do like CGI, I like 2-D animation, too. It angers me when Katzenburg thinks 2-D animation is dead and CGI can do everything. There is something that CGI can’t do well at: make human characters look attractive-looking. I mean seriously, the humans in CGI movies look like robots or scary talking dolls. they look (in Shenzai and Banzai’s voices) : UUUU-GLY! Fiona looks scary. So do the people from Over the Hedge. I know a friend who thought that Princess Pea from the animated version of Despereux looked butt-ugly.
    Sorry Katzenburg, but 2-D animation rules, CGI drools.

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