Film animation technology began simply with pen and paper, that’s all. Over the years we’ve come a long way, now countless TV shows and films are made with either 2D or 3D animation, all aided by computers. In fact, Pixar was the first to create a feature-length computer-generated animated film, with Toy Story in 1995. This was not only a milestone in cinema but in technology. That is a common thread through a lot of filmmaking, although in particular with animation.
To predict the future of animation we have too look back on how it has changed with technology. From basic flipbooks, to computer aided 2D animation, to 3D computer generated animation, now to using CGI and data from the real world to create the most realistic and emotive animation yet!
Looking forward, to the future of animation technology, here are 4 new emerging ways animation could be ready for another revolution:
- Merging the real film with animation
This is no new technique, seen most famously in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but using real footage alongside animation has recently been a great space for innovation. This is most notably so with the recent film Kubo and the Two Strings, a 3D stop-motion animation with such ambitious set-pieces that the result is a beautiful example of the merging of the old and new techniques of animation – using both computer effects and traditional stop-motion animation techniques.
- Virtual Reality
A buzzword of the new age, virtual reality is still taking its baby steps and the applications for filmmaking are still being explored. VR offers exciting innovation opportunities including practical, timesaving preproduction, a rich narrative device for conventional film and dynamic storytelling medium. This extends to animated films – just imagine a VR 3D animation movie, putting you inside the CG rendered environment.
- 3D-Printing and scanning
From a production perspective, 3D printing could really revolutionise large parts of filmmaking, and animation is no different. Imagine designing a character out of clay and them importing a 3D scan of it into your CG world, or of course scanning a room and then using your data to create a full photo-realistic environment for your animation. This works in reverse too, stop-motion could be revolutionised by simply 3D printing your entire environment.
This kind of work has been done before, in Avatar for example, where large parts of the film are basically entirely 3D animated, but where real life images and scans have been cleverly and beautifully merged with the animation.
- Collaborative cloud drives
Teamwork is required for all film, but nothing more so than in animation. It used to be a hassle moving assets like character or motion data from one animator to another, but now the whole process is becoming streamlined by using collaborative cloud workplaces. With this new technology the access and sharing of content and assets has become incredibly easy, speeding up the whole animation process.
Also now filmmakers can work with production teams from different parts of the world. So lets say you need a small amount of animation for your indie film, now you can find just the right person from anywhere in the world and collaborate through the web to complete it.