Animation : Future of Animated Features? by Trevor Gustafson

Trevor Gustafson

Future of Animated Features?

Hello - How do folks here see the feature animation industry evolving?  I have been amazed for decades how feature animation in the west has been so completely stuck in one sort of mould, its all family films, same looking characters and style of storytelling etc. There is so much new tech now for animation, I wonder if it will help finally break that shell and we can see more animated films outside the box, for different audiences, different kinds of stories. I'm not a fan of the super-weird experimental animated films personally but I think there is a huge gap in between that can/should be explored... Hope to see this/be a part of it!

Gary Smiley

Two Yeti-themed movies this year, huge budgets, and simplified scripts (journey, will they make it? of course...)

Simon Turnbull

Yeah I feel you,. Cool stuff does get made, like Persepolis, or Sylvain Chomet's films but The mainstream stuff is all very samey. I don't even bother going to see a Pixar style animated film any more.

But theatrical release animated films are very expensive and have to have a wide audience appeal. I wish I knew about the returns on childrens animated for TV movies because lots of them get made. Producers are very tight lipped when it comes to discussing money though in my experience.

Bob Harper

Big studios have to play it safe because the bottom line is profitability. It is up to independent producers to find creative ways of getting financing, controlling budgets and unique ways in marketing and distribution.

Trevor Gustafson

Thanks Bob. Will keep hunting for such independent producers. If you know of any capable of making decent films please share. Thanks!

Bob Harper

I'm working on an adult animated comedy feature in the vein of Monty Python meets Rick and Morty. I don't know how "decent" it will be but I'm going to make it the best I can with the resources I have and think I can raise. Most importantly it will be MY film with nobody telling me how to do it or owning it after I'm finished making it.

Alicia Norman

I feel the same way--I have experimented myself with CGI feature films that delve into gown up storytelling, but ppl hear adult and animation and assume porn! No. I simply mean more evolved fare outside of FROZEN. Japan, Korea, and China take a more broad-minded approach to the genre.

Bob Harper

I agree Alicia, about the term "adult" being associated with porn. Better to use "mature" instead. It would be best to include the target audience with the pitch, to be clear that it isn't for kids necessarily.

Mike Romoth

I think that improving tech for scanning the world around us will open up a ton of possibilities for even relatively amateur animators like myself. Just over the past few days, somebody released a software (app) that allows you to easily scan-in a surprisingly accurate and well-made model of your head using your smart phone cam. You can then take your head and put it onto a body model. I think scanning is going to change the face of animation in terms of cost and availability to the solo or small studio creator. If you can go for a 30-minute walk and record all the data you need to create a complicated 3-D scene with all the coolest textures and realistic details on your smart phone, you will have eliminated the need to arduously model and position each individual detail inside a 3-D scene. Work that used to take gigantic studios to complete will be available to someone with a smart phone, a laptop, and the knowledge to put the pieces together.

Paul Huenemann

I think thru the democratization of the production (ie, super fast computers get cheaper + software becomes more efficient) along with the sudden explosion of on line video on demand (vod) There are tremendous opportunities for person or "non-standard" productions. Of course, that's always been about, but never as easy as now. I started with stop motion and film, and dreamed about the day when I could see the film in less than a weeks time of processing and printing. Now, it's all instant and in one box- a regular miracle in a box! Yes, it's evolving at a very rapid pace now.

Claude Gagne

Okay... Let's try that again. What is the future of animated features? And that question can be asked another way: What is the future of animated feature scripts? Do you think an animation screenwriter is the right way to go in writing? Can an independent producer put out an animation feature like Disney, Pixar, etc..?

Bob Harper

An indie producer could put out a feature that is competitive with Disney, Pixar etc. - Chris Meledandri proved that with despicable me and is now running the Universal/Dreamworks animation world. As far as a profession goes, being an animated feature writer would be a tough road, considering most places develop inhouse and seek out top-tiered writers to join in. And pulling off what Chris did with Illumination would be a challenging and long journey - but all of this is possible.

Claude Gagne

Yes, Bob. It's like everything else. It's what you are talented in. I'm reincarnating an animation script from a hard copy I wrote about 8 years ago. I'll post it up later after a rewrite. It's like I watched this film years ago on DVD and now taking out the deadwood. Haha... Was Toy Story written with in house writers? Stay safe.

Michael Musal

Hi, there,

with the streamers coming on very strong, and the current situation we have a demand for home entertainment never seen before. Animation and animated characters always were in the top list .... So, my recommendation is to connect to potential team members and produce, produce, produce: Apple, Amazon, Netflix and many others will welcome this to fill their distribution buckets.... Software and Hardware are ready even for 5k, and Logic Pro, Final Cut Pro, CSP, Blender, Scrivener e.a. are affordable and able to provide for the necessary quality. Another important and innovative point to writers, animators, actors and designers of all kinds is the software induced option to produce character driven and crossmedia projects. That may challenge your team's accomplishment, but it pays... imagine a well designed character, applied simultaneously in film, game and comic, with almost the same assets, maybe using UE4 as a production platform. All that within the economical range of a tenth of the former expenses.... It is fun, the least to say, to see a character driven story grow like this within a new production context. Sure, you got to learn about how to do that, and you may have to forget about some holy grails and old attitudes, but isn´t dynamic change and learning more and more the story of our lives?



Bob Harper

Hey Claude - Toy Story and most Pixar films develop the story inhouse then they will bring writers to help flesh out, beef up , polish and finish the screenplays.

Claude Gagne

I hope we have scouts here, BOB! Is there a list I can place my name on or is it more complicated than that? LOL

Bob Harper

They usually have people in mind or go through a top-tiered agency to find those folks - they've used people like Rashida Jones and Amy Poehler just to name a couple.

Karen "Kay" Ross

I'm not sure what qualifies as "weird", but one of the reasons the format is often used to more easily digest diverse and horrifying stories (Persepolis, The Breadwinner, A Scanner Darkly, etc.) is because the medium allows us to more easily relate due to it not being real/real life/live action. I would agree, there are lots of opportunities to continue to use it, but for a lot of genres, they are likely to use it for pre-visualization before investing in the live-action. I'm thinking Disney must have figured that out, too! LOL!

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