Don’s Blog: 2-D & 3-D, A Tale Of Two Aesthetics

Posted: July 20, 2010 by doneast in Animation Editorials, Don East
Tags: , , , ,

Okay, kind of a cop-out this week, I can’t think of an actual topic or series to review and I’m currently finishing that other thing I do online.  But to fill my quota, here’s a reversion of something I made for my college speech class last semester.  The topic is about 2-D & 3-D art styles, I must warn you I wrote this to a more mainstream audience.  Also, it’s a short one, ranging at about five minutes when spoken but once again, sorry I’ll bring something new next week.


Do you love cartoons, I love cartoons.  They’ve been part of my life since I was a kid.  Now contrary to popular belief, cartoons are not for kids.  Not just when it comes to stuff like Family Guy but stuff like the Looney Tunes were made with adults in mind as well as kids.  However animation as a whole has taken a dive bomb as of the late, with quality control is hardly found as the definition for parody nowadays is replace one character with your own character, art style is lacking. And almost everything is computer generated imagery, or CGI, nowadays.

Stupd ugly hippie Smurfs, stealing the title "Avatar" away from Aang.

It has been said that with the success of James Cameron’s Avatar, movies with CGI has become a trend in movies today.  However, movie with CGI has been prominent since the 90s.  Most of them are from movies released by Disney/Pixar and DreamWorks but according to New York Times, several companies including Sony have released their own CGI movies, making the amount up to 14 last year.   Some critics, like animation historian Jerry Beck, call this merely a fad.  However if that’s the case, this is a fad that has been around since the 90s when Disney first released Pixar’s Toy Story.  DreamWorks started to make their own CGI movies to cash in on the popularity of Pixar. That’s when the trouble started in my opinion.

The problem with most CGI movies is that the stories are relatively the same.  Outsider that’s different from the group succeeds in life because he’s different, and it’s usually a talking animal voiced by a big named celebrity.

Okay, granted it is Disney vs 3 lesser companies but have you seen Disney's non-Pixar GGI films?

Compare the reviews for recent CGI movies like “Planet 51,” “Astro Boy,” and “Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeak-Quel” to Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” and you’ll notice a blatant difference in quality.  At least Pixar does something different each movie and shows actual heart in their work.

Also, would've killed them to make it more like the book?

Another problem I have is that some of the designs just don’t feel like it fits the 3-D aesthetic.  One example is “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” I can’t help but think this would’ve benefitted better in a tradition 2-D design.

Right: "AH! DEMONS!" Left: "That's slightly better."

Another example is Nickelodeon’s most recent cartoon, Fanboy & Chum Chum, the designs looked so horrible in CGI I asked why bother doing that aside from cashing in on a fad?   Of course the only good CGI cartoon on TV is another Nick show, “The Penguins of Madagascar,” based off of the DreamWorks movies which I admit is way better than said movies.  And then there’s the most recent commercials for Honey Nut Cheerios which now has the mascot which for the longest time been in 2-D now made the jump to 3-D and I can’t help but feel bored by this, the characters hardly moved and if they didn’t have the budget to do CGI then they should do CGI.

In closing, the need for 2-D animation is prevalent in today’s society even as the media moves toward 3-D imagery.  Not just there’s something to be said for tradition but in the end, some things just can’t be shown in 3-D.  However, CGI movies can improve when the writing staff realizes there’s more to CGI films than a cheap gimmick.

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