Disney’s Pencil Test for Frozen (2013)
I don’t think Disney is aware that their movies look so much better in two dimensions
That comment reminds me of another comment for which I can’t recall the source; paraphrased, “The best CGI now will always look outdated ten years from now, but awesome drawings will always look like awesome drawings.”
Also it was…not the best CGI
The thing I hate most about Disney not doing 2D anymore is that the box office disappointment of Winnie the Pooh (2011) (which is adorable and hilarious btw if you’ve never seen it) is often pointed to as the final nail in the coffin
Y’all released a 1 hr and 9 minute cutesy collection of Pooh Bear short stories about trying to find Eeyore’s lost tail on the SAME DAY AS THE FINAL HARRY POTTER FILM, of course it didn’t do well
AND y’all went up against YOURSELVES because Cars 2 had just opened like three weeks before and was very much still in theaters
It was not the animation, it was never the animation
I think this was an issue for The Princess and the Frog too. Not only did it come out the same month as the 2nd Chipmunk movie (which is trash but it made double what TPATF did).
You remember what came out literally one week after it?
Avatar. It went up against what was the highest grossing film of all time (until Endgame). They played themselves.
Don’t forget how Disney released one of their last 2D animated films of the era Treasure Planet on the same day as the first Harry Potter film and refused to delay the release even though they knew they would have made more money. They purposefully sabotaged their 2D animated films.
I’ve been re-watching all those Disney renaissance films, cause kids and Disney+ (don’t @ me, it’s easier than piracy), and yeah, the animation really holds up. Not so much with the 3D films (looking at you, Toy Story).
Yes, the 3D films are technologically amazing. But it’ll never hold a CANDLE to the blood, sweat, and tears people put into 2D animation. And as stated above: In ten years, that technologically amazing animation will look dated.
And if you think 2D animation can’t look as good as 3D animation, there are 2D animated TV SHOWS that are on a lower budget than 3D animated movies that look fucking STUNNING. Let me list a few.
Even if the story isn’t the best, Steven Universe’s animation is really beautiful and has such a nice style to it. The gems, the weapons, all of it just looks gorgeous. And have you SEEN the Other Friends animation?
Gravity Falls’s episode “Not What He Seems” aired five years ago, but it looks like it could have been animated today. The animation is absolutely stunning in every way. The lighting, the colors, everything. It’s just beautiful.
And have you SEEN The Owl House’s fight scenes? Those are entirely animated in 2D, but they’re so smooth and gorgeous! They look ten times better than the fight scenes in a lot of 3D animated movies!
And don’t get me STARTED on the Tangled The Series animation. It’s done entirely lineless, which is not easy, and it looks so good that there could be an actual camera recording it in real-time. I can’t describe how amazing it is in words.
These shows are going to be looked at in ten years and still marveled at for their absolutely beautiful animation. Meanwhile, 3D animated movies that look amazing now will be seen as looking horribly, horribly dated.
Since the first draft of my reply disappeared (thanks tumblr mobile) I’m going to try and summarize what I was saying before:
Basically, I think it’s a bit unfair to try and completely disregard 3D animation as a tool and medium. I ABSOLUTELY agree that 2D animation deserves recognition and it’s deliberate exclusion in mainstream movies by Disney is a MASSIVE disappointment and is REALLY shitty. AND I agree that 2D animation has a MUCH easier time holding up than 3D animation.
HOWEVER, when 3D animation works to its strengths, there are plenty of examples of 3D graphics that do still hold up.
In video games, for example: Super Mario Galaxy released in 2007, but still holds up, as does Jet Set Radio and Catherine (though still a little rough around the edges). There are also plenty of YouTube videos and articles you can find that give other examples as well
For movies, I can see films like Spiderverse, Trolls, and Captain Underpants having a good chance at holding up in the future. They focus more on creating a unique visual style that fits their movie and are very stylized!
And even older 3D movies like Shrek and some of the Barbie movies look pretty good still, despite being almost or over a decade old at this point
Additionally—there’s recent examples of 3D and 2D animation being used TOGETHER for absolutely fantastic results, like in Land of the Lustrous or Promare
The main issue with 3D animated movies (+ video games) now is that plenty of companies care more about making a product that will work IN THE MOMENT, instead of trying to create something that will last. So hyper-realism, new technological marvels, and established tropes (like Disney’s sameface in its 3D movies) will be used in a shallow and easy to consume manner. It’s about the spectacle, instead of using these things as tools, carefully and sparingly.
It’s the same issue with CGI in many modern movies all but replacing practical effects. Plenty of these movies age like milk because they’re trying so hard to look realistic, but their CGI is basically left to do all of the work itself, which isn’t what it can really do. It should be used in tandem with other effects or stylized to mask the uncanniness (leaning into how not real it is instead of trying to trick the brain into thinking it is)
Jurassic Park is a well-used example of this. The film used a thoughtful combination of practical effects and CGI, working to the strengths of both to create a stronger whole.
Basically—I think it’s a little unfair to try and pit 2D and 3D animators against one another. Both mediums require a TON of effort and skill for the animators! One is not inherently better than the other; they’re just tools with different strengths and uses. Both mediums deserve to exist and to be used properly!
^ I’m a hardcore 2d supremacist, but the problem with 3D isn’t 3D. It’s the industry (well, mainly Disney) stubbornly, bitchily refusing to be artistically adventurous
As a professional 3D artist I can’t agree more with these last comments. It pains me to see everyone hating on 3D when it’s so often the same people who are doing the animations and character designs and so on (not to mention that nowadays almost every 2D animation is produced in 3D, it’s only rendeded in flat-design and stylized so that it looks Like 2D). The problem is that 3D software allows to produce stuff much more effectively (less time = less cost) and that industry will always abuse this for getting cheaper stuff when they could explore the new tools and develop new styles, just like they did in Spiderverse.