Cartoon 2021 - Cartoon Digital
Industry Report: Animation
A smoother, slicker and more exciting creative future awaits CG animators
At Cartoon Digital, experts discussed the most recent developments in digital production and how these are being accelerated by game engines and VR
The second day of Cartoon Digital 2021 (26-28 May) hosted a panel entitled “Real Time Revolution! Are Game Engines the Future of Digital Production for TV and Film?”. The session was a chance to discuss how the most recent technological advances are changing workflows and redesigning production pipelines to make animated content creation more time-efficient, democratised, artist-friendly, nimble and collaborative.
After a brief introduction touching upon the theme of convergence, made by Warner Media's head of Digital Content Strategy and Product, Marc Goodchild, the floor was given to multi-disciplinary creative consultant and media executive Rafi Nizam. Nizam said that CG animation is going through a major paradigm shift consisting of three main directions. These are bringing significant growth in commercial opportunities as well as increased production efficiency for both studios and freelancers. The first change involves rendering, now shifting from offline to real-time, as game engines such as Unity and Unreal “get more and more sophisticated”, with an “almost non-existent gap in terms of quality”. The second relates to the so-called “creation element”, which is now shifting from the use of 2D screens (namely, tablets and computers to create 3D assets) to a spatial paradigm, favoured by the use of VR, which guarantees a much more intuitive, immersive approach. Furthermore, spatiality also pares down production time. In one of the slides presented by Nizam, for example (see main visual above), attendees could see how an experienced artist required almost 11 hours to draw a less detailed android model, whilst a junior artist using up-to-date technology with no experience in 3D modelling and just one week of training on VR-based software spent about 45 minutes getting a better result, making the whole workflow roughly 14 times faster. The last shift sees a transition from single media to transmedia productions. Overall, these changes look set to transform the production workflow from a factory-line model to a parallel, freer creative process.
Producer Mladen Dukić, from Banja Luka-based studio Aeon Production, agreed on the benefits highlighted by Nizam in his presentation and showed some excerpts of his company's most recent works. He added that the modernisation of animation equipment may indeed be a high-end investment, but it is still at a tolerable level and can offer huge prospective future gains, including the possibility to make smaller changes (for example, the shade of a background or the colour of a flag) to the work “real-time, at any time”. All of these groundbreaking developments, he argued, will also benefit individual artists and smaller studios. Goodchild added that these exciting advancements will make the production of series and other transmedia products easier as well. During his final words about the possible reorganisation of physical studio space, Dukić concluded that the newer VR technologies are, fortunately, “less and less demanding”, and thus they may require fewer or no adjustments.
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