Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Value of Handcrafted Animation

As a young boy I was immensely fond of the special effects work of Ray Harryhausen the master of Stop Motion animation. (I have also been a fan of hand drawn animation, but that is a subject for another post.) Will the increased sophistication of computer graphics technology I had feared that I would soon hear a deathknell for stop motion. But it appears that the marketplace, as it so often does, is willing to expand and include rather than replace. We have seen this phenomenon before with Movies not destroying theatre, radio not destroying books. There are changes, sure, but for some forms of entertainment the market seems flexible.

According to this article byUSA Today this may be the case with Stop Motion animation as well. The success of Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit, and the recent Corpse Bride hint that audiences like the "look" of stop motion animation. Naturally, it doesn't hurt that the stories in all these cases are well written, which seems to be the most important market force in animation (regardless of what Keane thinks with his shifting Disney to all CG). One thing struck me in the story though, with CG vs. hand drawn animation the costs are pretty much identical. It appears that costs in CG vs. stop motion, this isn't the case:

It's also cheaper. A stop-motion film typically costs $30 million to $50 million, while a big-studio CGI movie costs closer to $80 million. Bride cost about $40 million; Gromit was $30 million.

This bodes well indeed for well done stop motion.

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