In the distant past of 1995, the first fully computer-generated animation film fell with style in to the laps of a generation; that movie was Toy Story.
This particular film was created in what Pixar referred to as their processor farm, because the machines would literally make animal noises when one finished a frame.
Just as with the rest of technology, we have progress very far in the 23 years since Toy Story.
What was once a process consuming hundreds of thousands of dollars and taking more man hours than fixing a city street, we can now do on tablets no bigger than a standard notebook.
Two little words make this concept of computer animation for the every man possible: Open Source.
These programs, available online and often completely free, give creators the chance to stand among titans of production industry, like Disney and Pixar.
Truly this is the age of “where there’s a will there’s a way” for those with the will to create their own animation.
One program, however, is leading the charge for this movement: Blender, from the Blender Foundation, a dutch public-benefit corporation.
You may be asking yourself, why Blender specifically? Surely there are other programs? But Blender has a couple of examples that really set it in the forefront of this movement.
The smaller of the two is a short film directed by Daniel M. Lara, and it is the 6th short film funded by the Blender Cloud. The beauty of this film is it shows off how even if your wanting to make 2D animation you can with this program.
Traditionally, most animation does need to be created nearly frame by frame. Often we allow for reusable resources like backgrounds or make minimal changes while leaving most of the frame static.
The main reason is consistency in as many aspects as we can, barring an artistic form of design or direction. Using a 3D animation setup, certain things like character orientation or spatial recognition within environments.
While using Blender for 2D animation is very doable and has its advantages, the program was designed for 3D animation primarily.
The second film that shows us the tangible power of Blender on a few different levels is the film Next Gen created by a few studios hailing from China, Canada, and the U.S.A, but helmed by Netflix.
The reason this film is so important right now is that ninety-five percent of the animation used was Blender.
From a business standpoint that is super smart as getting Adobe Animate for a studio of around ten computers/tablets for animating would run you $2039.40 before tax.
Also that’s just the one program if you need others like Photoshop the costs begin to pile up quickly given the number of animators, foley artists, directors, musicians, and the numerous other employees you still need to pay.
Next Gen is something to look towards as animators for seeing just how far you can get with this free program. Given some mid-grade hardware individuals can produce excellent quality films.
Though studios under Netflix do have an advantage over indie productions given that their animators get paid and have more time to devote strictly to production.
However, like I said at the beginning, where there is a will, there is a way. Remember, passion is the life blood of creation, and for those passionate enough the tools are before you. What will you create?
On Toy Story:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKmSdY56VtY Hero – made with blender’s grease pencil