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Is 2D Animation Dead?

Is 2D Animation Dead?

April 15, 2024

2D animation dead? I don’t think so.

I’ve read loads of articles mourning the death of 2D animation to the point that it’s become ‘fact’ within the industry – so is 2D animation dead? No, this isn’t completely true. 2D animation is very much alive and well, but just not in the way we think…

Mainstream theatre releases have disappeared since the Princess and the Frog in 2009, and Disney favoured 3D films with Tangled and Frozen becoming huge hits. It didn’t help when Disney announced that 2D animation was dead! In truth, The Princess and the Frog did very well for a 2D film, gaining a large profit. But in the following year, Tangled made double and Rapunzel generated more profit than Tiana.

Many believe 3D animation is the way forward for both technical and storytelling aspects, whatever type of video production it is: be that a full length movie, or an animated explainer video. But that’s not necessarily a view we subscribe to. Whatever technique you choose for your animation, it needs to help you tell the story – it’s a means to an end, not the end in itself.

In the early years, 3D was slow, expensive and underdeveloped, with very little talent to call on. After investing in talent over the years, studios specialising in 3D are now producing good stories. And software has become cheaper and faster, which means it has potential to feed into TV productions. As seems to be the case.

So there’s no hope for 2D then?

Let’s not forget, it’s the story/concept that makes a great piece, not the technique used. It always pays to think about your animation with respect to its purpose, place and audience, not just how the animation is created.

While 3D animation has some good films, among them are also bad ones. And the same goes for 2D. If films like Sinbad were made in 3D, would the technique alone make the film any better?

Although it appeared to be slipping away, 2D animation is still running like clockwork despite what mainstream press might have you think. Europe is still largely 2D orientated with releases such as the French film ‘The Day of the Crows’ (2012). And Japan pulls on our heartstrings with works from Miyazaki. It’s suggested we’re in a 2D renaissance right now, with most of the 2D action on TV and, more importantly, online.

You’ve got the power

The online 2D animation industry is growing with work readily available from sites like YouTube, that anyone from around the world can view. Increasing budgets should mean larger risks can be taken. There are many shows available and it’s easy to see that volume is growing fast.

The Internet’s popularity outweighs TV and the appeal of platforms such as YouTube as a form of monetising your work is forever growing. Online crowd funding also supports 2D animation with leading Disney animators (James Lopez and Rick Farmiloe) producing an Indiegogo campaign to launch a 2D animation called Hullabaloo, which showcases the best of 2D animation. So far it’s raised over $400,000. And their next goal is to reach $500,000.


Although the YouTube algorithm has changed over the recent years to support quantity not quality, the online community is still powering 2D animation and professionals in this medium can be supported through crowd funding schemes. I’ve noticed this has become very popular in the recent year with artists earning a good living through pledges made on their Patron page. Of course, it’s not that easy, as most of artists earning a large salary have already gained a big enough following before needing on a crowd funding scheme.

Future Trends

I’ve read many comments online suggesting that 3D is losing it’s quality with films such as ‘Monsters University’ and ‘Cars 2’ feeling a little unnecessary. 2D isn’t dead, it just needs a good comeback.

Furthermore, if we look back to the John Lewis 2013 Christmas ad (‘The Bear and Hare’), we can see there’s hybrid of animation starting to form. See the making of video.

Lily Allen

This is the result of a constant shift between 2D and 3D worlds and combined with the compelling narrative, struck a nostalgic cord in people. Oscar award-winning ‘Paperman’ developed a technique whereby hand-drawn animation is mixed with CG to create a textured image that feels organic but has the impact of CG. They developed this further with the later release of ‘Feast’ which features the softness of 2D colouring.



The verdict?

2D animation is thriving and we’re always looking out for new styles and techniques to introduce!