The 2014 Animation Year in Review

The year that was 2014 was a great one in many ways for animation in all forms, and yet for all the successes, there were still a few concerns. Here’s some personal thoughts on the year that was, and a few more on the year ahead.

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Get Innovative with Merchandise: Hold an Auction!

Merchandise has become an ever more important part of the making-money-from-animation pie. Services such as Redbubble, Society6 and Etsy have exploded the number of options available to creators and producers alike looking to profit from their wares. That being said, a good old fashioned auction is still a powerful draw for fans.

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The Podcast: Episode 1 with Rusty Gray

After some time in development, I’m proud to announce that today marks the beginning of monthly podcasts here on the Animation Anomaly blog.

This month, my guest is accomplished world-travelling animator Rusty Gray. Currently based in Vancouver, Rusty has studied at Full Sail university and Animation Mentor. He has also launched a website of his own (RustyAnimator.com) that provides plenty of tips and advice to aspiring students and animators.

Although the focus is on education within the animation industry, we discuss a wide range of topics surrounding it from what skills degrees actually provide, to where the future of animation education lies.

Some relevant links from the discussion:

I’m a bit jittery in this first episode so feel free to provide some feedback either in the comment form below, or via email to charles [at] animationanomaly [dot] com.

The theme music is ‘Big Band Swing (Messin’)’ by Simon Wallace

[soundcloud]http://soundcloud.com/charleskenny/animation-anomaly-podcast-episode-1-rusty-gray[/soundcloud]

The Compelling Reasons That Will Make You a Fan of Hatsune Miku

If we’re being honest, even I wouldn’t have believed that headline if it was written even six months ago. Clearly being only vaguely aware of who Hatsune Miku is wasn’t enough and it took a proper introduction before I ‘got’ her. Of course there’s a lot of appeal to the character of Miku herself, and that forms the basis for many young fans’ devotion. That’s not what makes her appealing to me though; it’s the concept and execution of the character’s role, and what she represents from a business standpoint. To put it simply: she’s the future.

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Boomerang Relaunch is Too Little Too Late

Cartoon Network was the original home for the vast library of Hanna-Barbera and MGM cartoons that Ted Turner had at his disposal. It soon outgrew that purpose as original content began to be broadcast on the channel and eventually banishing them altogether to a new network: Boomerang. To say they languished there is an understatement, but Turner’s attempt to make amends comes too little, too late.

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Here’s Proof That Dramatic Animation Is Viable on TV

Live-action has a virtual monopoly on lots of the entertainment industry. Animation is slowly making inroads, but one area that has been staunchly resistant to change has been television dramas. Comedy series are a dime a dozen and prove that animation can be popular with adults as well as kids on the small screen, but drama is whole different kettle of fish. Thankfully, some proof has recently come to light that suggests that dramatic animation isn’t as much of a pipe dream as we believe.

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Are Creative Risks Worth Taking?

Animation has always had a strong creative streak with plenty of variety to it. If you didn’t like that Walt Disney was chasing realism, all you had to do was look across town to the Warner guys on Termite Terrace and see cutting edge character comedy in full flow. Today is no different; while major studios have become increasingly bland in their offerings, there are plenty of others taking up the creative mantle. Is what they’re doing worth the effort and risk involved?

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Why I would Turn These Five Comics from SPX Into Animated Series’

The Small Press Expo (SPX) is an annual gathering for creators and fans of independent comics and everything to do with them. It’s a two day affair that (mercifully) takes place near Washington DC and is often both a showcase and barometer for what’s happening in the indie comic world. It’s also full of many talented individuals creating some of the finest comics you can find. Given the relationship between comics and animation, you would think it would be a great place to discover great ideas to animate. You wouldn’t be wrong.

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Animation for Adults has Become Staler than Week-old Bread

Bojack Horesman is Netflix’s attempt to break into the lucrative world of animation that caters to that holy grail known as the male, 18-35 demographic. The innovation of course, is that this is from Netflix, the pretender to the HBO crown of critically acclaimed programming. For all the success of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Bojack fails to hit the same mark and provides the latest scrap of evidence that making animation for anyone older than 16 is a conundrum the continues to bedevil anyone willing to take a crack at it. Why is that the case though?

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How Animated Films and Cinemas Can Avoid Sliding Into Oblivion

The theatrical market for animated feature films has remained much the same for many decades. A few things have changed of course, but on the whole, things operate in much the same way that they always have. That is to say, films are released to cinemas first, then home media, then PPV cable, then regular cable, before finally spluttering onto regular TV many years after the initial release. Such a model has served the industry well for decades, but for cinemas, the jig may finally be up, and animated features are going to have to change if they are going to survive and thrive.

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The Pixar Luster Has Worn Off, Leaving A Tarnished Studio Behind

Is this finally it? Has the last nail been hammered into the coffin of Pixar’s credibility? Long held in high esteem for the quality of their films, their unique NorCal-influenced approach to filmmaking, and the resulting highly artistic masterpieces that embodied the vision of a truly artistic and collaborative effort won them friends and admirers the world over. It would appear however, that a string of sequels and the studio’s inclusion in the recent Silicon Valley scandal that ensnared many tech companies in the region, may finally put paid to Pixar’s esteemed reputation.

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