Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Theory On The Death Of Animation

Like many eras of animation the most devastating moment in animation history where artists weren't allowed to be artists, started around the late sixties. Though there is no official beginning to this period, it had been building up in the industry for years before it finally hit the industry hard.

For example it can be traced back to companies making cheaper alternative low-budget animated productions for alternative markets instead of top quality animation focused on families like Disney's approach. This began before television. It began in the forties when Disney was still the dominant animation provider and forced other companies financially to make lower budget animations while they ran the show. This is because in my opinion Disney had isolated certain technologies and top quality staff from other studios from using.

With Walt's power and influence he also took control of the mainstream market in animation especially with the family market that he kept to himself. This drove other companies away from those markets. The ultimate fate for these companies under Disney is that they were either driven out of business or had to re-organize to make smaller more affordable productions. This would eventually lead to companies moving into more risque and mature themed animated productions and with more consistently lower budgets as the interest to invest in animation had died during this period.

This made Disney the only company with a top quality output through dirty business and abducting talented artists from other companies. Though when Disney became to over focused on detail and the technical levels of animation instead of story, character depth and a tight plot line the company became less focused on producing an overall attractive product. This drove audiences away to the smaller animated production houses who were making money through television. Like Hannah-Barbera's and Flimations television output and several other studios that began catering to television there is a huge list of them.

This is when the theatrical animated operations of the Golden Age of Hollywood were slowly disappearing from the screen and instead appearing on television in the early sixties. The Disney company was losing credibility in this period and even before Walt's death the empire his artists and financiers built was starting to go through a dark uncertain period financially that they wouldn't recover from for the next twenty five years.

When Disney died the leading animation company lost direction this left other companies with no major influence or leader and allowed them to go without direction in the industry. Like going into the industries of the adult animation market or cheap television market or making less wholesome cartoons, because Disney was in control of that market. Because of that the companies decided on alternative approaches.

The death of animation, although building up for a time , finally became official in the late sixties. If I had to point out a certain year I would say 1968, with the social changes with America in a hostile political, social, and economic environment. Also The Jungle Book the previous year being the last mainstream commercial success before this dark period.

Though in the process of this you still had true artists at heart working in the industry that would eventually resurrect animation as a mainstream art form. Richard Williams, the National Film Board of Canada's host of animators, and even to a lesser extent Hannah-Barbera,was encouraging interest in the animation industry. Overall what prevailed in the beginning of the "Renaissance" of animation was a group of core artists trying to produce essentially good work.

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