Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hand-Drawn vs. Flash

One debate topic that has been bouncing around in my head for the past week or so is the topic of which looks better: practical effects in filmmaking, or digital effects done in post production.  There are many examples to fuel each side of the debate;  like how you can empathize with puppet Yoda more so than with CGI Yoda, or how so many action films these days utilize so many CGI effects that it might as well be categorized as animation.  That shifted my thought to a topic that has been a debate since the inception of the "disease of the animation industry": Adobe Flash.

Before this piece of software existed the entire process was done with pencil and paper, and everyone was admiring the talented animators at Disney and Dreamworks for creating such beautifully hand-drawn animated work.  But then the more economical option of Adobe Flash came around and people noticed a big difference.  It's sort of become a running joke of the animation industry when we can tell that something was "made in flash," just because it looks completely computerized and "lazy."

And in some cases, they're right.  A few examples I can think of are some newer incarnations of the Tom & Jerry cartoon (One of my childhood favorites):  There's Tom and Jerry Tales that aired back in 2010 with shorts on Cartoon Network as well as other movie entries, which is a hand drawn animated cartoon:
And then there's the Tom and Jerry show, which aired back in 2014, which is made in Flash:
Notice a big difference between the two?  The second video looks lazy and lacking in heart.  Sure recycling drawings and using a squash and stretch effect for movement might be much easier to do, but why do it when it just doesn't look as good?  I'm sure animation companies are on a strict budget and they have to work with what they're given, but if it's unpleasant to the eye then I just won't watch it.

This happens with other cartoons too: older episodes of Johnny Test were hand-drawn, and the ones in newer seasons were made in Flash, and the newer episodes pale in comparison for the main reason that it feels stiff and lazy.

However, even though I side with the argument that entirely hand-drawn animation looks much better, that doesn't mean that everything made in Flash is horrible-looking.  Another one of my favorites, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is created in Flash. There are instances where it can be a little obvious, like how most of the characters are modeled the same way, constantly reused facial expressions and walk cycles, but then there are some scenes like this one here where the characters really come alive and look fantastic.  (I've also always wanted to create a sequence based on the character Discord):
I guess in the end it really all depends on what works best; whether you have the time and resources for a completely hand-drawn animation or if you just want to start in Flash for now, do whatever you think will look the best way it could possibly be.  Adobe did just update Flash into a more 'professional' application called Adobe Animate, (I still haven't had the chance to try it out), so maybe this new update will keep it from being the butt of every cartoon joke.

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