BAFTA-nominated Iain Gardner specialises in 2D animation, working with anything from traditional hand-drawn-on-paper animation through to Flash and After Effects, as well as Stop Motion Pro and Digicel for line tests. He argues that now is a great time to be working in 2D. “The technology is available to everyone. You don’t need to be a big studio any more to produce it.”

But haven’t people been shying away from 2D over the past decade or more? On the contrary, Iain argues. “The whole ‘2D is dead’ [thing] was a marketing gimmick trying to promote a bunch of trite CG-animated Disney films,” he insists. Things go in cycles, Tom Mortimer of 12foot6 notes. “When we first started, people were talking about the death of illustration because of digital photography.”


Amazing Spectacles’
Big Bad Wolf spot mixes hand-drawn animation with live visuals

Traditional 2D animation and digital techniques are not mutually exclusive, of course. A recent campaign for gocompare.com called Big Bad Wolf, from the director-led Amazing Spectacles studio in London, used After Effects to composite traditional hand-drawn animation with live action and CG backgrounds.

“Although the animation is the same, [modern post-production] enables us to do so many things more quickly, like multi-planing to create depth,” said veteran director Richard Bazley, who was responsible for the spot. “[But while] some effects can be recreated digitally, there are certain effects, particularly the 1930s style ones, which need to be hand-drawn and scanned in.”


Trailer for Iain Gardner’s short film The Tannery

However Iain says technology can be something of a double-edged sword for 2D. “The desire to do everything at three times the speed that it actually used to take means you end up using a lot of digital shortcuts,” Iain says. “I wish I had the time to indulge myself and get back to proper, mind-blowing single-frame hand-drawn animation.”

Animation trends 2012

Intro

1) Stop motion animation is hip again

2) Interest in hand-crafted animation grows

3) Combine animation with programming

4) Children's TV animation rediscovers its craft roots

5) Photorealistic CG meets traditional animation

6) Animation firms positive about George Osbourne tax breaks, but have reservations