Animated Series

A Celebration of Video Game Animation

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This year's E3, or Electronic Entertainment Expo, wrapped up yesterday. The event offered an opportunity for game developers to show off their upcoming titles, recent technology breakthroughs, and so much more. Fans descended in droves upon the convention, and millions more tuned in online. Interactive entertainment has grown into a massive industry, and forms one of the most visible components of the animation industry in general. With E3 so fresh in our minds, it's worth taking a look at video games and celebrate the unique qualities that make it such an important part of the animation field.

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For one thing, video games are most likely to be consumed by general audiences within the United States. Animated feature films and animated series are often discounted as primarily family-friendly media, or else as crude adult entertainment. There are precious few PG-13 or TV-14 productions in animation. However, people who might turn up their nose at animated films and series often are happy to play a video game.  It could be a complex historical simulator, or a simple puzzle game. It might require a top-notch PC, or it could run on your phone. It might take twenty hours to complete, or twenty minutes. People of all types and all ages find video games that they enjoy. It's boosted the domestic industry to a  worth of $18.4 billion as of 2017. That's over $18 billion of animated works reaching players just within the United States! Compare that to a domestic film industry worth of $38 billion in 2016. While that's higher, only a fraction of that includes animation.

The video game industry isn't just incredibly lucrative though. The structure of the industry also allows smaller publishers to compete with larger ones, especially when it comes to PCs. In all media industries, distribution can lead to gatekeeping. Movie theaters only have so many screens, and thus have to pick and choose which films will draw the biggest audiences. Television channels only have twenty-four hours to fit programming into. With video games though, there are very few restrictions about how many titles can be put into a digital store. Personal projects are free to compete beside the prestigious AAA titles, the "blockbusters" of the gaming world. Platforms such as Steam allow anyone to sell their work, and sites such as itch.io tout plenty of indie titles. Promotion may rely on social media, paid advertisements, or sheer word of mouth. Some of the most popular channels on YouTube, for example, feature people playing video games. Being featured in a video often drives up business for people who may not otherwise have the budget for a marketing campaign.

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Because the gates to success are so much more open, and because the audience is so wide, a spectacular variety of video games may emerge - and they have. You have the colorfully energetic Super Mario Odyssey which won over players last fall; you have the photorealistic Detroit: Become Human that's winning over players since this past May. All kinds of styles can be seen on display. There's even room for experimentation. Pop-culture sensation Undertale used a pixelated style that hearkened back to the old arcade games of the past. Last year's Cuphead caused a stir with its hand-drawn animation, an endeavor that its creators mortgaged their house to create — and a gamble that thankfully paid off. If you can think of a visual style, there's a game out there that uses it. And if you can't find it, you can make it.

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One of the most remarkable things about games though is the way that they blend art and science. Some of the first computer games were text based, essentially codes-for-fun. As computers became more and more powerful, text became replaced with visuals — and that's where animation began to get its foothold in a powerful new industry. Improved codes allowed for more intricate gameplay, and improved computer animation allowed for more immersive gameplay. The result has yet to be fully explored. Entire classes can be found that focus on the psychology behind video games, how they work, and how they can be made more fulfilling. Developers are always looking for ways to get players to keep coming back, through both artistic craft and scientific understanding.

Animation for interactive media is such a unique part of the industry, and it's a part of the industry that's growing more and more. Major studios are funneling hundreds of millions behind big-name projects, and individuals are putting out new work every day online. As technology grows, video game animation will grow with it, and we'll be here to see it. All eyes are already turning to E3 2019, to see the newest chapter unfold. 


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

Rooster Teeth, Other Texas Animators Growing Strong

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Several states in the nation offer incentives to media producers. Texas is one of those states. Through the government's support, a thriving industry has sprouted up within Texas — especially a thriving animation industry. In fact, the state itself provides a hotline for animation jobs available in Texas. Animation has become a strong part of the Texan economy, both through direst employment and also through indirect effects.

One of the best examples is Rooster Teeth, based out of Austin, Texas, and has been around for fifteen years. Originally the producers focused on video game reviews, but began to branch out into non-game content around 2003. They produce animated series for Internet viewers: popular titles include Red vs. Blue, RWBY, and Camp Camp. They even have divisions dedicated to producing games and podcasts as well. Live-action content is part of the mix too, providing a diverse portfolio of content that has garnered them incredible success - success that is only growing.

Just last week, Rooster Teeth made headlines when it announced that none other than Michael B. Jordan will be joining forces with the studio for gen:LOCK, a new anime-style series. Jordan has built up his reputation as an actor lately, and just this year appeared in Marvel’s smash hit Black Panther as the main antagonist. He commands a lot of starpower, and hints at the increasing prestige of Rooster Teeth as a studio, as well as online animation as a medium.

Rooster Teeth doesn't just attract the attention of top-notch Hollywood talent though. It has also gathered a base of devoted fans. Across their YouTube channels they’ve gathered up to 38 million subscribers according to The Wall Street Journal. Besides this free audience though, they also have two hundred thousand people who pay a monthly subscription for exclusive content, and early-access to the rest. In fact, every year Rooster Teeth hosts RTX, an annual convention devoted entirely to the studio. The event draws sixty-five thousand people annually to the Austin area. That brings people to local venues and shops, thus giving a boost to the local economy in general.

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Now not every studio in Texas has the kind of celebrity that Rooster Teeth does, but they still form an integral part of the local entertainment industry. Hundreds of jobs are created at animation studios, especially plenty of stable jobs. The Texas Film Commission has only limited resources to give out, and those resources are determined by political winds. Live-action productions might receive funding, but because of their quick turn-around time, work is finished quickly and then funding may be denied thanks to new attitudes in the state legislature. Animated productions inherently take more time though. Once the state has agreed to fund a project, then that funding persists through the duration of the production. As a result, animation is more insulated from shifting political attitudes, and more stable as an industry within Texas.

Texan animation does have some stiff competition. Besides Hollywood, Canada and Georgia have stronger subsidies for studios. However, Texas does boast lower living costs coupled with vibrant metropolitan areas. It's a strong area to consider for animators seeking employment. With such a well-established animation community already in place, the state looks to be a hotbed of excitement in the near future.

January's News in Animation!

It's only the 1st month in 2018 and there's already so much going on in the animation industry! Here is a few things that have come and yet to come in the month of January! Stay tuned for a round-up for every month this year!

 

1. Animation at the Golden Globes!

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So many great animated features were nominated for "Best Animated Feature Film" at the Golden Globes.

  • Boss Baby, which was released on March 31, 2017 by 20th Century Fox and produced by DreamWorks Animation.
  • Breadwinner, which was released on November 17, 2017 by GKIDS, Elevation Pictures and Studio Canal. It was also produced by numerous production companies, including: Cartoon Saloon, Aircraft Pictures, Guru Studios, Jolie Pas, Irish Film Board, Melusine Productions and Telefilm Canada.
  • Ferdinand, which was released on December 10, 2017 by 20th Century Fox and produced by Blue Sky Studios, 20th Century Fox Animation and Davis Entertainment. 
  • Loving Vincent, which was released on October 13, 2017 in the United States by Altitude Film Distribution and Next Film. It was produced by BreakThru Productions and Trademark Films. 

And the one that took home the Golden Globe, Coco, which was released on November 22, 2017 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios!

 

2. Animated Features in January!

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Paddington 2 was released on January 12, 2018 by Studio Canal and produced by Heyday Films, Studio Canal, Canal+ and Ciné+! The journey of a whimsical teddy bear who goes through a series of jobs to save up money for a pop-up book he falls in love with. When the book is stolen, he embarks on a different search, Paddington sets forth to unmask the thief!

Check out the trailer here!

 
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3. Animated Series in January!

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On Netflix there's a few TV Animated Kids' Shows, including: Trolls: The Beat Goes On!Llama Llama, and The Adventures of Puss in Boots Season 6. 

As you know, Animated Series are not just for children, Netflix also has a few other animated series released, including: Devilman Crybaby, which started January 5, 2018, an adaptation of the comic Devilman by Go Nagai. There is also a long list of other Anime being released on Crunchyroll that you can find here!

 

4. New Animation Competition

Launched by Studio Art&Graft, "7 Second Sins" is a competition where all animations must be 7 seconds long and must reinterpret the assigned sin for the month.  The first deadline being January 27, 2018 and on "Pride" with purple as the color palette. 

If you're interested in joining in on the competition, check out the rules and deadlines here!

 

5. Animation Programs for Students

There is also a lot going on for animation students all over the world. New programs, improved programs, and tuition free animation programs!

The Sunrise Animation Studio in Japan has a free animation training program that you can find out more about here! Paris, France also provides a similar opportunity with TeamTO at the animation school La Poudrière in Bourg-lès-Valence, which is right next to their studio!

Plus a whole long list of more of these new and improved programs here!

 

Stay up to date on more news in animation on all our social media platforms!

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Looking Back at Adventure Time

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A couple weeks ago, a party was held in Hollywood. It was a wrap party, celebrating the end of production on one of the most important animated series of our time: Adventure Time. The award-winning series is now on its tenth and final season, and in honor of its conclusion it seems fitting to go back and explore the impact the show has had on television animation.

To fully understand the impact of Adventure Time, we need to understand the world of the late naughts, prior to 2010. To put it lightly... those were not kind years for television animation. The three major players - Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network - had only limited offerings. Live-action youth sitcoms were beginning to dominate. Cartoon Network in particular attempted to roll out a programming block in 2009 titled "CN Real", dedicated only to live-action reality programming. Nickelodeon was trying to find something that would stick as well as Spongebob could, but programs like Fanboy and Chum Chum failed to garner strong views. Disney Channel meanwhile had been given over to programs like Jonas and Suite Life; Phineas and Ferb was one of the few noteworthy animated programs near the end of the decade.

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Enter into the scene Pendleton Ward, a graduate from the California Institute for the Arts. In 2006 he made a short titled Adventure Time. By November 2007 it garnered over a million views, having spread around the Internet. Ward took his idea to Nickelodeon and pitched it as a show, but found himself rejected. He then took it to Cartoon Network, where his pitch was accepted. The first episode aired April 5, 2010, to an audience of 2.5 million viewers. From there, the show has continued to receive popularity and praise. Adventure Time has received major nominations every year it has aired, and won several Emmy Awards and Annie Awards. 

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So what is it about Adventure Time that makes it so special? One part of its appeal lies in the wacky off-the-wall world. The main stars are a human named Finn, voiced by Jeremy Shada, and his loyal shape-shifting dog Jake, voiced by John DiMaggio. They encounter characters like an Ice King, a vampire, a lumpy space princess (a blob whose name is literally Lumpy Space Princess), a bubblegum princess, a lemon, a living video game console... and the list goes on from there. It's an environment full of "fun and excitement" and "pure imagination."

At the same time, Adventure Time manages to handle more complex and deeper themes. Characters are not just paper cutouts, but deeper people who we get to explore and discover more about. Critics have praised it for talking about things like mental illness and loss. There has even been an academic interest in the show: for example, Emma Jane published an article in the Journal of Children and Media in which she described the ways that Adventure Time handled gender roles. The balance of wackiness with headiness has helped keep the show entertaining and intriguing for its audience.

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It's a balance, in fact, that has redefined the industry. Adventure Time is often credited with sparking a new television animation renaissance. In fact, alumni from Adventure Time have gone on to make excellent shows of their own. Patrick McHale, a director on the series, went on to create Over the Garden Wall. Rebecca Sugar, a writer and storyboard artist, became the showrunner on the hit series Steven Universe. Ian Jones-Quartey (OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes), Skyler Page (Clarence), Julia Pott (Summer Camp Island), the list goes on. Besides alumni though, other channels saw the success of Adventure Time, realized that cartoons were still a viable crowd-pleaser, and took a risk on series like Gravity Falls and The Loud House. Everyone wanted to recapture the magic of Adventure Time, and it has led to some truly great works.

With the show's production officially stopped, and the last season airing, it's safe to say that all cast and crew should feel proud for taking part in something so important. Adventure Time has not only inspired fans, but breathed new life into an entire industry. Its impact will not be forgotten, and whatever the crew move on to next will surely be spectacular.

Animated Series coming to Netflix

Need something new to watch on Netflix? Keep an eye out for these new animated series that will be launching within the next year!

Disenchantment

If you enjoy watching "The Simpsons" and "Futurama", Matt Groening is stirring a little something that may just be the perfect new animated series for you to get into. "Disenchantment" is being prepared to launch on Netflix in 2018. Set in a “crumbling medieval kingdom of Dreamland,” a “hard-drinking young princess Bean" and her fantasy creature campions!

Read more about who the voices for the characters will be here

Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters

A toy that was originally introduced in 1976 is being produced by Netflix and Hasbro as a new animated series that will be launched at the end of 2017. Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters is about three friends, who turn an accident into an adventure. An experimental chemical changes their lives, but for the better...for everyone!

Read more about it here.

Godzilla: Monster Planet

In the 60 years the monster has been around, this will be the first animated series for Godzilla. Set in the year 2048, humans will try to win back the planet that was taken away from them by monsters. It may not look like the Godzilla we're used to, but they are hoping it can be enjoyed by old fans as well as a new generation of fans. Look for it in November 2017!

Check out the trailer here

More

Of course, there are so many more exciting animated shows launching on Netflix soon. Click here for a full list of premieres. 

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