Animation Industry Trends of 2018: It’s About To Get Real With Real-Time

2017 In Review

2017 has been a real roller coaster for the animation industry, with buyouts, closures, technical advances, and victories. With so many highs and lows this year (and a few loop-the-loops to boot) it’s time to keep our head and arms inside at all times as we look back at 2017.

The Buyout Heard Round The World

Likely the biggest seismic shift in the industry was Disney acquiring a sizeable portion of Fox’s properties. Along with now being the curators of our childhoods, this means that Disney now owns Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios. That means 40% of the feature-length animation being produced in the U.S. is coming from one company. That’s a huge slice of the pie and time will tell how this shake-up will affect the animation landscape.

Are three feature animation studios too much to handle? Could the studios be shuttered or used as production arms for other projects, much like Sony Pictures Imageworks? The addition of these assets could also play heavily into Disney’s announced streaming service. Yes, they have an unfathomable back catalog of content, but moving forward, new original bingeable content is king on streaming services. Perhaps those additional animation studios will be kept busy creating new, episodic content the same way DreamWorks Television Animation does.

Real-Time Rendering and Creation

The ability of render and game engines to do real-time rendering and animation is setting new digital benchmarks for creators. With even more flexibility in their post-production and compositing options, these leaps in real time technology could change the face of animation.

The ability to create animated programs using a game engine gained a lot of traction the past year with shows like Morgan Lives in a Rocket House (made with Unreal Engine 4) and Mr. Carton (made with Unity). Foregoing a traditional animation pipeline, and subsequent studio setup, these show creators can create full-blown animated content without the need for a render farm. Being able to trim steps like compositing and rendering put more control in the creator’s hands and brings the scale of the project down to a more manageable size for a one-man studio.

On The Homefront

Nimble has had an incredible 2017 and we’re stoked for another go around in 2018. More and more companies are looking to the cloud for production solutions and the work we accomplished in 2017 allows us to launch into the new year with the tools animation creators need to make the move to the cloud.

Nimble Collective in 2017

We’re proud to say our Pilot Program shorts hit the festival circuit in a BIG way. The pilots took home dozens of wins across the globe, including Coin Operated which qualified for Oscar consideration. We couldn’t be prouder! These wins validate the success of these first-time directors and showcases the power of the Nimble platform. Many of those directors now run their own studios on the Nimble platform with ongoing projects.

The individual run studios joined other studios like Lytro and Long Winter Studios on the platform. A cornucopia of animated content is being developed during our beta phase, from full-blown animated shorts and animation for games to straightforward EFX shots and post-production compositing. We look forward to expanding the reach of the beta program in 2018 to include more studios to help us really push the technological envelope.

Moving To The Cloud: Current Risks and Rewards

Along with empowering amazing, award-winning content, Nimble has kept itself busy by sharing our knowledge with our peers. Our very own Julie McDonald and Corban Gossett published a white paper for SMPTE titled ‘Moving To The Cloud: Current Risks and Rewards – An analysis of the state of the art for cloud-based production pipelines’. Along with co-author Mac Moore, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Conductor Technologies, the paper gives an in-depth look at the current state of cloud computing as well as where the technology could be going in the future, and how best to get there.

As 2017 came to a close, and we reflected on the year in animation we saw the ever-changing landscape of animation production move towards virtual and cloud-based technologies, from the large-scale feature film studios with integrated pipelines to the individuals working from home with the technology at hand. As we predicted (and plan for), the animation industry is embracing the cloud and it’s an exciting time to work with studios and creators to help them find the best way to make the leap.

Barry T. Smith
Barry T. Smith
As Nimble Collective's Content Marketing Ninja, Barry is responsible for bringing Nimble news and goodness to all the animating boy and girls of the world. And he does it through the power of the Internet, and not a rickety 'ol sleigh and tiny reindeer.

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