A film may be animated on paper, then scanned in and completed digitally. A very similar looking film may be animated directly into digital form, by using an electronic stylus and a Wacom or other tablet, but still adhering to the traditional process of superimposition of images for registration and then either animating straight ahead or by the more controlled method of extremes, breakdowns and inbetweens.
A traditional 2D film can be processed and enhanced digitally to the point that it greatly resembles something done with 3D models in Maya or another similar 3D program. Conversely, a film animated with CGI models can now be rendered to look like it was animated on paper. Then there is the increasingly dominant TV production method of 2D digital puppetry. And there are now numerous examples of hybrid productions, where some elements are singled out to be created as CGI models while others are still done in 2D, the output of both being blended in the production.
But just for fun, let's see what traditional 2D elements we can discern in the nine Oscar contender films I listed last week.
The Plainly 2D
|Me and my Moulton|
The most obviously and directly 2D are Bus Story, Duet, Me and my Moulton and Footprints. They all show signs of having been animated on paper. In Bus Story, Duet and Footprints, one can even see the character of pencil lines in the final render, although I wouldn't be too surprised to learn than someone has developed some automatic and logarithmic way to convincingly duplicate even that look.
Me and my Moulton looks inked in the same way that hand-traced cels used to look inked, but I would bet that this was all done in a computer.
The 2D, 3D Hybrids
|The Dam Keeper|
Even with the Disney funded Feast, I am not sure there is anything done on paper beyond the concept stage. But I have not found anyway production details about this film. Anyone out there know?
Of the three remaining, I feel certain that two are straightforward CGI model productions: A SingleLife and Sweet Cocoon, though the former has opted for a look that is somewhat in the clay animation style of a Nick Park.
|A Single Life|
And a Big Hand for Stop Motion
Last, and in many ways most interesting of the whole group, is the extraordinary stop motion film The Bigger Picture. It is extraordinary in its intended audience, which is emphatically adult; it its scale, which is actual size (a character who is intended to represent a six foot man is actually six feet tall in from of the camera); in its variety of media, including wet, opaque paint on a wall and other flat surfaces, papier maché and real furniture and rooms as props and settings.
|The Bigger Picture|
So there you are. But just now, as I type this, it is 5:06pm, Pacific Time, and that's time to go watch the Oscars presentations and see who wins!