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Animation is famous for taking an excessive amount of time to create, but why does it take so long? There are many more styles available to us now compared to the original disney style of cell animation, so why has technology not made animation faster?

There are a few reasons why animation still takes a long time to create, but we can argue that animation has become faster in recent years. The main problem is complexity and some things you would assume to be simple, could actually be complicated to create in an animated world. 

Let’s briefly discuss the options available to us today. 

Cell animation

Cell animation was once the most common form of animation. It involves highly skilled artists drawing each frame of animation by hand, or more commonly today using a tablet. These artists train for years and usually work within a team. There will be artists who sketch the roughs, artists who draw the line art and a colourist who will add in all of the colours to each frame. It is a real labour of love that takes a lot of craft and time to produce. The most common example of this kind of animation is the classic Disney animation.

2D animation

Today most animation is computer generated using programs such as Toonboom. You can use Toonboom to create the cell animation style of animation but you can also animate by creating rigs. The simplest way to imagine this style of animation is to think of a shadow puppet show. The arm, head body and legs are all on separate layers and you manipulate the position to create the animation. This is a much faster way to animate characters but comes with some limitations. Rotating a character is notoriously difficult in 2D animation and although some rigs allow a small amount of rotation, most rigs can’t rotate more than 45 degrees as they are flat objects. 

Another common style of animation is motion graphics. This can be created in 2D and 3D environments and is usually produced using programs such as Adobe After Effects. 

3D animation

3D animation has developed with rapid pace since the early 2000s and is now readily accessible to anyone owning a computer. Free programs such as blender offer an entry level platform to 3D animation while 3d Max, Cinema 4d and Maya offer a more industry standard platform. 3D animation has a range of applications and is becoming faster and more impressive everyday. 

Stop motion animation

Stop motion animation is the classic Wallace and gromit style animation. It has been around for decades and is still incredibly popular. Stop motion animation involves creating scale models that are manipulated in front of a stills camera. When the stills are played in a sequence it creates an animation. 

So there are lots of different types of animation, but why does it take so long? Well, each method has its own challenges and can take longer at different stages. Stop motion animation can only animate as fast as an artist can pose the models, typically between 5 – 8 seconds of animation per day. Cell animation is labour intensive from start to finish unlike computer generated animation. 

3D animation and any animation that involves creating rigs will have a mountain of work to climb before you can actually animate. It will take time to produce all of the characters, backgrounds and assets your animation will need. Once the rigging is complete the animating section is actually pretty quick. The animator will manipulate the scene using key frames, meaning they don’t have to manipulate every single frame, instead the motion will be spread across the frames automatically. 

Another reason animation can take a long time is the rendering process. Once your scene  has been animated it will need to be rendered out which is the process of converting your keyframes into a video that will play on any platform. 2D animation can be time consuming, however 3D animation can be on a whole other level. It can take days or even weeks to render out an animation, depending on the complexity of your scene and the computer power available. 

So you can see there are pros and cons to all styles of animation and although some are faster at some points in the process, the time may be eaten up in another section. There is no way around it, animation is time consuming but it is also a labour of love and sometimes it is worth the extra time to create something special. 

If you are considering creating an animation, contact Fable Studios. Fable Studios is a Creative-led, boutique video and animation studio who create tailored brand stories that endure in your audience’s mind. We combine your objectives with audience insights and inspired ideas to create unforgettable productions that tell the unique story of your brand. Find out more about us at

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