PK 016: Mechanical Apple on Why People Will Always Love Traditional 2D Animation

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A scene from Mechanical Apple’s Super-cute Winter Fox Animation

“Always enjoy the work you’re doing. It’ll always be the most appealing, because the audience will be able to see you enjoyed doing it!”

In a world full of bombastic 3D animation and breathtaking CGI effects, there’s a quiet revolution taking place. It’s the refreshing warmth and hand-drawn quality of traditional 2D animation, which seems to connect with viewers in a way that computer-generated films cannot.

Some of the artists at the heart of this renaissance are Ari Gibson and Jason Pamment, who formed Adelaide-based boutique animation studio, Mechanical Apple, three years ago, out of a real desire to produce animations with that all-important human element.

“We wanted to steer away from making anything that looked too digital,” they explain. “With digital, we always feel there seems to be a disconnect between the audience – it’s like the computer strips the human element away. With traditional animation, you can actually see the artist in the work with each brushstroke and line. We emulate this hand-drawn quality using digital tools and try to re-instill that quality and value into our work.”

Swapping 2D for 3D animation

It hasn’t always been this way for Ari and Jason, though. Both artists previously worked extensively in 3D animation before deciding to make the break and pursue the kind of 2D animation they really loved.

“Compared to 3D animation, 2D is quite a simple process,” they say. “You don’t have to deal with computer crashes, bugs in software, and other technical hiccups – instead, you can focus on making art!”

Having become disillusioned with 3D animation, their first step was to make a short film, The Cat Piano, which did well on the festival circuit and picked up a whole heap of awards. Understandably, the companies Ari and Jason were working for wanted to continue making 3D animations, so, feeling pumped by their independent success, the two artists decided to go it alone.

You can watch The Cat Piano here:

The Cat Piano from PRA on Vimeo.

“Initially, the work came in thanks to the animations we’d already produced ourselves,” they explain. “We’d always tried to produce high quality work that we truly loved, and word soon got around.”

Since then, the two-man team at Mechanical Apple has produced work for a wide range of clients, including music videos for Australian musician Gotye, who had a global hit in 2011 with Somebody That I Used To Know. Jason works on the environments and effects, while Ari produces the 2D animation part of the process. Both work together on compositing and all the other various elements of producing an animation.

“We only produce work that’s fun to do,” says Ari. “We sell ourselves on producing the work we love, so we only get to do the work we love!”

Part of the success of Mechanical Apple is down to Ari and Jason recognizing a gap in the market. When they started, lots of people were saying 2D animation was dead, and nobody else seemed to be providing this service.

“We didn’t really have a gameplan,” says Jason. “We liked it, so we kinda assumed other people would, too! We soon found there was enough work for people who could do 2D animation well – in our opinion, people will never stop responding to hand-drawn and painted imagery. There’s a timeless quality to 2D animation, and the success of films such as the Oscar-winning Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli just proves there’s a long history of audiences all over the world who love 2D.”

Why You Should Always Love What You Do

Jason and Ari’s advice to artists is to “Always enjoy the work you’re doing. It’ll always be the most appealing, because the audience will be able to see you enjoyed doing it!” they explain.
“The workflow can be a little random and out of control at times – you’ve either got too much work, or you haven’t got enough. Use your quiet periods to work on personal projects, because you’ll find these will help you promote the work that you do.”

Interestingly, both artists say that lesser-paid jobs can actually be more interesting creatively than well-paid ones. “Music videos are a good example of this”, they explain. “They may not have the large budgets of a brand, but you get to work with fellow artists (the musicians), who really seem to understand the creative process more.”

Ideally, both Jason and Ari feel you should only take on the work you actually want to do, although even less enjoyable projects can still prove interesting. “All artists have natural pride”, they say, “so you’ll always put all of yourself into everything you do – even if you’re not that passionate about the project.”

They’re always keen to hear from other artists, so feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss your ideas.

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why 2D animation has such an enduring appeal
  • How to apply a human feel to your digital work
  • Why you should always love the work you’re doing!

People on this Episode:

Mitch
Mechanical Apple

Mentioned in the episode:

Mechanical Apple’s Website
Mechanical Apple on Vimeo
Mechanical Apple on Facebook
Mechanical Apple on Twitter
Mechanical Apple on Behance
The Official Site of The Cat Piano

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Cheers,

Mitch

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