The pandemic brought the entertainment industry to a screeching halt back in March. But there was one part of the industry that remained largely untouched: animation. That’s right, cartoons have finally risen to the top.
In an interview with Forbes, Chris Prynoski, president and founder of Titmouse, the animated studio behind shows like Big Mouth and Bless the Harts said:
“Clients are doubling down on animation. They don’t know when they’ll be able to shoot [live action] again. With animation, even though it takes a long time, they know it’s going to happen.”
Animation Was Ready for Lockdown Without Knowing It
Animation has its advantages. Through the use of technology, the ability to work anywhere is already inherently baked into the animation pipeline, from remote office set-ups to make-shift voice over booths to composers scoring episodes at home. Animation studios like Titmouse, Six Point Harness, Shadow Machine, Wild Canary Animation and Bento Box Entertainment were easily able to pick up and work from home.
“We were up and running [with a remote work setup] within a day and a half and we didn’t miss any deadlines,” said Brendan Burch CEO of Six Point Harness in an interview with Cartoon Brew.
With animation, voice over talent also has the ability to innovatively record from home. In an interview with Deadline, the president of Sony Pictures Animation, Kristine Belson, said: “Voice recording has been able to continue thanks to innovation. We’ve made real headway,” she said, citing specially rigged iPads sent to talent at their homes.”
Even Live Action Goes Animated… One Day at a Time
After being shut down mid way through production due to the coronavirus, TV series One Day At A Time pivoted and decided to animate one of their episodes instead.
“The Politics Episode”, centers on the Alvarez family dealing with their conversative Trump supporting relatives. The show was brought to life in eight weeks with the help of animation studio Smiley Guy Studios.
In an interview with Indiewire, when discussing the process of recording VO sessions showrunner, Gloria Calderon-Kellett, said “Each of them recorded their lines alone in their houses and it looks like they’re having a conversation,” Calderón-Kellett said. “When I was watching it, sometimes I would forget I was watching animation.”
Similarly, the TV series The Blacklist integrated animation into its season 7 finale when they were forced to stop production back in March. The hybrid episode titled “The Kazanjian Brothers” uses graphic-novel style animation.
CBS also took this time to release a new Star Trek but this time in animated form. Lower Decksis currently airing on CBS All Access ahead of the premiere of the live-action version next month.
Star Trek: Lower Decks is the latest addition to the science fiction franchise. (Photo Credit: CBS)
Even the music industry is jumping on the bandwagon. In May, Katy Perry released an animated lyric video to go along with her song ‘Daisies’. And Dua Lipa recently dropped a Betty Boop inspired animated music video for her newly released song ‘Hallucinate’.
Does the Future Hold More Cartoons?
As the pandemic drags on, will we see a rise in greenlighting animated content across film and TV? One can only hope. In the meantime, your favorite animated series are still up and running and have no plans of stopping anytime soon.
As a queer South Asian writer, director and producer, Sim has always had an affinity to create stories that are beautifully diverse. Constantly on the hunt to find the best tools to aid in her quest, she believes media can be used to tell a story. Through her experience working in development and production at Super Deluxe, Cartoon Network and Netflix , she has discovered animation to be the definitive tool to accomplish this task. She hopes to make the world’s stories come alive through the world of animation.