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Evolving technologies

Funding new projects, recruiting and retaining talent, and maintaining high-quality production in an intensely competitive environment are some of the biggest issues the animation industry has been facing in recent years.

These topics frequently come up when execs are asked about the challenges they are experiencing in a market that is demanding premium, original content that stands out.

One of the participants in this year’s Insider’s Guide to Animation, Lithuanian studio Art Shot’s founder Agnė Adomėnė, said the biggest issue she sees is with “the originality and variety of content,” warning that original storytelling is not keeping up with the fast pace at which technology is evolving.

“The animation industry is much more focused on the technological aspects of animation and less on the stories it tells. The technologies are evolving much faster than the storytelling in animation,” she said.

Ten years ago, the Insider’s Guide to Animation 2012 asked participants how interactive content and gaming applications were changing animation production. One Insider, Manuel Román, artistic director of Muñecos Animados in Spain, responded: “Today, apps and interactive content are everywhere, but tomorrow we don’t know what new surprises we are going to find. We are in a changing market, so we must be alert to ensure all our content is flexible.”

Apps and interactive content are still everywhere, but other novel technologies that promised to change the animation game, like 3D TV, failed completely to take off. Still, Román was right to warn about the technological advancements of tomorrow.

Ten years on from that Insider’s Guide, we are discovering the brand-new world of the metaverse, which more and more kids’ companies are exploring. Whether or not this phenomenon will transform the content industry or suffer the same fate as 3D TV remains to be seen. Our Insiders had mixed opinions.

“One can’t ignore that a wide adoption of the metaverse is coming, and it offers tremendous opportunities for existing IP to grow and for brands to launch,” said John Rice, CEO of Jam Media in Ireland, while Raúl Carbó Perea, founder and CEO of Tenerife-based In Efecto Atlantis, said the metaverse will “entirely change the game.”

David Michel, president and co-founder of Cottonwood Media in France, noted that the metaverse will “substantially” change the content offering for tweens and teenagers and will reduce animation time, “allowing directors to work faster and more creatively.”

Conversely, Dmitrij Gorbunov, founder of Metaxilasis in Serbia, argued that “the metaverse’s influence is overestimated” and won’t impact animation any more than virtual reality games do, while Dunja Bernatzky, CEO of Arx Anima in Austria, suggested it “may be another hype that big corporations pour millions into.”

Many people might agree with Bruno Felix, co-founder of Submarine in the Netherlands, who said the metaverse “is a natural progression of what has been happening for a long time.” But whether it really kicks off or not, the metaverse is certainly providing a lot of food for thought for producers globally, and with it potentially new hurdles to overcome.

As Sebastian Wehner, co-founder of Wolkenlenker in Germany, said: “New exciting developments, such as virtual production and the metaverse, are on the horizon. There is already a lot of progress in terms of technology and software, which might enable lower costs, faster turnarounds and even new ways and styles of animation. The industry is on the cusp of significant changes. The question is, can producers move fast enough to keep up?”

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