For this edition of Escape Rendered we have interviewed our very own Head of Animation, Alex Williams, to discuss his thoughts on the recent animation trends.

2016 has been another big year for films, how do you think animated films have competed?

Animation has had a fantastic year. We’ve seen some amazing examples of animation at it’s best with the likes of The Secret Life of Pets being released and Finding Dory – which was announced as the highest grossing film of the year. There have been some big titles dominating conversation this year across the board such as Suicide Squad, Deadpool and Independence Day: Resurgence, so it goes to show the quality of animated films right now that they were and are able to beat them in the box office.

What trends have you noticed for 2016, and which should we keep our eye on?

A clear trend of hybrid filmmaking between live-action/animation is starting to appear in the industry. With Disney releasing live-action remakes of their classic films such as Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book, as well as the announcement of a live adaptation of The Lion King.

Taking The Jungle Book as an example, the majority of characters created for the picture are CGI. For example, if the film were submitted for an Academy Award, it would technically qualify for eligibility in the animated feature categories despite being largely termed as live action. It is creating some debate within the industry, whether this type of picture can be classed as truly animation or not, so definitely something to watch in the near future.

What do you predict the solution will be, and where do you think this will take the industry?

The boundaries are constantly shifting. I’ve noticed that the way the directors are labelling these films has also evolved over the last few years. Seven years ago James Cameron repeatedly mentioned that his film Avatar was not an animation, although recently when talking about the new sequels he claimed ‘You have to think of it more like an animated film’. If the genres are adapting then us, as professional artists, need to be ready to flow with it. In all our undergraduate courses at Escape we make sure we touch on other specialisms, such as VFX, so all our students have an understanding of how all the specialisms intertwine. We work closely with studios and industry partners to keep up to date with what they want and need from fresh talent, so it will be interesting to see from these conversations whether there will be an increase in demand for a hybrid artist or the even the need for a hybrid course at Escape in the future.