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In the Future, We Will All Be Animation Filmmakers


If you’re a regular reader of the Brew, then you might already be familiar with the companies discussed in today’s Wall Street Journal article about the rise of quickly-made, and in some cases do-it-yourself, digital animation. The companies were Xtranormal, Next Media Animation, and Go! Animate.

The article raises all sorts of fascinating questions. For example:

1.) Xtranormal now charges users an average of $1 to make a cartoon and expects to begin turning a profit by the middle of this year. Could charging people to create short animated films be the future of making money from on-line animation instead of charging people to watch cartoons.

2.) How far are we from the day when artists and studios license their artwork to companies like Xtranormal giving fans an easy-to-use system for creating cartoons based on popular characters. Let’s say you could create your own cartoon using characters from Gnomeo and Juliet. It could happen, and I can’t think of a better way of allowing someone to interact with an animated character that they like.

3.) Multiple examples are provided in the article of development execs and producers who have contacted writers after seeing their work on Xtranormal. How long will it be before an animated series is sold in Hollywood based on the work of a writer discovered on Xtranormal?

4.) Richard Appel, one of the exec producers on The Cleveland Show, said of Xtranormal’s cartoons: “It’s a writer’s medium that’s cleverly found a way to get people to look at their screen and listen to what’s being said.” Is that really any different from shows like South Park or any of Seth MacFarlane’s series? In TV animation, the visual elements of animation have been de-emphasized to the point where they no longer matter (Chuck Jones’s infamous “illustrated radio”), and Xtranormal appears to be only the next step in that evolution. But will there ever be an easy-to-use animation tool that allows the masses to take advantage of animation’s visual possibilities?