guest column | VR and 360 degree videos to unlock new possibilities in 2D animation

Two generations from India grew up watching 2D animation – Tom and Jerry, Popeye, Pokemon, Beyblade, Looney Tunes, Which were all childhood staples. However, the animation industry is now investing heavily in 3D animation to create more realistic characters. Does this mean that 2D animation is slowly losing its relevance? In fact, the future of 2D animation still looks bright, and virtual reality (VR) plays a major role in this. VR technology is set to open up new possibilities for the 2D animation industry.

2D animation has many limitations when compared to 3D as the characters are flat with no room for depth and detail. However, when combined with extended reality technologies, 2D animation can effortlessly overcome these limitations. Let’s understand how virtual reality can shape the 2D animation industry in the near future.

  1. Virtual reality enhances spatial understanding

Virtual reality is a key tool that enables illustrators to enhance spatial understanding while developing 2D characters. While 2D technology has traditionally been seen as a transition technique for creating relatively simple animations, the use of virtual reality can turn 2D animations into something much more interesting. Virtual reality provides immersive environments for animators to create complex visuals. Characters can be created with better precision as the animators can take into consideration various factors like lighting and operation with the help of virtual environment. Virtual reality helps make 2D animations more powerful and impactful.

Hansa Mondal, COO of Ssoftoons
  1. Lower production cost with better effect

Since 2D technology is not able to produce the desired result, animators are forced to rely on 3D animation. But using 3D characters all the time is definitely expensive. Budget constraints often come in the way of producing quality content for animators. Virtual reality can help address this gap to a great extent. Animators can place 2D characters in a 3D environment to produce the desired effect. This can lower production cost without compromising production quality. Instead of creating full 3D animated content, one can use 2D characters to achieve a similar result.

However, there are some challenges that must be overcome before using 2D characters in a virtual reality environment. 2D characters lack the depth and detail found in 3D characters. 3D shading or holograms should be used to enhance the 2D characters so that they blend well with the virtual environment.

  1. Immersive experience for viewers

The 2D characters with virtual reality are an excellent alternative to the classic 3D characters. From the user’s point of view, the 2D characters along with the VR elements offer a much improved viewing experience compared to the regular 2D animations. The trick is to manage the interaction of the 2D characters with the 3D environment. Once this is achieved, viewers can enjoy and link to 2D animated content more easily than before. Billing board, parallax scrolling, and 2D interpolation are core technologies capable of integrating 2D characters into a 3D environment. These technologies can take 2D animation to a whole new level.

  1. Faster execution

2D animated content can be delivered faster than full 3D animated content. 2D animation is a better option in the world of augmented reality by customers who need the final product in a short period of time. In addition, current mobile technology is not advanced enough to support large 3D files. The combination of 2D animation, augmented reality, and virtual reality allows illustrators to push boundaries and better control the narrative.

2D animation is set to evolve and transform in the coming years, thanks to 360-degree videos and virtual and augmented reality technologies. Animators are constantly exploring creative ways to produce more powerful 2D animated content than traditional 2D movies. Cost and turnaround time are two major factors affecting animation technology and 2D animation is clearly the first choice of animators with tight budgets and tight deadlines. While the recent shift towards 3D animation has raised questions about the future of 2D, VR technology has proven that 2D animation is here to stay. There are challenges to overcome in the 2D world but due to the massive technological advancements, 2D animations are expected to undergo some major transformations.

(Article contributed by Hansa Mondal, COO of Ssoftoons)