This article describes the history of animation in the United States of America since the late 80’s until the early twenty-first century. This period is often called the renaissance of American animation, during which many large American entertainment companies reform and reinvigorate its animation department after the decline suffered in the 60, 70 and 80.
From 1988 to the present
In the mid 80’s, the American animation industry fell into disgrace. Toy commercials masquerading as entertainment programs cartoons dominated the evening and the morning of Saturday, and the only experiment was carried out by independent developers. Even animated films were projected in theaters at times, but the glory of the old days was gone. Even the animation giant Disney, which had fought a corporate acquisition in the 80’s, was considering abandoning the production of animated feature films.
Both the enthusiastic audience, critics, and the animators were taken by surprise when the long-awaited renaissance of animation began in the oldest and most conservative corporation, Disney.
Disney had a drastic change in the 80, its new chief Michael Eisner the company relocated to his feet, returning to its roots and revitalizing their studies. With great fanfare, in 1988 the study worked with Steven Spielberg to produce the animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film was a success, and gave to the animation industry awaited push for that time. Roger Rabbit not only earned him a pile of money for Disney, but also sparked the popularity of the classic animation that continues to this day. The history of animation suddenly became an object of study (and their fans). Several directors, business legend, such as Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng were suddenly in the spotlight, being acclaimed after decades of being virtually ignored by audiences and industry professionals.
Disney continued the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with “The Little Mermaid”, the first of a series of animated films that seemed to recapture the magic of the golden age of Walt Disney himself. The studio invested heavily in new technology of computer animation for such purposes, but could do super-productions like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin,” which attracted audiences that were not seen in decades, and Once provided a visual feast that has not been exceeded since the 40. The peak of the hit Disney was in 1994 when his film “The Lion King” exceeded all expectations of the study to become one of the most successful of all time. Even later Disney films as “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Hercules,” “Mulan” and “Tarzan” was blockbusters.
Disney has also made inroads into the neglected area of the animated TV series. With the success of shows like “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, “The Adventures of the Gummi Bears Disney” and “Duck adventures”, the “new” Disney made his mark in TV pictures. Through association and repetition, Disney can provide high quality animation for TV. A series of large diffusion was conducted in mid-nineties, with some critics designating “Gargoyles” as the Disney animation project for TV’s most ambitious and best done artistically. The soundtracks of each of these animated films were an important part of its success, because Disney was including in each of these projects a loud voice from the world of music, such as Elton John (The Lion King), Luis Miguel (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Ricky Martin (Hercules), Christina Aguilera (Mulan), Celine Dion (Beauty and the Beast), Ricardo Montaner (Aladin), Jon Secada (Pocahontas), among others.
Spielberg and animation
Spielberg and Bluth
While Disney gave new life to animation, Steven Spielberg was making his own way. Animation amateur life, Spielberg was also interested in making high quality animation, and worked with his rival, Don Bluth animation producer to produce “Fievel and the New World.” The box office success of this and Bluth’s next film, “In The Land”, Hollywood made him realize that Disney did not hold a monopoly on animated features. The other Hollywood studios resumed production of its own animated features, but still falling into the trap of trying to imitate Disney’s 1997 film Don Bluth, “Anastasia”, produced by Fox, is mentioned as the one launched the Fox Animation Studios and Disney’s rival, however, these studies failed to succeed after “Anastasia” and closed in 1999. Like most successful productions of Disney, “Anastasia” was attended by Thalia, who played the central theme of the soundtrack in its versions in Spanish, English and Portuguese.
Spielberg and Warner Bros.
Spielberg, meanwhile, switched to TV and worked with animation studio Warner Bros. to produce “The Tiny Toon Adventures,” a high quality animated series that paid homage to the great cartoons of Termite Terrace. “The Tiny Toon Adventures” had a good rating thanks to its young viewers, which inspired the Warner Bros to resurrect his dying animation studio and once again a contender in the field of animation. The Tiny Toon Steven Spielberg were continued by presenting “Animaniacs” and “Pinky and the Brain”. The latter not only attracted new viewers to Warner Bros., but also captured the attention of viewers adolescents and adults.
Ralph Bakshi, director of innovative animated films like “Fritz the Cat” and original “Lord of the Rings”, returned to animation after making a brief stop in the mid 80’s. In 1985, he teamed up with the young Canadian animator John Kricfalusi and the legendary British band “The Rolling Stones” to make an animated music video for “The Harlem Shuffle”, which was completed in early 1986. Although the music video did not talk much, he built a production team “Bakshi Animation” project continued with the short-lived but well received, “The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse.” Bakshi & Co, worked on numerous projects at the end of the 80, but the biggest project was “Cool World: a blonde between two worlds”, which premiered in 1992. The production got out of hand and ended up being severely criticized and forgotten by almost everyone.
The main reason for increasing the quality of American animation is the ability to outsource the heavy lifting to cheaper animation houses in the South and Southeast Asia gaining a large number of frames at low cost. The script, character design and storyboarding is done in American offices. The storyboard, models and color books are mailed abroad. Sometimes causes problems because no final product can be completed until the frames are mailed to the U.S.. Although budgets have been reduced, foreign productions houses are chosen per episode, or even per scene, depending on the amount of money available at that time. As a result there is a big difference in quality from one episode to another. This is particularly evident in shows like “Gargoyles” and “Batman”: The Animated Series where, sometimes, the characters seem completely different from one episode to the dismay of its directors.