I recently got to watch some episodes from the first season of the Simpsons with commentary from some of the animators and writers. It was interesting to hear some of the stories and comments they had about every scene and joke. It was like every moment had a story behind it. They did use a lot of jargon at times, referring to how the animation was made on these old episodes and how the techniques have gotten better and more efficient. The difference in animation quality from the first episode to the current episode is something that I have noticed and I’m sure others have too. From just being more refined to having those extra little details like subtle shadowing on their bodies, the changes are all there for everyone to see. You can also see more advanced techniques being used these days and though we viewers might not know how it’s done, you can tell that there is some special computer software in the mix to make certain 3D looking effects in a 2D animation.
It is true that instead of hand-drawn animation they now use computer animation as of the past 5 years roughly. This goes for other cartoons as well like Family Guy and Southpark. Southpark started out many years ago as stop-motion animation out of paper cutouts, which is a time-consuming process. But just recently I watched a special that showed how they made an entire Southpark episode in 24 hours because what they wanted the show was based entirely on the result of the presidential election. Everything was using 3D animation software to again make a 2D cartoon. Technological improvements just helped streamline the whole process. Making that whole episode in 24 hours wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago.
Even though it is the hilarious writing and not the animation that makes these shows great, I can only hope my own animations can come out as seamless as these popular cartoons do.