The Return of Animation on YouTube

What was dead for several years has risen like the phoenix from the ashes on YouTube, but it’s not quite the same as it once was. Let’s take a look at how animation adapted to YouTube’s algorithm over recent years.

About 3 years ago, Animation reached its lowest point on YouTube: all because of YouTube’s new algorithm, which favoured long form content over shorter videos. Anyone who knows anything about animation, knows that it takes a lot of work. In the early years of YouTube, animation was everywhere, often short little sketches that displayed the artist’s wit and artistic abilities. The hang up of all this being that the amount of work that went into these animations massively outweighed the amount of views (and thus profits) the videos would receive. As a result, most animators on YouTube just faded out; either switching to other forms of media or leaving the platform entirely.

Over the past few years, however, a few animators have risen up on YouTube, many of them starting during this “post-animation” period we are in now. These channels did something different from the animators of old, they found a way to animate without really having to animate a whole lot: story time videos.

To anyone who is unfamiliar with YouTube’s inner workings, this sounds like gibberish, so allow me to explain. Story time videos are videos where people make a video where they’re literally just telling a story from their life, it’s as simple as that.

The way that animators made this their own is by drawing themselves, not necessarily going for a “realism” effect, in fact often not. Artists draw themselves in their style, and have the story come from there. The characters even move, but without really moving. They’ve drawn their characters into different positions, and just show still images of that, or move those around. Often, they animate the story they are telling in this same fashion.

The reason this has helped animation thrive is simply because it’s easier. Why draw full-fledged animations when you could just draw a few frames, having your characters sort of “bounce into them” with an in-between frame? All you have to do is choose a story from your life, and animate that! You don’t even have to design new characters every time (not complicated once at least). Your videos can be longer, and take less effort. I find TheOdd1sOut to be a good example of this; the content is still entertaining, it’s merely adapted to survive on the platform.

One thought on “The Return of Animation on YouTube

  1. Very Interesting Read, Marshall.

    I think on average animation has always taken a backstage to live action short films across Youtube, however, there are always diamonds in the rough. For example, the animator, Marc M who is responsible for some of Youtube’s finest animations, has run his channel ‘Sick ANimation’ for several years and his popularity has only increased since launching in the early 2000’s.

    Similary, I find many animators have taken on secondary roles apart from animation; Cult Animation Icons such as Egoraptor (Erin Hanson) and OneyNG (Chris O’Neil) have become wildly succesful with their spinoff lets play channels.

    All in all a good effort, amigo. Please keep up the incredibly average work.

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