What Happened To Animation On Youtube? | Traven Talks

What Happened To Animation On Youtube? | Traven Talks

Lucas: Weeeeee! Lucas: No! Stop! This is Lucas. Lucas: *gasp*
Uh . . . hi! He’s a spider. He, and the videos he features in are made
by Joshua Slice, a 3D animator whose worked on films like Big Hero 6 & Zootopia. Slice got the idea for Lucas after seeing
a picture of a jumping spider wrapped up in a leaf, and wondered: Slice modeled and animated Lucas in Maya and
in November 2017, uploaded the first Lucas the Spider video to Youtube. Lucas: Hi, m-my name’s Lucas. Lucas: I have too many eyeballs! It quickly became a viral sensation, and since
then, not only has Slice continued making Lucas the Spider shorts, but in March 2018,
the film rights were bought by Fresh TV, who hope to create a full length TV series based
on the character, and around mid-june the same year, a highly successful merch line
was launched, featuring t-shirts, sweaters, mugs, phone cases, and even a plushie that
managed to sell 40,000 units in just under 10 days, with the proceeds going toward charity
and a college fund for Slice’s nephew, who Lucas both gets his name from and is voiced
by. But amidst all this success, Slice still works
as a 3D Animator, seeing Lucas the Spider as just a fun side project, and has gone on
to work on the likes of Wreck-It-Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet, which, is quite
fitting, really. It’s pretty easy to see how Lucas got so
popular in the first place. The quick runtime of the shorts makes it easy
to watch and rewatch and share each video. The shorts themselves play around with the
simplicity of the concept in clever ways. Lucas: See? I can totally make a spider-web! Lucas: And look, I even put a bell at the bottom, so when it rings, I know I caught something, Lucas: and then I can have a new friend! Lucas’ optimism and childlike glee is both
endearing and infectious. And of course, Lucas himself is just adorable,
which itself practically guarantees success on the internet. Lucas: *deep breath* Eeeeeeh! It’s almost impossible to watch one of these
videos and not end up with a smile on your face. Unless you have arachnophobia, but even then,
it might still be a challenge. They’re short, sweet, and, well, just fun
to watch. And, part of what I find so interesting about
them is that, this kind of animation isn’t, something you see all that often on Youtube
anymore. Sure, short films and student projects are
still alive and well, but nowadays, the idea of someone with an animation program and a
fun idea managing to thrive seems like an unattainable goal. And the craziest thing is, this change has
really only come in the last five years or so. But first, some context. Back in 1995, a college student named Tom
Fulp founded Newgrounds, a site where he could host his more often than not “controversial”
animations and games. However, in April of the year 2000, Newgrounds
launched The Portal, an automated system that allowed users to upload their own animations
and movies to the site, becoming one of the first websites to ever do so, and it slowly
expanded to allow users to post artwork, games and even music. It became a place for young creators to hone
their craft and flex their skills, and it’s from this well of experimentation that many
of the classic videos and memes associated with the early internet sprung from, and where
some of the most well known creators of the internet age had their start. From Newgrounds sprung a vibrant community
of creators and artists that, to this day, is as strong as ever. Even after Youtube was founded in 2005, it
wouldn’t be until late 2007, when it launched its partner program, that these creators would
begin to transition over. It was one of the first times that people
had been able to earn a living by making videos, and though many were still hesitant to upload
to Youtube due to its lackluster video quality, their audiences grew exponentially and soon
they were able to make a healthy living doing what they loved. Youtube improved it’s site and systems and
quickly became THE platform for online creators to host their content, and for a while, it
seemed like nothing could go wrong. That is, until in 2012 when Youtube made a
major change to its algorithm. Clickbait had been running rampant on the
site for years, from reply girls to rickrolls, as at the time, the site’s algorithm was
built to get people to click on as many videos as possible. To combat this, Youtube shifted its algorithm
from a view based model to a watch time based model – meaning that videos would be promoted
based on how long people spent watching them rather than just how many people clicked on them. However, this model was not based on the watch
time of individual videos, but rather on the overall watchtime of the channel itself. A channel that makes a ten minute video each
week that people only watch half of would get far more promotion than a channel that
makes a one minute video each week that people watch all the way through, because the former
would get more overall watch-time. Youtube’s systems were now built to keep
people on the site for as long as possible, and it promoted videos and channels that did
just that. This meant that channels that could produce
high quantities of content on a regular basis, such as vloggers and let’s players, suddenly
exploded, while channels that could only make short videos once every few months or so,
like animation channels, began to struggle. These problems only got worse as Youtube’s
CPM rate slowly declined. CPM stands for Cost Per Mille, or cost per
thousand, and represents the average amount that an advertiser pays a site, in this case Youtube, for every thousand impressions/views their ads get on said site. While Youtube was slowly getting more advertisers
looking for ad space, more and more people were making videos, and so those ads began appearing on more and more of those videos, which also meant more ad views. To save money, these advertisers began to
pay less and less per ad. While this wasn’t much of a problem for
Youtube, who would still be getting the same overall earnings, individual creators were
starting to earn less. That lesser pay wouldn’t be as big of an
issue for a channel that’s able to produce vast amounts of content, but for people who
can only upload once every few months, it became harder and harder to justify the cost
of making those videos. This reached its peak in 2014 when various
animators began expressing their concerns with this problem and the struggles that the
animation community was facing as a result. RubberNinja: You see, for an animator to meet this same success on Youtube now, RubberNinja: the standards they’d have to meet are so unreasonable that it’s honestly quite upsetting. JazzaDraws: The problem is like I mentioned before, it’s the pay-to-work ratio. JazzaDraws: To create an animation that takes 3 minutes, let alone 20 minutes, can take months of work. JazzaDraws: And just to give you an example for context, the introduction to this video, JazzaDraws: that animated sequence of that avatar jumping across in the intro happening, JazzaDraws: took me a week’s full time work. Ricepirate: The system isn’t broken, it’s just not made for animators. That’s, basically what I was trying to say, Ricepirate: um, from the beginning of my comment. RubberNinja: Also, I should probably say, these changes are not recent, nor do they just hurt animators. RubberNinja: There are plenty of channels producing high quality content with an equally long production cycle. RubberNinja: I personally feel that Youtube has unintentionally created an environment RubberNinja: where quantity outweighs quality. By this point, the only animators who could
sustain a living were those able to get millions of views on every video, and those channels
were few and far between. The only example I could really find was Alan
Becker, the creator of the Animator V Animation series, who, to this day, still gets an absurd
amount of traffic, and even he’s admitted to struggling with adsense. Luckily, some channels were successful enough
to reliably establish alternate revenue sources, such as merchandising or patreon, and others
still, being backed by studios and companies, were able to keep themselves funded, but most
simply weren’t able to keep it going. They either went on to find industry jobs
or turned their focus toward content that was more sustainable in the current youtube
algorithm. It’s around this time that ___ Animateds,
a style of video popularized by the GameGrumps, a let’s play channel co-founded by Arin
Hanson, aka Egoraptor, a content creator who became famous for his parody animations, started
to gain traction. These videos act as animated re-imaginings
of certain moments from various Youtubers’ videos, usually let’s plays or podcasts,
that exaggerate those moments to absurd extremes, and depending on the animator, it gets pretty
ridiculous. My personal favourites are the Cox ‘n’
Crendor Animated videos by Daniel Tan, which are filled to the brim with visual wordplay
and metaphor, like turning Jesse and Crendor’s laughing fits into all sorts of hilarious
and horrifying scenarios. Crendor: The victim said . . . *Jesse’s steaming laughter* *Jesse’s laugh comin’ to get ya* *Jesse’s laugh achieving it’s final form* Jesse: Hold on! Hold on! Most of these videos are usually fan animations,
and often help many of those animators grow an audience through the community, kind of
like how parody animations help an animator grow by bringing in fans from the piece of
media being parodied. And for the Youtuber in question, it helps
to strengthen their communities by immortalizing fan favourite moments for their audience. Obama: I’m gonna pre, dood. *Dan’s uncontrollable laughter* Obama: I’m gonna fuckin’ pre.
*laughter continues* In fact, many ____ Animateds are commissioned
by the Youtubers they’re based on, giving the Youtuber more exciting and diverse content
to put on their channel and giving the animator not just the pay they need to cover the costs
of making the animation, but also a much bigger audience for their work to be viewed by. The ___ Animated trend gave animators a better
chance to be paid for their work and find success in Youtube’s algorithm, and it’s
mutually beneficial nature for both the animator and the Youtuber meant that most people were,
and still are, more than happy to make and support it. And for a long time, that was the state Youtube
Animation was in. Unless someone was paying you to make it,
or you were already popular enough to rely on alternate revenue streams, pursuing animation
on youtube seemed pointless. However, over the last few years, there’s
been a noticeable resurgence in the amount of animated content on Youtube. It’s hard to tell what exactly caused this,
whether it’s simply luck or if there’s been another algorithm shift or something
else entirely, but my best guess is that it comes down to these new videos having adapted
their content to better suit the current algorithm. Many of these videos, while still infrequent,
are posted on a more regular basis, and are often much longer, reaching about 7-10 minutes
on average. They’re more personality driven, making
it easier for a dedicated fan base to form around the channel, and many of them re-contextualize
tried and tested formats built for personality driven content. Stuff like the Storytime Animations. Now, I must say, I disagree with some people’s
claims that Storytime Animation is the sole reason that animation’s made a comeback,
as I’d argue it’s simply one part of a much bigger phenomenon. It’s just the most popular example of it. Storytime Animation is a style of video based
on the video blog or “storytime” format, in which people talk about their life and
their experiences, either for the sake of telling a fun story or to explain how it affected
them and what they’ve learned from it, but animated The trend originally began with Swoozie and
Domics around 2011/2012 as they started using animations and illustrations to talk about
their experiences with and thoughts on various aspects of their life, with Swoozie experimenting
with the basic idea back in 2008. But it wasn’t until around 2016, soon after
TheOdd1sOut and JaidenAnimations skyrocketed to success that Storytime Animation became
the popular trend it is today. A combination of the aforementioned focus
on these channel’s personality and the simplified art style both helped audiences to better
connect with these channels, but also allows the creators to make videos more frequently. There’s also some exaggeration that comes
with Storytime Animation, similar to ___ Animated videos, where the creator can draw these situations
and stories in ridiculous a fashion as they want, making even mundane stories far more
entertaining to watch than they, really should be. And as pointed out by JazzaDraws, the simplified
art style used by many of these channels may also be key in understanding why Storytime
Animation began to take off, as that simplicity made the animation more appealing and less
intimidating for inexperienced or less confident artists to try out for themselves. But, ironically, that’s also the biggest
criticism of Storytime Animation, as those simpler designs tend to blur into each other
and appear, at least at a glance, quite similar, and the stripped down animation runs the risk
of making the videos look rough and unfinished, what with most of them relying purely on keyframes. Now it should be said, less frames doesn’t
equal bad animation, it’s all about how effectively you use those frames to communicate
the movement, but even I have to admit, for some of these channels, their videos look
less like “Storytime Animation”, and more like, “Storyboard Animation”. Despite these issues, many Storytime Animators
have found phenomenal success in playing around with a simple yet surprisingly flexible format. But as I said, Storytime Animation is just
one example of a wider phenomenon. Some animators have integrated animation into
their discussions of youtube and internet related current events to not only stand out
from a crowd, but also to make a joke or point land better with the help of that aforementioned
exaggeration, like Andrei Terbea, whose videos’ laid back and light hearted tone are a perfect match for his animation style. Andrea: My carrier is dying? Andrea: Oh shit! Andrea: I’m so sorry, man! Here, have some water! Technically, you could call them animated
commentary channels, though I hesitate to use the word “commentary” since the term
is so vague and broad that it has no real meaning beyond saying that someone talks about
internet stuff. Wait, does, making this video technically
make me a commentary channel? Oh god what have I done . . . Other examples include creators integrating
animation into the ever popular media analysis/review format, whose better frequency and focus on specific pieces of media both helps these videos perform better algorithmically, but also helps build an audience by bringing in fans from the piece of media being discussed, similar, again, to ___ Animateds or parody animations. Scott Falco does so in “With A Side Of Salt”,
a game review series that originally began with character breakdowns of Overwatch’s
many heroes. Alongside some standard voice-over-footage
editing, they include shorts pieces of original animation to illustrate Falco’s points or
just to make a joke. They not only improve the pacing by breaking
up the monotony of the game footage, but also give the videos a stronger sense of personality
by creating a distinct character for viewers to connect with. Though it’s a small addition, these animations
are able to add a lot. Similarly, Eddache recently started making
film analysis videos hosted by a cartoon avatar of himself, and though he’s only made two
so far, they’re both pretty interesting and surprisingly detailed explorations of
the minor details of filmmaking you have may have missed, from showing the extreme lengths
Who Framed Roger Rabbit went to to perfect even the inconsequential scenes of the film
to showing that the Who Shot Mr Burns can in fact be solved from the evidence presented
in the first episode alone. That extra touch of creativity helps these channels stand out and give animation a stronger
standing within youtube’s algorithm. And, hell, if you’re willing to stretch
your definitions a bit, there’s even a few channels getting creative with who ends up
presenting their videos . . . AI: Hai domo, virtual youtuber Kizuna Ai desu! Yes, yes I know, it doesn’t technically
count as animation, but they are, basically, animated characters, so just bear with me
for a second – Also, just a quick note before this next section starts, I keep using the term “rotoscoping” when what I meant was “motion capture”, and I’m too lazy to re-record this, so uh, yeah, bear that in mind – Okay, so Virtual Youtubers are a trend of channels involving 3D Anime
Girls doing Youtuber stuff. The videos are created through 3D rotoscoping,
where an actor’s movements are captured through all sorts of complicated softwares
and processes I can only barely understand and applied to a 3D model. This allows the channel to streamline and
significantly speed up the video making process to such a point that they can regularly produce
the insane amount of content Youtube’s algorithm is looking for, with daily videos across multiple
channels, but with an animated character. Well, rotoscoped character, but you know what
I mean. Though, like most of the personality based
creators that have come to dominate the site, the content consists mostly of challenges,
games, QnAs, the occasional skit, and a surprising amount of screaming. – oh god, I think my ears
are bleeding – It also lets these channels get creative by building themselves around
fictional characters with unique designs and personalities for the audience get attached
to and get to know, including developing some strong lore and backstories for the characters
to play around with, even if it does tend to revolve around how wacky it is being an
Artificial Intelligence. And while I’m sure there’s probably a
discussion to be had about the implications of an audience developing parasocial bonds
with a fictional character designed to be relatable, that’s for another video. Though that said, I’m surprised there hasn’t
been a Storytime Animation channel to go with that fictional character approach, seems like
the perfect place to try it. But, saying it out loud I now realize the
immense potential that lies in the idea and that I should probably do it myself and reap
the benefits before anyone else figures it out so – NO ONE DO IT, MY IDEA, ORIGINAL,
uh, CuhN-TENT, DO NOT STEAL, PLEASE (steal the shit out of it before he realizes anything’s gone wrong) To put it simply, animation has started making
a resurgence on Youtube recently because creators have found a variety of ways to adapt their
animation to be more sustainable in Youtube’s current algorithm, transitioning from skits,
sketches and stories to the personality based formats that define the platform. On the one hand, it’s fascinating to look
back and see how much youtube animation has changed and evolved over the years, but on
the other, it does feel a bit disheartening. I don’t mean to sound like an old man complaining
about how “back in my days things were better”, which’d be especially weird considering
I’m only like 20, but I still feel that, there’s some creative freedom that’s been
lost Back then it felt like animation on youtube
was bursting with potential, that anything was possible, that anyone could draw or model
their dream project and expect to do reasonably well. And that’s not to shit-talk any of the newer
animators who’ve found success, not at all. I think a lot of them are making great stuff
and it’s been amazing to see how their content has grown and evolved and improved over the
years as they’ve found their voice and perfected their respective styles. But, more and more, both in regards to Animation,
and more generally with Youtube as a whole, it feels like, unless you can make your work
fit into the specific formats and formulas the site’s looking for, you might as well
not bother at all. In that sense, my problem isn’t with “Youtube Animation”, it’s more so with Youtube, given how the major changes in its animation community are directly tied to the way Youtube changes its algorithms, in subtle and not so subtle ways And maybe it’s just me. Maybe a weird combination of cynicism and
nostalgia has jaded my perspective, I fully realize and admit that, but with all the shit
I’ve seen this site put people through, and the amount of shit I’ve seen it let some people
get away with, I find it hard to stay optimistic. But that’s the nature of online content. Hell, that’s the nature of art and entertainment
in general. It’s constantly changing, because of politics
and society, because of technological revolutions and limitations, because of personal issues
and private deals, it even changes because of other pieces of art and entertainment,
and on the internet it all happens at an unprecedented rate. If you wanna succeed, you gotta keep up, and
sometimes that means making sacrifices. Which is all a long winded way of explaining why I find Lucas the Spider to be so interesting, because amidst all this algorithmic chaos, this simple little
series, made as a side project by someone who just had a fun idea, has managed to thrive. And if we’re lucky, maybe that’s the point. Maybe it represents the start of another change
in the system. Lucas: Hey, my harp! And yeah, those are my thoughts. So, uh, this video was originally just supposed
to be a short little essay about why I liked Lucas the Spider, and uh, yeah, it’s, not
that anymore. As I said, I noticed a lot of people attributing
the return of Youtube Animation purely to Storytime Animation, and I just felt like
it was ignoring the bigger phenomenon going on Again, I’ve got nothing against Storytime
Animators, I really like a lot of them, but still. Also, I had a lot of fun with the avatar design and I really like the aesthetic, even if the “animation” was tedious as fuck to get done. So let me know what yous think of it and maybe I’ll make it a regular thing, if I can, actually bother myself. Also also, I apologise if there seems like there’s an inconsistency in how I sound, I’m having to record of these lines after, and uh, I’m kinda dealing with a chest cold right now, so. Anyway, let me know what yous think, if yous
agree, disagree, what yous think of animation’s resurgence on Youtube, who your favourite
animation channel or animator is, etc, and thanks for watching! If yous enjoyed this and wanna see more, than
check out my last video, where I break down the tragic story arc of Doctor Otto Octavius
from Marvel’s Spider-Man and what can be learned from it. Or, check out my video on Stop Motion Animation,
and the odd quality that makes it so creepy, and yet, so amazing. And don’t forget to like, comment, share
and of course, subscribe, to Come Fly With Me! Yous can also follow me on Twitter for more
updates about this channel and other stuff, and hopefully, I’ll see yous later!

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  1. SECOND!

    Also, I just realized, I think my avatar looks kinda like TheAmaazing's, what with the shirt/tie combo and spiky hair. Am I overthinking it, or do they actually look similar?

  2. We need a platform just for animators but tbh that is probably impossible. It's just stupid that people like Jonni Philips and (most of the time) vewn don't get any views.
    Like JP made a 20 Minute fully animated video over many years and it still has under 30k views

  3. The video being inspired by the topic didn't work out with the stop motion video but it did with this one.
    Nice work and good video as always!

  4. *sees 20m video *
    me: 14:49

    while i think that animation is definitely more time consuming and difficult to create, as opposed to something like… vlogs (albiet, i'm not saying that's "super easy" or anything) – – could another issue perhaps be: the obsurd amount of content that is now being produced? how to a degree: it's harder to get noticed when everyone's trying to get noticed, so it becomes a "grey location" full of people wanting to stick out? I do love that animation made a comeback though, at least: in a somewhat more "strict" version of what was there originally.

  5. Honestly, the worst part of it is how many indie YT animators who have enough roots down to survive this are so often morally shitty, to the point where I ended up having to make footnotes with goddamn sources that take up half this comment, lest I be called a liar.

    Like, Arin pals around with people like pedo artist Z0ne [1] and the fuckers who stole the Homestuck money [2], Mariel Cartwright and Probertson have pedo art to their names [3], Vivziepop pals around with white supremacists[4], HotdiggityDemon [5] and Pikapetey [6] are all kinds of nasty, OneyNG associates with and defends king of the pedophiles Shadman [7], Studio Yotta supports Actual White Supremacist Jonathan Tronathan [8] and there’s one artist whose relatively wholesome content is marred by the awful reactionary shit I found in his now hidden (Hence where he will go unnamed) Favorites playlist.

    And, like, I am angry about this because I like polished animation. And I especially like the 90s-type anime pastiche sort of polished a lot of these artists fucking monopolize. And I fucking HATE HATE HATE how I feel like I can’t support good animation online without being complicit in their bullshit, or get a twinge of fear every time I see animation in the styles I adore and worry “Oh god are these people gonna be pedophiles or shitheads too?”

    And I can’t help but think that part of the reason that is (Aside from how many of these people cut their teeth in the septic hole that is Newgrounds) is that the actually-non-shitty animators can’t establish an audience to show that there is a better way, that you can have; say; classic animu-type pastiche or lovingly animated Golden Age Of Animation-type wackiness without supporting absolute scumbags. Because the algorithm will strike them down.

    So, we’re stuck with a platform that establishes a monopoly of awful people in a medium I adore, and it makes me want to strangle whatever bastards at Google run the algorithms!

    [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8954EbySmw8
    [2] https://starhalation.tumblr.com/post/181380016578/jakemorph-marmarsoulless-selvaria-official
    [3] https://web.archive.org/web/20180705033201/https://supercalloutfragilistic.tumblr.com/post/161931813304/fucking-sick-of-pedophilia-in-the-animation
    [4] https://web.archive.org/web/20181206074349/https://sjwforeverhonest.tumblr.com/post/151031274721/whatd-vivziepop-do
    [5] https://twitter.com/hyperprisms/status/1078333916694659075
    [6] http://dragondicks.tumblr.com/post/117783077805/i-found-your-art-and-its-really-cute-keep-up-the and https://twitter.com/Snow_Radish/status/1078824231897612292
    [7] https://twitter.com/OneyNG/status/1036202662969016320
    [8] http://bogleech.tumblr.com/post/180839016208/the-studio-that-did-those-nice-sonic-shorts-and

  6. I really love the animations that Gobelins posts on YouTube. But it's still not very successful comparatively. I mean you can't top that in terms of quality. I guess it needs to be a single person doing it for people to like it?

  7. Very insightful analysis! Although this kinda had a bleak end, I am very hopeful for the future, as I too definitely can see a resurgence in the popularity as well as creativity of Youtube animation. If we are already starting to do so well against the pushback of Youtube's algorithm, imagine how animators would skyrocket if Youtube decided to make even a subtle change for the better. We just need to have our voices heard!

  8. I'm not sure if this is uncanny valley stuff or something, but the fact that the soundwave thing is on the eyes of the character really creeps me out.
    It looks cool, like he's wearing a visor or something, but damn is it creepy the more I think about it.

  9. i'm gonna pre dude

    This was a real treat man, you're really stepping up your game! It's a shame YouTube's algorithm is the way that it is, it definitely hinders what animators can create for a living, at least through YouTube. Also I really dig the avatar! Keep it up bro 🙂

  10. This video was really good, I like how you dident just go with story time animators, I like how you went with other creators like scott falco and eddach, and others, I hope to see more videos by you in my feed, keep it up! ?

  11. I personally enjoy skits and story animations (and I make them) more than 'storytime animations' and it kinda makes me sad that animators with amazing content don't get recognised as much as others just because their videos are different 🙁

  12. I remember when people were first migrating from newgrounds a lot of people predicted how YouTubes offer was just to populate the site with more original content, and once they felt satisfied enough the perks would be pulled out. A lot of animators were young and invested all their efforts into making some form of living out of youtube when, looking back, I can't help but believe YouTube never did intend to make it sustainable in the long term.
    Animation, and art in general, isnt valued enough for the effort and skill that it requires. I think it's fair to assume now that trying to be an animator on YouTube has to be a passion project with any monetary gain being found elsewhere.

  13. I didn't know how long it took or how much work you had to go through to make a simple 6min video, until I did mine.

    With a mouse and Microsoft Paint. You don't have to check it out if you don't want. I only got one video uploaded…

  14. YouTube is probably why I won't ever be able to make a animation channel I want to guess it's just another pipe dream

  15. Great video! The prevalence of story time animation sure is up there, cause $$$$ustainability and you do a great job describing the current state of youtube animation, much better than just disrespecting the so called “bad animation” stereotype altogether. If I ever do a video like this, I’ll be sure to include you as a source.

    Also, the black and green avatar looks mighty fine?

  16. Is there a solution to this problem? I spend months making cartoons but no one views them. Literally 100 views at best. And I can't find it difficult getting publicity on any website I use to advertise my work.

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