Sunday, November 1, 2020

2020 has been the year of animation

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

Is it just me or every other ad this year was animated? Seriously, not just in Lebanon. Elsewhere in the world the boom in animation has been unparalleled. First let us talk locally, the ad spending is expected to see a 90% drop this year. Actually, am under the impression the figure must be steeper. To keep their Beirut offices open, many agencies are letting their skeletal staff (no surprise that many people were let go of) work on Pan-Arab accounts, or work for other Arab countries from Beirut directly (either in offices or remotely). The explosion of August 4, with many agencies located in downtown Beirut, only added to the conundrum. 

Naturally you might ask, what does this have to do with animation? Think about it, have you ever been on a shooting set before? Have you seen the astronomic amount of people that need to be involved in front and behind the camera, then later in the editing and post-production part? Worse, social distancing while shooting is a fallacy. The creative director is about an inch away from the director, the actors are too close for comfort, the amount of machinery involved makes the biggest space feels cramped, and the list continues.

How can one remediate to this. What is the one form that is both very-cost effective due to dwindling budgets, which does not require casts, which does not involve a full army of people to execute, which can be adjusted remotely, which can implicate people solely in front of their PC in several locations?

You guessed it. Animation.

What bothers me a little is how little attention to copy and concept is being given locally when animation is involved. Local agencies or freelancers rarely put any effort in that perspective. Which unfortunately means that storytelling is almost nin-existent, which is a shame really. Because animation is really the medium where one can tell a very creatively interesting story to support the visuals.

But then again, here's hoping. Who knows where this can go. I myself feel optimistic as I have always been an arte povera proponent in advertising. Work with what you have, extract the most out of it, and tell a brilliant story while doing it.