Content has always been free flowing. Its malleability is what defines it. Hence, it is only natural that it adapts itself to whatever vessel carries it.
During the last couple of decades, media, the vessel itself, has evolved and continues to do so. Media has broken away from being defined by restrictions – from the letter-bound restrictions of print to video-based restrictions of radio to geography-based restrictions of television broadcast – to being defined by freedom of access, of choice, and of interaction. During the course of this media revolution, content itself has had to adapt and grow accordingly.
Along with this, animation has been carving out its own place among struggles in the content space. Considered as niche content, with a specific audience to cater to, animation has evolved by leaps and bounds along with the media. The last decade specifically has allowed animation to grow and reach out of its implied audience of kids with the proliferation of digital media.
Today Gen Z outnumbers millennials. Being natives of the digital ecosystem, the adaption rate to evolving digital-based technology is extremely high and increasing. A 2019 survey on kids (APAC) shows a preference for internet-based media that is four times that for TV.
Smartphones, smart TVs and tabs preference, and usage, far outnumber the preference for TV. This shift is indicative of how swiftly the OTT/VoD content captured the fancy of children.
With the OTT industry obliterating geographical bottlenecks for content, the hustle for content with the ability to capture the eyeballs of the massive children population has amplified.
Animated content from across the world is held to the same standards throughout. The quality has to be homogenous or else it risks losing its audience.
With an ever-reducing attention span, and the option of switching with a tap, the challenge compounds. That being said, animation has managed to sustain and grow its presence within this ecosystem. A study across APAC kids confirms that the most preferred device is a smartphone and the most preferred content is cartoon/animated videos.
Animation as a visual learning tool has actually firmed its presence with the advent of AI and IoT. The learning tool has evolved into animation being a teaching tool. With digital media, and the access it brings to children, the time spent with the characters has grown and so has the connect.
Edutainment and educompanion toys are adapting animation and animated characters as the base of their interaction with kids. AI-based companions are even being modelled on animated characters. Kids connect much better to their favorite characters, pick up habits, and improve cognitive abilities when guided by animation. Thus, animation has firmly cemented its place as a pillar of the next wave of AI-based media.
Keeping video, either streaming or broadcast, aside, animation is undeniably also a part of the current wave of interactive media. AR and VR have introduced a new facet of animation and its use.
The digital data that is superimposed to create the augmented reality is highly dependent on animation to render the environment. The better and more fluid the animation, the better the experience.
Our the years, animation has remained a force to reckon with. The means of dispersion of media have been evolving, so have the format of content and the audience. Across these changes, animation and animated content has thrived and become a necessary part of the changing faces of media.
So pervasive has been the effect of animation, the content (animated) today has become synonymous with media (animation). Animation indeed brings to mind Marshal McLuhan’s quote, The medium is the message.