A Second Season Of The Dragon Prince Could Tweak The Show's Hotly-Debated Animation

A brief example of The Dragon Prince’s animation in action. (Gif: The Dragon Prince)

The Dragon Prince, Netflix’s recent fantasy series from the lead writer behind The Last Airbender, has a vivid, gorgeous aesthetic. But one repeated source of debate among viewers has been less about how the show looks and more about how it moves. And that debate could inspire behind-the-scenes changes if the show gets a second season.

The Dragon Prince is a 3D animated show, but in a stylistic choice attempting to make it feel closer to 2D animated series, it shows movement and action in a lower-than-usual number of frames — affecting everything from the way characters emote to the way they fight in battles.

It’s a look that, judging on where you’re at in the ongoing discussion about the show’s visuals, is either not at all noticeable or distractedly choppy.

Personally, as someone sensitive to motion headaches, I haven’t been able to watch more than a handful of opening episodes because the distraction of the animation gave me an annoying (if unsevere) headache, as much as I wanted to see more of the show’s compelling world.

It’s different for everyone, hence why the debate has been so widespread among viewers checking the show out.

But the good news — whether you aren’t keen on the stylistic choice from an artistic standpoint or otherwise — is that the vocal feedback around the show’s animation has been keenly heard.

Speaking to The Verge recently, series co-creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond discussed the reaction to the show, the animation in particular. Here’s Ehasz on the response:

I think there’s a lot of valid feedback about the animation. It’s interesting because you look at it and you have a lot of people responding to the character designs, and the backgrounds, and the beautiful world, the cinematic storyboarding that our great director Giancarlo Volpe and his team has brought out. And then you do have people responding to some of the frame rate decisions...

It’s definitely something that, in the future, if-slash-when we’re making more episodes, we’re not gonna be able to vastly change how we make it, but we’re definitely gonna have an eye toward specific shots and scenes[:] Can we make them more fluid? Can we make them exceed the expectations that were set?

It’s good to see that the team behind The Dragon Prince is listening to fans like this. While Ehasz says the changes might not be as significant as some would like, a step toward increasing the show’s frame rate should hopefully make it less of a distraction for people jarred by the show’s look.

We’ll have to wait and see if Netflix gives The Dragon Prince a second season — given the decently positive public reaction (outside of the animation), hopefully such an order isn’t actually too far off.


Comments

    The debate as far as I've seen has been to what extent the stilted animation mars what is around it, rather than whether it's good or not. It was a weird decision to begin with, and with opinions running from negative to apathetic, it's even weirder not to eliminate it entirely.

      Yeah while it was great to look at it seemed to be missing every second frame or something bizarre. Made it hard to watch unfortunately. Loved the show though.

    Making the animation look choppy didn't evoke any sense that it was hand-drawn - it just looked choppy. Whenever I was watching it I felt like I watching it being rendered in real-time by an underpowered PC.

    If they were trying to evoke a hand-animated aesthetic they really missed why hand-drawn animation sometimes has fewer frames, and also the techniques that animators frequently use to *hide* the fact that there's fewer frames.

    I can’t stand silky smooth 3D animation cartoons. It looks so cheap to me, and makes me think of something out of a video game cutscene. I think they went a bit far stripping the frames out of the Dragon Prince at times - it should be to a point where you don’t consciously register that there are skips - so I don’t think the technique has been done properly yet. I must be in the vast minority saying I like the idea though..

    More thought needs to be put into assessing the action moves, shot selection and framing in traditional hand drawn cartoons if they want to replicate it. You can’t just do whatever action/motion you want and then strip frames and magically have it look hand animated.

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