5 Fantastic Animation Trends for 2022

Want to know what's hip and happening in animation in 2022? Looking for some inspiration for your own projects? Look no further. We've got you covered.

1. Kinetic Typography

Dynamic text has become an increasingly integral part of design in recent years across many mediums. For attention grabbing gifs to punchy explainer videos it's the perfect way to make a point in a video or illustration stand out. It's really taken off on lyric subtitles for music videos on social media and that trend has expanded elsewhere as creators have got more and more creative.

It used to be considered that text should be static and passive to make it readable. But that rule has been torn up and thrown out the window. Typography is now a moving element in its own right that becomes a key part of the image to evoke emotions and engage audiences.

One of the very first examples of kinetic typography are the opening credits for 7even which still pack a punch today and were hugely influential at the time.

2. Psychedelic Surrealism

With physical global travel seriously cut back for over two years, artists have been travelling inwards in their search for psychic inspiration. Psychedelia is back big time and is one of the strongest trends this year. This is different from the stoner trippiness of the 60s though and more acid-drenched, with a strong influence from the bright garish colours of the 80s which are also en vogue at the moment. With a few extra decades of culture to draw on now, and new animation computer technology and techniques to power it, this new 20's version is turbo-charged. Hipsterism might have hijacked any interesting, original culture for the last decade, but this feels like the welcome return of a recycled but strong counterculture.

3. Hyper-realistic CGI

The lines between film, computer games and reality continue to blur so that it's hard to tell which is which these days. Hyper-realistic CGI is just a natural progression of this but the quality and detail of the new generation of GCI is just mind-blowing.

Epic Games' 3D creation tool/game engine Unreal Engine has been a real… game-changer (sorry) in this. Mega-budget film-studio level CGI animation is now available for film-makers at a fraction of the cost. Film-makers everywhere are licking their lips at the possibilities.

At the same time, as AI and robotic technology advances ever closer to it's technological utopia, hyper-realistic faces are making it hard to distinguish what is flesh or data. I for one welcome our new CGI-generated robot overlords.

4. Retro

Retro never seems to ever go completely out of style. Every year there are 12 more months of culture added to the culture pool to chew up and regurgitate in a new combination with a contemporary twist . And especially now, when the present is not so great, there's an instinctive urge to go back to when times were, or seemed, better.

For 2022, the on-trend retro style is a lo-fi, gritty, dirty aesthetic. Riso Prints and Brutalism are popular in design, while in animation, this has manifested itself in a grainy, shaky vintage feel. Imperfections are introduced into the animation on purpose - perhaps this is a reactionary trend against the smooth flawlessness of CGI.

The popularity of the Cuphead computer game is a prime example of this. It has now spawned its own Netflix animated series and animators (and teens) are rediscovering the gloriously strange and twisted worlds of The Fleischer Brothers, Betty Boop, Felix the Cat and many other old cartoons from the 1930s.

5. Outline animation

Less is more and minimalism is big this year. The massive rise of explainer videos' popularity as the medium for getting information across to mass audiences, has seen a rapid evolution of creative styles that can look cool and sophisticated without being overwhelming or complex. The overriding requirement is functionality. Outline animation is perfect for this with thin, clean lines and subtle use of colour palettes to achieve an overall effect that is easy on the eye but still engaging. 

It evokes a feeling of an instruction manual - which creates the psychological effect of making people take notice of the information and believing it. At the same time it feels user-friending, almost hand-drawn.

In Conclusion

2022 trends seem to be quite schizophrenic - embracing a grungy old-school retro direction but also heavily influenced by modern digital technology and clean corporate lines. But it's an interesting combination and good culture is made up of interesting combinations, constantly self-pollinating and reinventing themselves. It feels like it's going in an interesting direction and with animation still enjoying an increasingly important role in moving image culture, the future looks healthy.

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