Animation and the Internet

From movies to TV to video games, the basic premise of drawings that move in sequence to create a flowing scene has become a common occurrence. With the rapid expansion of the Internet connecting people from all parts of the world, it has also opened more opportunities for animation companies. These opportunities include a growth in jobs that is happening worldwide, a wider audience to entertain, and interactive ways to engage users.

Job Growth

A major perk of the Internet expanding the possibilities of animation is job growth. No longer is it necessary for somebody to have to travel in order to do their work; if they have Internet connectivity, homesourcing is an option. Homesourcing is the adoption of working from home through network connections rather than travelling to the main workplace. However, this does raise issues – what if the animator does not have access to the Internet or a computer, or what if they do not know how to use it? Would this make the workplace equal for all, or would it give privilege to those who have homesourcing abilities? Sourcing is a rising issue in animation, augmented by the growth of the Internet. Outsourcing jobs overseas gives opportunities to other countries, but at the same time it cuts down on employment within the country of origin. There are many animation companies that send the animating duties overseas, like Cartoon Network and Disney sending their shows to Asia to produce, while the writing is done in America.

Although the Internet allows for production to be sped up, as communication is enhanced since the workers can interact overseas via webcams, many argue that it is taking jobs away from people in the country that the production of origin. Thus, is outsourcing beneficial or detrimental to the worldwide economy? These are questions pertaining to not only animation, but other jobs globally. The Internet has several capabilities that make it useful for this kind of occupation. Chat rooms are available as well as Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology; both allow for near-instant communication. As with any job that is shifting to outsourcing, animation is an industry that benefits greatly from this technology. Companies are becoming more interested in finding entertainment in cyberspace, which displays the shift in the entertainment industry to acknowledge what the Internet wants as well as their loyal viewers – the Web can have more viewers than a TV show. They know that more of their viewers are aware of the potential of the Internet and they take this opportunity to cater to them.

The Internet has influenced animation by shifting the focus from simply telling a story to guiding the viewer through a story, interacting with the audience, and in educational cases, teaching the viewer. This phenomenon is not unique to animation, as interactivity with consumers engages them and makes them more interested, and other industries have figured this out and utilized it too.

Bigger Audiences

Wider audiences are available with the utilization of the Internet. There are many ways to connect to the Internet such as wireless access, cellular access, web TV, and many more. A larger amount of people are gaining access to the Internet, although it is not always a completely global entity – there is still the digital divide which prevents certain audiences from being reached, which also goes for television, as not everybody has a TV set and cable. Television is also on a slow decline in popularity, as the Internet allows for more control and more interactivity that cable providers are trying to make with digital TV and on-demand services. Because of the abundance of programs readily available on the Web, more computer animators are taking this as an opportunity to put their programs on the Web rather than pitching their ideas to a television network, which is the traditional way of producing for mass audiences. With this, they are able to produce their work on their own, and are able to work to their own pace. The Internet also allows them to work from virtually anywhere that there is a wireless connection or a router, as long as they have some sort of computer with them.

Advertising is another field using computer animation that has been affected by the Internet. Because so many people use the Web, companies see it as another outlet to gain viewers, and utilizing eye-catching movements that could be produced by an animation team could result in more business. Aspiring animators are able to post their work on more free websites such as DeviantART and Vimeo to get feedback and expose their art. However, there are problems with using these websites, as it is easy to steal their work; there can be copyright infringement of intellectual property, which is a universal issue for all forms of art even more rampant with the Internet’s growth. Without the Internet, it would be harder for the artist to show their work in hopes of employment; with these features, they are able to display their art where anybody can see it, not just employers.

Before the World Wide Web, animators did not have as many outlets to show the kind of work that they are capable of, but now that there is a bigger audience available on the Internet, their work can be viewed more and perhaps gain followings without even leaving the Web. For example, in August of 2013, the YouTube channel Cartoon Hangover hosted a ten-minute pilot for the cartoon Bee and Puppycat. This pilot was incredibly successful and led to a Kickstarter campaign to produce more episodes; the Kickstarter worked, and more episodes are on the way. This is a case in which the Internet exposed a content creator to an audience that ended up being very supportive.


Interactive media is perhaps the largest area of animation that has benefited from the Internet. Interactive design is the repeated process of engaging a user and making the user influence the outcome of whatever product they are using. For example, a video game is interactive because the player controls what happens in the game, but a movie is not interactive since a person cannot change the events occurring on the screen.

There are several methods used in creating an interactive graphic for the Web, and many of them involve animation. Computer animation specifically is defined as “any computer-based computation used in producing images intended to create the perception of motion” (Parent, 2008, p. 2). Animators are able to create a moving image, save it as a GIF, upload the GIF to their Web page, and utilize HTML to make parts of the image clickable. These image maps are interactive and interesting to Web users, and are commonly used in classrooms. Programs such as Adobe Flash allow for the production of multimedia animations that can be embedded in a Web page or application. Adobe Flash is a program that is designed for Web users to add animation to their media, and it is a well-known and widely-used software that allows for plenty of interaction. Interactive designers who utilize Adobe Flash typically program their Web page with ActionScript, an object-oriented programming language that gives designers complete control over their product. Sometimes animated GIFs may be used in place of Shockwave or Flash animations because GIFs rely on memory rather than the speed of the Internet (Gralla, 2007, p. 279).

Although, it is also said that because of the abundance of interactive media, students may get so caught up in the fascinating surface level of it all that they may miss the learning experience that the media claims to provide. Some argue, as stated in the article “Hyping Tech Will Not Help Students,” that technology and the Internet is only a distraction and will discourage students from working well in school (Hiltzick, 2012). On the other hand, a website created by Finnish animator/guitarist Mika Tyyska, Guitar Shred Show, combines teaching with fun animation; this website is meant to teach how to play the guitar. However, rather than using static pictures or pure sheet music, a character by the name of Mr. Fastfinger is animated in order to engage the learner. Combining the medium with educational purposes has gained positive criticism.

Animation is a vital part of interactive media, even if it is not always cartoons – typical phone apps, games, simulators, and media viewers such as YouTube and Instagram are all examples of interactivity at work. There are always people working to make those products as engaging as possible. Interactivity is crucial in keeping an audience’s attention, and the Internet has made that easier to do with software advancements and multiple programming languages, as well as an ever-expanding growth in usage.


Computer animation has been on the rise since computers became more commonplace in the world. However, as the World Wide Web was created, the medium has experienced an even bigger rise in popularity, allowing for more jobs in animation, bigger audiences to entertain, and more interactivity. Were the development of Web tools aimed at promoting creativity, and was animation just an added beneficiary? Does the growth of computer animation mean that traditional animation will soon be completely obsolete? How else will the field of animation continue to grow and develop with use of the Internet? Technology is continuously changing as the Internet spreads to more corners of the world, and demand for new ways of entertainment has changed the face of animation in general. As the Web rises as a tool of entertainment, information, and assistance, animation will continue to make it more accessible to the public.


Parent, Rick. (2008). Computer Animation: Algorithms and Techniques (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann.

Gralla, Preston. (2007). How the Internet works (8th ed.). Indianapolis: Que.

Hiltzick, Michael. (2012). Hyping Tech Will Not Help Students. SIRS. Retrieved from SIRS.

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