Video ProductionIs YouTube Killing The Animation Industry or Not?

Akshay Chandra5 years ago

If you are watching 3-minute adult swim series (or any) on YouTube, which is an animation video, you could wonder that “How much time does it take to make an animated video of 2-3 minutes’ duration?

Well, to define that, we need to look at how many types of animation content on YouTube first.

Traditional animation

Commonly known as cell animation, the animator draws the whole sequence on his storyboard (or light table) just like the old school Disney animation. Motion pictures like Lion King, Bandi, mickey mouse cartoons and other are based on this traditional animation like every anime produced in Japan. The traditional animation runs at a frame rate of 2 to 12 frames per second and takes about 3 to 4 months of production time.

2D Vector based animation

The animations done is flash are called 2D animation. Due to the accessibility of the technology, a lot of YouTube channels are choosing this form as its also cheaper. If you watch ARCHER (an adult TV cartoon series), you will understand how feasible this style is. This takes about 15 to 20 days of production time.

3D computer animation

This is the most common type of animation today. Almost all recent Pixar movies like monster inc, toy story 1,2,3, among others are done through 3D computer animation. Here the animation frame rate is more than 24 frame rate per second.

Motion graphics

You won’t see 2 minutes of motion graphics on YouTube, as it’s the art of creatively moving graphic elements or text. Think about animated logos, explainer videos, app commercials, television promos, or even film and YouTube channels opening titles.

Stop motion

This is the most complicated and regressive form of animation that’s very rare on YouTube. It combines live action filmmaking principles with traditional character animation. This is similar to traditional animation but uses real life material instead of drawings. It is one of the most time taking animating process. For example, Kubo and the Two Strings – a stop-motion picture from Latika studios said that the movie took five years to complete the whole process.


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YouTube channel Example – PESfilm

PESfilm was nominated for an Academy Award for their short motion picture animation film “Fresh Guacamole” in 2013 and 2016 Cannes Lions – Gold Lion – Design/Animation for their advertisement for Honda Motor Company called “Honda Paper”

So, is YouTube neglecting animation?

In 2012-2013, YouTube updated its algorithm to give less weight to suggested videos which were only watched briefly by users, announcing that the site would be “focusing more prominently on time watched” to avoid short and usually pointless REPY GIRL videos. This means they favored daily uploads and longer 10 minutes’ videos that benefited let’s play videos and vlogs. Videos that master this combination not only enjoy better placement but are able to draw in advertisers who pay higher CPM (Cost per Thousand Impressions) rates. But, animation channels got none of that.

Many animation YouTube channels protested this move as it would kill their animation as they can’t make 22 minutes’ cartoons in such small timeframe.

As per Quora, some studios can produce 2 minutes of animation in a much shorter time frame. The guys down at South Park produce a full 22-minute episode in six days, from concept to writing, voice acting, storyboards, animatic, animating, editing and final cut. Six days. That is unbelievably fast. But they are a large team of very skilled individuals. This is also not common practice.

Most animation studios produce a 22-minute animated cartoon episode in 10 months, with the use of in-house animators and artists, and a second team overseas in places like Korea or India to complete the bulk of the work.

Thus time watched metric failed miserably.

Then, in 2016 YouTube started selecting videos to disable ad revenue on, for reasons ranging from foul language to controversial politics.

This is forcing many animators to choose a new form of a platform like Vimeo thus making YouTube as the marketing/interaction tool for animation producers and fans alike than as a hosting site.

Top Animation Channels on YouTube

With all these new updates, YouTube is deserting the part of its name that defined what it is (You). But even with all these updates, there are YouTube channels that are successful over the years. According to Vidooly’s research, there are more than 30 YouTube animation specific channels that create their own content and has generated more than 11 billion total views, and more than 52 million subscribers.

Here is the list of YouTube channels that re leaders in animation industry on YouTube with more than 1 million subscribers.

How It Should Have Ended6,714,2851,562,666,203
Explosm Entertainment6,673,7441,548,096,780
Simon’s Cat4,186,888833,715,016
Animation Domination High-Def1,210,406453,781,656
Shut Up! Cartoons2,010,832375,714,880
Weebl's Stuff824,017330,317,663
Pencilmation Cartoons398,037270,788,399
theodd1sout comic2,124,824242,474,239
Alan Becker2,392,490233,094,463
Jaiden Animations1,141,76775,030,139

NOTE – We have excluded the KIDS centric YouTube channels like ChuChuTV, and 3D Rhymes, as they deal with a specific niche demographic that’s going way too successful at present.

Some honorable mentions – Pencilmation Cartoons got the best viewership rate as it generates more than 270,788,399 views with just 398,037 subscribers in hand. MondoMedia is the most viewed animation YouTube channel, while How It Should Have Ended is the most subscribed YouTube channel dealing with self-curated animation. Also, Adande Thorne won the 2016 Streamy Awards in Best Animation in a Web Series category for his work in sWooZie (YouTube channel).


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Although there are few successful YouTube channels in animation, but the scope of finding them out of random surfing is to the minimal. YouTube search now runs on KEYWORD attached to tags, descriptions, thumbnails, and the type of content. This is what I got when I searched the “Film & animation” category on YouTube. (see the image below)


You cannot locate any “category” on YouTube unless you know the name of the video or YouTube channel. Websites like Vimeo, Metacafe, Dailymotion, Netflix have category sorted for the content exploration. When YouTube is limiting its users to browse more content as per the category they like, how can YouTube channels in animation have similar success rate just like YouTube channels of Let’s play videos, movie trailers, Vloggers, react and beauty category? The dream of using the service as an engine for economic success for an animator is subsequently flawed.

What do you think of this situation? Don’t you think that we need a separate category indexer to have a better interaction with the new content?

Akshay Chandra

Being an artist, movie buff and a media enthusiast, content writing is my career train. I am a proud alumni of Symbiosis Institute of Media Communication (Pune) and currently working for Vidooly.


  • Imparture

    March 27, 2019 at 5:48 PM

    Thanks to select this post for writing, the topic was very interesting for me. in between content mentioned statics is really informative.

  • Nagma Shaikh

    January 22, 2019 at 1:15 AM

    Award shows are very popular these days. Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards is one such award show which is famous all across the world. It honors the television shows, music, movies which are chosen and voted by the young viewers of the network. The show was first telecasted in the year 1988. This award show is so popular amongst the millennials that now popular stars have started performing live in this award show. There are slime shows which are also incorporated in the show and are becoming really popular.

  • Ram

    January 2, 2019 at 3:03 PM

    Nice Articles, Thank you for sharing. This is very helpful to me, Sahasra Academy of Media & Entertainment Studies is the best 3D Animation Training Institute in Hyderabad. We provide VFX, Animation, Gaming, Multimedia, Digital Film Making.

  • Niel

    December 11, 2018 at 7:59 PM

    You may need a separate category indexer to have a better interaction.

  • Prismart Global

    October 18, 2018 at 2:35 PM

    This paragraph provides a clear idea for the upcoming new viewers of animation, Thank you from the core.

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