With the availability of 3D rendering options and the complexity of traditional 2D cel animation, it is not surprising that a lot of new cartoons’, such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Iron Man: Armoured Adventures etc… are being made in 3D as opposed to 2D.  However 2D animation has a certain charm over pure 3D, such as the use of squash and stretch techniques and the general stylised look.

However there are less and less pure 2D animations nowadays.  Where complex elements are needed, that would take too long to draw by hand, frame by frame, a composite is used.  The one of the earliest examples (1992)  to composite 3D CGI to create the carpet ride through the Cave of Wonders, the intricately patterned carpet itself, and the tiger head cave. (Disney Archives)

3D has become more of an influential part in animations since then, often trying to imitate the imperfections of hand drawn imagery.  Such as Warner Bros 1999 adaptation of The Iron Giant.  To achieve an imperfect look of the lines, a programme was created to generate imperfections.

Dreamworks Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron used 3D predominantly for landscapes and special FX, including the opening shots of the Grand Canyon.

The Futurama series also combines 2D and 3D graphics using a software called PowerAnimator.  The style of Matt Groening creates challenges for rendering in 3D due to the off-perspective stylised nature.  The characters are rarely if ever seen from front view, so to create fully 3 dimensional characters would just not maintain the look of the series

To say that pure 2D animation does not have a place in the future of animation would be sad, although sometimes the combination of the two can look  slightly awkward it is the inevitable future to sustain a level of complexity expected by a modern audience.  With hundreds of TV channels and internet shows, media needs to be created quickly, which is something that traditional 2D animation would have a hard time doing, 3D animation is simply quicker and more easily edited; a single model can be reused instead of every frame being drawn one by one, sets, props and characters can be viewed from any angle, textures easily changed and different rendering styles can apply a whole new treatment and mood to the composition; sending out a whole different message extremely easily.

References

http://www.myholler.com/155online/lectures/history.pdf

http://joshuamosley.com/UPenn/courses/Ani/AnimationHistory.html

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/cgi/sony-to-produce-cg-3d-popeye-feature.html

http://disney.go.com/vault/archives/movies/aladdin/aladdin.html

http://animatedtv.about.com/od/thesimpsonsfaq/a/celanimation.htm

http://www.toywebb.net/category239_1.htm

http://www.gotfuturama.com/Information/Articles/3dani.dhtml