Issue: Volume: 24 Issue: 4 (April 2001)

Animation Industry Barrels Along

Robi Roncarelli

Though the computer animation industry seems to change unceasingly, one constant has been its relentlessly strong growth. The latest year analyzed in The Roncarelli Report on the Computer Animation Industry was no exception, with the total value of global commercial computer animation production at $25.4 billion in 1999, a 25 percent increase over the previous year's total. Though not as large as 1998's increase over 1997 (29 percent) or 1997's over 1996 (35 percent), the growth is still impressive, especially considering that the raw cost of computer animation production has been reduced by improved technology.

Within this overall growth, changes have occurred among the 14 different use categories we employ to track computer animation: advertising, architecture, broadcast, corporate communications, design engineering, education, film and television content, games, legal and insurance, medical, personal, scientific, location-based entertainment, and the Web.

Games grew aggressively in 1999, for example, with a 63 percent increase in market dollars. The total amount now being spent on game animation is $2.8 billion, which makes it the second largest computer animation category in terms of sheer dollars, accounting for 11 percent of overall production. Web animation, with a hefty 89 percent increase over last year, still accounted for only 4.3 percent of the total market share. As in former years, the creation of imagery and special effects for television programs and movies leads the pack in terms of dollars, with close to $10 billion spent this year, accounting for 37.5 percent of the total CG animation market.
The total value of global commercial computer animation production has increased from $8.8 billion in 1995 to $25.4 in 1999 and is projected to grow to $60.5 billion by 2004.

Indications are that these growth patterns are continuing into 2000 and 2001, and will last for more years than we care to forecast here. Experience indicates that while there may be variations within the statistical makeup of the industry from year to year, overall trends remain the same: lower production costs, continued industry growth, continuing expansion of uses and applications, and growing desire for computer imagery on the part of users and viewers.

By 2004, we predict that the total production volume for the computer animation industry will be $60.5 billion, more than twice the 1999 total of $25.4 billion. Trying to predict what uses that expanded computer animation production will be devoted to is a bit more difficult. Web use and game development represent the user categories of greatest potential.

Last year, we expected these uses to erode percentage shares for advertising, broadcast, and film and television production. Erosion has occurred for the first two categories, but the film and television category has grown appreciably, as viewer and user demand in this area continues to be quite strong.

We believe that in total, the broad-scale uses of computer animation production will not change significantly. The entertainment and communications applications will continue to dominate usage, and remain the major impetus for industry development as producers demand new and more astounding images in their fight to retain and capture users and viewers.

All in all, we do not expect any major softening in the industry's double digit growth trends for the foreseeable future. And while the total computer animation and effects product will continue to be a familiar entity, how it is created and how it is presented to us will change, and the technology and devices used in that process will be constantly evolving.

Robi Roncarelli is publisher of The Roncarelli Report on the Computer Animation Industry 2000, from which this article is adapted. He can be reached at