What is the lifespan of an animated short?


How much of the following is true:

  1. You assemble a team to create a short
  2. You create the short and submit it to festivals and conventions
  3. Hopefully you are accepted and win awards
  4. The main people that view your short are attendees of the festivals and others in industry.
  5. Maybe you land jobs because of your short
  6. Maybe your short is featured at the beginning of a dvd
  7. Maybe you place your short on Youtube
  8. That’s it.

Given the budget, time, manpower/effort, and resources it takes to create an animated short, and what you expect as a return, are shorts mainly created for artistic purposes?

Also how long are animated shorts remembered? Do you ever re-watch them? How familiar is the general public with animated shorts? Is it safe to say animated shorts are very niche?


  • RF


Surpised that this topic hasn’t been addressed. I’ll take a stab.

  1. Assembling a team is certainly helpful, but not strictly required. These things can and have been done by one person. The need for a team really depends on both the complexity of the project & the length of the project. If you’re not under any time contraints then you can just hack away at it until you’re finished, however long that may take. If, on the other hand, you need it done quickly then just throw more people at the task.

Still, It’s a weird 3 part Venn diagram with the 100% overlap being impossible. You can it cheap and fast, but not beautiful. You can have it cheap and beautiful, but not fast. You can have it fast and beautiful, but not cheap. You just can’t have all three at once.

  1. Festivals and conventions are an option, but they’re not the only option. There aer any number of other reasons for creating shorts other than accolades.
  • Proof of concept: Maybe you want to pitch a movie or TV show. Long gone are the days of submitting a script or proposal. It’s a “put up or shut up” world. A good example of this might be “Azureus Rising”, which is now being developed into something outside of the studio framework, iirc.
  • Tech demo: Maybe your company has created a new GPU or 3D app that they need to show off. The best way to do this is to highlight the features in glitzy fashion. The Blender Foundation routinely creates shorts to promote new major releases. Similarly, Epic just did something similar to promote the upcoming Unreal Engine 5.
  • Self-Promotion: This was a bit more common when CG was less complicated. However, maybe you just want a job or some clients. You COULD just create a handful of art pieces for a portfolio. If you’re ambitious, you could create a 2-4 minute short film that, effectively, acts like a living version of your portfolio/reel. The time required is monumental and is a big risk, especially when quality as a major concern. Still, the potential payoff could be dramatic.
  1. You MIGHT see a promotional DVD with bundled shorts, but DVD is a dying medium. TBH, the last PC I had that included a DVD player was about 4 or 5 years ago. At most, I only buy 2 or 3 commercial DVD releases each year. Even then, that’s a lot. During DVD’s prime, I used to buy probably 4 or 5 new DVD movies each week. That’s a 98% drop. Also, I cancelled my Netflix DVD package 6 months ago when so many others had dropped that option TWO YEARS earlier. DVD’s just not where it’s at these days. It’s all about streaming. Quicker delivery. Quick revisions. Lower costs. You just have to worry about bandwidth, really.

  2. YouTube isn’t the only avenue these days. If anything, depending on your perspective, it might be the least desirable option. YouTube might grant you the maximum level of online exposure, but it can also be a hassle.

  • Obviously, there’s the issue of it being stuffed with ads. You COULD stop ads with blockers, but not everybody does. For those who don’t, sitting through a block of ads that’s longer than the short itself might be a deterrent. Might be more trouble than it’s worth unless the short film is already a high profile or viral phenomenon.
  • Google’s content guidelines might just put your short behind an age restricted sign-in wall, which is not what you want for maximum exposure. Even worse than that is if those same guidelines restrict you based on country or region.
  • To put it bluntly, the DMCA is a bitch. For good reason or no reason, somebody can claim that you’re infringing on their IP and have your short film removed. Google doesn’t really side with the content creators as well as they should. They take IP claims and the invokation of the DMCA pretty seriously. All it takes is for somebody to wake up on the wrong side of the bed and your short could be down before it even gets 100 likes.

I’m not saying the YouTube isn’t worth it. It’s a strong and powerful platform. You’d be crazy not to. However, go in with open eyes. It’s not perfect and you might want to go with smaller, more targetted streaming services. Alternatively, if you’ve got the money, you could always go with a web hosting plan that has lots of bandwidth and just promote the hell out of it on social media.

Bottom line: Yes. Short can and are created for artistic purposes only. Let’s face it. Nobody goes into art looking to get rich. We might all be a long way off from the “starving artist” cliche, but you’ll never be a world famous billionaire making CG. Not unless you found the “next big thing” beyond Pixar.

How long are shorts remembered? That all depends on your memory, right? Right off the top of my head, I can name a few great old shorts going as far back as 21 years ago.

  • “Pump Action” by Phil McNally
  • “Killer Bean 2” by Jeff Lew
  • “A Gentlemen’s Dual” by Blur
  • “Rockfish” by Tim Miller
  • “Big Buck Bunny” by Blender Foundation (Most of their stuff is memorable)
  • “Azureus Rising” by Black Sun
  • The Lady and the Reaper"
  • “Blue”
  • “Rustboy”
  • “Light the Torch” by Soilwork

I’ve seen tons of these things and remember most of the really good ones. Unfortunately, not all of them had formal names and some of them that did were lost to time. For example, there was this really good one from about 10-15 years ago about a superhero street brawl. Very flashy and polished (for the time). However, it probbly hasn’t been online in many years. There’s really nobody out there saving this work for posterity. People just assume that it’ll live on forever because… the interent. Well, sorry, the internet DOES forget stuff from time to time. Just the good stuff. :stuck_out_tongue:

The general public is familiar with what’s targeted at the general public. Does that make any sense? If you put up your short in places where only the CG community or CG lovers might see it then most everybody else won’t. Even the best Pixar shorts only get seen by those who are Pixar lovers.

As a content creator, unless you have the money to promote it in a major way then you have to accept that you’re playing to a very specific audience. Then again, that’s really no different than if you are a jazz or ska musician. Unless you’re going out of you way to win over the Top 40 crowd, you have to accept that you’ll be loved be a smaller, but more dedicated fan base.

The only REAL way to garner that mass appeal is if you go with a long form project like a movie. Even then, there are TONS of full length CG films that most people haven’t heard about. There’s a lot that goes into success. Quality is just one small piece of the puzzle. Money. Promotion. Timing. Luck.

CG shorts are a little niche, but that’s mostly by design. You’re not going to spend $130M to promote a 5 minute film about fun loving robot baby monkeys. :smiley:


BTW: There ARE exceptions to everything. A good example is with “Rockfish” - one of the shorts I mentioned above. If the name Tim Miller seems familiar then it should. He started off as an animator, but has since gone on to direct “Deadpool”, “Terminator”, and a number of other projects. It DID take him 20 years to get there though. No such thing as overnight success… usually.


It’s important to understand what you will do with your short movie.
If you assembled a team for that, you should try to continue working as a team. Otherwise what was the point? Showing your directing capabilities? If so, then you’re a really talented\skilled artist.
If you’re just skilled in a couple of areas, you can showcase your specific skills in the short, but you can do the same just creating art pieces, which is faster.
If you want to work for a big company, they will probably look for a specialist, not a generalist. CG becomes more demanding with its crave for hyper-realism and detailing.
I would dissuade gathering an unskilled crowdsourcing team, as it will hault pretty quickly. Gathering skilled peers is also not easy, as they’re usually busy.
The wow-effect of 3d graphics has long gone like 15 yeas ago. Surely we are still surprised by technologies, such as UE5, but not by short movies, which are plethora of, as well as there are myriads of 3d-artists.
We, 3d-artists, are dependent on the technical aspect of novelty and evolution of 3d graphics. What I imply by that is it might come the day 3d is no longer lucrative, demanded or sought after, as it happened to other artistic areas and mediums. It already happened to extent.
I’d say if you want to get a job in 3d, you shouldn’t try to make a short. But if you are firm you can direct, manage people, maybe it can lead to a top role. But it’s a different role than modeling or animating.


“Surprised that this topic hasn’t been addressed.”

Personally, was awaiting your usual forensic response before jumping in with a relevant snippet :grinning:

And if I may, an additional plug for the duo behind ROLLIN’ SAFARI ‘if animals were round’ series of animated shorts, stretching back a decade. Initially gaining positive traction via YT which in turn led too founding a small studio further extending their IP.