Why it is easier to make an animated television show than a live action show

John Sava

Production of television shows can be something that is very difficult.  Casting, writing and building sets can take a long time.  That is why there are not many live action television shows that go for a really long time.  Live action television shows that do not need a lot of continuity like Law and Order can go for a long time because they can do the similar show many times.  For a live action dramas like Game of Thrones that has a main plot and a conclusion that has to be had it is difficult for it to go past ten years without losing people’s attention.  Animated television shows can go for over 20 years because animation takes out a lot of problems like casting and set production. That is why shows like The Simpsons and South Park can go for so long.  This blog will explain why it is more easier for animated television shows to last longer than live action shows.  

To make a 20 minute episode of a comedy cartoon is much more easier than to make a 47 minute live action drama television show.  When creating a cartoon the set designers are basically the animators.  Producers do not have to worry about set designers needing a lot of money to get a set together because it all can be drawn.  The only thing that would be difficult to animate is large fight scenes with many people in the background. Setting up locations based on time periods can be easier to.  Producers do not need to get props, food, beverages or clothing based on a certain time periods because those to can be animated.  Designing a set and making it one that can work for both the time and location is easier to do for an animated television show.

Image result for Game of Thrones dragon burning city

When making a television show one also has to think of money and time.  Everything mentioned in the previous paragraph needs a lot of time and money to do.  Game of Thrones needs $10 million to make one episode, while on the other hand Family Guy needs just $2 million to make one episode.  Family Guy is also a show that does not have a lot of continuity and is really random.  It can take place in the past and present.  This is one reason why it has gone for so long because they can do more random things and spend less money compared to other shows.  Game of Thrones also takes two weeks to make one episode, while South Park could take as little as three days to make one episode.  South Park has an even more basic design than Family Guy, so it is even more easier to animate the characters.  The episodes are shorter and also involve more relatable things to this time, which makes it easier to write.  Overall, animation can cost less and take less time to make.

Image result for South park

Working with actors for an animated television show can be easier than with a live action show.  One reason why it is easier is because you do not have to worry about actors aging.  In Stranger Things at some point the kids will be too old to be on the show (if the creators want to keep them young).  For South Park they do not have that issue because all of the characters are animated and voiced by the adults whose voices do not change.  Scheduling actors to be in a television show that is live action can sometimes be difficult.  If it is a long running drama like Breaking Bad some of the actors are basically forced to do these roles and not do to many other movies.  Bryan Cranston did not star in many movies and actually was nominated for an Oscar two years after the final episode of Breaking Bad.  Another actor Mila Kunis can voice for Family Guy and still star in movies because it is less difficult to voice.  Just trying to cast a person who has the right look and feel for a live action television show can be tough, however those problem are less present when a person is behind a microphone.

Creating television shows involves less work if you animate it instead of act it out.  This has led to animated shows lasting longer and being more easier to create.  It involves less production, time, money and is less strenuous on actors.  Creating a television show in general can be very difficult, making one that does not involve all of the difficulties of live action can make it easier.

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3 thoughts on “Why it is easier to make an animated television show than a live action show

  1. I agree with the points of age of characters becoming a factor in live action TV shows and how live action shows cost way more than animated shows which makes animated shows more appealing to produce. However, one other factor I think that makes animated television shows easier to make than live actions ones is scripting and how episodes flow (or don’t) with one another. In live action shows, fans/viewers are usually invested in deep storylines/story arcs, and character development over multiple episodes and/or seasons. In order to write a good/compelling show, all the events and storylines that take place need to flow and make sense in order to keep viewers invested in what’s going on. In an animated series, take ‘Family Guy’ for example, you can have a scene where Peter and a Giant Chicken fight, and set off various catastrophic events, causing potential deaths and major destruction however, in the next scene, things are back to normal like no fight ever took place. In this sense, I feel like writing for an animated series is easier because writers can get away with more, and unless you’re going for it, things don’t always have to make sense. The audience knows they’re watching a cartoon and won’t have to think to hard if in one episode a certain character dies, and then is just miraculously alive come next episode (like w/Kenny in South Park).

    – Ryan Salvaggio

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  2. (Brendan Carr) I agree with this article in general. I would agree that it is easier to produce an animated show other a live action show just from a logistical standpoint. The amount of time and effort that goes into just the logistics of a live action show is one of the reasons why they take so long to produce. Whether they are shooting on set or on location it takes a tremendous effort to get those kinds fo shows set up let alone shoot the episode. In live action shows there are also so many moving parts that all are little details to the episode that need to be perfect. In animation shows there are a lot less moving parts so that it takes less time for them produce the episode. They can also be smaller staffed operations which allows them to have greater creative freedom and they also have less hoops to jump through when creating a episode.

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  3. I loved your post and honestly have never even thought about this aspect of television production and the pros and cons to creating shows as live action or as an animation. Now that you do bring it to the forefront though, I completely agree with you! As I do love my live action television shows and dramas, and have never really been a huge fan of comedical animations, I agree with the statement in regards to age and how growing up can have a strong negative impact on live actions shows in regards to keeping them going for long. I totally see why animated series are typically on air for longer and potentially have greater long term success rates, because of this now!
    -Nicole Fasciano

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