If you don't have experience on other packages like Maya, 3DSmax, lightwave, etc. learning blender is a great way to start and there's tons of tutorials. If you do have experience in those other professional packages Blender's user interface and workflow can be quite frustrating and annoying. Then again to their credit Blender has gone to some great lengths to accommodate those used to other packages by giving options to tweak the UI to be more similar to those packages.
Can you make as high a quality of animation with Blender,ehhh, it's getting there and Blender does definitely has its pros among cons, in the end it's really what you're most comfortable with and what you need it for. I know artists that use a wide range of packages, each for specific purposes, including Blender. Personally I like the idea of Blender more than I actually like using it, but that is most likely just because of personal preference.
As for being able to do things cheaper and easier in 3D yes and no.
In 3D everything needs to be created up front. All the concept art, characters, sets, props and assets are modeled, textured, rigged, lit and set in place before anything is animated. This is a lengthy process, 2-3 years of preproduction work. After that it becomes pretty trivial to move objects around, animate or adjust the camera angle or rewrite the scene altogether if needs be. So a significant time hit up front but leads to more freedom and ease later on especially if changes need to be made.
With 2D you create as you go and only what you need for that scene. It can be repetitive at times but comparatively to 3D is much quicker. That is if you dont have to make alterations due to a change in the story or art direction. You'd have to trash that frame or sequence and start all over from scratch. This can become quite time consuming.
It's basically a tortoise and the hare type thing. One is slow and sure, it takes longer up front but is easy to manage later on, the other is faster up front but can become time consuming if changes are required.
If you've ever tried to animate something complex in 3D you quickly realize how frustrating and tedious it can be. You know the pose you want your character to be in but you have to fight the computer and model rig to get it there, and to get it there in a nice arc from the previous key frame. One painstaking joint at a time. In 2D you can just draw exactly the way you were thinking of, that is if you can draw.
So yes there are some pros and cons that can lead one to be more or less expensive than the other but generally 3D is more expensive because it is more time consuming, requires more resources, and higher trained and educated artists and technical expertise.
You'll be hard pressed to find a 3d artist or animator making less than $50,000 salary unless they are volunteering or an intern. Most of these are in $80-125k range. So say you had a team of 20 animators at 50k that by itself is 1,000,000. This short had well over 100 people working on it for more than a year for sure. Not to mention all the hardware, Facilities, software licenses, orchestra, sound, editing, marketing, security, etc. that goes into the mix. Add that all together and it is pretty pricey, even for a 3 minute short.
Most 2D animation these days is outsourced overseas to animation houses (sweatshops) in china,japan, india and korea that can churn out whatever you need pretty easily. The main key frames are done by the head artists here then the inbetweens are done there. That kind of thing is more difficult to do with 3D because there arent as many trained 3D artists, for now at least.
I'm not sure what my point was in all this, just dumping information I guess for whoever's interested.
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