AI steals the limelight at international cartoon and animation festival

Wu Huixin
The five-day China International Cartoon and Animation Festival ends in Hangzhou, with about 30 activities, covering talent training, exhibitions, and seminars, taking place.
Wu Huixin
AI steals the limelight at international cartoon and animation festival

Four cosplayers dressed as characters from "One Piece" at the 2024 China International Cartoon and Animation Festival.

The five-day China International Cartoon and Animation Festival, which ended yesterday, showcased around 300 original IPs from China and other countries.

About 30 activities, covering business, talent training, exhibitions, seminars and conferences, took place at the 65,000-square-meter main venue located by the White Horse Lake Jianguo Hotel. Fifty industrial giants and professional organizations, including Pixar Animation Studio, Asia Content & Entertainment Fair in Gwangju, and The Russian Animated Film Association, attended the extravaganza.

Artificial intelligence was a highlight of the festival. As a leader in digital technology, Hangzhou showcased its innovative integration of animation and AI. Visitors got to see the new results of AI-generated animation produced by domestic giants like Alibaba, NetEase and Bilibili.

To cash in on the AI trend, a digital entertainment game and art space made its debut at this year's CICAF. Visitors experienced immersive virtual reality through interactive installations and devices, such as robotic dog training, AI-generated paintings and augmented reality adventures.

The International Animation and Game Business Conference (iABC) was the main commercial negotiation platform of the CICAF. About 200 professionals from home and abroad attended the iABC, which is considered a paramount domestic platform to release, promote and commercialize IPs.

Notable attendees included US cartoon artist Dalton Grant Jr, French director Pascal Léger, and Wu Jianrong, chairman of Zoland Animation. Hundreds of industrial insiders and companies took part in the one-on-one matchmaking and 10 commercial events to seek business partnership.

The Cosplay Super Show served as a mecca for cartoon enthusiasts, attracting competitors from both domestic and international backgrounds. A total of 44 teams, selected from 12 subvenues, gathered in Hangzhou to compete for the gold prize.

For the first time during the gala, a guofeng (国风, Chinese style) IP award was established.

With the rise of guofeng – a movement that celebrates Chinese designers' focus on their culture and responsiveness to the changing market, cosplayers showcased performances from popular domestic IPs, including "The Magic Blade," "Ultimate 3," "Dream of Three Ancient Kingdoms 2," and the "Qian Nu You Hun" mobile game. They competed for the opportunity to secure financial support.

There was also a space dedicated to guofeng music. Alongside opera characters, performers from the Zhejiang Conservatory of Music, dressed in traditional Chinese attire, played Chinese musical instruments like guzheng (古筝, plucked zither) and suona (唢呐, treble woodwind) to show the charm of the millennia-old pentatonic music.

Traditionally, ancient Chinese music used a pentatonic scale, of which the notes were called gong (宫), shang (商), jue (角), zhi (徵) and yu (羽). This concept has been documented in historical texts and corroborated by archeological discoveries.

To cater to those who could not attend onsite events, the organizing committee conducted livestreaming to attract thousands of clicks.

An online platform named "Cloud Guoman (Chinese cartoon)" was created to carve out a meta universe using technologies of VR, AR, AI, big data and cloud computing.

Additionally, there was a special space for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, showcasing popular IPs such as PundoPundo, Morpheus and Tea Girls. This area attracted a continuous stream of domestic fans of cartoons.

For years, the festival has been a pivotal platform for nurturing and discovering talent.

The Golden Monkey King Awards and Seiyuu Competition were essential in identifying gifted individuals and projects. Winners were granted the opportunity to participate in training classes and receive financial subsidies.

"Magic Eyes" China (Hangzhou) International Children's Comics Contest attracted 15,536 drawings from 21 countries and regions. About 300 paintings were awarded gold prize during the festival.

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