Ways People Animate Movies & Etc.

Ways people are animating their movies, shows, shorts, etc.

What is Animation?

Animation is the process of making the illusion of motion and change by means of the rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other.

Animation can be recorded with either analogue media, a flip book, motion picture film, video tape, digital media, including formats with animated GIF, flash animation, and digital video. To display animation, a digital camera, computer, or projector are used along with new technologies that are produced.


In Europe, the French artist,Émile Cohl, created the first animated film using what came to be known as traditional animation creation methods - the 1908 Fantasmagorie. The film largely consisted of a stick figure moving about and encountering all manner of morphing objects, a wine bottle that transforms into a flower. There were also sections of live action in which the animator's hands would enter the scene. The film was created by drawing each frame on paper and then shooting each frame onto negative film, which gave the picture a blackboard look.

During the 1910s, the production of animated short films, typically referred to as "cartoons", became an industry of its own and cartoon shorts were produced for showing in movie theaters. The most successful producer at the time was John Randolph Bray, who, along with animator Earl Hurd, patented the cel animation process which dominated the animation industry for the rest of the decade.

Computer animation has become popular since Toy Story (1995), the first feature-length animated film completely made using this technique.

In 2008, the animation market was worth US $68.4 billion. Animation as an art and industry continues to thrive as of the mid-2010s, because well-made animated projects and in all four quadrants. Animated feature-length films returned the highest gross margins (around 52%) of all film genres in the 2004-2013 time frame.


Traditional Animation

Traditional animation (also called cel animation or hand-drawn animation) was the process used for most animated films of the 20th century. The individual frames of a traditionally animated film are photographs of drawings, first drawn on paper. To create the illusion of movement, each drawing differs slightly from the one before it. The animators' drawings are traced or photocopied onto transparent acetate sheets called cels, which are filled in with paints in assigned colors or tones on the side opposite the line drawings. The completed character cels are photographed one-by-one against a painted background by a rostrum camera onto motion picture film.

Examples of traditionally animated feature films include Pinocchio (United States, 1940), Animal Farm (United Kingdom, 1954), and The Illusionist (British-French, 2010). Traditionally animated films which were produced with the aid of computer technology include The Lion King (US, 1994), The Prince of Egypt (US, 1998), Akira (Japan, 1988), Spirited Away (Japan, 2001), The Triplets of Belleville (France, 2003), and The Secret of Kells (Irish-French-Bellgian, 2009).

Full animation refers to the process of producing high-quality traditionally animated films that regularly use detailed drawings and plausible movement, having a smooth animation. Fully animated films can be made in a variety of styles, from more realistically animated works those produced by the Walt Disney studio (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King) to the more 'cartoon' styles of the Warner Bros. animation studio. Many of the Disney animated features are examples of full animation, as are non-Disney works, The Secret of NIMH (US, 1982), The Iron Giant (US, 1999).

In technical terms, full animation is classified as animation which has key frames, or unique drawings, for at least every other frame of footage. Animation is usually played back at about 24 frames per second. In this respect, full animation is also known as drawing “on twos” since at least 12 frames of each second of footage are key frames.

Limited Animation involves the use of less detailed or more stylized drawings and methods of movement usually a choppy or "skippy" movement animation. Pioneered by the artists at the American studio United Productions of America, limited animation can be used as a method of stylized artistic expression, as in Gerald McBoing-Boing (US, 1951), Yellow Submarine (UK, 1968), and the anime produced in Japan. Its primary use, however, has been in producing cost-effective animated content for media for television (the work of Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and other TV animation studios) and later the internet (web cartoons).

This style of animation is time-consuming and expensive. "Limited" animation creates an image with abstract art, symbolism, and fewer drawings to create the same effect, at a much lower cost. This style of animation depends upon animators' skill in emulating change without additional drawings; improper use of limited animation is easily recognized as unnatural. It also encourages the animators to indulge in artistic styles that are not bound to real-world limits. The result is an artistic style that could not have developed if animation was solely devoted to producing simulations of reality. Without limited animation, such groundbreaking films as Yellow Submarine, Chuck Jones' The Dot and the Line, and many others could never have been produced.

Stop Motion Animation

Stop Motion Animation is a technique used in animation to bring static objects to life on screen. This is done by moving the object in increments while filming a frame per increment. When all the frames are played in sequence it shows movement. Clay figures, puppets and miniatures are often used in stop motion animation as they can be handled and repositioned easily.

Stop motion animation can be thought of as just a series of still photographs. Objects or puppets are moved and filmed frame by frame to simulate movement. Films like the original King Kong and Star Wars made heavy use of stop motion animation using miniatures and puppets. This was the only way to bring objects that cannot move by themselves to life on screen.

Notable feature-length films all done in stop motion animation and released in the “CGI boom era” are:

  • Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005)
  • Chicken Run (2000)
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
  • Coraline (2009)

Examples also include The Tale of the Fox (France, 1937), The Nightmare Before Christmas (US, 1993), Corpse Bride (US, 2005), Coraline (US, 2009), the films of Jiří Trnka, and the adult animated sketch-comedy television series Robot Chicken (US, 2005–present).

Puppet Animation was developed by Lotte Reiniger in Germany during the 1920s. It uses jointed, flat-figure marionettes whose poses are minutely readjusted for each photographic frame. Movement is similarly simulated in puppet animation, which photographs solid three-dimensional figures in miniature sets. The puppets are often made of a malleable yet stable material, such as clay, so that the carefully phased.

Computer Animation

Computer Animation is a subset of both computer graphics and animation technologies. It is the creation of moving images (animation) using computer technology. Computer animation is broken down into two categories. Computer-generated animation where the animation is designed solely on the computer system using animation and 3D graphics software, and computer-assisted animation where traditional animations are computerized.

2D & 3D Animation

2D Animation is the traditional animation method that has existed since the late 1800s. It is one drawing followed by another in a slightly different pose, followed by another in a slightly different pose, on and on for 24 frames a second.

Traditionally these were put together in an amazing process where artists drew pencil drawings of every frame of film, then these images were painted onto clear plastic sheets called ‘cels’, and each of the thousands of handrawn and painted cels were photographed one at a time over a hand painted background image and those thousands of images compiled to run as film at 24 frames a second.

3D Animation (aside from stop-motion, which really is a form of 3D animation), is completely in the computer. Things that you create in a 3D animation program exist in an X, Y & Z world. Instead of a drawing of a globe, I have a sphere that can actually turn 360 degrees.


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