Animation is the process of creating motion and shape change illusion by means of the rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other. These images can be hand drawn, computer generated, or pictures of 3D objects. Though most people associate animation with cartoons, it also has applications in industrial and scientific research. Regardless of the type, the viewer’s body plays a main role in why people see continuous movement instead of a series of quickly changing images.
Three main types of animation
This is an animation technique where each frame is drawn by hand. After all the drawings are completed and colored, they can be photographed or scanned into a computer and then combined with sound on film. The process is extremely time-consuming, since it requires the creation of around 24 drawings per second of film.
This is an animation technique to make a physically manipulated object or persona appear to move on its own. The objects can be almost anything, ranging from clay figures to paper cut outs to household objects. Not all stop motion requires figures or models; many stop motion films can involve using humans, household appliances and other things for comedic effect.
Computer Generated/CGI animation
This is the process used for generating animated images by using computer graphics. Animators use computer software to create films and models, which is generally faster than the traditional method. Characters and objects can be made either two-dimensional or three-dimensional, but the process for creating each type is a bit different. For 2D computer generated animation, the animator creates a series of images with each one very slightly different from the last, very similarly to the traditional method. To create 3D images, he or she has to make a model of the character or object. This can be done by creating animation variables, which are points on a computer model that can be moved to create a different posture or look, or by using motion capture, in which a live actor acts the part of the character and his or her motions are recorded and applied to the computer-created model.
Other types of animation
2D animation figures are created or edited on the computer using 2D bitmap graphics or created and edited using 2D vector graphics. This includes automated computerized versions of traditional animation techniques such as interpolated morphing, onion skinning and interpolated rotoscoping. 2D animation has many applications, including analog computer animation, Flash animation and PowerPoint animation. Cinemagraphs are still photographs in the form of an animated GIF file of which part is animated.
Three-dimensional (3D) modeling
3D animation is digitally modeled and manipulated by an animator. The animator usually starts by creating a 3D polygon mesh to manipulate. A mesh typically includes many vertices that are connected by edges and faces, to give the visual appearance of form to a 3D object or 3D environment. Sometimes, the mesh is given an internal digital skeletal structure called an armature that can be used to control the mesh by weighting the vertices. This process is called rigging and can be used in conjunction with keyframes to create movement.