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Introduction to Animation

To understand the true meaning of animation, one must first know the origin of the word and its history. The term “Animation” is derived from the Latin words “Animō” and “Animatio.”

What does animation mean?

Animō means:

To quicken, live, breathe, or inspire.

Animatio refers to:

A form of life, the act of giving life, or to vitalize.

Inanimate: Lifeless, not moving.

Thus, ‘Animation’ refers to the act of giving life to inanimate objects”. It is a technique of making inanimate objects and drawings appear to move by breathing life into a movement where once, there was none. When drawings and images of inanimate characters or objects known as “frames” get rapidly displayed in a sequence, each of which is slightly different from the other, it gives us an illusion of movement and the drawings appear to have been brought to life.

The Illusion of movement:

Phi Phenomenon:

When two objects are seen one after another in quick succession, it creates a feeling that the same object is moving from one place to another.

The optical illusion of perceiving continuous motion between separate objects or images when viewed rapidly in succession is known as the Phi phenomenon. This along with the persistence of vision is a part of a larger process called the “Motion Perception.” Persistence of vision is also commonly mistaken as the real reason behind the illusion of movement, which is not true. Persistence of vision is the theory that an image is assumed to persist for approximately one twenty-fifth of a second on the retina. This makes us assume the black spaces between each “real” movie frame.

So why is it called animation and not just a video?


The animation here, there and everywhere:

In the past, the term “animation “was commonly associated with cartoons and animated clips that played at the start of a film. But nowadays, animation is used around the world in a variety of fields as stated above. Today, it is also being used for industrial, scientific, medical and research purposes. At the start of the decade, the animation industry was $68.4 billion.

Computer animation also played a huge part in the evolution of video games. Today’s video games are the pinnacle of modern-day computer animation.

Evolution of animation:

The earliest traces of animation were small figures painted on an urn which looked life-like when the urn was rotated. But as man evolved, so did the many techniques required for animation.

The praxinoscope-also an animation device was the successor to the zoetrope and the phenakistoscope. It was an improvised version of the zoetrope wherein it had replaced its narrow viewing slits with an inner circle of mirrors. By this, the reflections of the pictures appeared more or less stationary in position as the wheel turned. This improvement helped the viewer to see the bright images more clearly without the distortion caused by zoetrope’s vertical slits.

Types of animation processes:

Limited Animation: It involves the use of less detailed and stylized drawings of movement. The usage of this method does not necessarily imply the lower quality as it allows the usage of time-saving techniques.

(E.g.Clutch Cargo, Scooby-Doo, where are you?)

Rotoscoping: It is a brilliant technique that was patented by Max Fleischer. Here, animators trace over a live-action movement, frame by frame. (E.g. Popeye)

Live-action and animation: It is a type of production where hand-drawn characters are combined with live-action shots. Space Jam and Who Framed Roger Rabbit are very good examples of this technique.

Stop motion animation: In this technique, the real-world objects are physically manipulated and shot one frame at a time using a camera to create an illusion of movement.

Cutout animation: It is the type of animation produced by moving 2D materials such as paper or cloth. (E.g. South Park, Blue’s Clues)

2D Animation: Objects or characters are created in the computer using 2D bitmap graphics or vector graphics. The objects are then animated using computerized versions of traditional animation techniques. (E.g. Tarzan, Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron)

Puppet animation: This animation involves puppets interacting with each other in a constructed environment. The puppets have an armature or a skeleton inside them to keep them steady as well as to move at particular joints. (E.g. The Muppets)

Clay animation: In this style of animation, the figures are usually made of plasticine clay or any other malleable material to create stop-motion animation. The figures have a wireframe armature inside so that they remain firm. (E.g.Paranorman)

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