Animation Before Film. One of the earliest animations before film is the thaumatrope. This was a small toy that was popular around the 19th century. The toy consists of a small disk that would have two pictures on either side (like a bird and a cage) and is attached to two pieces of string. Once the string is twisted between your fingers then the two images seem to merge into one.
The phenakistoscope was another early animation device created in 1831. It is a disk with images drawn evenly around the centre, small slits are cut into the disk slightly closer to the centre. the device would usually be placed in front of the mirror and spun. You would then look through the slots which will momentarily show an image as each slot passes.
Another wall mounted version was made which allowed people to use one without having to use a mirror.
The zoetrope operates almost the same as the phenakistoscope. Its a cylindrical device with a few frames of animation printed inside. The viewer looks through the slots and spins the device to see the images moving on the other side. The zoetrope has got many advantages over the basic phenakistoscope. More than one person could view the device due to the fact that its cylindrical, it also didn’t need a mirror to be viewed.
Flipbooks are one of the most basic was to show moving images. Frames of image are drawn on pieces of paper, once finished the pages of the book are flipped quickly to show as if the images are moving.
1900 – 1929 The Silent Era. In the early 20th century theatres began showing animated movies, especially in the United States and France.
One of the first completely animated films using stop- motion to create action was Humorous phases of funny faces.
Fantasmagorie is the first animated film using hand drawn animation. It is considered by film historians to be the first animated cartoon.
Image from Fantasmagorie
Traditional Animation (sometimes referred to as cel-animation). This is one of the older forms of animation. The animator draws every frame to create the animation sequence. All the drawings one after the other, gives the idea of movement. This animation completely consists of hand drawn frames. This is normal recorded in 12 frames per second (fps) and occasionally is sped up to 24 fps for faster scenes. This isn’t really used anymore as this style has become obsolete.
1995. This was the year that Toy Story was released and it was the first fully computer animated feature film. From here, lots of animated feature films have made box office hits.
Current Forms Of Animation
Flash animations have become more popular in the last decade. An increasing amount of people can make them due to the access of the technology. Flash is cheap and easy to use, so are other vector based animating programs. Unlike traditional animation, people can create rigs for characters then move the body parts individually, instead of drawing the character over and over. After effects allows you to create complex rigs for animations. All these flexibilities give beginners more options when approaching animations, especially if drawing isn’t their strong suit, unlike traditional animation where drawing skills were needed.
3D animation (also known as computer animation), this is currently the most common form of animation. 3D animation is more like moving puppets than it is drawing 3d pictures. Like flash animation, most programs will allow you to have a lot of control over the character and move body parts. A big difference between 3d and 2d animation is that the characters body parts are always present, which has to be taken into consideration while animating. When animating 2d, if the character is viewed from the side, then half of his body isn’t visible and therefore technically non existent.With 3d however, parts are always present which adds more work for the animator because they have to be aware of the whole body all the time.
Motion graphics are still a form of animation, however, motion graphics are not character or story driven, motion graphics is used to create moving text or graphic elements, motion graphics is usually used for promotional purposes. The skills to make morion graphics don’t necessarily need to be the same for the other types of animation. With motion graphics, you don’t need an understanding of body movement.
Stop motion combines live action film making principles with traditional character animation. Stop motion is done by taking a photo of an object, moving it just a little bit and taking another photo, this process is repeated several times. When all the photos are played back, they make the illusion of movement. This is a similar idea to traditional but it uses real life material instead of drawing.
Different styles of stop motion.
Claymation. A popular form is claymation. This is working with clay characters that can be manipulated for animation. These clay characters are usually built upon a wire skeleton. This helps make it easier to animate.
Puppets. Some animators will use puppets for stop motion. Like claymation, puppets can be built around a wire skeleton, this makes them easier to use. The expression on the puppets faces can be easily changed to fit the emotion they may be trying to express.
Cut out. This uses cut outs of cardboard or different flat material placed upon a paper background. The animation is shot from above. There are lots of pieces to every character, that are all switched out and swapped while shooting.
Silhouette. Similar to cut out stop motion, silhouette follows the same principle however, all the shots are dark and they are all depicted as silhouettes. This is a very old form of stop motion that is very rarely used today.
Action figures. A few people use action figures in stop motion. Robot Chicken is famous for using action figures to make fun of pop culture. Some YouTubers use Lego in stop motion videos.
Pixelation. This is a form of stop motion that uses real people to create unreal scenes. It uses the method of taking photos and moving things around, the major difference is that the main subject in the video is usually an actual person.
Where animation can be used.
Advertisement. Lots of adverts show real life scenarios portrayed by animated scenes. Big companies will normally use lots of different animated scenes, sometimes the scenes don’t have much to do with the company. The reason for this is because it is much more interesting and it keeps the viewer watching, this in turn could help their sales. It is also much more expensive o hire actors and actresses.
Entertainment. The biggest use of animation is entertainment. Animation is used everywhere in entertainment, TV, phones and the internet. Animated entertainment is used a lot on kids programming. Animation can keep children occupied and entertained due to the bright colours and funny characters. Lots of television shows and movies are created using animation, a lot of animated films have made a lot of profits.
Educational. Animation can be used in education to help pupils understand something easier or show how something works. Animation can keep children interested by having bright colours and characters. Some children’s programmes are also educational and completely animated.
Simulations. Simulations are used in lots of places, they are used greatly in the military. Pilots will use simulations to practice flight training. Instead of buying new equipment and fuel they will just use a flight simulator.
Current trends in animation.
- High-End 3D – Now high-end 3d isn’t just found on big budget movies. Because of the technology people have access to, high-end 3d can be found much more commonly on television.
- Tangible – The use of tangible physical materials and human interaction. This shows animation engaging with reality.
Here’s an example – The Twinings tea advert.
- Non-Photorealistic rendering – enables a wide variety of expressive, natural looking styles to be created digitally.
Here’s an example.
- Augmented live action – A live action scene is filmed and then motion graphics are overlaid onto the scene.
Modern animation software.
- Unreal engine
- Maya 3D
- Cinema 4D
- Blender 3D
Animation. Animation is very important in media. You can’t watch anything without some form of animation in it, wether its a feature film or a youtube video, animation will probably be present. Since technology is much more advanced in recent years, it has become much easier for anyone to start animating.