Bringing stillness to life a crash course in animation types

Some may think that animation only consists of flipbooks and zoetropes created using hand-drawn images. Nowadays, numerous kinds of animations help develop still pictures in various creative manners. In this blog post, let us introduce you to a list of some of the most frequently used types and approaches contemporary animators employ.

Traditional Animation

2-D animation is the conventional mode of animation that was used as the foundation for animations. This technique presupposes an animator’s ability to draw tens, hundreds, or even thousands of frames that are somewhat similar to one another. In this case, reiterating these images in succession makes it appear as if the characters are moving or actual. Antecedents of conventional animation techniques include elaborate character art, realism in character movements, and natural aesthetics. Some of the famous ones include nearly all the Disney animation movies and cartoons, and some TV programs such as The Flintstones.

Stop Motion

Stop motion, on the other hand, involves the use of physical objects and models where an object or a scene is photographed frame by frame with slight adjustments made between frames. When the images are played back in succession, the models can be seen to perform apparent self-initiated movements. Clay, or ‘claymation,’ toys, paper cutouts, dolls, and even food can all be used in stop motion. Wallace and Gromit series of shorts, Chicken Run, and Isle of Dogs are some of the notable stop-motion films. The texture that comes with stop motion cannot be explained, but it comes with a certain charm that seems more real and tangible than anything a computer screen can offer.

2D Vector Animation

2D vector animations instead of bitmap pictures wherein illustrations and animations are made from geometric lines and shapes. Therefore, vector graphics never degrade when scaled up to any size or even scaled down to an infinitesimal size. To create their models, animators place points, lines, shapes, and color fills onto the screen. It is another form of animation where objects are in motion due to the change in vectors between keyframes. Vector animation is characterized by straight lines and clear uncontaminated shapes, hence the vivid motion such as shape transformation and fluidity in garments. For example, most of the animation can be observed in web programs as well as the animated series of Bob’s Burgers.

3D Animation

3D animation which provides the extra dimension is used to enhance the depth and therefore, the feeling of the animated world to the viewers. Artists create opaque skeletal structures that represent characters and scenery and which may be seen from any perspective. Post-production software is used to apply surface texture, and lighting to the 3D renders, and lastly, apply visual effects. Noted 3D animated films include the Toy Story series, Frozen, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Spider-Man had a strong connection to his sense of responsibility and power. The bonus of depth facilitates nearly incalculable opportunities for aesthetic innovation for 3D animators.

Rotoscoping Animation

Animated movement is made by filming live actions and then animators tracing each frame to achieve realism. These tracings are more expressive, organic, and detailed in movements and expressions of a real actor on stage. While this technique has been employed from early cartoons right up to Snow White, recent films introduced a new version of rotoscoping. For example, the effects like in the movies A Scanner Darkly and Tower, where rotoscoping is used to make everything look like an animated dream.

Motion Graphics

The cartoon is used in most of today’s animations, particularly in opening credits, advertisements, and music videos among others. Moving graphic elements/graphics based on logos, texts, illustrations, etc. Kinetic type, scrolling motions, transitions, and animated infographics are some of the concepts of motion design. This animation style is characterized by bright tones, sharp and smooth motion, and a rich set of graphic devices. Contemporary motion graphics from MK12 and Giant Ant appeal to modern audiences due to the studios’ creativity.

Pixilation Animation

Pixilation is a technique that is very similar to stop motion and is considered to be fully live-action. To make the animated sequences, real actors are recorded on film stages and the individual frames are captured and composited. However, they take a considerable amount of time to produce due to the large number of photographs and the fact that they employ real individuals rather than models. Pixilation draws out the natural human actions and amplifies these in a rather comical manner. Michel Gondry and the White Stripes have created short surreal pieces akin to pixilation, although attributed to Norman McLaren the pioneer of such animations.

Computer Animation

Computer animation can be a general term that can encompass 3D as well as a variety of other two-dimensional styles. Currently, two-dimensional animation is created on computers using software such as Toon Boom Harmony and Adobe Animate or Flash. This enables the animators to replicate several appearances including conventional cell, several camera shots/positions/movements, and interplay with the live-action sequences, etc. Lead studios, including Disney, have shifted from the use of cel animation or even a combination of cel and computer graphics to completely computer-based animation. For the 3D side, techniques involve computer animation solutions and can include keyframe, procedural, and physics techniques.

Experimental Animation

Mainstream animation or commercial animation concerns itself with telling a story in the least amount of time, hence it is more accessible to audiences Experimentation means not restricting itself to a cinematic form of plot, as it is abstract and emotional. As is apparent, there is significant heterogeneity in this highly specialized subgenre of animation: abstraction, metamorphosis, and various other techniques are its hallmarks. Experimental animators who have had a great impact include Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren, Len Lye, and Stuart Hilton.

This crash course can only give a general overview of what animation has in store for the world. Animation thus has gone on to experience new changes which are now trends in a leap and bound style and at a very fast pace. Animated filmmaking, whether the art has been done by hand or through computer equipment, has indeed become one of the most creative and timeless ways of transforming the stiff art form into a moving one.