Imagination being the most important faculty of the human intellect comes to aid when we need to create something abstract that comes to our minds. Over the course of history, we have used it to create weapons, sculptures, buildings, clothing, and many such things that other animals are not cognitively capable enough to create on their own. Although over the years, we evolved to develop linguistics to communicate a message to other humans, our other more primitive forms of communication were via sign language and pictures.
At one point in time, we brought back the primitive way of communicating but in a more enhanced manner where stationary objects in the pictures were perceived as moving.
You must have guessed by now what we are talking about here. Yes, it is animation.
It is said that the inspiration for animation first derived when a person named Pygmalion from Greek mythology sculpted a figure of a woman that was so perfect that he fell in love with her and prayed to Lord Venus to make her come to life. This feeling and sense of magic emerged as an epiphany to those who became aware of this Greek folklore. Ever since then, people have had the desire to make inanimate objects come to life. The main reason why people are fascinated by the concept of animation is that it is not bound by reality and has no limitations.
The theoretical birth of animation preceded the birth of cinema by half a century.
Experimenters in the early 1800s observed that when static images are moved in fast succession, it is perceived as moving entity by the human eye.
The first-ever successful commercial device which made animation possible in the physical world was invented in 1832-33 which used a spinning cardboard disc that created an illusion of movement when viewed in a mirror. It was called Phenakistoscope also known as a stroboscopic disc.
Ever since then, we have come an extremely long way in the world of animation. Although there are many prominent animators these days, Walt Disney is the builder of the strongest legacy in the realm of the animation and film industry.
People have been using animation for various reasons. The main one is being able to communicate in the most effective way. The purpose of communication may vary and because of that so does the type of animation. Be it an educational video or a video that was intended to instill inquisitiveness in a child’s mind, animation works wonders for everybody. There are tools to manage and tracks the whole production process by which an animated movie can be completed on time.
There are many types of animation techniques that are used these days to make inanimate objects come to life for various purposes across businesses and industries. Let us take a look at them:
Types of Animation Techniques:
This is the traditional way of animating that was used by Disney back in its initial days. Every object was drawn by an artist that was later animated. If one is looking for a personal touch in their craft that evokes empathy and compassion in the minds of the viewers, then hand-drawn animations are the best. Some would say that hand-drawn animation is now becoming a lost art because it requires more effort from the artist’s perspective and it has its limitations when it comes to speed and efficiency. This is the reason why this technique is becoming less popular with each passing day.
Here are some notable examples of hand-drawn animation:
- The Iron Giant (1999)
- 101 Dalmatians (1961)
- Beauty And The Beast (1991)
This technique of animation was also developed in earlier times of animation. It involves tracing of object’s movements from the frames of a film. Earlier, animators would project real-world images onto a glass panel and then trace that image for future usage. Nowadays, this process is automated by computers. Though this method is time-consuming and takes weeks to come to fruition, it helps animators create animations where objects can be seen moving just like in the real world.
Here are some notable examples of Rotoscope animation:
- Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
- Scanner Darkly
If one wants to animate words and text be it written or spoken, then this animation suits best for them. This technique involves adding visual effects to the movements of words and text on a screen which conveys the intended message in an impactful manner. The style and effects can vary according to the type of message that needs to be conveyed. Businesses that need to market their products and services to their customers use this animation technique to make their ad campaigns more visually appealing. This method requires skilled animators with a keen understanding of the intention of the conveyer. It is cost-effective and simple and is widely used in today’s world.
Growing up in the 90s, millennials enjoyed video games like Contra and Mario. The animation technique used in video games like that is pixel animation. As the name suggests, this technique manipulates pixels in an image to create an illusion of motion. Instead of physical drawings in hand-drawn animation, this one uses digital images which can be easily manipulated by computers. Pixel animation is often used to create low-resolution and simple animation, video games, and other digital media.
2D Vector Animation:
2D vector animation is the most commonly used animation technique to date. It is more effective and versatile than pixel animation because it uses vectors, i.e. two dimensional axes instead of pixels. It is the most cost-effective and straightforward way of animating simple story-telling animations. 2D animation is a lot easier and more streamlined process of animating than 3D animation.
We all loved Disney movies back in the day. It used 2D animation to create wonderful movies but they shifted to 3D animation and ever since then, there’s a drastic change in the visual appeal that is attached to the movies. We can easily say that almost all the animated movies in the film industry are now being made by using the 3D animation technique. This technique is similar to 2D vector animation but instead of using digital images, here 3D objects are used such as characters, people, props, and locations are used. Movies made by Pixar studios are the epitomes when it comes to 3D animation.
Ever imagined an object like a stone or clay coming to life? Well, the stop-motion animation technique does just that. This animation technique is digitally synonymous with the art of puppeteering. It uses frame-by-frame animation to make the physical objects appear as moving. The objects are physically manipulated in a step-by-step incremental way between the photographed frames and when the frames are moved in fast succession, they create an illusion of fluid motion. Shaun the sheep, a tv series and movie is a prominent example of where the Stop-motion animation technique is used.
The working of something that is mechanically complex to understand and needs to be explained to the viewers in the most effective way can be conveyed using mechanical animation. This technique strips away all kinds of visual clutter on the screen to demonstrate what goes on behind the scenes of a mechanically complex entity. It’s easy to guess that companies that want to showcase the working of their technical products and services. Enhanced visual effects combined with the simplicity of explanation will create an impactful impression in the viewers’ minds.
Initially implemented back in 2007 by a global shipping company that explained its services by doodling images on a whiteboard, this animation technique became a simple yet extremely effective format for conveying a message that is called Whiteboard Animation today. Originally it was a real person who doodled on a whiteboard but artists and animators who became inspired by it turned this process into a digital one. This style of animation is particularly suited best for explainer-like videos.
Many YouTubers today use this animation technique in their videos for story-telling or breaking down complex topics into a visually appealing sequence of doodles.
Augmented Reality Animation:
We all have used Google’s AR filter on our smartphones that combine a moving digital object such as an animal like a cat or dog and the original background ahead of us or Snapchat filters that have been around for quite some time now. They all use Augmented Reality animation. What it does is blends digital images with real-world footage. This is a fairly new type of animation technique but it is slowly making its way into our lives. Augmented Reality animation is heavily used in Metaverse which is a bridge that fills the gap of communication between the physical and virtual world.
Hopefully, it was fun getting to know a bit about animation. We can say that animation has become an integral part of our lives and it will continue to evolve as time passes.