What is Animation, exactly? cover photo

What is Animation, exactly?

Published on October 24, 2022

By Maria Bosetti

ANIMATION! What is animation exactly?

For those of you who don't know, have you ever watched a cartoon? Well, that's an animation right there! Anything that moves across a screen and isn't grounded in reality (live action film) is animation. And I mean ANYTHING.

Just like learning how to play piano or draw, animation is a skill that must be practiced like any artform. And with being an artform, there are fundamentals that must be learned to really make something come alive. I won’t get into all of them here but the most basic of fundamentals is the “squash and stretch”. Squash and Stretch is the main principle of animation where you take the shape of the object you are animating and applying contrast to that shape. With this technique you can make so many things come to life and help people understand what the material the shape is made from.

There are (as of right now) three main types of animation; 2D or Traditional animation, stop motion animation, and 3D animation.

Traditional animation is what the average joe thinks of when they think of animation. This animation is hand-drawn frame by frame. A frame is a single image from a sequence of pictures that make up a video. Every time you pause a video on YouTube or when you are watching Netflix, you are looking at a frame of that video or movie. So, if you are watching an animation, its normally in 24 frames per second. That means 24 drawings per second! Animation wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for hand-drawn or stop motion. This is the grandfather of animation itself, along with stop motion.

Stop Motion animation is very close to traditional animation in the fact that everything is done by hand but in this sense, they use puppets instead of drawings. They move the puppet one frame at a time to create the sense of movement just like you can get through hand-drawn animation. You can see this in a lot of older movies and was normally used with film! One of the most famous movies that has this is Jason and the Argonauts (1963 film) and the one who animated it was Ray Harryhausen, who is famous for his stop-motion puppets.

Over the years, as technology grew, more and more animators were being drawn to 3D animation which is most of the animation that you see today. Traditional and Stop motion animations were getting expensive to produce and studios saw the appeal in working with 3D animation and graphics. 3D animation uses puppets just like stop motion only with 3D, everything is done with the computer. The character and prop modeling and the animation are all done with the computer and with that comes the no longer need of buying materials such as paper, pencils, and paints. Studios could now cut on costs.

You would think that traditional animation is out of date, but it's being revitalized as 2D Digital animation! Which is one of my favorite types of animation! 2D animation has so many ways that it can be used. You can use frame by frame animation, use a puppet-rig, and/or much more. With 2D animation you can get the same appeal you can get from traditional animation with this animation style. It is also easier to handle because you don’t have to worry about losing a drawing here or there. It’s all there in the computer unless you don’t save. Here at Parish Digital, we use 2D animation to create motion graphics for videos. Motion graphics including title cards, effects, transitions, and so much more! With motion graphics, we can make companies brands come to life through our videos.

Creating an animation isn’t an easy feat. Normally to create a fully animated feature film, you need many different people working on it together. You need storyboarders, storyboard revisionists, art directors, key animators, in-between animators, character designers, concept designers, producers, directors, and so many more. That's not even mentioning the music and voice acting that goes into to go in it. There are many careers that you can take going into animation. You can be a producer or director for an animated film, an animator or an illustrator for concept art, musician for the score of the film or a voice actor to give life to the characters!

My advice for those who are interested, watch animated movies and shows from all over the world and look at them frame by frame. See how it changes and how many pictures can come together to make things look like they are alive.


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