Early Forms of animation
The earliest forms of animation were attempts to capture the phenomenon of motion through numerous pictures such as cave paintings, which clearly attempted to convey the perception of motion.
Here is another example of one of the earliest forms of animation. It is an earthen goblet discovered at the site of the 5,200-year-old Burnt City in southeastern Iran. It could possibly be one of the world’s oldest examples of animation, showing a creature jumping up to eat a tree.
Animation developed more in the 19th century with the introduction of these devices:
- Phenakistoscope (1832) – A disk with a series of images that animates by spinning rapidly.
- Zoetrope (1834) -a cylindrical spinning device with several frames of animation printed on a paper strip placed around the interior circumference, the observer looks through a vertical slit and sees each individual frame.
- Praxinoscope (1877) – Animation created by drawing on the transparent strips.
- Flip Book (1868) – A small book with springy pages, each page having a series of images creating an animation.
the first film recorded on standard picture film that included animated sequences was the 1900 Enchanted Drawing.
During the 1910’s the production of animated “cartoons” became increasingly popular, it became an industry of its own and was shown in theatres. These cartoons were the leading type of animation for several years until the introduction of computer animation in the 1960s, here is an example of one of the first computer animations.
Computer animation lead the charge even until the present day, as computer animation produces the most efficient results in the shortest amount of time and was widely used in the film industry, it can also create much more realistic animations than an older type of animation such as a flip book or cartoon.
Examples of the different uses / applications for animation
Animation is widely used in the film industry, which makes sense, as it emerged from the film industry in the first place. For example, Star wars episode IV: A new hope (1977) used Used an animated 3D wire-frame graphic for the trench run briefing sequence, Toy Story (1995) was the first feature-length film to use computer generated imagery (CGI) exclusively without any scenes from real life. Fast and Furious 7 (2015) had the first use of motion capture in the recreation of a deceased actor (Paul Walker). Animation has proved to be very successful in the industry, as Toy story 3 (2010) was the first CGI feature-length movie to gross more than $1,000,000,000.
Television and film are two very similar types of media as they are both non-interactive forms of content that are viewed by the user, the main difference between the two is the length. This means that the use of animation between the two platforms are quite similar, there are quite a few variations of animation used in this field, for example, ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ is made using a software called ‘toon boom’ animate, which is a program similar to ‘Adobe Flash’. Another animated programme ‘South Park’ was initially a stop motion animation created by using cardboard cut-out models to create the environment and characters in 1997. The creators then switched to computer technology to animate the rest of show by scanning and redrawing the models in CorelDRAW and importing them into PowerAnimator. Some programmes on television use 3D animation, ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ was animated using the 3D software Maya.
Animation in advertisement is a newer form of advertisement, but it is seen more and more often in modern society. For example, ‘Comparethemeerkat.com’ was a very successful marketing campaign used to promote ‘Compare the market’ by using lovable meerkat characters that are completely computer generated and animated in 3D. ‘Fanta’ has more recently resorted to using 3D environments and characters to advertise their product also’. Companies such as ‘Kelloggs’ also has used 2D animated characters for a long time in a mixture of live action trailers and 2D environments to promote their products. Animation is also used in trailers and other advertisements to create text, Animated text can also be used for company logos.
Computer gaming uses animation too. Although there are different graphical styles, all games are animated. Animation is important in gaming because as an interactive form of media, animation often determines the quality of the user’s experience with the product. Animation is also key to the player’s performance, in a game such as Skyrim, a heavy two handed weapon has a longer attack animation than a smaller sword. This helps give the player a sense of weight with their weapons, this and the physics engine are used to create a more realistic experience.
Current trends in animation
The animation industry has changed alot over the past few years as technology continues to develop. One trend in animation is the gradual improvement in computer software and hardware. As a result, high end 3D is now more accessible, as it used to be only be the preserve of big budget commercials and films. Photorealistic animation and rendering techniques are being more frequently used in order to create very realistic and high quality animations.
But as some softwares are on the rise, other animation techniques are declining as a result. Adobe’s Flash is a 2D animation software that relies on the keyframes and drawings that the user creates. This software is slowly being phased out of the animation industry not only due to the rise of higher quality programs, but also due to the holes in flash’s security that have been causing companies some problems. For example, Amazon has banned Flash ads from appearing on its ad platform across its sites. Amazon is not the biggest advertising platform, but it is one of the first big name ones to adopt such a policy. As flash is an older software, it is also causes headaches as it has a reputation for slowing down computers and draining battery life of laptops very quickly. As Adobe flash dies of old age, it is slowly being replaced by alternatives such as Microsoft Silverlight, which is less popular than flash as not many sites use it, but it’s numbers are rising as flash is on the decline. Another trend in animation, although it has been around for a while, is the consistency of augmented live action animation. Another popular trend within recent animation is tangibility. The use of tangible physical materials and human interaction which allows a wide range of subjects to appear familiar and appealing to a wide audience.
A second film that uses tangibility is the TV advert for Twinings tea. Created entirely with paper craft and stop motion animation, over 100,000 tea bags and 50 different paper folding styles were used. The central character is shot using a frame-by-frame photography technique known as ‘pixilation’.
Software used for producing modern animation
There is a range of different software used for animation, the software that is used will often depend on the intended type of animation the user is attempting to create. For a 3D animation, the animator will likely lean towards software such as Cinema 4D, Maya, Blender, Zbrush and 3DS max ect. These programs are often used for 3D modelling, but they can create animations too through the use of frames and rendering. However, if the animator is looking to create a 2D more cartoonish animation, they might want to consider software such as Adobe Flash, Pivot Stickfigure Animation, Goanimate, or Adobe after effects. All of these softwares are quite similar, as they all have in common the reliance on keyframes and what the animator puts into each frame. These softwares are the more commonly used in the creation of modern animation, as they can create animations in almost any graphic style efficiently, including the more modern photorealistic styles. Another method that is still enjoyed in the modern day is stop-motion animation, although you may see less of this animation style due to it taking alot of time and effort, especially with clay-mation, it is one of the more simple methods to learn though, although it is a very time consuming process, which may be why you see less of this animation type in modern animation.