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Animation techniques

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Computer animation

Computer animation is the process used for generating animated images. The more general term computer-generated imagery (CGI) encompasses both static scenes and dynamic images, while computer animation only refers to the moving images. Modern computer animation usually uses 3D computer graphics, although 2D computer graphics are still used for stylistic, low bandwidth, and faster real-time renderings. Sometimes, the target of the animation is the computer itself, but sometimes film as well.

 
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Stop motion

Stop motion is an animated-film making technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion when the series of frames is played back as a fast sequence. Dolls with movable joints or clay figures are often used in stop motion for their ease of repositioning. Stop-motion animation using plasticine figures is called clay animation or "clay-mation". Not all stop motion; however, requires figures or models: stop-motion films can also be made using humans, household appliances, and other objects, usually for comedic effect. Stop motion using humans is sometimes referred to as pixilation or pixilate animation.

 
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Traditional animation

Traditional animation is an animation technique in which each frame is drawn by hand on a physical medium. The technique was the dominant form of animation in cinema until the advent of computer animation.

 
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Motion capture

Motion capture is the process of recording the movement of objects or people. It is used in military, entertainment, sports, medical applications, and for validation of computer vision and robotics. In filmmaking and video game development, it refers to recording actions of human actors, and using that information to animate digital character models in 2D or 3D computer animation. When it includes face and fingers or captures subtle expressions, it is often referred to as performance capture. In many fields, motion capture is sometimes called motion tracking, but in filmmaking and games, motion tracking usually refers more to match moving.

 
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Rotoscoping

Rotoscoping is an animation technique that animators use to trace over motion picture footage, frame by frame, to produce realistic action. Originally, animators projected photographed live-action movie images onto a glass panel and traced over the image. This projection equipment is referred to as a rotoscope, developed by Polish-American animator Max Fleischer. This device was eventually replaced by computers, but the process is still called rotoscoping.

 
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Clay animation

Clay animation or claymation, sometimes plasticine animation, is one of many forms of stop motion animation. Each animated piece, either character or background, is "deformable"—made of a malleable substance, usually plasticine clay.

 
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Time-lapse photography

Time-lapse photography is a technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured is much lower than that used to view the sequence. When played at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster and thus lapsing. For example, an image of a scene may be captured once every second, then played back at 30 frames per second; the result is an apparent 30 times speed increase. In a similar manner, film can also be played at a much lower rate than it was captured at, slowing down fast action, as slow motion or high-speed photography.

 
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Cel shading

Cel shading or toon shading is a type of non-photorealistic rendering designed to make 3-D computer graphics appear to be flat by using less shading color instead of a shade gradient or tints and shades. Cel-shading is often used to mimic the style of a comic book or cartoon and/or give it a characteristic paper-like texture. There are similar techniques that can make an image look like a sketch, an oil painting or an ink painting. It is somewhat recent, appearing from around the beginning of the twenty-first century. The name comes from cels, the clear sheets of acetate, which are painted on for use in traditional 2D animation.

 
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Key frame

A keyframe in animation and filmmaking is a drawing that defines the starting and ending points of any smooth transition. The drawings are called "frames" because their position in time is measured in frames on a strip of film. A sequence of keyframes defines which movement the viewer will see, whereas the position of the keyframes on the film, video, or animation defines the timing of the movement. Because only two or three keyframes over the span of a second do not create the illusion of movement, the remaining frames are filled with inbetweens.

 
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PowerPoint animation

PowerPoint animation is a form of animation which uses Microsoft PowerPoint and similar programs to create a game or movie. The artwork is generally created using PowerPoint's AutoShape features, and then animated slide-by-slide or by using Custom Animation. These animations can then be shared by transferring the PowerPoint file they were created in, and can be viewed with PowerPoint or Microsoft's free PowerPoint Viewer.

 
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Flash animation

Adobe Flash animation or Adobe Flash cartoon is an animated film that is created with the Adobe Flash platform or similar animation software and often distributed in the SWF file format. The term Adobe Flash animation refers to both the file format and the medium in which the animation is produced. Adobe Flash animation has enjoyed mainstream popularity since the mid-2000s, with many Adobe Flash-animated television series, television commercials, and award-winning online shorts being produced since then.

 
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Rubber hose animation

Rubber hose animation was the first animation style that became standardized in the American animation industry. The defining feature of the style is "rubber hose limbs"—arms, and sometimes legs, that are typically simple, flowing curves, without articulation.

 
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Flip book

A flip book or flick book is a book with a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion or some other change. Flip books are often illustrated books for children, but may also be geared towards adults and employ a series of photographs rather than drawings. Flip books are not always separate books, but may appear as an added feature in ordinary books or magazines, often in the page corners. Software packages and websites are also available that convert digital video files into custom-made flip books.

 
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Inbetweening

Inbetweening or tweening is a key process in all types of animation, including computer animation. It is the process of generating intermediate frames between two images, called key frames, to give the appearance that the first image evolves smoothly into the second image. Inbetweens are the drawings which create the illusion of motion.

 
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Cutout animation

Cutout animation is a form of stop-motion animation using flat characters, props and backgrounds cut from materials such as paper, card, stiff fabric or even photographs. The world's earliest known animated feature films were cutout animations, as is the world's earliest surviving animated feature.