cartoon animations

Just what is animation? The textbook definition is the filming of a sequence of drawings or positions to create an illusion of movement. In computer terms, it broadly covers a variety of genres and software applications, but the simplest way to break it down is into the categories of 2D and 3D computer animation. For decades, animation was a skill that was pretty much restricted to the entertainment industry, yet it did require time, elaborate equipment and manpower to accomplish. However, within the industry that has always been known as a moving force, it was time to computerize the process. Since the dawn of computers, animation has become progressively simpler. What was once done with paint, pencils and cels by teams of animators can now be done by one individual using a computer to create animations.

The most familiar form of 2D animations can be found by watching Saturday morning cartoons with your kids, or even simpler animations every day when you surf the web. It takes on the forms of advertisements, e-cards, etc. The basic starting point for all animations is a storyboard that lays out the basic script in a visual format, much like an extra large comic strip. From that point a rough audio track of the script is created to give animators something to sync with their drawings. This form of animation uses “vector graphics,” meaning that the images are based upon mathematical equations, rather than by an array of pixels, such as in “raster graphics.”

Due to its flexibility, 3D is what most people think of when referring to computer animation, even in general terms. Although similar in some ways to 2D animations, 3D computer animation is a different process. For example, to create animations in 3D, a scene is made long before any animation starts.

What many people do not realize is that the entertainment industry and specifically motion picture applications, while possibly being the forerunners in advancing technologies, only account for a fraction of the 3D animations market. Actually, there is very little difference between computer animation and what is called traditional animation. The main difference is the tools that are used to create animations, the effort and the price. Traditional 3D animation was more like claymations, and was done by using stop-motion filming techniques. Essentially, the true concept of 3D animations did not really catch on until the use of computers for animation became more cost effective and practical.

Although the entertainment industry is largely responsible for the advances in 3D computer animation, they make up only a small part of the market that uses 3D animations. Animation designs sell products; it is also used as a teaching aide because it presents information in a more understandable way. Many animations can be created completely on a computer, but depending on the type of animation desired, such as cartoon animations, there may be the need for some hand-penciling work to be done.

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