Animation is everywhere; on television, phone or tablet apps, even on many internet logos found when browsing the web. They are fun, creative, and if a person knows what they are doing, animation can be a lucrative career choice. Of course, before beginning with the animation process, it is necessary to decide which type an individual is most interested in, and what is needed to begin the process of creation.
Traditional Animator (2D, Hand Drawn, Cel)
Animators creating traditional animations begin by drawing rough characters, using a colored pencil, on a clear piece of paper held down with a peg. They draw one frame at a time, to determine how many are needed for the action they are trying to portray to look realistic. When put together, the timing of all the frames must fit with an accompanying soundtrack, so timing is essential. When any clean-up or in-between is finished, the final animation production would be performed by photographing each of the individual frames.
2D animation, usually thought of as Cel animation, is also produced using the same process as the traditional variety, but instead of photographing the frames, a process known as ink-and-paint is used. This is done by covering the clear paper that contains the animated images with celluloid, and copying them. This produces frames that overlap the previous one, which makes placing several props and characters over a background much simpler.
3D Animation (Computer Animation, CGI)
If one is serious about pursuing a career in the field, there are many types of animation classes available to choose from. 3D animation, also called Computer Generated Images, or CGI, is done by creating a succession of images using computer graphics. Though 3D maintains the 2D process of creating one frame at a time, it uses all digital feedback, so it is easier to maneuver. This is done by digitally modeling the characters on the screen, and then fitting them with what is called a “skeleton”, which gives the animators the ability to animate them as needed. The computer uses models posed in vital frames to implement a “tweening” animation, which it then interprets in the rest of the frames in between those earlier vital frames. When this process is complete, the computer renders every frame, one by one, which can take a great deal of time.
In 3D animation, an important difference to 2D is that all of a character’s body parts are there the whole time, even when they can’t be seen. If the character is turned to the side, and only one arm is visible, the other is still be considered to be in the shot, and animators must be aware of every inch of the character no matter what is seen. They must also keep a 3D character in motion every second, even if only a gentle movement like an eye blink, to keep every character as life-like as possible.
Motion Graphics (Animated Logos, Typography)
Unlike other types of animation, motion graphics is not story or character driven. It is used to move graphic images or text in a creative manner, for use in television promos, opening titles of films, app commercials, and any type of animated logo. Motion graphics are different from other animations because animators do not need to be concerned with body mechanics, and they don’t require acting. The need for good composition, and of course, the motion of the camera, are the only similarities they have with other varieties of animation.
Despite which software programs are used to create the motion graphics, the process for creating them will be the same. Using “tweened” key-framing to animate any images, video clips, or texts, the animator creates a fluid motion between the frames. The programs used also have the ability to alter animations using whatever preferences required by the animator. This process creates either flat-based or 3D images that appear to be in motion, sometimes paired with sound effects or music.