American designer and director Edward Bakst once said, “Animation lays infinite power in the hands of its creator by merging all art genres into one, that is able to metamorphose via motion, unbounded by time or reality, bringing to life visions and ideas freed of mental and physical gravity.”
In this article we bring you the 5 main types of animation as they have evolved through the ages. Read on to understand the basic differences between the various styles, and gain a new perception of the beauty of these techniques.
While people may call this type 2D animation, we’ll place 2D animation in a different category. You’ll see why as you read on.
Traditional animation is also referred to as classical, hand-drawn or cel animation. This is one of the older forms of animation. In 2D animation, animators draws every frame to create the animation sequence, just like they used to in the old days at Disney.
Traditional animation comprises sequential drawings (hand drawn) screened quickly one after another to create the illusion of movement.. In the past animators created this drawings on a big drafting table with a huge light panel in the center. The light enabled the animator to see his previous drawings through the paper to get a better look at his animation. This method is called onion skinning.
Nowadays traditional animation is being created on computers by using a tablet like the Wacom Cintiq. Traditional animation is usually animated at 12 frames per second, with faster actions animated at 24 frames per second.
Disney classics like “Beauty and The Beast” (1991) and “The Lion King” (1994) are examples of traditional animation.
2D animation, usually refers to vector-based animation like the ones created in Adobe Flash. 2D has become popular in the last decade, with an increasing number of people using this style for video marketing. 2D is now used extensively for explainer videos.. The simple, yet visually appealing aesthetic of 2D art works well to get across commercial messages, which could otherwise come across as dry.
In 2D animation, animators have the option of animating frame by frame. A 2D animator has the option of creating “rigs” for a character, and then moving the body parts individually instead of drawing the character over and over again.
To make this clearer, a character is represented in two parts: a surface representation used to draw the character (called skin or mesh) and a hierarchical set of interconnected bones (called the skeleton or rig) used to animate the mesh.
These new softwares which provide flexibility make 2D animation quicker and less labour intensive.
The following video by Ripple Animation is an example of this technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VXRFS0Y1Gk
This form of animation is also known as computer animation or nowadays, just simply “animation”, just as traditional animation was called “animation” in the past, when it was the most popular type.
3D animation, however, works in a completely different way from traditional or even 2D animation.
All types of animation require a complete understanding of the same principles of movement and composition, but the technical skillset for 3D animation is very different for each task in the process.
While in the past you had to be an exceptional draftsman to be an animator, that is not the case for 3D animation. 3D animation is more like playing with puppets than drawing.
Another major difference is that unlike traditional or 2D animation, the characters body parts are always present and taken into consideration. This means that when in 2D animation, a character is viewed from the side, half of its body isn’t shown and hence, isn’t drawn. In 3D though, the character’s body parts always exist in the shot – that is, even when one hand of a person isn’t shown, it’s always there.
The last major difference between the categories is the frame rate. Traditional animators always work on “two’s”, which means they draw a new drawing every two frames, and thus, have one drawing less for two frames. In 3D, however, the frame rate is faster and movement of characters much smoother.
Movies like “Toy Story” (1995) and “Finding Nemo” (2003) exemplify the beauty of computer animation.
While still considered a form of animation, motion graphics, by itself, is starkly different from the other forms of animation. This is mostly because unlike the other types of animations, motion graphics is not character or story driven. Motion graphics is the art of creatively moving graphics or text, usually for commercial or promotional purposes. Motion graphics can be used for animated logos, explainer videos, television promos, or even film opening titles. The skills required to create motion graphics don’t are different from those required for other types of animation as motion graphics doesn’t require a knowledge of body mechanics or acting.
But , an understanding of good composition, and the all important camera motion are skills required across all styles of animation. .
Stop motion combines live action filmmaking principles with traditional character animation. Stop motion is done by taken a photo of an object, then moving it just a little bit and then taking another photo. The process is then repeated and when the photos are played back one after another, they give the illusion of movement. This technique is similar to that of traditional animation but uses real life material instead of drawings.
One of the most popular forms of animation is claymation, which creating clay or playdough characters that can easily be manipulated for animation. Advanced claymation, as seen in the point-and-click adventure games “The Neverhood” and “Armikrog”, uses metal skeletons on which the clay is then moulded for more sturdy rigs.
Here is an example of a short stop motion advertisement by Ripple Animation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGZXCll1vF8
Some animators choose to use regular puppets instead of clay ones, which are usually also built on a rig. The faces of the characters can be replaced based on the expressions or can be controlled within the rig.
Another popular form of stop motion is cut out animation, which uses construction paper, or cardboard characters that are cut out and placed on paper while shooting the animation from above. This technique was originally used to create the American sitcom “Southpark”.
Similar to cut out animation, silhouette animation uses cardboard or any sort of flat material, but the objects are dark, and the shot is depicted, as the name suggests, in the form of silhouettes only. This is one of the oldest forms of stop motion and is rarely used today. Some use action figures or Lego characters for animation. This genre, in particular, is very popular on YouTube with many genres dedicated to creating funny skits with Lego characters. “Robot Chicken”, which uses action figures to make fun of pop culture, is a great example of this method.
Finally, we have Pixelation, a form of stop motion that uses real people and real environments to create surreal videos. Here, the stop motion method of taking a still photo is used , then the objects are moved around, and another photo is taken- but the subject matter is often real people instead of puppets.
A very famous example is Coldplay’s video for the song “Strawberry Swing”.
Found this article useful? Stay tuned for more useful tips and information on how you can harness the power of animation to engage your customers and grow your business.