Animation Techniques – 10 Animation Techniques Used in Films

By Rakesh K Gupta

Animation looks like children’s business but it is a highly complex, laborious and scientific work. All branches of science viz. Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics as well as the Psychology are the integral parts of the animation work. When human eyes visualize an item, a mirror image is imprinted on the retina of the eyes for a short span of time. With the help of sensory nerves, the human brain translates this image and visualizes it as the real and original object. The human eyes can distinguish between two images if they appear after 1/24th second apart. This quality of human eyes is utilized in making animation films. Several photo frames of an object are prepared and the speed is adjusted so that the time between two consecutive images is less than 1/24th second. Thus, the brain cannot distinguish them apart and object seems to be moving. Similar is the case with flip book. The pages of the flip book are moved in speed so as the human eyes cannot distinguish them apart and the picture object seems to be moving.

Here is a summarization of the overall techniques adopted by the film makers in order to make astonishing animated movies.

1. Hand Drawn Frames: In the older times at the start of the animation technology, the photo frames were drawn by artists’ hands. This was a very laborious, painstaking and time consuming process. Hundreds and thousands of frames were needed to show the movement of the objects only for making a very small time movie.

2. Cut Piece Designed Shapes: In place of hand drawn figures, designed shapes are used and their motions are recorded step by step. They can be replaced by some other designed cut shapes. These cut shapes can also be used over the hand drawn figures also. Although simple and bit easy to work with, but there is problem of coordination if two designs are being worked simultaneously and also the movements are bit odd looking.

3. Stop Motion or Puppet Animation: In this type of animation, the puppets and models are used. These models are made up of materials like plastic, metal, wire, rubber or any material which can be mold to make different shapes. These models are generally three dimensional objects. These objects/models/puppets are kept in a specific frame and photographed; then a slight change in their position is made and photographed again. Similarly large number of photographs are made and run with a specific speed to obtain moving images video.

4. Movement Capture Animation Technique: This is a computer aided technique. In this animation, the actions of human actor are recorded and then digitally transferred to computer to make amazing animated characters. The Avatar movie falls in this category of films.

5. Animatronics Type: In this category, remote controlled or self controlled mechanical animated characters are filmed with real human characters thereby producing astonishing animation series. Movie Jurassic Park falls in this category of animation.

6. Rotoscopic Animation Technique: This category of animation involves the framing and sketching of real actions done by the human characters. These frames and sketches are traced to the computer digitally, thus resulting into a very new world of animation.

7. CGI or Computer Generated Images: Computers have made the task of making animation films comparatively very easy though they are bit costly too. Wire frame models of special imaginary characters are prepared on the computer using special animation software. These models are then completed with body, skins, colors and special textures etc. to give astounding views and shapes.

8. Backgrounds for the animated movies and the video games are created on computers itself. Special sound effects are also prepared using the help of modern computer software.

9. Voices of the animated characters are given by the human artists. They watch the movie on screen and simultaneously speak for the characters they assigned to give voice. The background sound is mixed thereafter. The editing deals with all these actions.

10. The animation techniques have made it possible to simulate the futuristic scientific and biological models which cannot be created in reality. This quality helps scientists to make better understandings of the old past and future too.

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