Animation (from the Latin animare `` bring to life ''; anima `` spirit '', `` soul '', `` life (power) '', `` breath '') is any technique in which a moving image is created for the viewer by creating and displaying individual images is created. The individual images can be drawn, computed by the computer or photographic recordings. When such a sequence is played back at approx. 24 images per second, the viewer has the illusion of an almost fluid movement . However, this also means that a 90-minute film consists of 129,600 individual images and the effort required to create it is accordingly high.
The animation analyzes the movements found in nature , but not only implements them 1: 1 in the synthesis, but also offers the possibility to show them distorted or with changed timing in order to achieve dramatic or comic effects.
Most of the world's animation is produced for the animated film sector, for cinema or television , for entertainment or for advertising . In addition, there is the area of moving visualization in science, architecture , design or teaching.
Classic animation techniques
Part of film history from the very beginning , animation techniques have continued to evolve and are still in use today. Each technique has produced its own aesthetic. The decision for a particular animation technique is now made primarily from a commercial point of view, whereby the majority of all animation productions are either animation or 3D computer animation , because these two techniques are best suited for industrial production with many specialized workflows. All other techniques are mainly used in short films, commercials and film schools. They also require more of an artistic approach and a central person in the workflow.
Stop motion or object animation
With the stop-motion technique, objects are animated by only changing them slightly for each individual frame in the film. A distinction is made in this area:
- Brick films in which all figures and sets are put together from Lego bricks ;
- Pixilation , in which the actors are photographed individually as well as objects;
- Collage films in which any material is put together under the camera to form moving images;
- Claymation (so-called clay figure films );
- Puppet cartoons . The latter, however, do not include the puppets - or the hand puppet films, as the film runs continuously.
- The starting material for the individual images are many drawings , which differ from one another image for image and, recorded on film in the correct order, create a fluid movement. Nowadays these are usually scanned and digitally processed. The drawings can also be recorded directly by the camera, and not only can pencil be drawn on paper, but any drawing or painting technique is possible. In the simplest version, these are stick figures , which are often used in flip books . As “ Stick Figure Theater ”, stick figure parodies of cinema classics were part of the 80s MTV show Liquid Television , today they are often created as vector animation in Flash or other programs.
- Sand-on-glass animation
- Sand is scattered on a light table , which appears black in the picture. The sand is moved individually by hand or with tools, which creates very soft shapes and movements and is particularly suitable for morphing .
- Examples: Films by Ferenc Cakó , Alla Churikova , or Caroline Leaf .
- Needle board animation
- This special technique was developed by Alexandre Alexeieff . Thousands of needles stuck close together in a board can be pushed in or pulled out. Illuminated from the side, their shadows create an image similar to an engraving.
- Oil-on-glass animation
- Similar to the sand on glass animation, you work on a light table. Oil paint is used to paint directly onto the glass. The paint stays soft for a long time, can be wiped away, painted over and worked on with tools. The results are hardly inferior to real oil paintings in terms of their color effect.
- Examples: Films by Alexander Petrow or Jochen Kuhn .
- Draw or scratch directly on film
- With a foil pen or paint you can draw directly on blank film material or scratch the black film material with a needle or knife. The results are usually very rough and shaky. The sound strip can also be edited directly, which leads to scratching and crackling noises.
- Examples: Norman McLaren's Blinkity Blank or Lines Vertical , scenes from Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion .
- Kinoxen or rotoscopy
- Existing real film material is projected onto a screen and drawn image by image.
- Example: Films by Max Fleischer ( Gulliver ), Georges Schwizgebel or Richard Linklater .
- Flat-figure film (also called lay-out film )
- Cut-out shapes, mostly body parts (like a jumping jack), are laid out under the camera.
- Examples: Quirino Cristiani's films and the animations of Terry Gilliam in the films of Monty Python .
- Silhouettes animation
- A special form of flat-figure film in which the elements are only recognizable as dark silhouettes, as in the shadow play.
- Examples: the films by Lotte Reiniger .
This includes all other techniques, such as time manipulation ( slow motion and time lapse ), the creation of animations from existing, recycled film material ( found footage ), a large part of abstract film, but also (still) nameless trends and fashions in motion graphics , like them currently play a major role in advertising and TV design.
The predominant techniques of classical animation are the pose-to-pose and the straight ahead method. With the pose-to-pose technique, the animator first creates so-called extremes , which represent the extreme phases of the movement, usually the start and end point. Breakdowns are then created between the extreme phases , which define the path from extreme to extreme more precisely. In order to finally show the movement fluently, intermediate phases ( inbetweens ) are inserted between extremes and breakdowns . This work step is generally not carried out by the animator, but by an assistant or inbetweener assigned to him .
The Pose-to-Pose method allows the draftsman the greatest possible control over the timing, movement and details of the figures and, due to the division of tasks, represents a particularly economical way of working. However, there is a mechanical component attached to it, which in inexperienced draftsmen leads to rigid, lifeless animation can.
With the straight ahead method, the animator draws all frames in sequential order. It is thus possible to create particularly fast movements with eccentric individual images that fall out of the movement pattern and create a dynamic overall impression. However, the design, details and timing of the figures so drawn are more difficult to control, and errors tend to add up or worsen as the scene progresses. Therefore, with the Straight Ahead method, the main task of the assistant is to maintain the visual continuity of the animator's rough drawings.
In general, professional draftsmen tend to use both techniques and sometimes mix them together. The methods require a great understanding of drawing and the ability to assess the effect of different numbers of individual images for the representation of movement. Both methods are also used in 3D animation, but the computer takes over the tasks of the assistant and intermediate phase draftsman.
Principles of animation
In 1981, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas published The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation . In this they summarized the experiences of leading animators from The Walt Disney Company , who have been developing since the 1930s to create believable animations. From this they derived twelve principles that are essential for creating the illusion of living figures and worlds.
- 1. Squash & Stretch (squeezing & stretching)
- The shapes of the figures are compressed or elongated, but the total volume of the shapes must be retained. This is used to represent weight or external forces acting on the figure.
- 2. Anticipation (taking or anticipating)
- The main movement of a figure is initiated by a countermovement, such as swinging back before a throw or starting up before a jump. This makes the actual movements more legible and more natural.
- 3. Staging (staging of the poses)
- Concerns both the arrangement of the figures within the scene and the design of unmistakably recognizable poses. The silhouette of the figure serves as a control. Ideally, the body expression should be understandable even if one only saw the outline of the figure.
- 4. Straight Ahead & Pose-to-Pose
- The sequential creation of single images and the construction of animation around motion-defining extreme phases. Straight ahead animation is more dynamic, pose-to-pose animation is more controlled.
- 5. Follow Through & Overlapping Action (continuing and overlapping movement)
- Follow Through is often used to describe how inanimate elements of figures (e.g. hair or worn fabric) follow the main movement with a time delay when the limbs move violently, then overshoot the end point of this movement and only then fall back into their resting position. Overlapping action describes that not all limbs necessarily execute or complete a movement at the same time. The boundaries between Follow Through and Overlapping Action are often fluid.
- 6.Slow In & Slow Out (acceleration and deceleration)
- A principle that describes that natural movements usually begin slowly, then accelerate and then become slow again at the end. In concrete terms, this means that more individual images are used at the beginning and end of a movement than in the middle.
- 7.Arcs (movement arcs )
- Limbs generally rotate around a joint. Hence, their movements are more arcuate than linear. The animator must define these arcs of movement within individual movements and ensure a harmonious transition between the movements.
- 8. Secondary Action (secondary or supportive movement)
- Simultaneous movements of a figure that support the main movement, e.g. B. swinging arms while walking or gestures that accentuate dialogue.
- 9. Timing ( duration of movement)
- Describes both the duration of movements and the time between movements. This aspect is strongly dependent on the character of the depicted figure and is based on the experience of the draftsman. You have to be clear about how fast or slow a figure can move because of its body, how fast or slow it will move because of its inner attitude and how many frames are needed to represent the period.
- 10. Exaggeration (exaggeration, caricature)
- In order to make the poses and movements of drawn characters particularly clear, it is often necessary to exaggerate their appearance and movements. It is important to check that the exaggeration does not make the movement too hectic or too imprecise and that the message of the scene is appropriate.
- 11. Solid drawing
- Describes the basic ability of a draftsman to draw consistent figures. They should be correctly proportioned and perspective correct and not lose these qualities when moving.
- 12. Appeal (charisma, charm and appeal)
- Describes that the appearance and design of the figures as well as their poses and movements should be pleasing and appropriate to the character of the figure. Here, too, there is scope for interpretation: an evil figure can look beautiful, but reveal its true character through its acting, while an ugly figure can also be lovable through its appearance. Appeal does not automatically mean beauty, but rather to effectively portray the inner qualities of characters.
Nowadays, aesthetics and production methods are no longer as tightly linked as they used to be. For this reason, many 2D animations are created entirely or partially in the computer using special software, or the material recorded in the classic manner is digitized and processed further in the computer. Since around 1980 , when both templates could be scanned and the resulting amounts of data were technically manageable, this technology has experienced rapid development and a commercial success story. The CGI technology that resulted from CAD finally made it possible to dispense with any digitized template and to generate all image objects completely on the computer. The basis is often vector data of the objects in two or three dimensions. Information about the appearance and movements of all objects is put together until every necessary individual image can be calculated and rendered in the desired image resolution .
Since the Oscar- winning film Happy Feet , experts have been arguing whether films in which the movements of their characters are partially generated by means of motion capture are even considered animated films, or rather belong to puppet and hand puppet films. However, alternative input options for the movements of CGI characters have long been in use, preferably those that are derived from puppetry technology.
In connection with animation on the computer, a basic distinction is made between three techniques: keyframe animation, action-based animation and frame-by-frame animation.
Keyframe animation With keyframe animation (also known as keyframe animation), values of the object properties to be animated are set at certain times in the animation software (= keyframes). Each object or scene status thus receives an entry on a time axis. As the length of the animation and the number of animation events increase, the time-object diagram expands. The object values for the points in time between the keyframes are calculated by the animation software using mathematical interpolation.
Action-based animation The action-based animation is object-oriented and encapsulates the time aspect in individual animation actions. Such as B. in MS Powerpoint or 3D animation tools, the animations are defined by a list of actions that are executed one after the other during the process. Parallel processes (time synchronization) can also be defined, whereby the objects concerned are specially marked.
Picture-by-picture animation With this animation concept, the individual pictures are created individually, like in a flip book.
Animation in the psychology of learning
In learning psychology, animation in the broader sense is a method of imparting knowledge in which suitable content is prepared using multimedia and presented to the learner at a fixed time. The origin of this method lies on the one hand in the moving graphics of educational films , on the other hand in the experiments presented, for example by teachers in class.
Compared to static representations, animated images have the advantage of being able to explicitly depict changes. However, they also make high processing demands on the learners. Therefore, they should be used with care and limited to facts that actually benefit from a moving display. Often, however, even those media components are animated and thus overemphasized in a gimmicky manner that are largely unsuitable for this, such as texts.
According to R. Mayer's design criteria for multimedia , animations should be accompanied by spoken rather than written text (principle of modality). The comment should be presented at a close time to the commented section of the animation (principle of contiguity ; temporal contiguity ).
- Eric Goldberg: Character Animation Crash Course . ISBN 1-879505-97-5 .
- Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas: The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation . ISBN 0-7868-6070-7 .
- RE Mayer: Multimedia Learning . Cambridge University Press, New York 2001, ISBN 0-521-78749-1 .
- Harold Whitaker, John Halas: Timing for Animation . ISBN 0-240-51714-8 .
- Richard Williams: The Animator's Survival Kit . ISBN 0-571-20228-4 .
- Text collection on animated films - constantly growing database at drippink
- Disney's 12 principles of animation (English)
- Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston: The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation . Hyperion, 1981, ISBN 0-7868-6070-7 , pp. 47-69 .