Animation My personal enjoyment with animation has inspired me to write this essay, pertaining to animation. Since I was a child I have been fascinated with cartoons; from when they started out to be black and white, and until now with full colour and computer effects. To better perceive what my personal feelings about animation are, I must first discuss in full detail, a general overview of how animators bring traditional animation alive with motion. Animation seems like a smooth movement of drawn sequences of artwork, pasted together to form a single sequence of animation. This is the basis of animation, but animation is far simpler than it may seem. "The true meaning of animation is that it is a series of drawings strung together to create the illusion of smooth fluent movement".
1 But the process of creating this so- called illusion, is a pain staking process during which artists must spend tremendous hours of agony to produce only seconds of animated film. Before an animator goes about creating an animation he or she must have the knowledge of several rules of animation, which animators around the world follow. The first rule of animation is that an animator must hold the understanding of the techniques used to produce single cells of animation. Second rule, and one of the most important ones is that, the animator must have great patience, so that his or her piece of artwork is not rushed, to prevent the animation from looking choppy and not as smooth as it should look. Finally what is required from an animator is "it takes commitment and effort to make the basis of animation come alive with fresh ideas". 2 The following is not a rule of animation, but is often taught to animators around the world.
"Animators were often taught that animation is onl limited by the imagination and skills of its creators". 3 Using these rules animation companies hire artists who are familiar with the rules previously discussed, but to create a feature full-length animation you need more than just these rules. Below the process of creating a feature full-length animation will be discussed in further detail. To create a traditional animation requires a team of cooperative artists and editors.
It also demands a collective, creative approach, within which the individual artists and editors of the team must harmonize and communicate well with the other members of the team, for the final product to be successful. Because so many personnel are involved in producing a single piece of animated film, creation of this is very costly. Companies must create a team of animators that are willing to work together to get the finished product perfect the first time around. No matter how modest or ambitious the project, the team of animators follow a strict number of structured procedures, and must possess the understanding of the concepts and terminology in traditional animation. When the team has been assembled. The team begins a long process of set procedures, which all animators worldwide use.
Below the many set procedures are described in full detail. 1. Script The script is the first stage in all film production. In an animation script, the visual action in the plot and performance is far more important than the dialogue. 2. Storyboard The storyboard is a series of roughly drawn images that convey the action described in the script.
This scene-by-scene portrayal helps the writer, director and animation team to access the content of the project and to correct any deficiencies in the scripted story. 3. Soundtrack After the script and storyboard are completed, the recording of any dialogue or key music is undertaken. Since traditional animation relies on perfect synchronization of the picture to the soundtrack, the animator must receive the recorded track before beginning to draw. 4.
Design Designers create visual interpretations of all the actors in the script. When these interpretations are approved, the actors are drawn from many angles on a model sheet which the animators will use as a reference. 5. Leica Reel A Leica reel is a filmed storyboard which can be projected in synchronization with the soundtrack. It helps the director see how the film is shaping up and make any changes to its visual aspects before animation is begun. 6.
Line Tests Line tests are animation drawings, produced in pencil on paper, filmed to the precise timings of each scene. As line tests are approved they are cut into Leica reel, replacing the original drawings and giving the director an even better idea of how the final film will look. 7. Cleanup Cleanup artists take the animation drawings now and clean them up, to give them a consistent visual style.
8. Trace and Paint When a cleaned-up line test is approved, each drawing is transferred to a sheet of celluloid or acetate (a cell) and painted in the colours of the original design. 9. Backgrounds Background artists produce the animation's backgrounds, the background is everything behind or, sometimes, in front of the actors that does not move. 10.
Checking The finished animation cells are passed to the checker, who makes sure that everything is correctly drawn, traced, painted and prepared for the cameraman who is to finally film it. 11. Final Shoot When the checker is satisfied that all the artwork for each scene is correct, the artwork is passed to the camera operator who shoots the final scene. 12. Dubbing When the whole film exists in final form, and the director is satisfied with it, the editor, with the director, chooses sound effects to go with the action in the film. These sound effects are then laid in synchronization with the action, and mixed with the voice track and music on one complete soundtrack.
13. Answer Print Creating an answer print involves merging the sound and picture on one piece of 24 frames per second film, the film is now ready for projection! The above described how traditional animation is created. But now with the computer becoming more useful and more tangible in its usefulness in everyday society, animation is going through a dramatic change, with newer and easier alternatives in creating and editing animations, on work stations and home computers. Highly known animation studios like Disney and Silicon Graphics are stepping up to a higher and more advanced level of animation, by using computers to create animation effects that traditional animation techniques would never be able to create. Special computer effects that were created on computers were observed in the movies "Abyss", "Terminator 2, and "Jurassic Park".
All these movies had some computerized animation added to the film producing special effects never seen previously on movies until now. This is because computer-generated animations are more flexible than traditional animations, because it can be altered, viewed, and manipulated in any way the computer animator wishes by a click of the mouse. Furthermore computer-generated animations appear to be more realistic, to the audience, because realistic objects can be scanned into the animation by a computer scanner easily, and be used as part of the animation. But the most attractive feature computer animation holds is that "animations done on computer are cheaper and take less time to produce". 4 There are two major ways to go about producing a computer-generated animation. The first and most used process is called "Stop-Frame Cinematography", where an artist draws each cell of the animation or cuts out pictures, then puts all the frames of still animation in an special scanner which scans all the separate cells into the computer.
Then the computer animator arranges all the frames in the order, that it will be viewed in. Then the artist colours and edits each frame of animation with a computer paint program. After the animation on computer is completed the soundtrack and background voices are digitized into the computer, and mixed synchronously together. The final process of creation is where the foreground animation is merged with the background, and the mixed sounds are synchronized with animation. After the animation is completed it is printed to film by a computer film printer, and is ready for viewing.
The second process, which with the production of powerful high speed computers is becoming more familiar in films with computer generated animation and special effects, an example of this process is in the films "Jurassic Park" and "Terminator 2. The process I am describing is referred in the industry as "Computer Object Render ization". This is where a computer-generated actor is created by a process called "Wire Framing". This process is like bending and shaping metal wire to create a solid human figure or sculpture; at this point no colour or texture has been created. After the wire framed actor is created, it goes through a process referred as "Texture Mapping", where texture is added to the wire framed actor, producing depth and dimension to the computer actor. This process could be thought of as paper mashing a wire sculpture.
Now the actor appears to be three-dimensional with shadows and shades added to the actors darker areas of the skeletal form. The computer actor is now ready for details like toes, fingers, nose, eyes, etc... to be added, to make the appearance of the actor more realistic. Now that the computer-rendered actor is completed with all its human or animal like details. Its movement can be controlled by a electronic suit which has several movement sensory devices located on key areas of the suit. That means a human actor can put on the suit, and his or her movement will be transferred to the computer and processed as digital information. This causes the rendered actor to move on the computer monitor.
After the actor's movements have been acted out like the script needed, voices are sequently merged together creating a single sequence of animation. Now the actor can be printed to the film's background, creating full feature animation. This is how animation studios produce computer rendered animations. Due to the tremendous pace at which computers are becoming more widely available in our everyday society today, almost anyone with some general computer knowledge can now produce simple computer-generated animations, with a home computer and some computer hardware, like a computer image digitizer, computer drawing tablet with sensory drawing pen, colour film printer, sound card with microphone receiver, and finally a video camera, these devices will enhance the computer's graphics capabilities for doing computer generated animations or movies. Secondly what is needed to create computer animation is computer animation software which can execute fairly complicated graphics applications. Finally, the most important piece of equipment which is needed, to create sophisticated graphical animations is an abundance of external computer memory or RAM.
This is, because it takes enormous amounts of memory to animate computer images which contain colour. This equipment has its limitations whereas it can only produce simple computer animations, nothing like "T 2 or "Jurassic Park."Long stringed sequences of animation like full-feature cartoons, contain vast amounts of information that must be stored and manipulated". 5 "This enormous kind of digital computer information requires the kind of power and storage capabilities that only industrial size supercomputers can provide". 6 These sorts of computers, cost a significant amount of money, making it nearly impossible for the general public to get at this technology. Ever since the "first animated cartoons were produced in 1910", 7 involving such animals as "Felix the Cat" and "Mickey Mouse", and on to feature- full length classics "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Fantasia", and many more, the history of animation has been characterized by the almost constant introduction of ever more complex forms of animation.
"Beginning in the 1960's, films showing abstract colour designs in motion were programmed by means of computers that calculate intricate movements with amazing precision". 8 Today computer animation has achieved the ability to create moving images and backgrounds of great complexity. This advanced innovation in animation, has prompted the multimedia world to manipulate this technology to adapt to their needs. Such as using computerized animation widely in their television commercials, titles, and in producing more convincing music videos for the consumers. Computer animation has just become popular in our society, it has not even began to show its full capabilities. For in the near future we will be graced with the presences of it in every technological medium; such as in multimedia advertisement, video entertainment, and in the education system.
We must either accept this technology and learn to use it, or be left in the dark, falling behind in the technological world. Even though many companies are using computerized animations to promote their product or film, old-style cell animation continues to be the sole technique which quality animators, such as Disney Productions use, but with computer-generated objects still often mixed with the traditional animation, adding a new outlook to the animation. As we near the year 2000, and enter the high-tech age of computer generated graphics and animation, I believe that the true admirers of the art of animation will always have a nostalgia for the techniques first used by the pioneers of animation. Reference 1. Compton's Encyclopedia, 1991 edition, Vol. 3, "Cartoons".
2. Randy McCallum, Cinemation (British Columbia: Motion Works Inc., 1992), p. 19.3. ibid., p. 23.4. Edward Desmond, "Beyond Mickey Mouse", Time (Nov. 1.1993), p. 32.5. Toolworks Encyclopedia, 1992 edition, CD ROM, "Animation". 6. ibid., CD ROM. 7. Compton's Encyclopedia, 1991 edition, Vol. 3, "Cartoons" 8.
Toolworks Encyclopedia, 1992 edition, CD ROM, "Animation".
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1- -193.5. Redmond, John R. "Animation". Toolworks Encyclopedia, (1992), CD ROM.
6. Young, Harv ill. "3 D Imaging Technology". MacWorld, Sept. 1, 1992, pp.