Making Animated Movies ever more Animated

        Throughout the history of cinema there have been many techniques, and innovations produced by patrons of this art. Experimenting has been a big part of the further success of film, and the industry is constantly changing. Of course, the invention of the motion picture camera itself was a huge breakthrough, but the ignorance of innovations such as camera angles, lighting, lenses, and positioning is becoming smaller and smaller as the know-how in the biz becomes greater. One of the most impressive inventions of the modern cinema is animation.

        Created by the consecutive showing of images of static elements, motion occurs, producing the optical illusion known as animation. In film animation, the technique used takes each individual frame of a movie and it is produced individually. Today, these frames are made up photographing a drawn or painted image; they are made by modern computers, or by a special animation camera, which occurs when a subject such as a clay model is photographed, changed a little, then photographed repeatedly with minor changes to add the effect of movement. According to the physical phenomenon of persistence of vision, single frames that are strung together and viewed, the continuous movement produces the illusion of movement. Although such techniques as clay animation, or the actual photographing of individual pictures in the past was very tedious, and a major time-consuming process, the invention and use of the modern-day computer has greatly reduced the amount of time put into a project.

        The very first form of animation, traditional animation, began with each frame being individually painted, and then later filmed. Invented in the 1910's by Bray and Hurd, the use of Cel animation increased the speed of the animation process by using transparent frames of the background that were then overlaid so that characters and objects could be moved without a necessary repositioning. Modern animation at its crudest has even evolved, for example the minimal animation of such programs as Simpsons. In today's cinema, the rapid advancement of computer animation has evolved so much that characters and even whole movies can be created so life like that it is hard to distinguish what is real, and what is computer animated.

        The invention of computer animation rendered the move from two dimensions, to three. The difference between 2D and 3D is that when it was 2D, the effect of perspective was and is created artistically, but 3D images are modeled in a computer, and then a combination of "lighting" and "shooting" are done from different angles, creating a more realistic effect. Presently, talk of "bringing back" dead characters through the use of computer animation has raised some questions on moral and copyright issues. Achieving the otherwise impossible through computer animation in conventionally shot movies brought about the term computer imagery. However, the term is not widely used for this occurrence, since it is already used to describe 3D movies that are entirely animated.

        Even though it may be revolutionary, computer animation is still a very time-consuming project, often tackled by teams of animators at a time. Computer animation involves modeling, motion generation, followed by the addition of surfaces, and finally rendering. In response to movements of a "wire frame model," surfaces are programmed to stretch and bend automatically, and then the final rendering converts these movements into bitmap images. The computers used in the film industry today are so advanced that the lifelike qualities are seemingly so real, such as ripples in water, fur on coats, fibers of hair on bodies, and weeds that blow and bend in the wind are even calculated in the process.

        On the other hand, life-like motion can be created by a skilled artist using the simplest of models. A computer is nothing more than a very expensive and complicated drawing tool, as a pencil is a drawing tool. Even if a complex physics-simulating program were created complete enough to exactly mimic the real world, without an animator to guide the imagery produced, the end result may not be emotionally affecting. This is the case because a significant part of the craft of animation concerns the artistic choices that an animator makes, and of which a computer is incapable.

        Even though the origins of animation were solely for entertainment purposes, the incorporation of educational/instructional animation is more prevalent in the support of explanation and learning. Often displayed as an art form, animation films are growing in numbers received at film festivals worldwide, and it was even common for Eastern Europe (in the Communist Era) to hand out government funding.

        Professional animation studios are prominent in the making of animation for movies and TV due to the amount of time and money needed to make a worthwhile animation, according to today's standards. Although, there are independent animation studios out on the market right now, but they primarily focus on independent animation. With the invention of the internet, and everyday user-friendly animation programs, it is becoming easier for the independent animator to get their work out to be seen.

        Animation today is not what it used to be. Back in the early 1900's, when animation in the cinema was in its beginning phases, animation was considered taking still pictures, tying them together, and making a sort of flip book. With the intervention of computers in the modern world, animation has grown to extraordinary levels. Computers can make films so lifelike, that often the only actors hired are solely for speaking parts. Animation is a big part of the modern cinema, and is only getting bigger.

Derrick Bolhofner

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