Types of Animation - Part I

Types of Animation - Part I

As well as there being numerous types of animated videos (e.g. educational videos, explainer videos, animated commercials, animated films, etc) there are also several methods used to create these animated videos. This blog post aims to let you know a little more about some of these approaches.

In this segment, we will briefly cover:

  • Traditional animation
  • 2D vector animation

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of animation techniques, let’s first take a quick look at what animation actually is. Although animated videos look like they’re moving, as you know, film is actually made up of a sequence of consecutive images (frames) strung together to create the illusion of movement. The number of frames per second varies from animation to animation, with some using 12 fps, 24 fps, or even 30 fps. At Zedem Media, we usually use a frame rate of 25 frames per second (fps) - so each second of an animated video consists of 25 images. So a 2-minute explainer video would consist of 3000 images. Phew!

As for the action itself – the exact process will vary between methods, but generally the animator must figure out and set up the main poses and frames of the animated video and then once they have been refined and the timing exacted, the in-between frames are filled in either by a computer programme or by the animators themselves, before final tweaks are made.

Traditional Animation

When hearing traditional animation we often think 2D animation; whilst this is technically correct, technology has turned what is referred to as 2D animation into a method of its own.

Traditional animation encompasses the earlier forms of animation, such as hand-drawn animation or cel animation. If you’ve ever had a flipbook, or even just drawn a sequence of images in the corner of a notebook, you yourself have created a small traditional animation. Think back to early Disney - “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) was the first fully hand-drawn feature-length animated video.

To create these animated videos, artists would draw each character and environment over and over again, usually using a light-box under their paper to see their previous drawings. Of course, this was a great deal of work, however, thanks to the development of cel animation (thank you, Bray Productions!) the process of traditional animation was sped up a great deal. 
Cels are transparent sheets of acetate on which the animated characters can be drawn, allowing the animators to easily see their previous frames, as well as allowing for still backgrounds that the animated elements can later overlay.

Nowadays, hand-drawn animation is usually created on computers, drawn using a pen and tablet such as a Wacom Cintiq, which brings us to our next category.

2D Vector Animation

This method refers to vector-based animated videos created using programmes such as TV Paint, ToonBoom, or Adobe Animate. Advantages of producing animated videos through computer programmes include the elimination of physical objects such as inks and cameras, the ability to use computer-generated interpolation, and, if needed, the ability to create rigs (akin to a skeleton) which allow the animator to move their character without having to draw it over and over again, effectively saving a great deal of time.

2D vector animation is the go-to method for creating animated explainer videos or marketing videos, as the faster turn-around and clean, appealing aesthetics are perfect for getting your commercial messages across to your customers.

At Zedem Media, we work primarily in 2D vector animation, using Adobe After Effects to create our animated explainer videos. Check them out!

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