Introduction to Computer Animation
This very day, people expect realistic and expert images in the movies they watch or the video games they. As a consequence of Computer Animation in has been possible today.
Computer animation is branch of computer-generated imagery (CGI) which simply brings inanimate objects to life and stimulates the object on a screen which includes both 2D and 3D animations.
At this time, animators most often use the 3D graphics from more primitive computer graphics but still the simplest and earliest forms of computer animation which simply moved objects around on a screen, the 2D computer graphics animation is used for stylistic, low bandwidth, and faster real-time renderings.
Animators bring characters to life and make them both believable and larger than life in the everyday part of modern entertainment, including television shows, movies, and video games.
The 3D figures acting with a 3D background has to a great extent, reformed the film industry by reducing the costs associated with setting up physical film sets, hiring extras and gathering props. At the moment, many valuables required for filming can be duplicated using the computer animation.
History of Computer Animation
With the improvement of technology, we can see much improvement in the field of animation as well.
In the early days animation can be seen in Paleolithic cave paintings with animals having a multiple sets of legs leaving the impression at least 5000 years ago rather than in a paper. A vase that was found in Iran had five images of a goat painted, leaping to grab a leaf from a tree.
Moving to paper
After centuries later, with the invention of Magic Lantern, Thaumatrope, Phenakistoscope, Zoetrope, Praxinoscope and the Flipbook, it all helped bring the illusion of motion to life but the sound was missing. It was until 1928, the first short film of Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie contained synchronized sound.
After the sound, color was finally added to animation 5 years later in flowers and trees released by Walt Disney Production in 1932.The first ever full feature film which made $416 million dollars in box office sales was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which was released in 1937. Since then Walt Disney Studios has become the biggest animation company in the world.
Stop motion has been used in movies combining live action since early days, however Aardman is the only well known animation company that featured length stop motion movies till date. The Adventures of Mark Twain directed by Will Vinton released in 1985, was the first film to be completely stop motion/clay animated.
Created by Nick Park, the movie a man and his dog, helped him to get a job in Aardman to finish his first short film ‘A Grand Day Out’.And since that day the famous duo won many Oscars with 4 30 minute films, 11 shorts, a feature length movie and a special concert at the BBC Proms,.
The year, 1990, that first introduced computer animation to the film industry. But, the first use of computer animation can be seen in the sequel to the 1973 film Westworld which is a story on science-fiction world where robots live among humans. In the movie 3D wire-frame imagery which was used to animate a hand and face in the film.
The first full-length computer animated television series, ReBoot in 1994 which followed the adventures of characters that lived inside a computer.
However, Pixar were the first production team to create animation completely on a computer with many number of short films, before combining with Disney to create the first ever computer animated feature length film grossing over $300 thousand and then, making a $1 billion with Toy Story 3. The Toy Story was the first ever animated movie to reach that much in box office sales. Since then, till now Pixar is the most successful Computer animation company in the world.
With technology is evolving all around us, we continuously strive for the latest and greatest entertainment business. For near about 70 years, traditionally hand-drawn animation had been the only type of animation but now with the rapid development in technology we’re observing the rise of VR gaming (Virtual Reality) and VR headsets in the market.
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Types of Computer Animation
An animation course will help an individual develop this with more sophisticated materials. Although the basic processes and techniques are the same for all animation, there is a wide range of applications, animation graduates are in high demand. Below listed are the different types of animation for an amateur animator:
- Stop motion
Stop-motion is a simple, traditional, time-consuming, form of animation which involves assigning a character or object where they are physically manipulated and filmed again-and-again. Stop motion has two specific techniques called claymation and pixilation without specialist equipment where the stop-motion technique is used for special effects in live-action
Stop motion is said to have been replaced by computer-generated imagery (CGI) but it still highly used in commercials and even motion pictures. The popular animated show Charlie and Lola use cut-out animation like flat pictures trimmed out of paper or fabric and animated and the other, Tim Burton’s animated films which used puppets having hundreds of interchangeable heads to create lip-movement and facial expressions.
- 3D Animation
3D animation is the computer generated animation where the objects are capable of being moved and changed. It appears in a 3Dimensional space where 3D technique called motion capture is used to add naturalism to the movies by having the actor wear a skin-tight suit which tracks all their movements with little sensors. Software is used to track all the motion information make the animated movements more life-like.
The director Peter Jackson is a well known master of this technique where he brought the sinister Gollum and the dragon to life in the film The Two Towers (2002).
- 2D Animation
Here, in 2D animation scenes and characters are animated in a 2D space instead of a 3D environment. The drawing is either hand-made or computer generated and slightly altered or made with minimal tweaking.
In the 20th century, animation was done by taking photographs of drawings on paper and then placing them on cels. But at present, animators use software to create the 2D animation which includes all environments, characters, visual effects, and more.
Though 3D animation is dominant over the 2D animation, it is still widely used in a number of creative industries. Many well known shows like The Simpsons, SpongeBob Squarepants, South Park, and Avatar: The Last Airbender still use the 2D animation. Not only the shows but the developer with enough skills still makes the 2D games popular which includes the Shovel Knight, Braid, Limbo, and more giving a tough competition to the 3D games.
Clay animation is similar to stop motion that is popular enough to be seen as its own technique. It applies the frame-by-frame process and uses molded objects made of clay or plastics to produce images, characters, objects, etc.
- Cel-Shaded Animation
Cel-shading aims to make a three-dimensional image look flat. Here, computer engineers represent items inspired by paintings, drawings, cartoons using less shading colors onto transparent sheets called a cel. However, this method is very costly and far more time-consuming.
Paint-on-Glass process involves the use of slow drying paints on a glass canvas. The animator controls the art and take pictures of them simultaneously to create the illusion of motion..
Typography differs from other processes. In this process, animators use letters as main characters where it combines special effects to the font of different styles and sizes to create an artistic film or short video.
Pixilation is a type of stop motion animation which animates live actors rather an action figures or puppets. Animators enjoy play with technique of posing and filming in small increments so that movements can appear smooth and dramatic
Computer Animation Software
The animation industry has increasing demands for the animators in both the 2D and 3D industry each year. With enough knowledge and understanding of animation principles, then software can be viewed as a different tool for completing the task you need.
- Cinema 4D
With plenty other animation software packages, CINEMA 4D is among the most powerful 3D modeling, motion graphics, painting, and animation solution engineered by a Germany based company, MAXON computer. The application offers a variety of tools which ultimately proves to be useful to the 3D artists to achieve stunning results.
CINEMA 4D is available in four alternatives: the CINEMA 4D Studio, Broadcast version, Visualize solution, and the Prime version where each variant enables users to create unique video game graphics, 3D motion graphics, product and architectural visualizations, illustrations, and many more.
The software is commonly used in the film industry for dozens of high budget box office hits in comparison to the video game developers as it easily customize the layout creating unique workspace fitting the exact needs.
Flash and FlipBook is the very first two programs people consider when creating a 2D animation. DigiCel( FlipBook) animation software operates in both Windows and Mac OS X where it does all scanning to digital painting to mattes to lighting and any other novice you might need with the help of webcam or TWAIN-compliant scanner. It has been remaining unchanged for long than 15 years because it has all the required features from the due date of creation.
For an amateur who just wants to make something quick and creative or a professional animation studio who wants to reach a large audience on the Web, then the Adobe Flash, developed by Adobe Systems is a great, low budget solution with variety of options. It is widely used for a short commercial or public service announcement, but very less in a movie production or long animation.
- 3ds Max (Autodesk)
3ds Max is an animation and rendering software built and developed for games and design visualization with 3D visualization which is a part of a part of Autodesk’s architecture, engineering, and construction collection. This software is included in the collection of media and entertainment software products offered by Autodesk.
It is most often used by professionals and visual effects artists in film and TV industries or by game developers and designers for the creation of virtual reality games. It further helps animators create and design massive game worlds with detailed characters, and customize building environments.
3ds Max has many other features which includes the robust tools that help them manage and edit their 3D animations which can be applied to computer games, films and broadcasts, medical illustrations, or forensic presentations. In addition, it provides 3D rendering features which allow users to convert scenes so that the users can change lights, materials, and objects by activating the ActiveShade Mode within the software.
Blender is a 3D computer graphics suite which was created with the combined efforts of various professionals around the world which includes artists, scientists, students, visual effects experts, animators, game artists, and many more. It is free software that is used for creating and designing animated films with visual effects, arts, 3D printed models, 3D applications, and video games.
Furthermore, Blender has a set of animation tools which are ideal for creating short films, advertisements, and TV series.
DrawPlus is a 2D vector graphics editing software which opweratesin the Windows. This software provides very realistic brushes where users can create drawing with watercolors, oils and other media retaining the vector editing capability.
The different versions of software support pressure-sensitive vector lines and brushes that help animators create various ranges of effects from manga through to painting in an array of media.
Career in Computer Animation
The animation degree you achieve can lead to one of these top careers in computer animation.
The visually stunning animations, professionally designed for movies, television, video games, mobile apps and websites is the main reason for high demand of individuals in the field of computer animation. Skilled computer animators are in high demand in industries involving video games to movies, and television to software publishing. People can further expect growth in the career opportunity in field of computer animation, especially when video games and web-based advertising is gaining its popularity day after another.
The computer animation is likely become more prevalent in areas which include cell phone and hand-held device technology like smart phones, tablet PCs and e-book readers. Furthermore, getting a computer animation degree is easiest way to get started in the industry where an individual can work in film and television studios, development/design companies, or animate freelance based on a portfolio.
Looking out for more information in career option for Computer Animators? Below listed are some of the career options that are in high demand these days:
- Entertainment Careers
Computer animation plays an important role in the movie industry as well as game productions. Animators work on video game development, digital special effects or cartoon and movie animation projects. They hold different position such as Layout Artist, Storyboard Artist, 2D Animator and 3D Animator and earn a annual salary of $74000.
- Web-based Jobs
Not just entertainment field but animators are needed in other professional fields too. With the influence of the Internet in our daily life, the demand for computer is increasing. Companies hire computer animators in the area of website design to help make their websites stand out by including the flash animated ads or animated web videos.
Internet based animators may hold the position of Web Graphic Designer, Flash Animator, Multimedia Designer etc and can earn income of $76,090 per year.
- Computer Animation Work
Computer animation is being effective in the field of architectural design and interior design firms as a presentation for the clients. These 3D presentation help clients get a clearer vision of a proposed project. Also, it helps to explain a mechanical process or scientific research discovery in industrial or scientific communities.
- Video Game Animation
Video games have developed much since the original Atari system. The video game animators now create entire worlds with the scenery, layout of the land and all of the moving creatures, whether man or beast. With computer science and enough computer knowledge they are now able to design element from concept to reality.
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5. Animation Technical Director
The top most position on the production site where you keep up with the technology, competition, and trending news so as to create the most popular graphics in the industry.
6. Graphic Designer
A graphic design animator choose colors, designs, and other aspects of the visual layout and use their talents to work creating cartoons or use art and technology to create eye-catching graphics for web advertisements, logos, etc.
7. Video Game Designer
Video game designer is one of the competitive and exciting careers where you design codes which bring the characters to life and make them respond to the commands assigned by the users.
8. Art Director
Art Director is responsible for all the activities being carried out in the industry such as supervise the lighting, animation, and story of video games, commercials, television shows, or movies.
Animators are accountable for creating, planning and scripting animation and visual effects using illustrations and software programs for films, video games, television, mobile devices, and other different forms of media. Using Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere, Autodesk 3ds Max, and Autodesk software.
10. Combat Game Designer
Combat designers do the inner workings of popular fighting games. These games have a complex combat systems and have stood the test of time for good reason.
How is Computer Animation used in film Industry?
Computer animation creates computer-generated characters and surroundings by combining the arts of computer graphics and hand-drawn, two-dimensional (2D) animation to. The main use of computer animation in films is computer-animated projects and the use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in live-action films
Animated subjects images appear on screen with continuous movement because it is quickly replaced with a series of similar, slightly altered images in a sequence which suggests walking, waving, or any action occurring. Computer animation is favored in a good amount because it speeds up the process of creating as many images needed for such a sequence.
Computer animation can be drawn in computer programs or by 2D animations. A character is scanned in to a computer animation program or a virtual skeleton of the character which represents them. Then the animator moves key features, such as limbs and mouth to key frames. The program records the differences between these key images and knows what to fill in to produce the desired movements between key frames. The same process is used for moving objects or backgrounds.
Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is commonly used in live actions to make the process easier for something that would be costly and time-consuming to produce physically. This method can save the cost of the producers on large set pieces, scenes and backdrops. CGI is also used to create special effects that might not be possible physically or that would reduce the visual “feel” of the film.
In live actions, the CGI effects are similar to the computer-animated projects. The live-action segments are filmed in front of a blue or green screen backdrop that is then removed during the editing process and replaced with the CGI effects in a process commonly known as chroma keying. Furthermore, it is also used to combine live-action characters and backdrops with animated characters and vice versa.
Computer animation is also used in to film a live actor’s performance using a motion capture technology and digitize it into a computer-animation program, often into an photorealistic animated character against an animated backdrop.
List of Best Animated Films
Cartoons are getting better that ever with development in computer animation. The best animation studios Pixar, Disney and other animation powerhouse are setting the standards in the film industry. Some of the best animated movies are:
- Toy Story 3
Released Date: June 15, 2010
Duration: 103 min
Gross Earnings: $415.00M
Star cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty
Director: Lee Unkrich
When beloved Andy is preparing to leave for college, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and the rest of the toys find themselves find themselves delivered to a day care center when they were headed for the attic Woody’s clever mind saves the gang, but Woody ends up being at the day-care center. So, they make great plans for the escape.
- Inside Out (I)
Released Date: June 17, 2015
Duration: 95 min
Directors: Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen
Star cast: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling
Gross earnings: $356.46M
Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is ais 11-year old happy, hockey-lover Midwestern girl whose world is completely changed when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley’s emotions of Joy (Amy Poehler) ,Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger, Fear, Disgust conflict among themselves on how to adjust in a new environment.
Released Date: February 10, 2016
Duration: 108 min
Gross earnings: $341.2M
Star cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
The city of Zootopia is a mammal capital where various animals live from largest animal to a cat. Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first rabbit to join the police force working with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) has to uncover a conspiracy.
- Spirited Away
Released Date: July 20, 2001
Duration: 125 min
Gross earnings: $10.06M
Star cast: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino, Rumi Hiiragi
Directors: Hayao Miyazaki, Kirk Wise
A 10-year-old Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi) and her parents (Takashi Naitô, Yasuko Sawaguchi) when moving to the suburbs stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park which is ruled by gods, witches and spirits and the humans are transformed into beasts.
Released Date: June 21, 2008
Duration: 98 min
Star Cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard
Director: Andrew Stanton
Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class (WALL-E) is the about a small waste-collecting last robot left on Earth. He spends his days cleaning the planet. He spots EVE (Elissa Knight), a sleek and shapely probe sent to Earth. He follows EVE across the galaxy and embarks a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind in a distant future.
Released Date: May 16, 2009
Duration: 96 min
Gross Earnings: $293.00M
Star Cast: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger, Christopher Plummer
Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
A 78-year-old balloon salesman, Carl Fredricksen, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream of travelling to South American wilderness by tying thousands of balloons to his house, accidently taking a young stowaway.
- Coco (I)
Released Date: October 27, 2017
Duration: 105 min
Rate: 8.4 / 10
Gross Earnings: $209.73M
Star Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach
Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family’s ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer.
Instead of his family’s ancestral ban on music, young aspiring musician Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz and enters Land of the Dead to find his legendary singer.
- The Incredibles
Released Date: November 5, 2002
Duration: 115 min
Gross Earnings: $261.44M
Star Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee
Director: Brad Bird
A Pixar animated film of married superheroes Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) are forced to live a boring life lives as Bob and Helen Parr after all heir super powers have been banned by the government. Mr. Incredible decides to return to a life of adventurer, and gets into the action to save the world.
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- Incredibles 2
Released Date: June 5, 2018
Duration: 118 min
Gross Earnings: $603.11M
Star Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner
Director: Brad Bird
The favorite family of superheroes “Incredibles 2” has Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) in the spotlight with her saving the world while Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for the kids Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner).
Released Date: November 23, 2016
Duration: 107 min
Gross Earnings: $248.76M
Star Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams
In Ancient Polynesia, an adventurous teenager, Moana sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey Moana meets terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui who guides her in her journey. Through the journey, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers her own identity.
Best Animation Companies in the world
For a very long period of time, the animated art has been very eye catching to the viewers with its captivating characters, stories and games. With increase in the number of viewers, the studios all over the world are looking out for the best animators to help them in there future projects.
For the amateur animators, the following is the list of top animation companies to work for:
To help give aspiring animators an idea of the best places they could find themselves working at, the following is a list of the top animation companies across the world:
Founded on 1979, with its headquarters in Emeryville, CA, the Pixar is an animation film studio which produced stories in a cartoon version that was quite appealing to children, their parents and pretty much every age group out there for over three decades. It all began in 1979 but in 1986 Pixar became a corporation funded by Apple Inc. where Steve Jobs was the co-founder.
The “Toy Story” was Pixar’s first animated movie released in 1995 with partnered effort with Walt Disney Company. With the budget of $30 million, the picture turned out to be a huge success with earnings of $373 million. “Toy Story Movies,” “WALL-E,” “Brave,” “Ratatouille” and “Inside Out” are some of the popular animated movies of Pixar.
- Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney and his older brother Roy founded the Walt Disney Animation Studio in1923 when the two siblings began producing short cartoons without sounds in their small studio in Los Angeles. Their film is a box of imagination and adventure that covers every facet of entertainment.
The films produced by the Walt Disney Animation Studios has truly inspirational stories where it covers vacation-friendly getaways like cruise lines and theme park resorts, far enough to bring back a flood of nostalgia.
The company started its career with Mickey Mouse but “Snow White” and “The Seven Dwarfs” in 1937 were the films which made company renowned with the highest grossing animated films of all time and also one of the most successful animated movies ever. The successful animated movie includes “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6” and many more.
- DreamWorks Animations
DreamWorks Animation, located in Glendale, California with satellite studios in India and China, is a company that produces animated films, virtual games and television programs. Their films have been popular all over the world and have left an indelible mark on the animated film and television world in a short period of time.
Ever since an image of a young boy fishing from his seat on a crescent moon was created by imaginative computer-generated picture on the request of co-founder Steven Spielberg, audiences have received the kind of creativity by the production team which has never failed to impress them.
They have all together won 22 Emmys, 3 Academy Awards, many British Academic Awards (BAFTA) and Golden Globe nominations. Their most successful animated movie includes “Shrek” franchises, “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “How to Train your Dragon” .
DreamWorks is now acquired by Comcast, placing it under the frame of NBC Universal’s talented network; the studio is more likely to compete even more with the topic studios around.
- Industrial Light and Magic
Founded by George Lucas in May 1975, Industrial Light and Magic is a division of the production company, Lucasfilm which was also the original founding studio of Pixar Studios located in San Francisco, CA.
This company has worked on hundreds of projects, and is well known for their outstanding visual effects with many of them being box office hits. Some of the movies like “Jurassic Park,” “Star Wars,” “Men in Black” had a big impact into the box office.
- Studio Ghibli
Producer Toshio Suzuki and fellow director Isao Takahata launched Studio Ghibli on June 15, 1985 after the huge success of film, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Miyazaki in 1984. Located Koganei, Tokyo in Japan, Studio Ghibli is one of the most beloved producers of anime in the world.
This studio is well known for its short anime films, television films and commercials but hasn’t gained much reputation and so far its founders haven’t hesitated.
This studio also has won many numerous awards. Some of them are “Four Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year” “Animage Anime Grand Prix,” “Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film” and many other. “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Spirited Away,” “Ponyo” are some of their best animated movies.
- Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Started in 1990 as Games Animation, Nickelodeon is a big hitget-go with original programs like Doug, Rugrats and The Ren and Stimpy Show. The television network also included live-action game shows too with Legends of the Hidden Temple and Figure It Out, but animated series stood out the most among both kids and adults.
The best shows on Nickelodeon show history includes SpongeBob SquarePants, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Invader Zim and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
With many stories left to be shown, Nickelodeon remains firmly stays on the throne for the best in television animation and has further intension to rule the film history.
- Cartoon Network Studios
Cartoon Network Studios is one of the most popular animated television studios loved by the children as well as the adults with the side-by-side competitor Nickelodeon.
Though the battle between the CN studio and Nickelodeon has a never-ending fight for children’s attentions, the company has stod-up well against the stiff competition. Cartoon Network has produced some well-known shows, with many viewers and fan base. They’ve release Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Ben 10 and Adventure Time. And many other television shows and TV movies based on their growing fan base.