Animation, with special perspective on 3D animation

Each person is having a special bond with animations, whether that is cartoons, serials, games or movies.
But do you know what exactly animation is?
How these animation movies, serial are prepared?

  • In Latin ‘ANIMA’ means soul. So it all about giving soul to a character.
  • Technically it is change of property within certain period.
  • To ‘Animate’ is literally ‘to give life to’. ‘Animating is moving something which can’t move itself.
  • Animation adds to graphics the dimension of time, which vastly increases the amount of information, which can be transmitted.

How does Animation Work?

  • A simple theory known as persistence of vision offers an explanation. The Greek astronomer Ptolemy discovered this principle back in 130 A.D.
  • If images are flashed before the eye at at least 10 frames per second, the brain thinks it is seeing a single moving image. 
  • The number of frames per second, or FPS, directly correlates to how smooth the movement appears.
  • If the frame rate is too slow, the motion will look awkward and jerky. If the frame rate is too high the motion will blur.

Understanding the persistence of vision PAUL ROGET invented the “ Thaumatrope” in 1828

Figure 1.1: Thaumatrope

Types of Animation

  • Cel Animation  – Animation is made drawing frame by frame like a flip art. Most popular method for animation.
  • Puppet Animation – Puppets were used in the scenes, where the movements of limbs are shifted frame after frame to reproduce the fluid motion of real life.
  • Cut out Animation – Animation made by moving paper cutouts frame by frame.
  •  Clay Animation – small changes to the clay puppets were done frame by frame until a relatively smooth motion is produced when the pictures are run continuously.
  • Sand Animation – Sand is used to depict characters and changes made in sand are recorded frame by frame to make an animation.
  • Computer Generated Animation (3D Graphics and Animation)

Computer Generated Animation (3D Graphics and Animation)


3D graphics and animation are produced in standard software packages, such as 3D Studio MAX, Maya or Lightwave3D. The fundamental skills of the 3D artist involve learning to use such packages, which are astoundingly complex. Learning to create, texture and animate models using the standard applications is the central task, and requires years of dedicated study.
History of 3D Animation

1960 – William Fetter of Boeing coins the term “computer graphics” for his human factors cockpit drawings.

1962 – Sketchpad system for interactive computer graphics developed by Ivan Sutherland at MIT.

Figure 1.2: First computer graphic image


Figure 1.3: First sketchpad system

1963– Mouse invented by Doug Englebart of SRI (Stanford Research Institute)

1963 – 1st computer generated film by Edward Zajac (Bell Labs)


Figure 1.4: First mouse


Figure 1.5: First animation


1975– Martin Newell (Utah) develops CGI teapot (physical teapot now in the Computer Museum in Boston)

1982 – Jim Clark founds Silicon Graphics Inc.

1986– Softimage founded by Daniel Langlois in Montreal

1987 – LucasArts formed

1990– 3D Studio (Autodesk)

1992 – Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) produces Terminator 2

Tom Brigham and Doug Smythe and ILM get Academy Technical Achievement Award for morphing technique (MORF)

1993 – Digital Domain founded by James Cameron, Stan Winston, and Scott Ross (iRobot, Golden Compass, Transformer)

1995 – Academy Scientific and Engineering Award goes to Alvy Ray Smith, Ed Catmull, Tom Porter and Tom Duff (Pixar) for pioneering inventions in digital compositing.

Components of 3D Graphics and Animation3d_figure-1_05_sideimage

  1. Concepts & Storyboarding
  2. Modeling
  3. Texturing
  4. Cameras & Lighting
  5. Animation
  6. Rendering
  7. Visual Fx


Concepts & Storyboarding

Series of panels that contain a visual interpretation of the screenplay is called storyboard. Storyboarding is a process where a storyboard artist along with the director, the character developer and the background or the layout artist discusses the entire script and plans in advance the camera placements, the camera and character movement etc.


Figure 1.6: Storyboard



This is the process of creating objects in 3d animation software like characters and any possible design. These objects are called models.

Figure 1.7: 3D Model


The models are given colors and textures


Figure 1.8: Textured 3D can of Coca Cola

Cameras & Lighting

The scene is then given lights and camera position to give a realistic feel.


Figure 1.9: 3D Car with camera and lights

Animation and Visual Fx

3D Animation is capable of creating realistic animation coupled with stunning Visual Fx


Figure 1.10: 3D Movie Kung Fu Panda


Figure 1.11: 3D special effects


Indian Animation Industry

Some major animation production houses in India

  1. Jadoo Works
  2.  Toonz Animation India Ltd.
  3.  Rhythm & Hues
  4. UTV Toons
  5. Escotoons
  6. Western Outdoor
  7. Digital Canvas
  8. BIG Animations
  9. Crest Communication
  10. Graphiti multimedia
  11. Animation India – Bangalore
  12. Colour Chips (I) Ltd. – Hyderabad
  13. Dataquest Entertainment Pvt Ltd – Hyd
  14. Tata Elxsi


Softwares used in Animations

3D animation softwares

  • MAYA
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Softimage
  • Houdini
  • Lightwave 3D
  • Deep Paint 3D
  • Autodesk Motion Builder
  • ZBrush

2D animation softwares

  • US Animation
  • Toon Boom Studio
  • MOHO
  • Macromedia Flash

References: Internet and other resources on internet( Content & Images). But content are edited and rewritten according to the need.


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