Sunday, 16 February 2014

History Of Animation

In this blog entry  I will be discussing some of the key events in the development of animation from the early 1900’s to current day.
Before motion picture films there was animation and one of the first ways in which animation were produced was through a device called a Zoetrope. A Zoetrope is a device where the frames of an animation would be printed on the inside of the circular drum of the zoetrope and then the device would then be sped round in the opposite direction of the frames which gives the visual impression that the images are dynamically changing. In 1917 the first animate feature film was created which was called El Apóstol which was created in Argentina, the film was just over 70 minutes long and consisted of just under 60,000 frames.

The next key development in 2D animation was in 1928 which introduced the synchronization of sound with animation. This was the first animation by Disney which introduced Mickey Mouse in a 7 minute animation called “Steamboat Willie”. This development revolutionized animation thereafter as animation previously were just moving imagery without any sound.  

The next revolutionary development was in 1932 which saw the introduction of Technicolor which enabled animations to be shot in colour which added a new dimension to animation, as animations and feature films were previously all done in black and white.
In 1980’s movies started implementing computer generated imagery into their scenes and one movie in particular called “Tron” is very iconic for its extensive use of CGI throughout before Tron CGI was barely used in feature length films.

In 1995 the first completely computer generated movie was develop which was called “Toy Story” the movie was developed by "Disney which also created the “Steamboat Willie” short animation. The movie didn’t require any physical acting and only required voice actors to perform the voices for the computer generated characters

Types of Animation

There is a common argument that animations that a compiled of drawings are much better than computer generated animations such Finding Nemo.  Animations which fall into the hand drawn category are animations such as Beauty and the beast and Dumbo where the whole movie is made up of hand drawn frames, hand drawn animated movies were a common trend in the early 90’s and most of the successful ones were created by Disney.  In modern days computer generated animations are much more popular and Pixar movies such as Wall-E and Finding Nemo always do very well at the box office. There are various types of animation which can be identified by the unique techniques used the make them, for example “stop motion” animation consists of capturing physical objects such as figures and models in a particular pose and then repeating the process multiple times to create an animation. A really good example of this type animation is robot chicken which is tv show which is basically a tv show made up of toy figures in a stop motion animation. 

Another popular tv show & movie franchise which utilizes stop motion animation is Wallace & Gromit where the characters and scenery are made out of clay. Wallace and Gromit has won several Oscars since it was created and meaning that this type of animation is still favoured by a particular audience over animated movies which have a heavy use of CGI. Developing an animation such as Wallace and Gromit is quite a time consuming process and some other types of animation such as 2D animation would take less time as all the frames are developed digitally. An animation like Wallace & Grommets would undergo an extensive storyboarding process which shows what happens in every other frame.

2D animation consists of drawing bitmap or vector graphics digitally on a computer, there animated file types such GIF which enable a number frames to be stored therefore enabling you to make animations. A common piece of software you would use to create a 2D animation would be Adobe Flash.
3D animation is a slightly more advanced technique of animating as it consists of firstly creating 3D Mesh for an object and then adding a texture on afterwards

This technique of animation is very modern and in movies such as “Rise of Planet of the Apes” a process called motion capture is used in which an actor would act out some physical movements and then that actor’s silhouette would be remodeled into a 3D generated character as seen in the picture below.

Performance capture has also been implemented into video games and in the Rockstar game “LA Noire” has been used extensively. The way in which it was done was by using a rig made up of a 360-degree set-up of 32 cameras grouped into pairs to capture the performance of an actor from the neck up. The footage creates an exact 3D mesh overlay of every facial expression meaning what you see isn't strictly animation, but more like a converted film sequence. The reason performance capture was sued on this game was because the reading of expressions on the characters faces serves as an important game mechanic when deciding a character is lying or not. LA Noire is the only game really to utilize performance capture this heavily however I predict in the future it will used a lot more. 

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