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On a daily basis we get asked what it is we do, and the response of ‘animation’ always draws mixed reactions. Some people think Toy Story, others think Wallace and Gromit, they don’t immediately see its relevance within the business world. In this blog post i’ll clarify what exactly animation is. Then I will introduce you to the variety of animation styles and the differences between them, where you will hopefully gain a deeper understanding of not only our work and processes, but also the techniques which other businesses may have used in there own marketing campaigns.

Main Types of Animation

In my opinion there are three main types of animation. Traditional animation (Hand Drawn/Cel Animation), Stop-motion animation and Computer Animation. Each one creates the illusion of movement in the same way, by consecutively showing images, precisely 24 in a second (25 and 30 are also used!). What differs is the method in which these images are created.

Traditional animation is most commonly recognized throughout its use in early Disney films, as far back as the 1930’s. A large amount of film and tv still continued to use it late into the 20th century, Animal farm, Land Before Time and The Iron Giant to name a few. This technique involved drawing each and every one of these frames. Even though studios will re-use work to save time, it is a painstaking and time consuming task. In the 21st century and the implementation of computers, traditional animation became a costly and rarely used technique.

Stop Motion Animation is a technique in which images are created from capturing photographs, whilst manipulating whatever is being captured in between shots. The most renowned and successful example of this would be ‘Wallace and Gromit’ from Aardman. This once again can be a very long and time consuming process. however it is still widely used and in some circumstances can be cheaper than its counterparts.

Last but not least, there is . This is the technique used by MIC, but is so expansive it can be broken down into many different types itself.

Computer animation can create work that matches both the traditional animation and stop motion animation styles, through the use of a large variety of software. The primary benefit of computer animation is speed, this by no means the process is a swift one. Animating a car crash with complex detail could take a few weeks, doing this utilising older methods would take a lot longer! Rather than creating each frame individually, computer animation can fill in the gaps between ‘key’ moments (tweening). To use a cube as an example, you can place it one location at 0 seconds, then at 2 second place it in another location. The additional 23 frames in-between will be automatically calculated, cutting down on a significant amount of manpower.

To show the wide uptake of computer animation, Disney have been making all their films this way since the 80s and even Aardman, known for their stop motion animation use CG and just recreate there stop motion style.

Moving Image Creations

MIC split up it’s Computer Animation into 4 Different categories. These aren’t necessarily how the rest of the market divides there work, but we feel this split helps people understand the variety of things we can achieve. 

2D animation is created in 2 dimensions and therefore looks flat unless illustrated to look as if it has depth. This is similar to traditional hand-drawn animation.

MIC categorises 2D animation itself as anything 2D with character animation. Human, animal or personified object/creatures.

3D animation is referred to when creating the work in 3d space. Pixar animations are created in 3D, or a house could be modelled in 3D and then you can rotate around and move through it within the 3D space. This has a large amount of application outside of the film industry, such as product visualisation, architecture or even advertising.

Motion Graphics we generally define as 2D animation without characters. This includes animated text and illustrations.

Visual Effects is the only one that stands differently to the other as it is the process of incorporated animated assets, text or graphics into live action film. This can use any of the methods above but uses an additional skill to integrate the assets seamlessly into the relevant footage.

Using these techniques MIC can create anything your imagination can think of. Please subscribe and look out for future posts where I will talk about some of the diverse uses of these techniques!