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What Is Animation?

Well, do we really have to explain that here? You wouldn't be here if you didn't have a glue, right?

We like what we found at Wikipedia: "Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement." Animation, (last visited May 1, 2010).

The important part is "[...] artwork or model positions [...]". This is the difference to shooting a film or video.

So the question is now: How do we get the artwork or the model positions? That leads us to the ...

Types Of Animation

There are 4 types of animation:

  • traditional animation ("by hand" development of each of the images)
  • stop motion (or step-by-step) (using a camera to take the images that finally build the animation. e.g. clay animation)
  • computer animation
  • other animation techniques (like: drawn-on-film, paint-on-glass)

We do not think that the term "computer animation" is very helpful as many of the other techniques can be done, enhanced or mixed with computer tools. But let us stick with the term as long as we do not have a better one.

We talk about computer animation if we use a computer to create at least some of the images just based on rules and data.

Computer animation can be divided into two different ...

Types Of Computer Animation

The 2 types of computer animation are:

  • 2D Computer Animation and
  • 3D Computer Animation

2D Animation is quite close to the traditional animation techniques. The computer tools take care of some of the steps that can be generated based on interpolation rules. The images that define important positions of a movement have to be created by the animator. The results are best if the animated images are based on vector graphics because changes to the vectors are well-defined without any ambiguity.

3D Animation changes the whole animation process. It is not built upon images that an animator creates, but on 3D models of all relevant resources (such as actors and scene). 3D Animation is much more comparable to real film production or stop-motion clay animations: one has to take care of camera position, camera movement, lights, movements in 3D space (collisions).

Despite the fact that 3D Animation is available and even for a reasonable price there are good reasons to work with 2D.

Why still do 2D Animation?

2D is more direct

Not that 2D Animation would not take the thoughts about camera, lights and movement into consideration, but in 2D it's always about the image itself, not about the technology to get the image.

skills are different

You need different skills for 2D and 3D Animations. 2D needs more Artists skills where with 3D you would need 3D construction skills as well.

it is a different style

There are many very successful movies and tv series that intentionally work with 2D animation or even traditional animation. Good example: "The Simpsons".

Even more obvious: the "cut-out-animation" style of "Southpark" is part of the art concept.

With 3D animations it is more difficult to keep things abstract and in a sketchy style. Chances are that for this and other reasons a 3D animations is much more time-consuming than a comparable 2D animation.

... and Synfig Studio?

You may have guessed it already... Synfig Studio is conceptually developed for 2D Computer Animation based on vector graphics. And believe us: it is very powerful.

Just two examples:

  • doing "cut-out-animation" style with Synfig: no problem (just have a look at the tutorials)!
  • you might use Synfig for technical animations as all changes can also be based on mathematical models.

The Animation Creation Process

The full process includes the following steps:

  • development
  • pre production
  • production
  • post production
  • sales and distribution

We will look closer into pre production, production and post production steps. Develoment takes care of the creation of the story as such and does typically not include creation of any artwork other than textual descriptions. Sales and Distribution are important, but also do not have an animation content as such.

Pre Production

the following tasks are usually seen as being part of pre production


Post Production

When Do I Use Synfig Studio?

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