Your Guide to Different Types of Animation
Animation and motion graphics are impactful ways to connect with an audience. Whether you are looking to entertain and convey a story or want to provide visual demonstrations of the inner workings of a product or process, animation offers a communication tool that can speak to a wide range of audiences.
From traditional 2D animation to popular 3D and motion graphics, there are so many types of animation to choose from. Read on to find out more about the different techniques and styles you can use to reach your target audience and drive your business forward.
Our Top 12 Types Of Animation
With such a range of animation techniques and animation styles to choose from, your choice will depend on your video’s aim and audience. However, additional factors such as time and cost will also influence a decision.
To help you understand how versatile animation can be, we have put together a guide to our top 12 types of animation.
1. Traditional Animation
First on our list is traditional animation, also known as cell animation. Traditional animation was first used to create Fantasmagorie in 1908 and is recognised as one of the oldest forms of animation. For the skill that is involved, this animation technique cannot be overlooked. An animator must draw each individual frame by hand before piecing them together to create an animated scene.
Light tables are used to aid an animator with this animation style; the previous drawing can be placed beneath a new sheet of paper, allowing the finest alterations to be accurately drawn from the image lit up below. The most famous company still operating through traditional animation is Disney. They now use special light tables attached to computers to modernise the process. Other common examples of traditional animation include cartoons and video promotions.
2. Digital 2D Animation
A popular animation technique, digital 2D animation gained momentum from readily available software allowing everyone to have a go at home. This style of animation revolutionised traditional 2D animation, while there is the option to edit frame by frame, the software also allows characters to be placed on rigs.
Rigs speed up the creative process, allowing the character’s body parts to be edited without affecting the background or having to redraw the rest of the character. The main advantage of this type of animation is the flexibility it provides an animator, especially beginners.
3. Digital 3D Animation
Computer-generated imagery (CGI) or digital 3D animation is the most commonly encountered type of animation. While this style relies heavily on computerised composition, enabling a character to come to life through a program, it does share the same principles in movement with more traditional methods.
3D animation is where science and animation combine. For a three-dimensional animation to look realistic, it must abide by the same laws of physics that apply in real-life. Animators achieve this by designing character rigs and motion paths (splines) to define particular movements, allowing the computer software to help them fill in the gaps.
CGI is an extremely technical process often requiring separate specialising to carry out different aspects from modelling the character and rigging it with bones to controlling, animating and adding texture.
4. Stop-Motion Animation
Another old animation technique, originating over a century ago, stop-motion has brought us much-loved characters over the years. From Wallace and Gromit to more recent adaptations of Fantastic Mr Fox, these animation clips are created by taking multiple photos of stationary objects. The objects are moved after each shot into a new position, allowing an animator to achieve an illusion of movement once the images have been strung together.
A relatively inexpensive method of producing animated clips; there is no real need for expensive equipment or facilities, making stop-motion a popular choice.
5. Rotoscope Animation
The rotoscope animation technique allows for animated characters and settings to interact with real people or a real-life environment. An animator starts with some live-action footage and traces this with a rotoscoping tool. This tool is similar to the light tables used in traditional animation, as photographs are often traced onto glass panels. This part of the process allows for the fictional elements to be added in.
A much cheaper alternative to divisional 3D animation, the rotoscope animation style is often used in films and commercials.
6. Motion Capture
Motion capture effortlessly showcases the technological advances of animation. Creating extremely realistic animations, motion capture is an ultra-modern form of 3D animation that is created from live-action scenes.
The motion capture process involves actors acting out scenes and particular movements wearing a suit that tracks their intricate movements. All the data is fed into a computer which replicates these interactions allowing them to produce a graphic.
In addition to many examples from the gaming industry, a famous example of motion capture in a film is James Cameron’s Avatar. By utilising the technology of motion capture, Avatar was able to transform the audience into another world with lifelike facial expressions and recognisable movements.
7. Typography Animation
Quite simply, typography animation is the process of animating text, focusing on font faces and letters. The most obvious examples come from title screens, credit segments and advertisements, proving useful for businesses in the creation of training resources and presentations.
Typography is one of the cheapest forms of animation; however, that does not decrease its value. Effective typography animation can help a consumer remember a business’s name and the service they are offering.
8. Mechanical Animation
This type of animation breaks down a mechanical product’s functions and configuration. Mechanical animation is achieved by drawing and animating every step and detail that makes up a machine’s mechanism, ultimately aiming to provide a visual aid to its internal workings.
Such an animation style has a very practical application in both the engineering and advertising industry, allowing consumers to gain an understanding of a new product as well as enabling technicians to adjust and develop goods in the manufacturing process. In the majority of instances, mechanical animation is combined with CGI to achieve the ultimate visual.
9. Claymation (Clay Animation)
A particularly creative animation method, claymation used clay-moulded characters and objects to produce child-friendly, amusing video animation. Similar to stop-motion animation, the clay figures are created and photographed in movement sequences. Then, the images are pieced together to create a video clip.
As clay animation is a time-consuming animation style it is often chosen for short projects, including shorter children’s films or advert commercials. A prime example is the film Chicken Run from 2000.
10. Cut-Out Animation
Another classic style of animation dating back to 1926 is cut-out animation. LotteReinieger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed is the oldest known use of this type of animation; however, nowadays, a more commonly known example is South Park.
Cut-out animation is produced using detailed paper silhouettes that are moved beneath a camera lens. These 2D paper characters can be superimposed onto animated backdrops. While the style is similar to shadow puppets, computer innovation has streamlined the process. Now it is possible to scan paper cut-outs and digital work with the images in a queue.
11. Sand Animation
A striking and highly-skilled version of animation is the sand animation technique, which was invented back in 1969. Using a lit glass table, again similar to traditional animation, an animator can create images and tell a story by moving sand in a range of directions. Their creations will constantly be erased, evolving and transforming as the story progresses.
While the animator works with the sand, the process is photographed. These images are then merged and the sand animation can be viewed from start to finish. This type of animation may be time-consuming to produce but the style is truly memorable.
12. Flipbook Animation
Flipbook animation is a type of animation that does not involve technology; all an animator requires is a notebook and a pen. A fun and playful animation style, flipbooks allow images to come to life as the pages are quickly turned. The ‘manual video’ is a take on the praxinoscope, allowing for quick frame change as a notebook is ‘flicked’ through. While this animation style is difficult to incorporate successfully into marketing campaigns, it is a great way to visually tell a story.
Work With Ark Media: Your Animation Experts
Producing impactful animation is no easy skill but, fortunately, our experts at Ark Media are here to help. We have vast experience in producing 2D, 3D and motion graphic animation for a range of clients, helping them to reach their target audience and improve their business’s value.
If you are interested in producing animations for your business, get in touch with us today.