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Animation History and Techniques. Week 9 :CCT370 – Introduction to Computer Visualization. Animation. Animate = “to give life to” Specify, directly or indirectly, how ‘thing’ moves in time and space Tools. Two main categories. Computer-assisted animation 2D & 2 1/2 D Inbetweening

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animation history and techniques

Animation History and Techniques

Week 9 :CCT370 – Introduction to Computer Visualization

  • Animate = “to give life to”
  • Specify, directly or indirectly, how ‘thing’ moves in time and space
  • Tools
two main categories
Two main categories
  • Computer-assisted animation
    • 2D & 2 1/2 D
    • Inbetweening
    • Inking, virtual camera, managing data, etc
  • Computer generated animation
    • Low level techniques
      • Precisely specifying motion
    • High level techniques
      • Describe general motion behavior
low level techniques
Low level techniques
  • Shape interpolation (in-betweening)
  • Have to know what you want
high level techniques
High level techniques
  • Generate motion with set of rules or constraints
    • Physically based motion

Animator colors each pixel


Tell computer to “make movie about a dog”

perception of animations
Perception of Animations
  • Playback rate
  • Sampling or update rate
  • TV: 30 images/second
  • Sat Morning Cartoons:
    • 6 different images per second
    • Each image repeated five times
heritage of animation
Heritage of Animation
  • Persistence of vision: discovered about 1800s
    • Zoetrope or “wheel of life” -
    • Flip-book
heritage of animation1
Heritage of Animation
  • Camera to make lifeless things move
    • Meleis 1890 using simple tricks
    • Emil Cohl (1857-1938, French)
heritage of animation2
Heritage of Animation
  • J. Stuart Blackton (American)
    • Meet Thomas Edison in 1895
      • Combine drawing and file: “The Enchanted Drawing” -
      • Six years later: “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces -
    • Animated smoke in 1900; First animated cartoon in 1906
heritage of animation3
Heritage of Animation
  • First celebrated Animator
    • Winsor McCay (American)
      • Little nemo -
      • Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)
heritage of animation4
Heritage of Animation
  • First major technical development
    • John Bray /Earl Hurd (1910)
    • Translucent cels (short for celluloid) in compositing multiple layers
    • Use of grey scale (as opposed to B&W)
    • Color short in 1920

John Randolph Bray'sColonel Heeza Lair.

heritage of animation5
Heritage of Animation

Out of Bray’s studio

  • Max Fleischer (Betty Boop,, Popeye)
    • Patented rotoscoping in 1915
    • Draing images on cells by tracing over previously recorded live action -
  • Paul Terry (Terrytoons: Mighty Mouse)
  • George Stallings(?)
  • Walter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker)
heritage of animation6
Heritage of Animation
  • Animation as an art form
    • First animated character with personality
      • Felix the cat by Otto Messmer (1920s)
      • Force to reckoned with
    • Sound and Walt Disney
disney animation as an art form
Disney: Animation as an art form
  • Innovations
    • Story board to review story
    • Pencil sketch to review motion
    • Multi-plane camera stand
    • Color (not first to use color)
    • Sound!
      • Steamboat Willie (1928)
multiplane camera
Multiplane Camera
  • Move scene layers independently of camera
other media animation
Other Media Animation
  • Computer animation is often compared to stop motion animation
    • Puppet animation
      • Willis O’Brian (King Kong)
      • Ray Harryhausen (Might joe Yong, Jason and the Argonauts)

other media animation1
Other Media Animation
    • Claymation
    • Pinhead animation
    • Sand animation
  • Physical object is manipulated, image captured, repeat
hierachy of film animation
Hierachy of film/animation






production of animation
Production of Animation
  • Preliminary story
  • Story board
  • Detailed story
  • Key Frames
  • Test shot
  • Pencil test
  • Inbetweening
  • Inking
  • Coloring

Computer Animation

basically follows this


computer animation as animation
Computer Animation as Animation
  • Lasseter translated principles of animation as articulated by two of Nine Old Men of Disney to computer animation
    • Lasseter is conventionally trained animator
      • Worked at Disney before going to Pixar
      • Many celebrated animations
      • Knick-knack (oscar-winning)
short history of computer animation
Short History of Computer Animation

In Research labs

  • NYIT -

Still frame from Gumby animation by Hank Grebe and Dick Lundin, 1984.

in research labs
In Research Labs
  • University of Utah
    • Films on walking and talking figure
    • Animated hand and animated face (1972)
  • University of Pennsylvania
    • Human figure animation (Norm Badler)
  • Cornell University
    • architectural walk-throughs (Don Greenberg)
history of computer animation
History of Computer Animation
  • 1974: Hunger by Rene Jodoin and Peter Foldes
    • 2.5D system, object interpolation
current activity centers
Current activity Centers
  • University of Toronto's Computer Science Department
  • Simon-Fraser University's Graphics and Mulitmedia Research Lab
  • Georgia Tech's Graphics Visualization and Usability Center
  • Brown Computer Graphics Group
  • Ohio State University's ACCAD
  • Ohio State University's Department of Computer and Information Science
  • George Washington University Graphics Group
  • UC San Diego's Department of Computer Science and Engineering
  • University of North Carolina's Computer Science Department
  • MIT's Media Lab
  • MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science
  • University of Wisconsin at Madison
history of film video
History of Film & Video
  • Companies
    • Mathematical Applications Group, Inc. (MAGI)
    • Information International Inc. (III, or Triple-I)
    • Digital Production
    • Digital Effects
    • Image West
    • Robert Abel and Associates
    • Cranston-Csuri.
current companies
Current Companies
  • Pixar (Disney Studios)
  • Industrial Light and Magic (ILM)
  • Pacific Data Images (PDI)
  • Xaos
  • Rhythm & Hues
  • Digital Domain
  • Lamb & Company
  • Metrolight Studios
  • Boss Film Studios
  • deGraf/Wahrman
  • R/Greenberg Associates
  • Blue Sky Productions
  • Sony Pictures
  • Cinesite
  • Imageworks
  • Apple…. .
animations that paved the way
Animations that paved the way


  • Luxo Jr. (1986)
    • first computer animation to be nominated for an Academy Award
  • Red's Dream (1987)
  • Tin Toy (1988) -
    • first computer animation to win an Academy Award
  • Knick Knack (1989)
early cg in film
Early CG in film
  • Future World (1976)
  • Star Wars (1977)
    • Lawnmower man (1992, Xaos, Angel Studios)
      • Hollywood’s view of VR
  • Tron (1982, MAGI)
    • Supposed to look like a computer
  • The Last Starfighter (1984)
    • Use CG in place of models
  • Willow (1988, ILM)
    • Morphing video
    • First digital blue screen matte extraction
  • Howard the Duck (1986, ILM)
    • First wire removal
  • The Abyss (1989, ILM)
more early cg in film
More early CG in film
  • Jurassic Park (1993, ILM)
    • Forest Gump (1994, Digital Domain)
      • Insert CG ping pong ball
    • Babe (1995, Rhythm & Hues)
      • Move mouths of animals & fill in background
    • Toy Story (1995, Pixar & Disney)
      • First full length fully CG 3D animation
early cg on tv
Early CG on TV
  • Reboot (1995, Limelight Ltd. BLT Productions)
    • Similar intention of “inside computer”
    • First fully 3D Sat. morning cartoon
  • Babylon 5 (1995)
    • Routinely used CG models as regular features
  • Simpsons (1995 PDI)
animation techniques
Animation Techniques
  • Early 2D Animation: Used traditional techniques
  • Early 3D Animation: Neglected traditional techniques.
  • Understanding the 11 Fundamental principles of traditional animation techniques is essential to producing good computer animation.

Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their 1981 book

1 squash and stretch
Teaches basic mechanics of animation.

Defines rigidity of material.

Important in facial animation.

1. Squash and Stretch
squash and stretch cont
Can relieve the disturbing effect of strobing.

Squash and Stretch Cont.
2 timing and motion
2. Timing and Motion
  • Gives meaning to movement.
  • Proper timing is critical to making ideas readable.
  • Examples:
  • Timing: tiny characters move quicker than larger ones.
  • Motion: can define weights of objects.
heavy vs light objects
Heavy vs. Light Objects

3 anticipation


Goofy prepares to hit a baseball.

3. Anticipation

Preparation for an action

4 staging

Some Techniques:

Use motion in a still scene or use of static movement in a busy scene.

Use of silhouettes (to the side)

4. Staging

A clear presentation of an idea.

5 follow through and overlapping action

Example: after throwing a ball

Example:LuxoJr.’s hop with overlapping action on chord.

5. Follow Through and Overlapping Action

1. Follow Through

Termination part of an action.

2. Overlapping Action

Starting a second action before the first has completed.

6 straight ahead action and pose to pose action
6. Straight Ahead Action and Pose-to-Pose Action

1. Straight Ahead

Animator start from first drawing in the scene and draw all subsequent frames until the end of scene.

2. Pose-to-Pose

Animator plans actions, draws a sequence of poses, in between frames etc.

7 slow in and out
Spacing of inbetween frames to achieve subtlety of timing and movement.

7. Slow in and Out

3d keyframe comp. Systems uses spline interpolation to control the path of an object.

Has tendency to overshoot at extremes (small # of frames).

8 arcs
8. Arcs
  • Visual path of action for natural movement.
  • Makes animation much smoother and less stiff than a straight line.
9 exaggeration

Example: Luxo Jr. made smaller to give idea of a child.

9. Exaggeration
  • Accentuating the essence of an idea via the design and the action.
  • Needs to be used carefully.
10 secondary action


Body movement is the primary action, facial expression is the secondary action

10. Secondary Action
  • Action that results directly from another action.
  • Used to increase the complexity and interest of a scene.
11 appeal
11. Appeal
  • Refers to what an audience would like to see.
  • Character cannot be too simple (boring) or too complex.
  • Examples:
  • Avoid mirror symmetry, assymmetry is interesting.
summary of techniques
Summary of techniques
role of personality
Role of Personality
  • Animator’s first goal is to entertain.
  • Success of animation lies in the personality of the characters.


Hardware/Software are simply not enough, these principles are just as important tools too.


Clear and concepts explained well with pictures and examples.


Need more examples on “bad animation”

What really makes good vs bad animation? Need to make a better one on one comparison.

Personality section: is it necessary?

  • Principles of Traditional Animation Applied to Computer Animation.
  • Animation: Can it facilitate?
  • On Creating Animated Presentations
  • Graphics have many advantages.
  • What makes graphics effective ?

1. Congruence Principle

2. Apprehension Principle

  • Can Animation facilitate?
advantage graphics
Help in communication.

May save words by showing things that would otherwise need many.

Externalize internal knowledge

I. Reduces the burden on memory and processing by off-loading.

II. Makes underlying structures and processes transparent.

4. Used carefully can facilitate comprehension, learning, memory, communication and inference

Graphics are not always effective. (text vs graphics)

Advantage Graphics
criteria 1 congruence principle
Criteria 1: Congruence Principle

The structure and content of the external representation should correspond to the desired structure and content of the internal representation.

By Congruence Principle: should be natural way for conveying concepts of change, just as space in graphics is a natural for conveying actual space.

Appear to be effective for expressing processes ie. Weather patterns, circuit diagrams, or circulatory systems etc.

Compelling and attractive

evaluating animation
Evaluating Animation
  • Needs to be compared to graphics that do not change with time, as it is change with time that animation adds.
  • How well does animation teach complex systems: mechanical, biological, physical, and operational.
incomparable procedures in static and animated graphics
Incomparable Procedures In Static and Animated Graphics.

Interactivity versus Animation

Prediction versus Animation

Why the confusion?

  • Success of animation due to advantages of extra information conveyed, rather than animation of the information.
  • Animation is attractive and exciting.
criteria 2 apprehension principle
Criteria 2:Apprehension Principle

The structure and content of the external representation should be readily and accurately perceived and comprehended.

why do animations fail
Why Do Animations Fail?
  • Animations may be hard to perceive.
  • Animations may be comprehended discretely.
  • Not universally preferred and often require expertise for understanding.
conclusions and implications
Conclusions and Implications
  • Many apparent successes turn out not to be successes.
  • Congruence and Apprehension Principles.
  • Interactivity may be key to overcome animations’ drawbacks.
  • Animation must be used with care.
  • Principles of Traditional Animation Applied to Computer Animation.
  • Animation: Can it facilitate?
  • On Creating Animated Presentations
  • Microsoft estimates ~30 million ppt presentations are made everyday
  • Animation could improve them.
  • PPT is essentially static in nature.
  • Examine how meaningful animations can be created to improve live presentations.
authoring principles for animations for presentations
Authoring Principles for Animations for Presentations
  • Use parameterization at all levels of the system.
  • Treat animations as models - animations are treated as parameterized models that have a single parameter: time.
  • Build slides hierarchically

Example of Animation Script:

Animation Test Harness

animation principles for presentations
Animation Principles for Presentations.
  • Make all movement meaningful
  • Avoid instantaneous changes
  • Reinforce structure with transitions
  • Create a large virtual canvas
  • Smoothly expand and compress detail
animation principles for presentations cont
Animation Principles for Presentations cont.

6. Manage complexity through overlays

  • Do one thing at a time.
  • Reinforce animation with narration.
  • Distinguish dynamics from transitions.
  • Milestones of the animation industry in the 20th Century
  • Brief History of NYIT Computer Graphics Lab
next class
Next class
  • Topic: Visualizing Faces in Digital Spaces (Guest Speaker: Joseph Ferenbok)
  • Readings:
    • Slides will be posted after lecture
  • In labs today: Using Google SketchUp to create specific figures for Photoshop CS4.