Filed under: Concepts
1. Time-lapse: Photographing a scene only at selected intervals, creating an illusion of spontaneous change when played back. The earliest form of animation, predating live-action cinema; various playback methods for time-lapse photos had been invented by the 1830s.
2. Stop-motion: Photographing a single object and moving it while the camera is stopped. Can be done with paper cut-outs, characters with poseable armatures, or even cooperative human actors (“pixilation,” which with this spelling has nothing to do with computers, meaning “possession by evil spirits”). Quickly adopted in the 1900s for visual effects in early silent films.
3. Replacement: Replacing the object being photographed with a different object while the camera is stopped. “Classical animation” is replacement animation using pencil drawings on paper or ink on plastic cels; this technique dominated animated feature production until the late 1980s. Less common variations use photo collage or sculpture. First came into wide use with “lightning artist” vaudeville acts in the 1910s, where audiences would watch an animated film being made.
4. Rotoscoping: Using live action as a frame-by-frame reference for animation. Traditionally done by projecting film footage and tracing it, an established technique by the 1940s. “Motion capture” is a modern variant of rotoscoping, in which the analysis of movement is done with a computer instead of by hand.
5. Analog Computer Graphics: Also known as “computer-assisted graphics,” generating images via computer control of an external hardware system such as a motion-control camera or CRT electron beam. Early examples exist from the 1950s; videotape-based systems called “video synthesizers” were in use by the 1960s.
5. Digital Computer Graphics: Generating images within a computer system by breaking an image down into mathematical elements and manipulating the values of those elements. Most commonly done by representing an image as a grid of colored dots (“pixels”). First examples in the 1960s and widely adopted by the 1990s; the most common form of animation in use today.