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What is animation?

Animation is generally defined as a sequence of images which are rapidly displayed so as to create the illusion of motion. Examples of animation include anything that shows any forms of movement. These can range from the flipbooks, to popping texts, to video programs. A typical animation consists of the following: • A series of images • Digital technology With advanced digital technology, we can create more realistic animations. The challenge nowadays is on how to make these animations appear more natural. How to make animations appear natural?

Natural-appearing animations are more effective in delivering whatever it is that you want to convey. Viewers are found to favor natural animations. Using too much animation just to showcase an artist’s creative talents may backfire. It takes just the right amount of animation to make it natural for viewers to be able to appreciate it more. Exaggerating will make the animation lose its human appeal. The technique is to hit on the general aesthetics sense. • Try to animate objects in such a way that they depict real life movements • Animation should show how objects and actions move in their natural tendencies, as seen in the real world

• 3-d technology is what gives animations are more natural appeal Natural animations provide the viewers a glimpse of the real world. Unlike other animations, especially those of children’s 2-d cartoons, which contradict scientific principles, natural animations attempt to show what would actually happen in the real world. If the animated film’s character is still able to run around after being burned alive and chopped to pieces, then that does not definitely appear natural. Characters and other objects in natural animations are more realistic. For example, shadows should be shown in such a way viewers expect them to be.

The shadows will always be against the light source. If the character moves, his shadow should move accordingly. Natural animation can be more in-depth with the use of mathematical equations to model real-time phenomena. For example, when animating smoke, animators used the Navier-Stokes equations to come up with an algorithm which simulated real-life smoke effects. The animators were able to develop a remarkable short movie showing smoke billowing and producing much turbulence. This kind of animations is highly technical and requires more advanced technology.

It is quite impressive how it is now possible to replicate real life movements on LCD screens, and viewers have responded positively onto such animations. 3-d animated motion pictures and computer games generated more revenues compared to those with a less natural effect. In fact these animations are hugely popular especially among the youth. Indeed, 3-d animation technologies have greatly improved how natural and human motion is depicted. The animation industry has come a long way since. With just a few masterful techniques, colors and textures of real-life objects in motion can be very well captured as an animation.

With some basic animation software, great animation techniques can be learned, even from the convenience of home. How have we benefited from natural animations? Natural animations are now very common. These natural animations have helped in making animated films a high-grosser and award-winning. An example of this would be Dreamworks’ movie, Shrek. The swaying of the trees and the flowing of the rivers are so full of life. The animators were able to realistically portray the movements of each leaf and of each ripple. Even the shadows and other lighting effects follow the laws of science.

Shrek’s moviemakers were successful in coming up with picturesque scenes of landscapes, which at first glance can fool viewers to be real. But animations are not just for entertainment. In fact, these natural animations were used by NASA to develop a simulation for their mission to Mars. The animation team used their creative and technical prowess to depict how the mission to Mars went. Because they used actual data, i. e. size of the rover, etc. they were able to develop a short movie which shows the public what the terrain in Mars is like.

The ability to create animations that appear very natural is a valuable technique which helps professionals create a model which can make their audience visualize something that is otherwise invisible, such as the workings of a human’s internal body organs, sub-atomic particles, outer-space explorations, etc. Aside from the entertainment and scientific industries, businesses have also benefited hugely from great animations. Most businesses nowadays have their business website. The websites are dull if not for these great animations. Animations have especially helped the sales industry.

Studies have shown that sales increase if the sales presentation is well animated and looks more natural. What are the trends in animation? It is expected that the natural animation industry will grow 16% every year. More and more industries are in need of such technology. This includes the scientific and medical markets, the government and especially its defense system, the engineering industry and other business segments. Natural animation particularly appeals to these industries because it helps produce visualizations and simulations. These animations will help scientists conduct experiments without even actually doing it.

There is currently a high demand for animated films. The entertainment industry has welcomed animations. Pixar Studios is just one example of an animation company who benefits from this surge in demand. Animated films are shown and praised by viewers from all around the world. Due to the increase in TV stations available on cable and satellite, more and more animated TV series are aired. These animations are not like the ones which precede them. The effects are more natural and impressive. According to the Motion Picture Associate of America, the animated films earned $26. 7 billion in 2007.

More than half of top 20 movies are animated, either fully or partially. Ratatouille and Shrek are among the fully animated highest grossing movies in 2007. Spiderman and Transformers which also earned $300+ millions are partially animated. The animations look very natural. We can expect more natural animations from the entertainment industries in the years to come. Both advertising and gaming industries are also expected to grow which will also create more opportunities for animators. With just a few more years, there might not be any more difference from what is real and what just a product of an animation technology is.

References Behind the Characters: Professional Animators. Retrieved May 7, 2009 from http://www. animationmentor. com/. Cole, Forrester (2001). Natural Animation. Retrieved May 7, 2009 from http://www. siggraph. org/conferences/reports/s2001/tech/paper1. htm. Ledoux, Trish, and Ranney, Doug (1997). Complete Anime Guide: Japanese Animation. Tiger Mountain Press. Multimedia. Retrieved May 7. 2009 from http://marsrovers. jpl. nasa. gov/gallery/video/spirit01. html. Walters, Faber and Helen (2004). Animation Unlimited: Innovative Short Films. HarperCollins Publishers.

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