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Art Of Graphix: Becoming Animated On Moving Pictures

One of the most common questions I am asked is: “I want to get into animation; where do I start?” Well, it is easier to get into animation today than ever before as software is cheaper (or even free), and most modern computers can handle the simpler animation tasks (mostly 2D). The catch is that although anyone can start animating immediately, the art itself still takes time to master. The good news is you do not need to be a Disney-grade animator to create really cool animations. You can start small and simple, and slowly develop your skills and unique style.

Before we veer off track, the first goal is to define computer animation. Computer animation refers to the on-screen movement of the display device created by displaying a sequence of still images. Animation is the technique of designing, drawing, making layouts and preparation of photographic series that are integrated into multimedia and gaming products.

A person who creates animations is called an animator. He/she use various computer technologies to capture the still images, then animated these in the desired sequence. In a nutshell, to animate means "to give life to". An animator's job is to take a static image or object and literally bring it to life by giving it movement and personality.

One type on the rise is the independent animator. They mostly use YouTube as their main platform, and make their living through advertising, sponsorships and merchandise. They surface all the time. The video game industry is massive, and there is a lot of work for animators in it. Commercial work will often be motion graphics rather than character animation, which requires knowledge in 'After effects and/or Cinema4D' if that is your path.

In computer animation, animators use software to draw, model and animate objects and characters in vast digital landscapes. There are two basic kinds of computer animation: Computer assisted and computer generated. While there are many forms of animation, these three are most prominent.

2D. Classical. Hand-drawn animation

The principles of drawing remain the same, but the technology has changed. While technical tools are making it easier and more accessible, some of the greatest animators still employ pencil and paper to draw their animation.

3D. Computer Graphics

The computer graphics allow the animator to create photo realistic images that classical animation cannot. Powerful animation software allows for in-betweens, lighting, building crowds, environments and more. Because of this, it has become the most common form of animation used in the industry today.

Stop-motion animation

This is the oldest form of animation, and one of the most interesting. This form involves taking individual photographs one frame at a time. It is most uncommon, because it is too time consuming, to create the objects and sets, and to take individual pictures for every frame.

Ultimately, animators create digital character models in a computer program and move them into different positions that are known as “keyframes”. Thereafter it is programmed to simulate to move between points. But in order to get the final product, there’s an entire “pipeline” - a line of different groups that each scene passes through. Each group handles a single different aspect of the scene.

That is the simple idea behind 'moving pictures', and technology has long been a part of the animator's tool-kit. It is this combination of art and technology, creativity and skill, that opens up the story world and gives form to the visions that drive the animated films we all love today. Until we meet again, fill your life with memories rather than regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game.

NB: Columnist welcomes feedback at deedee21bastian@gmail.com

ABOUT columnist: Deidre M. Bastian is a professionally-trained graphic designer/brand marketing analyst/author and certified life coach with qualifications of M.Sc., B.Sc., A.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as: Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of The Bahamas, Nova Southeastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.

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