Animation Software: Definition, Examples & Types

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  • 0:02 What Is Animation?
  • 1:09 What Is Animation Software?
  • 1:36 Types of Animation Software
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

Companies like Walt Disney Productions have left the world with an amazing form of entertainment: animation. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the types of animation software and some examples.

What Is Animation?

Animation is extremely popular these days. And why not? Movies like Trolls, Frozen, Kung Fu Panda, and Finding Nemo have captured the hearts and minds of people around the world and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. These movies take us to distant lands, fill us with wonder at imaginary creatures, and delight us with fanciful physics.

Animation is the illusion of motion, created through a series of still drawings, poses, or images. They're captured, strung together in a sequence, and viewed rapidly, one after another. For example, the Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a series of hand drawings strung together to create the illusion of motion.

In the The Empire Strikes Back, in the scene on the planet Hoth where the Walkers attack the rebels, you see an example of stop-motion created with a series of poses. More recent movies, like Frozen, were created with a series of computer-generated images. Fundamentally, the processes are all the same. But over the years the technologies used to capture the images and display them has changed.

What Is Animation Software?

Animation software allows for the creation of motion on a frame-by-frame basis. Each frame is the equivalent of a single drawing, or image. The frames are often created within the software, although most animation software allows frames to be brought in from external sources.

From there, the frames are strung together and can be viewed back seamlessly in movie format. Once everything is complete, the resulting frames are transferred to a hard drive, or tape, rather than film.

Types of Animation Software

There are two basic types of animation software. The first is 2-dimensional, or 2D, which represents everything in a cell as having only a width and a height. In other words, everything is flat. This type of animation also has little in the way of shadows, shading, and perspective. Some examples of this type of animation software can be seen in the The Simpsons and The Lion King.

The second type of animation is 3-dimensional, or 3D. This represents everything in a cell as having width, height, and depth. In other words, it tries to mimic real life. 3D animation also has shadows, shading, and perspective. This type of animation software can be seen in Finding Dory and The Lego Movie. Kung Fu Panda starts out with a 2D dream scene and then moves to 3D.

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