The movie studio, in collaboration with the film’s director and producer, decides which animation technique will be used in a movie. The type of animation to be used depends on what works best in telling the story and the treatment the director envisions for it.
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Traditional animation requires an artist to draw each image that when strung together, progressively moves according to the character’s action. Each drawing in every specific action slightly differs from the other drawings depending on the movement the animation subject makes. This makes the illusion of movement when the images are played sequentially. Because traditional animation is a long and arduous process, it is common to see loops of action. This allows animators to make fewer drawings, but repeat them in sequences to show such actions as walking or flying. Classic examples of movies using traditional animation are 1940s version of Pinocchio and The Lion King.
Stop-motion animation requires the shooting of physically manipulated still objects to appear as moving objects. Some use dolls, props or clay (more aptly called Claymation) to sequentially move an object in between individually shot frames. Depending on the preference of the director, stop-motion animation may also require either traditional or computer animation to supplement the movie’s other visual requirements such as the backgrounds, sets, and props. Examples of stop-motion animation projects include the movies Corpse Bride and Fantastic Mr. Fox and the TV series California Raisins.
Computer animation uses computer software to digitally produce moving images. 2D animation is a cost-effective type of computer animation that separates each moving layer found in a character’s or object’s body, then the animator uses the tween (process of generating middle frames when only the first and last frames of a visual element are created) command of the animation software to let each element move. Using a 2D space, these layers are combined together by the last part of the animation process so that the viewers can see all the elements in the animation moving accordingly. Examples of 2D animation projects include the movie Waltz with Bashir and the TV series Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.
3D animation uses lines, lighting, shadowing, shading, and camera movements to put more realistic visual depth and perspective to an animation. A 3D animation movie can be watched in stereoscopic 3D (IMAX and RealD 3D) when employing the process called stereoscopy. This separates two copies of the movie shown on screen at the same time, one for the left eye and another for the right eye, then it is seen with more realistic depth by wearing 3D glasses. There is no much difference between 3D movies shown in regular theaters and those shown in stereoscopic 3D in IMAX and RealD 3D theaters, except for that added depth. Technically, they both use the process of 3D computer animation. Examples of 3D movies include Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever After.