The Dictionary of Animation: Key Terms You Need to Know

The field of animation isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. There is a lot of hard work involved, beyond thinking of and designing characters, their movements and their stories.

It involves various techniques, but before you get overwhelmed, let’s just broadly classify it under:

Traditional Animation
The traditional method in which each frame was hand drawn. The legendary old Tom & Jerry classics are a good example of this. But this now been almost completely replaced with computer animation. The old Disney cartoons of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are also good examples of traditional animation.

Stop Motion Animation
This is another complex animation technique where real objects (clay figures) are used. These figures are moved bit by bit and photographed after each movement. When the images are played continuously, the figures appear to be moving. This technique is very rarely used now. Films which have used this kind of animation are King Kong (1933) and Clash of the Titans (1981).

Computer Animation
This can further categorized into 2D and 3D.  In 2D, there are only two dimensions (x & y), while 3D has the additional z dimension as well. You’ve probably noticed a striking difference when watching a TV show like Tom & Jerry or Chhota Bheem and movies like Transformers or Kung Fu Panda. That’s because these TV shows are 2D and the movies are 3D animation.

In 3D animation, once the objects have been created, you can turn them at any angle and view them, thanks to enhanced computer drawing technology. But in 2D, if you need to view the object from a different angle you will need to make a new drawing altogether.

Here are a few other terms you need to know:

This is a small video sequence, usually with a duration of 45-90 seconds. Used in this context, it means a collection of the work you have done, which you have put together to demonstrate your talent. Your show-reel needs to display your best work. It could include short films, clips and presentations. It is very important to be prepared with one when you apply for a job because that’s the key to impressing the recruiters.

This is a process where an organisation gets some work done from an external service provider, instead of doing it in-house. Both parties enter into an agreement regarding contract terms and payments until the work is completed.

Tell us about other terms you know, or ask us any questions you may have. Comment away.


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