The Five Types Of Animation


When you see an animated feature, TV show, or even commercial on the screen you don’t think about what type of animation it is…unless you’re in the business of video production.

For those in the ‘know’ animation is a complex genre that’s creative, fun, and interesting. It breaks barriers with ease, creates realities with the swipe of a pen (or stylus), and lets imaginations run wild.

The amount of creativity you can put into an animated video production project almost knows no bounds. But, what type of animation do you want to create?

1) Cel Animation

Also called ‘traditional animation’,

this format created some of the most well-known classic cartoons of all time. Think of Snow White or Cinderella. The last Disney movie made entirely with cel animation was Oliver and Company, which came out in 1988. The use of this animation style went out of vogue completely by the turn of the century. Today, you won’t see cel animation used in any commercial project.

The process itself involved animators drawing and coloring every frame by hand to create the final product. Individual cels got put on top of each other on a light table so the artist could see the previous drawing as they created the next one for fluid movement in the finished product.

2) 2D Animation

Two-dimensional animation is all done using vectors

It looks like the animation that runs in Flash, and is very accessible. You can edit by frame, but also create rigs which move specific body parts, one at a time, so you’re not constantly redrawing. If you have the creativity, but not necessarily the artistic skills, 2D animation may be the right format for you.

A few movies to check out that utilize this particular form of animation include Spirited Away, All Dogs Go To Heaven, and Antz.

3) 3D Animation

Three-dimensional animation happens thanks to computers.

You could even call this form of animation computer animation instead. It’s the most commonly used format, and creates all its movement through pre-written programs rather than single-frame drawings. A 3D animator creates keyframes or specific movements for each character or scene, but the computer fills in the gaps so you don’t have to draw them.

Perhaps the biggest movie made with 3D animation is Avatar. Its scale is huge, not to mention its running time. Other heavy hitters using this animation style include How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3.

4) Motion Graphics

It’s a style of animation, but not one that creates entire feature films.

Motion graphics focus solely on specific graphic elements, shapes, and text. You’ll see this format more in promos, corporate videos, and marketing materials. The movement in motion graphics is less about how a body moves or how facial expressions work, and more about entire elements flying across the screen or morphing into each other.

For solid motion graphic animation in film, you need to look more at the opening credits of non-animated movies. Think of the James Bond openers or almost any of the Marvel movies.

5) Stop Motion

With such a distinct style, it’s often not hard to recognize movies that incorporate stop motion animation.

Think of the look of films like Kubo And The Two Strings, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or Wallace & Gromit.

You may categorize this animation style as more old school because of the amount of leg work necessary to use stop motion. Like cel animation, stop motion takes an image and moves it slightly, snapping a picture of each position to create an entire scene or series of movements. Think of how you’d create a flip book. Rather than drawing each piece of the movement like cel animation, stop motion physically moves the object each time.

ECG can ‘wow’ you no matter the animation style

With a talented and experienced animation team, ECG Productions can work with you no matter the animation style. From motion graphics to 3D shows, stop motion to kinetic text, and everything in between, taking your vision and translating it into an animated format is one of the things we do best.

Have an idea for an animation, but not sure where to go next? Contact ECG to get the conversation started for your next animation project!

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