The Present and Future of Animation

Animation is an incredibly versatile medium that is widely used in many different forms today. Companies such as Disney have had enormous success producing animated children’s films for many years, and animated characters such as The Simpsons and The Flintstones have long been familiar visitors to our television screens. However animation is also a highly effective tool in marketing, advertising and even education, thanks to its unique ability to communicate messages in a highly memorable way.

Where is Animation Used Today?

Animated films are big business. Some of the top grossing films of all time are animated, including ‘Frozen’ and ‘Toy Story 3’. The top grossing film to date, ‘Avatar’, shows how far technology has come in terms of creating realistic fantasy environments and creatures that interact successfully with real actors.

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Animation in Business

Animation also plays an important role in modern business. It is frequently used in advertising to grab the attention of the audience. It is a useful tool for keeping the audience engaged and for communicating information quickly and effectively. Businesses can also create a good relationship with their audience and customers by using likeable characters.

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Animation in Children's Education

Animation is often used in education as a highly effective tool, especially for younger age groups. Animation can teach young children how to communicate with one another and how to build bridges between each other. By teaching children how to animate characters themselves, we can help children to express themselves creatively.

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Animation in Adult's Education

Animation can also be used to teach adults about essential subjects such as how to look after someone with a disability or how to perform CPR.

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Recent Animated Film Phenomena

Animation has had a major growth spurt in recent years due to the popularity of films such as ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Avatar’. Most recently Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Pixar do not use a publicly available form of animation software, but have in fact developed their own in-house software. ‘Avatar’, however, released in 2009, was created using multiple pieces of widely available software, such as Autodesk Maya, Avid, and Adobe After Effects.

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Animé

There are other forms of animation as well of course, such as animé, which is Japanese hand-drawn or computer animation. The main focus is on creating three-dimensional views shot in a cinematic style. Good examples would be the famous ‘Spirited Away’ which was created on Toonz and is the highest-grossing film in Japanese history.

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The Future of Animation

The future of animation looks to be on an interesting journey as the quality of films is becoming higher and higher. Most people would now aim for a 4k film, however to achieve this quality in animation would take twice as long to create. Most animated films are currently 2k and are made as 24 fps (frames per second), however to create a 4k film you would need at least 48fps or more.

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Mixing Media

A technique that Disney have been experimenting with for a few years is mixing CGI and traditional 2D animation. The idea is to create an animated film using CGI and then to draw over each frame to give it a hand drawn quality. A good example would be Pixar’s recently released ‘Piper’, an animated short shown alongside ‘Finding Dory’.

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Animation Apps

Disney are also exploring alternative ways of making their characters appear more real. The Disney Colour & Play app allows you to colour in a character and the app will pick up its texture, shape and position, to produce a 3D animated character.

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Computer Game Animation

The computer gaming industry is also pushing the boundaries of what is possible with animation, leading to the creation of some extremely realistic game footage. Computer game animation has certainly come a long way from the 2D graphics of early arcade games. Now computer game animators are able to build environments and objects that react to the player’s actions, for example buildings being destroyed by explosions. Real-time interaction with light sources and shadows is also a relatively new feature. The greatest challenge has always been producing realistic humans. The closer that computer game animators get to recreating the look, movements, facial expressions and body language of a human, the more likely that character is to suffer from what is widely known as ‘Uncanny Valley’ – i.e. there is some human element missing from that character that makes them disturbing.

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Photorealism in games

The challenge for computer game animation is that everything happens in real-time, whereas film animators can spend hours, or even months, perfecting every frame. Photorealism in real-time rendering is something that may well be possible in years to come.

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Conclusion

Animation looks set to continue delighting audiences for many years to come. With animated films continuing to rise up the blockbuster charts, capturing hearts and imaginations, there is no sign of this genre coming to an end. Technological advances promise to unlock new doors into the realms of possibility, with increasing photo-realism providing ever-more lifelike characters and environments. Why not put the power of animation to win over new audiences to the test in your next marketing campaign? Get in touch to find out how.

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