a brief history of animation

Animation is the art by which two-dimensional drawings or inanimate objects are turned into moving visual representations of three-dimensional (3-D) life. Computer animation uses computer hardware and software to make the animation process easier, faster, and executable by less skilled and fewer creators.

As Thomas J. Froehlich said — Animation can be described as the creation of the illusion of motion through a rapid sequence of still images. Although the quality of the original images is important, equally important is the quality of the sequence through which action, character, and story development are portrayed. There must be a coherent pattern to the action. A common story structure introduces characters, a source of conflict, the development of this conflict, a climax, and finally a resolution. But an animated story can also be more fluid, including the creation of forms or simple images, some interaction of them, and then a transformation or transmutation , such as a smiley face turning into a frown or dissolving into the background

Many types of animation exist but there is no common classification scheme to describe them. The Encyclopedia of Animation Techniques (1996) lists drawn animation and model animation, but there are also cutout animation, 3-D animation, virtual reality (VR) animation, and animatronics , to name a few other types. The hand-drawn or cel animation, mentioned earlier, is the most common traditional technique. Hundreds of examples of hand-drawn animation were generated by Walt Disney (1901–1966) and his studios, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi. Hand-drawn animation in pencil form and cels is no longer used much today. Drawings are made with computer software, and foregrounds and backgrounds are now generated through the use of digital files. Today we can tell that cartoons production is entirely 3D making.

The animation industry has definitely changed — e.g. Just to give you an impression: I started modelling and animating either characters and objects back in 2000...and the conversion was almost done, as the Newtek company launched the biggest 3D tool builder at that time (I started off with Lightwave 5.6).


As a matter of fact, major growth in animation productions started in the 1960s prompted by the growth of mass media, particularly with visual effects in films (e.g., Mary Poppins ) and animated cartoon series on television (e.g., The Flintstones ). In the 1970s, the growth of computer animation was facilitated by the invention of minicomputers, particularly by Digital Equipment Corporation's PDP and VAX computers. Because of cost and complexity, computer-assisted animation was still the domain of commercial companies.

While personal computers (PCs), such as the Macintosh and the IBM-PC, were introduced in the mid-1980s, it was only in the 1990s that their power and available software were adequate for personal computer animation authorship. The diversity of developments and inventions and increasing use of technologies for computer animation are presented in a timeline (1960–1999) in Isaac Victor Kerlow's The Art of 3-D Computer Animation and Imaging (2000)

First movie ever made enterily in 3d production back in the mid 90s

Not to mention that several software formats have been used for producing animation on the Internet. One of the first was Netscape Navigator 2's GIF89, which allowed a user to animate GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) images. It was not intended as a medium for full animation, however. Partly as a response to this, dHMTL (dynamic Hypertext Markup Language) was born. Dynamic HTML is a hybrid of JavaScript, HTML, and cascading stylesheets, but the disparity between Internet Explorer and Navigator platforms made it difficult to use. — Kepher, based on my Thesis at Academy of Fine Arts offers plenty of insight into digital graphics history and particularly into web animation.

When CD-ROMs (Compact Disk-Read Only Memory) became common, Macromedia distinguished itself with Director, a multimedia authoring system. I claim myself to be among the last guys coding and animating with this tremendous old school tool like dvd menus and videogame— e.g. check som of my offline projects. In 1995 the company released the Shockwave Internet browser plug-in for Director, which allowed users to see online content created by Director. Macromedia later produced a plug-in designed specifically for web browsers, called Flash, which it continues to improve and support. However, realizing the value of dHTML, Macromedia created another product, called Dreamweaver, which avoids many browser platform disparities, by producing a dHTML page as an HTML page. Unfortunately, the standard HTML page was not conceived as a medium for animation, and its performance is not as great as plug-in formats, such as Flash, Director, or Quicktime, although the standards may evolve. On the other side, another tool was emerging, After Effects developed by another big company Adobe (Macromedia didn't make it). A less conventional choice for character animation, but I actually found it incredible for it (it can do rigging, lip sync and use cameras to create a sense of depth) and anything else including animation — e.g. Although I must admit I had fun using these tools on projects like tokidoki


What now? Animation has landed on app development as well. It's taking over iOS and Android platforms. Also we must remember the huge contribution made by Windows operating system after 2008, when they introduced Windows Mobile 7.

In fact, the appearance of Windows Phone must be underlined as well, as it gave a big lesson concerning user interactions based on Hollywood Special Fxs. Now we can tell Android is leading the app animation world with its great concepts on material design. Take a look at the "behind the scenes" at building Google’s visual framework. Worthful reading about their guidelines on material motion as well.

And what about ux designers? How do they express these animated concepts into their creations? yes indeed, as design industry changes, designers must adopt new techniques and skills. Paul Stamatiou, designer for Twitter, claimed that designers should provide meaning with motion.

However, the real news from Google I/O wasn't about Android or Material Design itself. It was Google's implicit announcement that motion design is now a huge, required component for creating great software for mobile, desktop and wearable devices. Motion was mentioned in every design session at I/O. This coming from what has historically been a developer-focused event. Few years ago, the ux design community was dreaming of “The right tool for the job.” The gist of it was using a suite of tools during your design process to effectively communicate the entirety of your intended design. It was going to be about showing animations and transitions with tools like After Effects, Quartz Composer and building HTML/CSS/JS prototypes to interact with on your mobile device. There we go, 'til we got to this: No matter what your background, we’ve designed Framer to be a fun and rewarding tool as declared by framer team. Framer, just another tool arised few years ago according to the needs of its historical period.

Once again, as I always did with other past tools i mentioned above. I could face myself this experience as well. I tried it. I played with it. I liked it. Check out my spinning ring tutorial on developing a coffeescript animation with Framer.