The Insiders guide to the history of 3D Animation
For years, the growth of technology has pushed animation development to newer levels. From the early years of the flipbook to the recent creations of graphic animation technology sure has helped animation move from two to three dimensional.
The recent technology that facilitates this growth includes digital pens, tablets and digital sculpting tools. High end 3D animation software also is responsible for enabling modeling, rendering, animation and lighting. You can also create custom software to add something a little extra to you final product.
Signs of modern animation techniques can be seen in video games, movies or television. You would think animation didn’t exist before the invention of computers and you couldn’t be far from the truth. Before computers animators used hand drawings to create their animated characters. This resulted in the tedious task of keeping track of each and every drawing that made up a sequence.
With the introduction of computers and graphic processing hardware the process of animation has changed considerably. Computers didn’t really make the length of time required to make an animated movie any less. The quality of the output, however, has improved as a result of computers and technology.
During the 1980s the advent of new technology was used more widely which in turn allowed the animation industry to evolve and change their ways from the old ways of creating animation. The way robots are used in manufacturing, new technology meant that machines would do most of the work in the world of animation as well. When the computer was widely popular, people were afraid that computers will take over their livelihood.
Thanks to the short film Technological Threat produced by Brian Jennings and Bill Kroyer the fear of losing jobs was reduced. The film clearly illustrated that computer animation was integrating the traditional way of making animation with technology. The film explained how there is place for both in the world. In fact, these days a combination of both computer animation and traditional animation is required at most times.
Computer animation was never meant to nor will ever replace traditional hand drawn characters. Computers are simply viewed as another tool in the animator’s toolkit. Just because one owns a drill, it does not make a screwdriver obsolete! Both the methods play an important role and come with their own sets of pros and cons. At the end of the day, a tool is only as good as the person using it. The same goes for computer animation. To realize technology’s full potential, it’s important that the animator’s natural creativity and skill comes through and on to the technological platform.
Even today, traditional animation receives both nominations and awards. A great example of this is the movie The Princess & The Frog which has been nominated for “Best Animated Feature Film” at the Golden Globes. Other examples include the all-time epic Beauty and the Beast, French animated film Triplets of Belleville and Paperman which recently received an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Traditional animations aren’t just contained in the space of movies and big screens. Hit prime time cartoon show The Simpsons being a very well-known and loved example.
Yet, with all the praise that traditional animation gets, computer animations are equally important. It is creating a virtual 3D space for animation processes and together with the animator’s talent, producing results previously not possible. The Tiger in the Life Of Pi by Ang Lee is the best example. It was due to technology that such a life like animation was made possible.
As animators and animation studios keep combining latest technology with natural creativity, they push the bar even higher. This is what keeps the audience glued to their chairs and most importantly this is what makes them come back for more!