How Does Computer Animation Work

Wondering how does computer animation work? Computer animation can be seen across the Internet, in television and in the movies. It is responsible for bringing some of the most unforgettable characters to life in ways that simply weren't possible in years past. Do you remember how awesome it was to see the T-1000 shift shape into a liquid mass and walk through metal bars in pursuit of Sarah Connor? "Terminator 2" was one of the first movies to make extensive use of computer graphic animation, setting a trend for big-budget blockbusters to come. To understand how computer animation made liquid metal look so cool, it is best to compare computer animation with traditional animation.

Traditional animation relies on frames.
Traditional animation is created by breaking down the action of a scene into a series of pictures known as frames. The frames are shown at a rate of 30 per second, which gives the appearance of motion to the human eye. Cartoons such as "The Simpsons" use traditional animation. A scene of Homer eating a doughnut is first broken down into the important parts, such as grabbing the pastry and then chewing. These are known as key frames. But, in order for the scene to look fluid, hundreds of frames need to be created in between to show Homer's arm rising to his mouth. These frames need to be painstakingly drawn out by hand.

Computer animation turns to tweening.
Computer animation uses a process known as tweening, which looks to cut down on the work of drawing hundreds of frames. A computer animator illustrates the key frames and uploads them into a program. The program's job is to fill in the in-between frames in a logical way known as interpolation. The program uses advanced algorithms to calculate how the object should look when it moves. Though the computer replaces the need to draw out every single frame, the results of interpolation aren't always what the animator wants it to be. It is a delicate process that takes some time to master.

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