The Amazing Evolution of Animation and it’s Importance in Modern Society

Hello! Welcome to my Senior Seminar Animation Capstone research web site, here I will be talking about animation and its modern applications, as well as exploring it’s origins and the gradual evolution of the medium. Animation is an art form to be treated as though on the same level as other artistic categories such as Film and Paintings in terms of creativity, and in fact is a combination of the two. Animation follows many the same principles and contains similar characteristics of film; however, it provides an easier means of creative expression in terms of an attached cost of production that a film may have. Animation can be considered the 8th art in the sense that it does much of the same work that film, the so-called “7th art” does, however, without the same restrictions that film possesses, and often is reflective of a unique style of the creator.

The impact and influence of the animation industry as well as its principles and techniques pertaining to character portrayal and story conveyance today permeates every facet of our daily lives, at times in ways that many people least suspect. Sharing its artistic incentive with the world of comic books as well as film, the world of animation has always been an important staple in a consumerist culture that supports itself with visual advertising and media. The industry’s contributions towards the art of telling complex stories and narratives through gestures and different perspectives from its early days until now, shows the link that animation has with film, comic books, and also in the present; video games. This research project delves into the importance of animation and its cross-medium contributions to many of the things that are now taken for granted.

Animation has always occupied a special space in the hearts and minds of those that have consumed the media by making it possible to bring to life what would otherwise be impossible. It is because of the spectacle of seeing what otherwise wouldn’t be possible that makes animation so magical, and the almost magical effects that can be achieved through animation has captivated the minds of many throughout history and its many different forms. Animation’s development went hand in hand with the development of the movie or motion picture which captured real-life, and this interdependence is displayed through the development of shared technology that both mediums utilize.

Animation, since its inception has been a work regarded with a sense of awe and spectacle. There has always been something magical about bringing the things which one imagines to life on a screen. Animation in the modern age has taken on a wide variety of forms and styles, with the genre exploding in the late 1990’s with the advent of digital animation and computer programs such as Adobe’s Flash and Photoshop. Animation surprisingly enough began as a simple concept; a bunch of slightly different images can be arranged in a sequence to produce the illusion of motion. However, the animation which people are so familiar with today took centuries of technological development to finally come into its more recognizable form. The contributions towards the genre over the past 100 years or so have propelled animation from being a mere sideshow, to an internationally significant cultural medium.

Animation has had various uses over the past, as it reached various nations with many different cultural practices and societies. All of these influences are typically portrayed through animation, and the medium has found use for promoting propaganda, rallying support for political causes, advertising, and also largely as entertainment features for public consumers. Animation has its applications in many different fields and has been utilized in order to “spice up” dull web sites and videos which people would ordinarily not pay attention to and bring to life/portray concepts which cannot be witnessed through realistic means (i.e. animations helping to portray microscopic or invisible activity for a science documentary).

The Millennium Era and Effects of the Recession (2000-present)

The CGI software industry blossomed around the year 2000; the amount of available 3-D animators exploded, and caused a vast shift in how animation was done. Programs such as Adobe Flash as well as Autodesk’s Maya (both of which are prevalent animation tools used today) became dominant more efficient tools to contribute towards the creativity of future animations. The computer and the digital era helped both 3-D and 2-D animators by providing them with more efficient tools not only in the form of the Flash and Maya programs, but also in the forms of Adobe’s Photoshop, Dragonframe, Adobe Premiere and open source programs such as Blender also would not only give animators far greater creative control, and allow for online creative animation communities to form. In short, the 2000s placed the power of animation in the hands of anyone with the time, a computer, an interest in animation and an internet connection. My own hand-made animations below were created with a computer, Dragonframe, a Camera, a stack of paper, a few wires and lights. What these programs also accomplished was placing the once difficult to attain magic of the animation industry in the hands of anyone with an interest. Sites such as Newgrounds.com became a haven for animators interested in showcasing their digital flash animations to the world.

My own animation projects from my Intro to Animation course, which were painstakingly shot in Dragonframe.

The world of film would also go on to revolutionize how CGI models were crafted, especially in The Matrix: Revolutions, which saw the usage of full environment CGI which was used in order to create highly convincing and detailed digital copies of characters onscreen like the hordes of Agent Smith clones which Neo is forced to face. This digital human replication was used in order to produce effects that would have been otherwise impossible with actual human actors, such as Agent Smith getting his cheekbone punched in by Neo in a slow motion close-up, showing his fist leaving an imprint. Digital effects such as this and the desire to replicate reality in a hyperrealist digital form would spawn a similar hyperrealist craze in the video game industry, as Microsoft and Sony’s gaming departments seek to prove their system’s graphics superior by using the real world for reference. This new turn to hyperrealism in theatrical and video game animation has been criticized with threatening the imaginative aspect of both industries by having companies produce games and movies seeking to merely imitate reality instead of creating something of their own which does not exist within reality.

Hyperrealistic Video Games

Despite the many problems, improvements and failures of the animation industry, Animation still now plays an even larger role in our culture thanks to these technological advancements. The websites that many of use use now use Flash animations and animated effects to grab our attention with advertisements and videos, digital animation, fandom and art communities online (i.e. DeviantArt, Newgrounds Youtube) dedicated to the practice have sprung up and blossomed showing just how influential animation has been in the minds of creators and viewers. Animation is an integral part of society, and it’s seemingly magical hold on the human mind will forever captivate and excite the imagination with new possibilities.

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