Exploring Animation: The Four Key Types Explained

Animation is a brilliant tool for communicating and bringing ideas to life, and if you think it’s still only for cartoons, you’re missing out. It’s become an avenue for businesses to connect with their audience AND grab their attention, and it can be used in so many ways. There’s a variety of different animation styles, methods and uses, but knowing the 4 main types of animation is a great place to start.

1. Motion Graphics

Motion graphics is exactly as it sounds – graphic design in motion! It typically consists of a mix of typography and shapes bouncing around in fun and energetic ways. It is great at breathing life into what can sometimes be stale infographics and lots of information, it’s also what is used to animate logos. It’s ideal to be used on websites and pretty much any video can include motion graphics like the bit at the bottom of the news or the title sequence of your favourite show or film.

2. 2D animation

2D animation is what everyone typically thinks of when you say “Animation”. But what you might not realise is that Mickey Mouse is just one of an infinite amount of styles and methods. Sure he’s hand drawn (painstakingly frame by frame by frame) and that traditional style is still super popular. But you can animate in 2D using rotoscoping and vectors which is essentially digital cut outs – think South Park. But this type of animation can be awesome for explainer type videos when you need more in depth imagery to support your messaging.

3. 3D Animation / CGI

3D animation otherwise known as Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), is the most advanced animation techniques out there and is what you see in video games, VR, and anything Disney Pixar. Characters, environments, objects are all built and sculpted by an animator INSIDE their computer, textured and rendered to look life like. 3D is great for visualising things you physically cant see or that doesn’t actually exist. Whether it’s used in architecture to plan buildings or the inside of a complex machine, cars for example. It is great for displaying very complex ideas and is often referred to as Mechanical Animation. But yeah, it’s also great for Ratatouille.

4. Compositing

This is just a fancy term for mixing animation with live action or cleverly fiddling with footage. There are so many uses for compositing and can be used with every other animation style. Want your set extending so it looks like you’re in the middle of the Amazon but it was filmed in your local dog park? Sure. Want a dragon chasing your dog around your living room? Can do. Think green screens, motion capture, Jurassic park… But in its basic form it’s great for removing, altering and integrating things into your footage whatever it may be.

So whether you’re looking to enhance your brand, explain complex concepts, or simply entertain, animation offers endless possibilities to captivate and engage your audience and should not be slept on.


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