May 30, 2023

The History of Animation — Types of Animation Styles Explained [Shot List Ep. 14]

Published May 12, 2023, 2:08 p.m. by Arrik Motley

Animation technology has come a long way since its humble beginnings.

The first animations were created using a technique called rotoscoping, where animators would trace over live-action footage to create their own drawings. This was a labor-intensive process, but it resulted in some of the most iconic early animations, such as The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).

As technology progressed, new methods of animation were developed, such as cel animation (used for classics like Fantasia and Pinocchio) and stop-motion (used for films like King Kong and The Nightmare Before Christmas).

Today, the most common type of animation is computer-generated imagery (CGI), which is used for everything from feature films to television commercials. CGI has allowed animators to create images that are realistic enough to fool the eye, and it has opened up new possibilities for storytelling.

No matter what type of animation you’re interested in, there’s something out there for you. And with the help of studiobinder’s shot list episode 14, you’ll be able to learn everything you need to know about the different types of animation styles.

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in this episode we'll be examining


this is gonna be good

this is episode 14 of the shot list


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the know on all things filmmaking

let's begin

the word animation comes from the Latin

word animatio which means a bestowing of


animation is a type of filmmaking in

which a still object is captured in

multiple positions and these images are

projected in Rapid succession to create

the illusion of movement

this still object can be anything from a


a puppet

or a computer-generated image

just like the time


animation has been a part of filmmaking

from the very beginning

in many ways its roots predate


for centuries artists have been trying

to convince Their audience their

drawings are moving

with magic lanterns which arose in the

17th century artists could simulate

Movement by moving two slides in front

of each other

format tropes would use the rapid

movement of two pictures to create the

illusion of one cohesive image

with kineographs or flip books a viewer

could flip through drawings rapidly to

simulate one fluid movement

Edward mybridge pioneered the moving

image with his rapid photography system

called krona photography

his horse in motion is considered one of

the earliest Motion Pictures

and my bridge went on to make animations

of his photographs like this couple

dancing which was made on Athena

kistoscope a rotating disc with various


my bridge and others were employing what

is called Persistence of vision to

convince the audience their images were


the Persistence of vision refers to when

a person continues to see an object for

a moment after the light has entered the


this phenomena means that a succession

of images can be interpreted as one

fluid motion

all of these pre-cinema Revelations and

techniques meant that when film came

along animation was quick to follow

there are many forms of animation and

today we are going to cover some common

types starting with traditional


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traditional animation also known as cell

animation was the dominant type of

animation of the 20th century

in traditional animation animators Drew

each frame by hand onto translucent


J Stuart blackton's the enchanted

drawing from 1900 is regarded as the

first film with elements of hand-drawn


in 1908 Emile Cole took a massive step

forward with phantasma Gorey considered

the earliest animated film using

traditional animation methods Cole Drew

each frame by hand and captured them

with negative film inverting its colors

animation continued to evolve in the

1910s with more complicated imagery

animators were faced with a problem

they had to redraw entire frames

including the background over and over


creating inadvertent movement in the

background and wasting a lot of time

so in 1915 Earl Hurd and John Bray came

up with the cell animation process where

moving subjects would be drawn onto

transparent sheets and placed on a

static background

the result was more efficient and

effective animation

one of the most popular styles of early

animation was the rubber hose which

featured characters with bendy and

bouncy Limbs and which often used

looping reusing frames to create a

looped action

entrepreneurial animators of the 1910s

and 20s began to create Studios moving

away from the solo animator method to

churn out animation quickly

one of these animators was Walt Disney

Disney streamlined the animation process

borrowing techniques from various

Animation Studios to create an assembly

line production style that quickly

became the industry Norm

by the release of the first traditional

animation feature Disney's 1937 film

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Animation Studios had developed a

relatively consistent process

like with live action everything started

with a script

then artists would develop a detailed

storyboard for the entire film

voice recording would then begin and

sound Engineers would put together a

soundtrack that would be near finished

at Disney the next step is the creation

of an animatic when the pre-existing

storyboard is cut to the soundtrack

then artists would paint backgrounds and

key animators drew the most important

frames of characters movements in each


these frames are called keyframes

and assistant animator would then add

details and missing frames to the key

animator's work to smooth out movements

the animated elements would be handed

over to clean up animators who would

Trace all of the drawings onto new

sheets so that there would be

consistency from frame to frame

with the animated images complete the

ink and paint process would begin

the drawings will be transferred onto

the backside of transparent sheets of

plastic called cells

this is also where color would be added

the Sheets Were then placed on the

background paintings and would be

photographed using special animation

cameras also called Rostrum cameras

as Disney's animators owned their skills

a specific style emerged which would

become known as the 12 principles of

Animation a list codified by Disney

animators Ollie Johnston and Frank


the 12 principles are aimed at making

animation realistic and fluid such as

squash and stretch

follow through and overlapping action

and anticipation

these principles spread far beyond

Disney and became guiding rules for many

animators across the world

in the 1960s United Productions of

America or UPA took Disney's approach

and pushed animation towards more

abstract styles

which allowed for experimentation and

smaller budgets

animators continue to use the 12

principles to push boundaries today even

though the animation process itself is

much different

since Disney's Little Mermaid in 1989

traditional animation has shifted onto

computers for most of the industry

this is replaced the expensive inking

and coloring process as well as the

photography process

but depending on where you look the

foundations of traditional animation


the traditional animation style has

resulted in some of the most beloved

movies and characters of all time and

has many offshoots like the following



rotoscoping is one of the most crucial

Technologies in animation's evolution

the term refers to drawing over live

action footage frame by frame

before rotoscoping animation artists had

difficulty creating realistic movement

in their characters

animator Max Fleischer presented a

solution with a technique he quickly


he would project live action footage

onto a translucent easel and draw a

silhouette of the subject otherwise

called a mat


this allowed him to mimic realistic

movement while still being able to put

the subject in any context

he called the process rotoscoping and he

employed it throughout his

groundbreaking out of The Inkwell series

Fleischer went on to create famous

cartoons like Popeye Betty Boop

and would use rotoscoping to create

complex dance sequences

ever the adapter Walt Disney quickly

brought the tool to his Studio


rotoscoping continued to be used

throughout the 20th century

the technique was employed in Star Wars

to create lightsabers

the tool is still used today albeit with

the help of a computer on films like

Richard linklater's A Scanner Darkly

link later and his team use a program

called Roto shop which vectorized the

drawings and interpolated in between


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rotoscoping can also be seen as a

precursor to motion tracking which uses

its same principles but with more

control afforded by new technology

therefore rotoscoping has made an

indelible mark on filmmaking in

animation and Beyond


Japan is another animation Powerhouse

which leads us to our next topic


anime simply refers to any type of

Animation coming out of Japan so there

is a wide variety of material which fits

under the term

but there are several qualities that

recur in a majority of anime which

differentiates itself from U.S animation

the most significant difference between

anime and US animation is that anime

emphasizes detailed visuals

while the US and Disney in particular

focuses often more so on movement

most traditional animation in America is

animated on ones or twos meaning that

there is a new image every one or two

frames accordingly

in anime movement is on threes with a

new image every three frames

in both cases this can vary but less

drawings allow for more detail in each


the 1988 anime film Akira for example

boasted background detail and glowing

lights that were groundbreaking for the


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famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki

often will animate on ones


and threes depending on the detail and

importance of the action in a scene

as Miyazaki producer irukatsu kihara


before CGI Studio Ghibli films contained

eight cells and 24 frames per second but

those cells are not always distributed


put simply hold a single cell for a

number of frames and use the remaining

seven cells to glide through a specific


anime often has a slightly altered

production process than traditional

animation in the US

the voice recording process typically

happens after the animation is produced



usually the camera in anime is more

active than in the US

with pans

Dutch tilts and zooms creating motion

outside of its character animations

anime's distinctive style has had a

wide-ranging influence and is often

credited with being on the Forefront of

creating animation with adult themes

growing the audience for animation


not all animation however is rooted in


there is also stop motion

stop motion refers to animating any

object by taking pictures of them in

slightly altered positions

including puppet work

and claymation

stop motion has its roots in the very

earliest days of Cinema

when filmmakers like George melier were

trying to find new ways to shock Their

audience Melia and others discovered

that they could make inanimate objects

move by using stop motion and started to

employ the technique in their

live-action settings

as stop-motion evolved it remained

intertwined with live action used to

create a variety of special effects

in 1925's a lost world entire scenes of

dinosaurs would use stop-motion


eventually stop-motion films independent

of live action began to proliferate

resulting in iconic films which are

still beloved to this day

in the 1970s animator Will Vinton coined

the term claymation for stop-motion work

that employed plasticine clay or other

malleable substances which allows for

characters to be more freely shaped

the process is laborious and expensive

and so a claymation feature didn't

appear until vinton's the Adventures of

Mark Twain in 1985.

today stop motion continues to be seen

in work from directors like Henry


Tim Burton

and Wes Anderson

puppets are generally made with pliable

and metal skeletons underneath silicon


it is now done with the assistance of

computers which can erase elements that

are holding characters in place and

smooth out movement

stop motion remains a tool which is

still going strong today

its aesthetic is instantly recognizable

and sometimes even replicated in films

which aren't in fact stop-motion

let's look at a style that uses

stop-motions approach

cut out animation

cutout is one of the earliest forms of


the technique refers to two-dimensional

stop-motion capturing objects like paper

or Fabric and adjusting them from frame

to frame in order to create the illusion

of movement

because the subjects in cut out

animation are reusable from shot to shot

the technique proved to be cheaper and

less time intensive than traditional


Argentinian artist kierina christiani

pioneered cutout techniques and made the

feature El apostol in 1917 but the film

unfortunately was destroyed

but the earlier surviving animated

feature also used the cutout Style

in 1926 lot reiniger created The

Adventures of Prince Ahmed

she borrowed practices from Shadow play

a pre-film form of entertainment where

puppets would be moved around in front

of a light

cut out waned in popularity as cell

animation became dominant but the

technique still found life in smaller

budget formats

Terry Gilliam for example used cutouts

in much of Monty Python's work


one of the most popular animated

television programs initially used the

cutout technique


I sure am hungry how can you eat when

you're farting fire shut up dude you're

being totally immature

you see this was the pilot episode done

before we had a series so Matt and I had

to do the whole thing by ourselves for

several months we were locked into a

cold dark little room for long periods

of time

today South Park has kept its cut out

style but it's all computer generated

using the program Maya

while cut out animation may seem like a

dated style its techniques are crucial

to much of the computer animated 2D

projects we see today

using software like Adobe animate after

effects or tomb boom Harmony computer

animators will create individual

elements within parts of characters and

move them just as lot reiniger would

have by hand

this technique is called puppet


just like in the 1920s this method saves

time since animators don't need to

redraw characters from frame to frame

the cutout animation style is linked to

our next technique

3D computer animation

while traditional cell animation was the

dominant technique of the 20th century

3D computer animation is the dominant

form of Animation today

the practice refers to any animation

which is created digitally and which has

a sense of depth that is not usually

achieved by traditional animation

scientists began developing computer

animation technology as early as the


in 1972 Edwin catmore and Fred Park

developed a computer animated hand and

face at the University of Utah

just like with stop-motion computer

animation first started as a way to

create special effects in live-action


the 1982 film Tron Everly relied on

computer animation to create its virtual

world ready


technology had finally Advanced enough

to create entirely computer-generated


VeggieTales which premiered in 1993

became the first TV show completely made

of 3D computer animation

in 1995 Pixar released Toy Story the

first feature with 3D computer animation

and changed the industry forever

through Infinity

creation of 3D computer animation varies

by Studio

usually the animation team begins with

modeling where the characters shape and

size is sculpted on geometric planes

then an animator will create a skeletal

version of a character

this skeleton contains avars points

which can be moved from frame to frame

later then moves the avars into their

desired positions for each keyframe in a

process ingeniously called keyframing

and the computer does the tweening

animating the in-between frames

do these words sound familiar

that's because it's a similar process to

traditional animation just this time the

computer has automated some of the roles

some 3D animation objects will use

motion capture to make movement more

realistic hardening back to Fleischer

and his rotoscoping

since Toy Story's release 3D computer

animation has advanced rapidly

in 1995 Woody had 700 controls

Joe Gardner in Seoul has 1266

due to advances in textures and hair

movement some animation today can be

nearly indistinguishable from live



animation is a testament to


for over a century animators have been

pushing their medium forward inventing

new technologies and combining Styles

creating Unforgettable movies along the


and no matter the form of Animation

storyboards are almost always present

don't get lost at your keyframes and

click the link below to use Studio

binders storyboard software

some of your favorite animated films let

us know in the comments

until next time keep moving one frame at

a time just keep swimming just keep

swimming just keep swimming swimming

swimming what do we do we swim swim



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