Animation and the Advantages of Scripted Animation

What is animation…A brief description of animation can be one or more of the following:

  • To impart motion or activity to.
  • To give life to; fill with life.
  • To fill with spirit, courage, or resolution; encourage.
  • To impart motion or activity to.
  • To inspire or activity to.

Animation basically means motion of some sort. Motion would be the change of someone or somethings position over time. Theoretically, it is also the space between those points but that is another discussion all together. What one should know is that an object doesn’t necessarily need to change is location in order to be considered animated. It could just be changing its shape. What you should remember is that the connection of animation to time is an important. Without any motion or change, there is no animation and of course no sense of time.

TYPES OF ANIMATION:

  1. Frames and Motion: Virtually all visual animation media uses frames, which is a series of still images shown very rapidly to simulate motion or change. Anything you see on a computer, television, or movie screen is based on frames. Making frame by frame animations in Flash at a frame rate of 24 fps(frames per second) will keep people happy as they will accept those frames as a single movie. Anything slower than that rate and your animation would get choppy or jumpy breaking the illusion of the movie.
  2. Frames and Records: The whole concept of frames makes three things possible: storage, transmission and display. You cannot really store, transmit and display a man walking across a room, but you can store a picture or many pictures, store, transmit and then eventually display them almost anywhere.
  3. Programmed Frames: Using a computer helps you calculatig things on the fly, so you dont really need a long list of descriptions for your frames. You may cut it down to a description of the first frame and some rules on how to build the subsequent frames. So the computer is not merely creating an image from a description, its creating the description first, then creating the image based on the description, and finally displaying the image.

ADVANTAGES OF PROGRAMMED OR SCRIPTED ANIMATION:

  • Scripted animation file size is much smaller than the other two types of animation discussed above. Imagine having 30 images to a movie on 30 frames of the timeline? Your file size would be very high.
  • Most coded animations become dynamic. If you watch a move on a dvd, vcr or cd player you will see the same animation repeatedly. With a coded animation i could using that very code to make it dynamic by determining a random point to place it with random direction and speed to move it. Hence the animation will appear differently on the screen or T.V. or any other medium I had used.

ANIMATING WITH CODE:

Almost all coded animation is contained within some sort of loop. If you consider frame by frame animation and visualize it into a flowchart you will end up with something like this.

frame_animation.jpg

If you get into shapes or symbols then it would be a different story. Flash does not create and store a new bitmap image for each frame, even in a frame by frame animation movie. For each frame Flash stores the position, size, color and so on of an object on the stage. The flowchart for this sort of animation would be as follows:

render_animation1.jpg

Finally if you consider dynamic or coded animation the flowchart would look something like this:

scripted_animation.jpg

In the last flowchart (Scripted Animation) there is no concept of frame 1, 2 etc, etc. Actionscripted animation generally can run, and usually does occur all in just one frame. Here is where you can see the loop coming into play. It sounds very daunting but it really isnt if you study it carefully. First you set up an initial state by placing movie clips onto the stage or describe your animation or scene in actionscript only.

Next you apply rules which results in a new state. Which rules and what sort of animation you want is entirely your decision! Whether you want users to interact with the animation or adding different events is also all up to you. By understanding some of the basic concepts in animation you should be well on your way to your own scripted animations.