12th May2016

The Evolution of Animation Through Technology

by Reece Jones

It is quite amazing how the job market has changed over the past 20 years. Chances are that the job you are currently doing, or at least the jobs of a handful of your friends, didn’t exist when you first started school. When a child is asked what they would like to become one day, the obvious answers are usually fireman, doctor, teacher, policeman and so forth, but how could a child, 20 years ago, dream about becoming a Social Media Manager when the job didn’t even exist? Today’s children are faced with the same situation as it is estimated that 65% of the children who have entered the schooling system will go into careers that haven’t even been created yet. The landscape of the job market is rapidly evolving. The truth is that we don’t really know how to prepare children for jobs that haven’t even been developed yet.

Take animation, with archaeological artefacts revealing that even as far back as 3000 B.C. artists were trying to simulate movement through their drawings. In the 17th centuries machines were devised to make it appear as though images were moving. Skip ahead to the early 20th century where the first animated film using stop-motion photography in order to create the illusion of action was created.

Phenakistoscope

The 1930’s gave way to the Gold Age of animation where theatrical cartoons become ingrained in contemporary culture the like of Walt Disney, MGM and Warner Brothers brought many popular cartoons to life. Even then, at a stage when they thought they’d made great headway, could they possibly have guessed at how far animation would have come less than a century down the line? Jump ahead to the 1980’s where CGI (computer generated imagery) transformed animation for ever. In 1995 Toy Story, which was the first fully computer-animated feature film, was released, and soon many CGI films followed – each showing a variety of improvements and pushing the envelope further and further each time.

Apart from animation on the big screen and the ones we see on television, we are exposed to animation throughout the day on many different devices. From cell phone apps, to billboards, PSP games, arcade games, and online casino games. One only needs to look at around to see the level of creativity and technical skill involved, to realise how far animation has come since its child-like days when simple drawings were penned and then made to move.

Video games, which were once merely a variety of duotone pixels have advanced to the level that one often struggles to tell the difference between the game and reality. Graphics are complex, speeds are lightening fast, and colours vivid.

In the future, animation will make greater use of 3D technology allowing you to virtually tour the world from the comfort of your armchair. Touch screens will allow you to explore, experience and increase opportunities for learning.

What else does the future of animation hold? Give me 10 years and I’ll tell you.
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