Praxinoscope - precursors of animation. Made by Louis Poyet, under the CC0 1.0 license.
Praxinoscope - precursors of animation. Made by Louis Poyet, under the CC0 1.0 license.

Ubiquitous Animation – The Future Turn of Animation

The experiences in our daily life are more animated than ever before. It can be said that animation wraps our digital lives. And where will the future of animation and animation theory go?

The experience in our daily life is more animated than ever before. It can be said that animation wraps our digital lives.

Hyper-reality, the ultimate imagination of the animation-filled world. Produced by Keiichi Matsuda.

The role of animation in many fields is becoming more and more important. The study of animation and other disciplines and the study of animation itself need a new frontier.

Animation or virtualization in our daily experiences, such as the popularity of special effects in software such as Zepeto and Tiktok, can illustrate this point.

Virtualization of everyday life in Zepeto. Made by Strawberry under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

The discussion of related topics is inseparable from the further understanding of animation and the interdisciplinary addition of animation.

The pictorial turn proposed by scholars in the past can no longer adapt to the current development of animation. As Nea Ehrlich said, in the field of visual art and mass media, a shift in animation studies is taking place.

At present, different scholars, animation agencies and organizations have many definitions of animation. This has brought needed attention to the problems brought about by the convergence of new technologies and media.

For example, which works can be regarded as animation, whether they conflict with other definitions, and so on.

Gene Deitch, an American illustrator, animator and comics artist, believes that the core of animation is the creation, recording, and retrieving of individual phases of imagined action.

Adding to Gene’s understanding of animation, the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA) defines an animation as a moving image created by various techniques other than the real-time shooting method. It classifies the live-action shooting and animation as the parallel image production method.

This definition explains animation from the perspective of constructing movement, making the reach of animation research go beyond the field of animation films.

As a method of image production, animation is not only entirely animated films enjoyed in movie theaters, televisions, and mobile devices, but also penetrates into other media forms.

First of all, films have started using animation to produce digital special effects, rather than relying on real-life cameras.

The increasingly close and complex relationship between CGI animation technology and film creation has continuously changed our perception of the film industry. It has had a transformative impact on it as whole.

The theoretical research on digital technology in movies is still at the level of preliminary generalization, and the basis of animation aesthetics will promote its further development.

Second, in some TV programs such as variety shows, reality shows, etc., animation elements such as motion graphics can also be seen. They may be some introductory animated text or just simple transitions.

Although these shows and movies seem to rely on a combination of real shooting and animation, the purpose and concept of their use are different. They can form two research paths.

Third, the research of digital games is also an important part of animation in general. Except for a few games with live action material like Her Story, most of the video game structure in the world is dominated by purely animated content.

From the perspective of production, there is no significant difference between game and film animation. Digital games are regarded as animations and have a relatively solid foundation.

Animation not only provides character images and scenes for the game, but also provides interactive mechanics and cutscenes in plot advancement. This makes the research of digital games require  knowledge of animation frameworks to a very deep extent.

Animation in Cyberpunk 2077. Produced by GameSpot Trailers.

Fourth, in the current media age, images are everywhere. In order to attract more people’s attention, the animation of images has become an inevitable trend.

For example, the application of Memoji in iPhone, the dynamic effects of H5 through mobile phones, and even the dynamic advertisements on LED screens in shopping malls.

Memoji on iPhone or iPad. Produced by Apple Support.

Although most people don’t think of these motion graphics when talking about animation, they are a very important and creatively rich part of the animation industry.

These small animations have greatly enriched the content that animation scholars can study, and have played a huge role in the direction of animation.

Finally, the emergence of extended reality (XR) has increased the value of animation to the public and the market, and is regarded as the future direction of animation. The fine animation design and the superimposition of the real environment create an immersive feeling.

Augmented reality interaction. Photo by Laurenbeth76 under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

Animation has become a key and core part of XR’s production. Compared to movies, its presentation and ideology have a more fundamental status.

The influence of animation in the entire visual art and mass media is enough to make the judgment that animation studies can pivot.

However, animation, a newly born discipline, is at a special stage in the construction of its own theoretical system. Its academic system does not center on any core exploration like film research.

Therefore, different types of animation cannot effectively share the same knowledge framework with other disciplines despite having the same foundations.

For animation practitioners, it means that we need to continue to have enthusiasm and curiosity about the academic research of animation to create the building blocks of animation.

Because, at present, animation has reached a turning point in the transformation process.

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