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The Contrast between Animations and Visual Effects

I am currently studying Animations and Vfx, which gives me more in-depth learning of these amusing technologies, elaborating this myth.

What is the differentiation between Animations and Visual Effects?

The ever-growing media and entertainment industry has handy tools for its development using animations and visual effects. From emotional aspects to stunning landscapes and captivating characters from your favorite games or Pixar movies, these all things are possible causes of these two innovations. However, there is a common perception about Animation being a part of VFX, which is contradicting for many as they are to various aspects of fine arts. So before differentiating them, let's learn about them individually through examples and their implementations.

Image by: Avalon_Studio

Image by: Avalon_Studio

What is the Animation?

Animation is a fascinating method where the two-dimension motionless humanly sketches/paintings/drawings on transparent celluloid sheets or computer-generated characters are brought into life in the third dimension world. It is as "motion graphics implemented to pictures in pursuance to create characters and motions." Today most of the characters are computer-generated imagery by visual artists. The first animator known to the man-kind was Pygmalion, the sculptor of Greek and Roman myths who carved a woman's figure so perfect that he fell for her and begged Venus to bring her to life.

It utilizes footage and computer software like "Autodesk Maya" to make it realistic. Example: The Tom and Jerry characters are drawings but not real cats and mice, which means we draw a character and make it move through arts and illusions. We give life to drawing in animations; the three-dimension spirits are more popular than the two-dimension but are less economical. Aladin is a famous example of 2D advancements, while Kung Fu Panda is the epitome of improving the 3D industry.

Motion capture is the standard technology used for developing games where a person's actions are captured by motion detection and inserted into a specific character. These techniques are in movies such as Hobbit, Dawn of the planets of Apes, the ever-loving mickey mouse, the badass chameleon Rambo and much more.

Image by: memoangeles

Image by: memoangeles

What are the Visual Effects?

Visual Effects require different techniques to create specific effects with actual action footage; it involves live-action scenes shot with the camera and available imagery (artificially created), which would have been dangerous, expensive, and impracticable to capture on film. Today, VFX and CGI have been game-changers for the movie industry, utilized in highest grossing movies like Avatar to Avengers: End Game and other series.

Oscar Rejlander developed the first iteration of VFX in 1857; he merged 30 different images into one; this was the first example of montage print. Visual effects are into two distinct categories. Mechanical Effects: They are physical effects, covering everything filming does, from prosthetics to weather changes. Anything that doesn't involve humans or computer graphics is physical effects. Optical Effects: Technicians use different software, usually created in-camera or especially in a film laboratory. Generally, they set different backgrounds during post-production using green screens on the sets.

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Image by: BrendanHunter

Image by: BrendanHunter


AnimationVisual Effects

1. Implementation

They are motion captures applied to pictures or sketches.

They are applied to real things/ scenes, frames and footage.

2. Softwares

Autodesk Maya, Houdini, Blender, Cinema 4D

Adobe After Effects, Apple Motion, Blackmagic Fusion

3. Job Roles

Animator, Art Designer, Graphic Designer, etc

VFX artist, Matter Painter, Layout Artist, etc

4. Aspect

Animation is involved with the creation of the object in third-dimensional space.

Visual Effects have more to do with images or a series of images.

5. Applications

Animations to portray cartoons display creative advertisements, websites, and campaigns.

Visual Effects adds fictional elements to movies, web series, and documentaries.

What is the history of Animations and Visual Effects?

The animations were part of ancient traditions in storytelling, visual arts, and theatre. Fantasmagorie is the oldest cartoon globally; the brief video is the earliest traditional (hand-designed) animation sample. It was introduced in 1908 by french cartoonist Emile Cohl; during this period, many techniques were discovered, like stop-motion and painted animations known as traditional animation.
In 1942, Chester Carlson developed an electrophotographic or (dry photocopying) technique called Xerography; this breakthrough in visual effects helped Disney dominate the industry. The company used it as their key ingredient in their movies until 1989 with projects like hundred and one dalmatians.

Image by: peshkov

Image by: peshkov

Image by: GrigoriosMoraitis

Image by: GrigoriosMoraitis

What are the Technological Advancements in Animations and Visual effects?

The rapid development of digitalization in the mid-'90s brought a new wave of innovation; the movies were portrayed differently with different computers and software techniques employed in various fields of arts. Finally, the architects used additional 3-D software, which revolutionized the animation entirely.
The future of this industry is moving strong, with Virtual Reality considered the next big thing, and the current enhancements of 3-D printers have reduced the cost of expensive props. Live animations are widely popular nowadays; the director can see the whole sequence using the characters' animated self while executing it in real life, like visualizing the entire act by animations. Live animations are widely popular nowadays; the director can see the whole sequence using the characters' animated self while executing it in real life, like visualizing the entire act by animations. The tiger in the movie life of pi is a solid example of technological advancement modern movies are developing.

Image by: Дмитрий Ларичев

Image by: Дмитрий Ларичев


  1. Wikipedia
  2. Pixelloid Blog

© 2021 Shubham Kadariya

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