Many people when they hear the term animation they automatically think of cartoons, yet if they are on the computer at all then they have most likely been exposed to animation. This does not mean that they have been watching cartoons when they were supposed to be working.
Animation is not just restricted to cartoons. Nor is there just one type of animation. The common and current one that is popular today is 3D animation, but many of us adults grow up with 2D animation. Which by the way in my opinion was just as much fun as it is today, but perhaps a lot more work by way of manual labor. That did not deter the love of animation that was so evident in those Saturday morning cartoons.
Animation is an illusion. Not meaning it does not exist it means that you are making the viewer think that a particular object is moving on his own. Like when Mickey Mouse waves to his admirers at the end of a cartoon. Originally, in 2D each time an object was going to take another position no matter how slight it had to be hand drawn that way. No doubt, the finished project was undertaken of many drawings. These were put together in sequence called frames, depicting one movement to another.
As technology in the industry grew so did animation. Along came the computer and within a short while the 3D animation became a reality. The animation industry embraced this new form of art and as a result, which took many people to accomplish was now cut down to a grateful or less. The computer had the capabilities of doing much of the work. In case you are thinking that there goes the computer replacing people this is not the case. What it did did was offer the opportunity to have greater tools to produce a better job. There still has to be the operator of those tools, and that is where the animator comes in.
In fact, theception of 3D animation may have opened the door for many other job opportunities. Being as 3D animation is now used in many other industries, not only does it need an individual to design it, it now needs individuals to present it.
All animation has one thing in common it must start with an idea or concept. Then this idea is put to a storyboard. Here this is where the idea is now in a visual state. The basic script has now been designed. Now it has to have an audio track still in rough form created. This stage gets a little technical as it uses a method called vector graphics, which is dependent on mathematical equations as opposed to pixels.
If one had to summarize very quickly the difference between 2D and 3D animation, the simple answer would be the tools that are used to achieve the results. The original 3D animation first utilized stop motion techniques, then as the computer moved into play it became 3D computer animation. The same job being done just more cost effective efficient and motivated.