2D vs 3D, Traditional vs Computer-generated

My first proposal was focusing more on my background information and reasons for my project. It was more like for me to gather everything together and brainstorm about them. Afterwards, i have noticed that i was not very clear about what is traditional animation, 2d animation, computer generated imagery and 3d animation. I am still contuniuing my research about this concepts to decide on my animation style.

To start with comparing, 2d animation is the process of  one drawing followed by another in a slightly different pose, followed by another in a slightly different pose, on and on for 24 frames a second. 2d animation can be both traditional or computer generated nowadays. The traditional method exists since 1800s, artists draw every frame of the film by pencil, then these images were painted onto clear plastic sheets called ‘cels’, and each of the thousands of handrawn and painted cels were photographed one at a time over a hand painted background image and those thousands of images compiled to run as film at 24 frames a second. Today most 2D animation involves using computer software to one degree or another, from just digitally coloring the cels to be photographed in the traditional method or just doing the animation in a software, to doing every single element in the computer. So, as you can see 2d animation can be both traditional and computer generated, but it depends on the process to define how much ‘traditional’ or ‘computer generated’ it is.

Some examples of 2d animation: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Snow White, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park

On the other hand, 3d animation is (aside from stop-motion, which really is a form of 3D animation), is completely in the computer and things that you create exist in an X, Y & Z world. Modeled 3D objects, can be treated almost as a physical object. You can light it differently, you can move a camera to look at it from above, or below. In 2D animation everything is drawn. “Moving the camera” in 2D means drawing everything from another angle. “Moving the camera” in 3D is simply dragging it to another position to see if you like it better.

Some examples of 3d animation: Toy Story, Shrek, The Incredibles, Jurassic Park (the dinosaurs), The Transformers (the robots)

Nowadays, most of the films combine 2d and 3d animation, with real videos and stop-motions. Even if it is a 3d animation the creators begin with some sketches for key frames and animate them firstly. For example, South Park is a good example for describing this. When it first released it was a cut-out animation in the pilot episode. Later, they used softwares but they still wanted to keep the cut-out animation features. So, although it is actually done in 3d softwares, it still is a 2d animation. Plus, we can say it is not a traditional animation but a computer generated animation, to be clear about the difference. Now that i am more clear about this, i will continue to compare the two and try to explain why i picked 2d animation for my project in my next post.

Here is a video to have an idea about how traditional animation was done and what the processes are:


Leave a Reply