Features and Columns

Frames in Motion: A Beginner’s Guide To How Animation Works

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about how animation works, in under three minutes.
How Does Animation Work?
By  · Published on April 14th, 2020

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Most of us have a pretty good grasp of the basic principle of animation: still images, when played in succession, give the impression of motion and make cartoons move. Of course, it’s much more complicated than that. But “How Does Animation Work?” — a succinct explanatory video outlining the key differences and similarities between various animation techniques — makes learning a breeze. The video has a relaxed fit and an easy-going vibe that make it easy to sit back and nod along to cooly delivered demonstrations of how 2-D rigging works compared to its 3-D counterpart; what tweening is, and how both stop-motion and computer animation make use of armatures. That the video manages to pack as much information as it does into just over two minutes, without breaking a sweat, is wildly impressive.

“How Does Animation Work” outpaces many a Wikipedia page and explainer article by not only telling us how animation works but showing us. As our upbeat, plaid-panted guide walks us through animation techniques, his own animation style reciprocates: be it 2-D, 3-D, hand-drawn, rigged, or hand-sculpted. Its a marvelously watchable explainer that’ll leave you feeling entertained as well as informed. This is the edutainment we all deserve.

You can watch “How Does Animation Work?” here:

Who made this?

Tyler Pacana is an animator and cartoonist. You can browse his video content on his Vimeo and his YouTube pages. You can find Pacana’s official website, which includes his social links and portfolio, here. “How Does Animation Work” is Pacana’s thesis at Sheridan College, Canada.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).