Animation relies on what is known as persistence of vision, where an after image of whatever someone sees stays for 1/25 of a second. That’s why we barely even notice when we blink. It’s because of this phenomenon that we perceive a series of still images shown in rapid succession as movement.
Below are the four most used techniques used by animation studios in the production of a weekly series.
1. “Doubling up”
While the industry standard for animation and film is 24 frames per second, most studios only draw 12 – 15 frames. In order to mask this for broadcast, these frames are often duplicated once or twice, meaning that we see the same frame two or three times instead of seeing 24 individual frames.
2. Still frames
This is a shortcut that is fairly frowned upon by many animation buffs. Instead of drawing multiple frames of an action, or creating a loop, some studios will use still frames for scenes where there isn’t a lot of action or dialogue from a certain character.
While the frame is still, some studios cheat the movement by simulating camera movements used in filmmaking, usually with slow zooms, pans, or tilts. Sometimes they do this in a stylistic manner, while others simply do it to save time.
3. Stock footage
Much like how shows like “Power Rangers” rely on the use of stock footage, so too does animation.
In the case of series like “Sailor Moon” or “Pretty Cure,” studios will reuse the same transformation sequence and the same sequence for their special attacks. While some studios try to animate a new sequence of these attacks for multiple episodes, they aren’t able to do so for very long.
4. “The Money Shot”
In the case of anime, the money shot is where a certain scene or shot suddenly becomes really fluid and super-detailed. This occurs in scenes with a really high dramatic pitch, scenes where and intense action scene plays out in slow-motion, or in scenes that feature surprisingly graphic imagery.
The reason for this is because the studio takes the time to draw the full 24 frames per second to create these money shots instead of taking the normal shortcuts. Like adding sprinkles to an ice cream sundae, this creates a very stylistic series that keeps the audience engaged.
Next Week: Dr. Seuss and the journey to the big screen.