22nd May 2020

A day in the life of an Animator. 

A day in the life of an Animator.

Hi, my name's Jay Patterson. I have worked at Cygnus for about five years now. I joined in an assisting compacity, and eventually became leading Animator / Editor and Retoucher.

5 types of animation.

Having a retouching background is a very strong skill to maintain while animating as you are able to make fundamental changes / improvements as you build.

I have also gradually learnt various expressions (coded script) and how to apply them for particular results and speed. I work in a standard 1920 x 1080 (16:9) 30fps composition, but have also been instructed to work in various ratios and frame rates. This has been the result of producing video over a variety of platforms such as Youtube, TV, Social Media, etc. A wide range of viewing options will require multiple output types.

I’m very fortunate to work for a company that gives me the freedom to experiment.

1. Traditional Animation. (2D, Cel, Hand Drawn)

One of the older forms of animation, every frame of a traditional animation sequence is created by hand, similar to the results generated with flipbooks. The traditional method was used by companies such as Disney. Animators would work on large light tables and flip back and forth through sketches. This process was called ‘onion skinning’. Today, traditional animation is created on computers, but the old techniques are still a main resource of inspiration.

2. 2D Animation. (Vector-Based)

Entirely computer generated and working with flat vector layers. Projects that involve characters may use a ‘rig’. This is a puppet-like tool, allowing the animator to work at a faster rate, moving individual body parts, instead of redrawing the entire character for each frame. This has become a popular method for building cartoon animation due to the speed and ease in which complicated content can be produced.

3. 3D Animation. (CGI, Computer Animation)

Today, 3D animation is the most common form of animation. It uses the same principles of movement from traditional and 2d, but doesn’t necessarily require drawing skills. The puppet technique is also used. Once designed, the animator can use tools to create textures, environments etc. And many layers are applied to produce the final result. Other factors such as light, shadow, depth of field and even gravity are crucial to maintain a realistic sequence.

4. Motion Graphics. (Typography, Animated Logos)

Also computer-based, motion graphics are not as character-driven as the forms of animation we’ve mentioned so far. Often used for promotional videos or showreels, they rely mainly on imagery, titles and effects to create a message. While motion graphics may not require the same process of motion dynamics as other forms of character animation, frame composition and perspective are key.

5. Stop Motion. (Claymation, Cut-Outs)

Another traditional form of animation, stop-motion uses live-action video or film cameras. This is done by capturing a frame of a still object, then slightly moving it and/or changing its shape or other characteristics. The process is repeated to generate many frames and is time consuming, but the end result is impressive. In order to replicate certain elements, the animator will use a variety of materials. For example smoke or clouds can be substituted with cotton wool. Some of the different types of stop motion are: Claymation, Brickfilms (Legofilms) Puppet or Model animation and Cutout animation.

I’m very fortunate to work for a company that gives me the freedom to experiment but also encourages the advancement of our video techniques and understands the importance of advancing into new and exciting territory.


Author: Jay Patterson
Leading Animator, Editor and Retoucher