What Is Computer Assisted Animation?

By Buffy Naillon ; Updated September 15, 2017

Computer-assisted animation is common in modern animated films. Recent films such as “Beowulf” were created using computer-assisted animation. These techniques enhance modern animated films in ways not seen in film history.

Definition

Computer-assisted animation is animation that could not be completed without using a computer. Functions like in-betweening and motion capture are examples of computer-assisted animation.

In-betweening

Tweening is a technique used in two-dimensional animation that blends two animation cels together. Each is individually drawn. These are played rapidly, which gives the impression of movement. Between each cel or key frame in the sequence, there is a visual gap in which a transition drawing is placed. Now computers are used to draw the transition or “in-between” drawing so that the film looks smooth (see Resources for visual demonstrations).

Motion Capture

Motion capture uses reflective dots that are placed at an actor’s joints. When he moves, a computer picks up the dots and creates a model of the performance, which is stored in the computer. Animators later use the sensor points as a “skeleton” to create a three-dimensional character (see Resources for visual demonstrations).

Computer Tweening Highlights

In 1997, according to Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Nestor Burtnyk and Marceli Wein of the National Research Council of Canada won an Academy Award for developing software techniques, which assisted with seamless key framing.

Future of Animation

According to an article in the "New York Times," computer-assisted animation will continue to break new ground.

About the Author

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.