Animators proudly remind us that cinema was born from animation, as it all began with the “scientific toys” – zoetropes, folioscopes, phenakistoscopes and others that allowed a drawing to “move” as the result of a rapid change of image.
The illusion of movement created when watching a scientific toy in action or changing scenes on a screen is connected to the perception process in the eyes and brains of humans. In order to translate movement to the viewer, the film camera shoots 24 “photographs” (frames) for each second of action; animation also requires 24 drawings or puppet movement frames to make up a second of screen time.
The basis for animation is a screenplay which is made into a visual version with separate levels and compositional groups. The artist and director create characters and scenery. In puppet animation, puppet masters shape the puppets from the artist’s drawings. Usually each character is made into several sizes – for wide shots, mid shots and close-ups. A plasticine puppet’s face can be altered in front of the camera, but harder materials require several heads with different expressions. When filming begins, the puppets are moved in a pre-calculated trajectory and shot in fractional frames.
A drawn animation artist sketches the films characters, the director explains the specific manner of action, and various artists begin working. First the robust action phases of the figure are rendered, and then broken down further by animators making more and more drawings in order to create homogenous movement. The scenery is drawn or painted as a separate static background on paper or other materials, but the details that require movement are redrawn or painted onto transparent celluloid sheets, which can then be layered.