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What do You Mean: 2 Dimensions?

When images are created in 2 dimensions, it means that they are drawn on a flat surface and can only be measured using width and height. Drawings on a piece of paper or a canvas would be considered 2 dimensional. Techniques such as shading can imply a third dimension, but the drawing itself is 2D.

What is Animation?

It may seem pretty evident, but most people have trouble giving a definition.

Wikipedia defines:

the filming of a sequence of drawings or positions of models to create an illusion of movement. It is an optical illusion of motion due to the phenomenon of persistence of vision

Wisegeek.com :

a type of optical illusion. It involves the appearance of motion caused by displaying still images one after another.

Filmeducation.org:

the process by which we see still pictures MOVE. Each picture is shot on film one at a time and is shown at the rate of 24 pictures per second making the pictures appear to move.


There are some common things in these definitions that we will emphasize as important.

  1. Animations are made up of still drawings or images
  2. Animation requires the filming of the still images one at a time in sequence.
  3. Animation is created when these filmed images are played back (often at a rate of 24 pictures per second)
  4. Animation is an optical illusion created by "persistence of vision"


What is Persistence of Vision?

Glad you asked! It is the scientific concept that is the basis for all animation, and so it is pretty important for us to understand before we begin our study. Our brain holds onto an image for a fraction of a second after the image has passed. If the eye sees a series of still images very quickly one picture after another, then the images will appear to move because our eyes cannot cope with fast-moving images - our eyes have been tricked into thinking they have seen movement. It's Funny that so much fun and enjoyment can come from the deficiency of the human eye!

Of course, this is not a new concept. In fact, scientists have known this for years. To get a better understanding of how animation has come to be, we will look at how scientists have developed animation tools over time.