So what exactly is the difference between Multimedia and Animation?

The word multimedia is, in itself, explanatory. It refers to the practice of using multiple forms of media, which may or may not include animation, simultaneously, within a given product or project. Multimedia products will often combine text, still images, video, film, animation and sound within one package.

Multimedia products are often interactive in nature and can only generally be created on, and accessed by, a computing device.

Multimedia now encompasses a vast array of products, projects and services. Familiar examples are the Computer Based Training courses (CBT”s) used in education or the typical instructional CD-ROMs so often favored by the learner driver.

The CV of an artist for example, containing, a headshot, biography and a portfolio of work, which is then burned to, and delivered on CD-rom, would also be considered multimedia in nature and multimedia is very often used in the corporate setting in the form of presentations.

Even the video gaming enthusiast is not immune to the onslaught of the multimedia revolution as he or she battles within the evermore complex multi-player gaming arena known as MMORPGs.

One of the most important features of the multimedia product or service is that it is more often than not, interactive in nature. The learner driver training CD mentioned previously would be a prime example as it would require the user to engage with the content throughout.

This type of educational platform also serves as a classic example of the non-linear forms of multimedia which requires interaction and input from the user over the control and delivery of the content. Multimedia in its linear form – a simple example being Cinema – offers little or no scope for such interaction or control.

The use of the term multimedia has changed over the years and it was only during the 90’s that it acquired its current meaning. Multimedia can be live or pre-recorded and with the advent of computer tablets, smart phones, advanced gaming platforms and the like, multimedia is now an all pervasive force.

Animation on the other hand is a ‘specific cinematic medium’ which often utilizes hundreds, sometimes thousands of still images. These images are combined in sequence over a specific time period (cinematically speaking) usually 24, 25, or 30 frames per second. When these images, which will all vary slightly from one another, are recorded and replayed in rapid succession, they create the illusion of movement.

Animations can be 2D or 3D. Can be hand drawn or computer generated. Involve clay models, puppets, shadows or cut-outs. Some animation may involve all these elements and more. Good cinematic examples of 3D animations are Toy Story, Shrek, The Incredibles and The Croods.

3D animation is a very complex area with a terminology that is uniquely its own. Essentially 3D animation starts with the creation or modelling of a 3D mesh of the object or character to be created. The mesh can then be refined by the modeller before being rigged and programmed for movement. 3D animation does require some basic drawing skills at least, is very technical, and relies heavily on the use of 3D textures and lighting.

Traditional 2D animation on the other hand involved the processing of thousands of individual images copied from original paper drawings onto transparent acetates known as Cels. Each Cel was then carefully coloured and set against a painted background before being photographed one by one with the aid of a rostrum camera.

This method of film-making bought us classics such as Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, 101 Dalmatians and the Lady and the Tramp.

Stopmotion animation is similar to the above the only difference being that a physical object such as a doll or puppet will appear to move on its own when it is manipulated bit by bit between photographed frames.

Nowadays the process of animation is much less cumbersome as much animation is created and edited on computers using vector or bitmap images with sophisticated software used for coloring and camera movement.

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