Updated: 03/02/2017









Electronic Graphics

and Animation Systems

Today, it's impossible to clearly distinguish between character generators, titlers, paint programs, drawing programs, frame creation systems, animation systems, or modeling and image processing systems.

All the designations overlap and so do the software programs involved.

So to simplify things, we'll just put all of these into a single category: electronic graphic systems.

Some electronic graphic systems are dedicated, which means they are hardware based and designed to just do specific things. Others are software based and use a standard desktop or laptop computer platform.

In their most sophisticated form electronic graphics systems can create animated 3-D modeling rivaling real life subject matter. (Hollywood films such as Final Fantasy, attest to the level of sophistication that's now possible.)

Common functions of today's basic electronic graphic units include:

  • a wide range font (typeface) styles
  • variable font sizes (all the way from letters that are too small to read to a single letter that will fill the TV screen).
  • choice of colors for letters, figures and backgrounds
  • choice of edging and drop shadows
  • ability to blink words on and off to attract attention (a feature that many find very annoying)
  • choice of graphic building blocks (vertical and horizontal lines, boxes, patterns, etc.)
  • ability to scroll words vertically or horizontally through the frame
  • ability to assign numbers to graphic pages once they are created and then recall specific pages on demand, or in a programmed sequence
  • ability to incorporate pictures from various video sources
  • ability to move or change vertical and horizontal proportions of selected elements
  • antialiasing capabilities (the ability to smooth out the "sawtooth effect" around curves and angled lines)
  • ability to move various elements in a scene to create an animation effect

In addition, some systems offer the ability to do:

  • complex layering for 2-D animated sequences
  • programmed vector-based 3-D, virtual reality animation sequences that allow images to be rotated to show full dimensionality

The latter areas will take some explanation.


Electronic Animation 

>>Traditional animation requires the drawing and painting of 24- or 30-frames (pictures) every second to correspond to film or TV frame rates. (PAL and SECAM TV rates are 25 frames per second.) This means that an animated film theoretically requires in the neighborhood of 130,000 separate pictures (90 min. X 60 sec. X 24 fps).

However, when a high-end computer is used, all of the drawings necessary to get a subject or object from "point A" to "point B" can be "filled in" (figured out) by the computer. By only having to supply key drawings, the animation process is greatly simplified. This "shortcut, which obviously saves considerable time and money, explains the rapid move away from hand drawings to computer-centered animation.


Electronic Image Layering 

>>Traditional film animation also depends upon layers of acetate cells, each containing elements of the overall picture that must move or be drawn separately from the rest. When the camera makes a picture of the combined layers, they merge into one image.

Electronic 2-D animation uses the same principal; however, instead of existing on acetate, the various layers exist in computer memory. With some electronic animation systems it's possible to create more than 10 layers, or cells, each of which can be modified and controlled without affecting the rest.

To show Saturday morning cartoon-type movement, the different layers can be moved at different speeds. Thus, from the viewpoint of the viewer or camera a kind of motion-related dimensional perspective is created for objects that are supposedly at different distances from the camera.

Computer graphics and animation represent two major areas of job growth.

TV Production Index

To Home Page

© 2017, All Rights Reserved