Doesn’t everyone love movies like Shrek or Happy feet? Well these movies are here thanks to Computer animation (or CGI animation), which is the art of creating moving images with the use of computers. Animation was put into use shortly after the first television was invented. The now common 3D models are a form of photorealism: performance capture that is used in the creation of virtual human characters.

Many people think that CGI animation is just used for movies, but there are other ways it is improving our lives, such as solving crimes, advancing healthcare, revolutionizing mechanical industries, and assisting in architectural design, as well as advertisement agencies. Computer animators work in a variety of fields. These include computer gaming, architecture, engineering, advertising, television and film, print media and multimedia/Internet. Often times, the computer animator will be involved in creating an animation centering around some existing product or design.

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Later this may be used for in-house or public presentations. They may be working with a team of designers or individually. In some cases, as in the film and computer gaming industry, the computer animator will be involved in creating an animation of a fictional nature, often within a team working from a storyboard or story-concept (Marcovitz). Computers can be used in every step of sophisticated animation — for example, to automate the movement of the rostrum camera or to supply the in-between drawings for full animation.

When a three-dimensional figure is translated into computer terms (digitized), the computer can generate and display a sequence of images that seem to move or rotate the object through space. Hence computer animation can simulate highly complex motion for medical and other scientific researchers, as well as for feature films. It’s essentially a digital successor to the art of stop motion animation of 3D models and frame-by-frame animation of 2D illustrations.

For 3D animations, objects (models) are built on the computer monitor (modeled) and 3D figures are rigged with a virtual skeleton. For 2D figure animations, separate objects (illustrations) and separate transparent layers are used, with or without a virtual skeleton. Then the limbs, eyes, mouth, clothes, etc. of the figure are moved by the animator on key frames. The differences in appearance between key frames are automatically calculated by the computer in a process known as tweening or morphing.

Finally, the animation is rendered, credited to the computer animators for their training and dedication.. Attorneys have also found that CGI animation can be used as an investigative tool. They have used it to simulate car collisions in cases in which drivers that cause the accidents are sued by the victim(s). The animated simulations show all the important details of the accident, including the depiction of the scene, the weather conditions, the directions the cars were traveling, and other factors that may be relevant (Marcovitz 55). The Forensic process for accident reconstruction for example, starts with the accident investigation. This includes all police reports, witness statements, photographs, vehicle inspections, accident scene data, and medical reports if necessary. It is this information which forms the basis on which an accident Reconstructionist will recreate the accident,” (Gold). In order to create an actual depiction of an incident, all of the facts and details are required in order to be recreated and help solve the criminal case being tried.

This contributes to more accurate depictions and provides more accurate rulings in the court of law, although this is not where the helpfulness stops. Computer animation is no longer confined to the movie screen or the electric game console. Doctors as well as medical students can learn a lot about the human body by watching computer animations. “Medical animation has a large variety of applications, from education to demonstration to data capture and manipulation.

Animation can have both hospital, institutional, and pharmaceutical applications,” (Sanders) Some animation studios now specialize in providing animated viewpoints of human anatomy, which may help students recognize the effects that diseases have on organs such as the heart, lungs, and liver. “Doctors, physical therapists, and sports trainers have made use of motion-capture technology to determine whether patients recovering from injuries were slowing their recoveries because of the way they walk, run, or use their limbs,” (Marcovitz 52).

The sophisticated 3D, computer-based technology looks at the body as an integrated system. "This gives us a very accurate and detailed objective measure of how much a joint is moving," physical therapist Michael Ways tells DBIS (Science Daily). These animations provide actual inside looks within a person’s body without having to go through any exploratory surgery and allows doctors to manipulate the structure and see how best fitted it is when a certain adjustment is made to the person’s daily activity in order to best aid the persons body.

The realm of mechanical design and animation is vast and encompasses almost anything you can think of. Using computer modeling and animation to create virtual models of proposed products and mechanical designs can save companies anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars, by cutting down on development costs; working in a virtual world can let developers eliminate a lot of problems that would normally require extensive physical test models and experimentation.

For mechanical designers and animators, the 3D world has become the new "drawing board", but with an infinite number of greater possibilities than pen and paper. Parts can actually be fitted together in a realistic manner, and their functions tested; measurements can be planned down to the smallest unit, with more accuracy than pencil-and-paper diagrams can often provide,” (Sanders). The 3D modeled designs and animations can be adjusted quickly and easily, before the designs ever reach the production stage, eliminating a great deal of the waste involved in producing test models. Landscaping was, at one point, an entirely hands-on job, but the planning and preliminary stages are quickly migrating more into the digital realm.

Landscape plans for acres of land can be modeled down to minute detail in 3D programs, even emulating the real altitudes and slopes of the existing tracts of land; these can then be used to generate blueprints and timelines for development and construction,” (Sanders). Architects use animation to give clients virtual tours of their new homes long before the foundation is ever started.

Architecture software is used to create their drawings in 3D, explains Corey Rubadue, director of visualization in ASG’s in-house visual imaging studio. “The architects give us their 3D Revit Architecture data, and we import it into 3ds Max, where we apply materials and textures to the models, conduct solar studies, create animated walk-throughs, do whatever is needed for the client-approval process,” he continues, “Because the architects create 3D models rather than 2D drawings, and because 3ds Max can ead Revit Architecture files, we don’t have to build their models from scratch in 3ds Max before we start working on them. That means the artists can spend all their time on the visualization process,” he adds, “which results in a larger quantity of higher-quality images and animations for client approval. ” (Autodesk). Rubadue is simply stating that it is a much simpler and effective way of creating structures that require minimal effort to change and prevent mishaps from occurring during construction.

This adjustment can prevent any injuries happening on the job as well as making the process much simpler in creating architectural structures, whereas working with advertisement agencies poses no threat to ending a life, it’s just as beneficial to them. Advertisement agencies use computer generated characters to draw the attention of the public in order to add awareness to the product they are selling. According to Jeffery Dates, “It’s fun to work on a project where the animated character is immediately recognizable to viewers- like a star,” (Marcovitz 52).

This information shows that computer animation DOES draw the attention of the public but can also be a challenge, as the audience already has expectations of what that character does and looks like and the agencies and pushed to meet and exceed their expectations. Undoubtedly, animated objects grab human attention, thus creating a vantage point in which products being portrayed by the advertisement provoking consumers into purchasing that item. CGI animation is a work in progress but has much value in digitizing our future and has come a long way from the start.

It provides a better system of entertainment as well as economic benefits such as solving crimes, advancing healthcare, revolutionizing mechanical industries, and assisting in architectural design, as well as advertisement agencies. Many other processes with be developed from this unique form of art and bring us in to a more technological era, defining our abilities as advanced race we are and continuing our expectations for the future. Hopefully we can continue to grow as a technologically advanced world and continue to prosper throughout generations.