An ideal situation is when people understand each other. Therefore a common language is necessary. Language in animated film is rather different, and the terminology used is quite specific. Certain production processes are not so common either. To understand each other better, we have prepared a few topics that talk about terminology in the field of animation.





This term encompasses projects made on a flat surface, such as drawn and cut-out animation. We understand this to be animation created in two dimensions, or two axes: x and y. In traditional animation it means drawing on paper, or painting on celluloid acetate, special foils, or glass, whether the animation is shot directly with a camera or with the help of a computer.



Here we deal with the effect of volume and perspective. The impression of a three dimensional animated object is usually created using CG technologies, both manually and with special software. At present, this term is also often used for classical animated films using puppets as well as other spatial objects made by hand. This can become quite confusing, nevertheless the use of CG technologies in traditional stop motion animation is quite common nowadays, and we can find many animation techniques and technologies being combined and fused in many modern projects (Coraline: stop motion puppet and 3D).





A simplified animation of the whole work, the aim of which is to be able to evaluate the effect of the film, its length, and understandability to the viewer and creator. It is made according to a prepared script, in full length. In its simplest form, it comprises of images taken from a storyboard and put onto a timeline where each picture's length corresponds to the length of each shot. An animatic can be produced in varying complexity, according to the needs of the producer, director, or client. It is also possible to test the reaction of the viewer with an animatic, for example, when preparing an advertisement.  



One of the key members of the creative team in animated films or advertisements.

An artist who is capable of bringing a puppet, drawing, plasticine, or even cut out segments to life in a creative way (acting, artistically and technologically), putting them into sequences according to the storyboard and director´s instruction in order to create more or less realistic motion. Animators often specialise in a certain technique: classical puppet, pencil animation (drawing), cut-out animation of paper segments, animation of objects, clay animation, animation of people (pixillation), and last but not least, animation using CG software. There are many styles and technologies in classical animation, but all have many common and fundamental processes that animators master. This being timing and other skills typical of animated motion that distinguish it from “realistic“ film.


Art designer 

Besides the essential skills and abilities, the art designer of animated films must be able to assess certain technological and stylistic specifics in this field. Generally, they deal with different size and ratios, where undesired texture of objects can become apparent, set design problems connected with image stylization, restrictions resulting from the necessity of the animator accessing the set. In drawn and relief animation, problems arise when trying to create the illusion of three-dimensional space etc. The creation of puppet figures is an art in its own right, where design and stylization is far removed from casting in live action films. Unconventionally, the art designer of animated films is more connected to the proffessions of stage designers (scenographers) and costume designers.




Clay animation

Classical stop motion animation, where the dominant material used for creating puppets is specially tinted clay. This clay is either animated alone or the puppet is made with a combination of a clay (plasticine) and other materials. As with classical puppets, the clay puppet usually also has an armature that carries the body of the figure, and enables it to be positioned and hold certain poses. Some animators also use coloured clays for other elements of the image, such as sets and props.




Director of photography

Even though the main skills of a cameraman (composition, lighting, camera motion), should be similar to that of a cameraman's profession in live action film, it is necessary to point out that in animated film the cameraman must work with an even finer sense of aesthetics. As well as the art designer, the cameraman usually takes on other professions, specifically scenography. This is where the biggest difference to live action film is. Depending on the set designs, instructions of the director, and in accordance with the script/storyboard, the cameraman is the one who approves the final appearance of the set. This is because the resulting picture is usually created as an independent work of art. Other differences arise from technological problems linked to the size of objects and sets, resulting in the use of different lenses and shooting technique.





Layout is a term derived from graphical and print processes. It is the compositional arrangement of a page, its colours, typography, and photographs, used in publishing. In animation the term layout is used especially in drawn animation as well as in 3D film, where it is necessary to design and plan the work process and production of individual segments, from which the final picture and animation will be put together. Layout is used in other areas today as well, when more complicated processes of picture construction are used. When a puppet animation is shot individually and then needs to be composited into a separate landscape with other elements. This technology would then require a certain procedure that should be determined using a layout.


Line test

The test of an animated sequence (shot), or its part, before finalization. Usually one shot is scanned/shot or loaded (in the case of CG animation) for the needs of the animator or director, before colouring and placing in the final picture. After it is checked, the shot can be re-animated, adjusted, or re-timed before it is passed on in the production process. In the past it meant shooting basic pencil animation drawn on paper, onto black and white film.





In the time when there were no computers, it was a practically unknown activity, which basically involves: creating special effects, adjustment and combination of shots (image layers), inserting real shots into animation and vice versa, animating graphics, credits, format adjustment, additional adjustment of camera motion, and so on. In the final part of post-production there is grading, or colour correction that, as a rule is done according to the cinematographer's direction, to create the final picture. Post-production is an important, necessary, but also costly part of film production.


Pupper animation

This term usually refers to animation of figurative objects such as puppets, clay figures, or marionettes. It is a typical animation technique traditionally used in our country (e.g. by Trnka).


Puppeteer (puppet master)

Usually classified as an actor in a puppet theatre. For the needs of film and commercial commissions it is a profession very similar to that of the animator, except that the “bringing to life - animating“ is carried out in real time. A puppeteer controls (leads) the puppets giving the impression that the puppet is alive.

Especially in the beginnings of puppet theatre (but today as well), the puppeteers themselves used to create their puppets – today this profession is, as a rule, called a technologist.

A puppeteer can control the puppet in many ways: pulling strings, wires, ropes or rods. The puppet can also be on a puppeteer´s hand or fingers (glove puppets). Some puppets are more complicated and require more puppeteers at a time. When shooting a combination of puppet and live action, usually the puppeteer, wires, rods and other controlling mechanisms are covered with a keyable colour.




Stop motion

Stop motion or frame-by-frame animation is a technique where a real object is manually adjusted between individual frames and shifted by small amounts so that the animation gives the impression of continuous movement when it is connected. The main advantage of this technique is that it is possible to animate almost anything. The disadvantage of this technique is that it is extremely time consuming.


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