As of this writing I've been working in the animation business for over 20 years. I have worked at small shops and big corporations like Disney and DreamWorks. I've worked on "traditional" or "hand-drawn" features, low-budget commercials and huge-budgeted, Oscar-winning special effects spectaculars. It's been a rewarding, challenging and, I think, unique journey that has garnered me a lot of success and has garnered my friends and family a lot of...confusion!
In this article I will attempt to shed some light on the complex, ever-evolving world of "animation" and share some of the things I know about the industry that are not common, or often misunderstood.
To clarify, and to keep things simple (an article, "What Is Animation?" would be book length!) I'm limiting my discussion to the kind of animation I have been primarily involved in, that is, professional animated feature films where there are:
1) images created by drawing single frames of action, shot on film and projected so they appear to be moving and
2) images created on a computer, rendered one frame at a time and played back so they appear to be moving.
There are endless details as to differences in animation techniques, styles and levels of complexity; I'm assuming my reader has a general understanding of how animation works and concentrating here on the business of commercial animation as a job I have worked in: bigger budgeted films that you might see at your local theater.