Animation Glossary

This section was created to introduce young digital artists into the wonderful world of 2D animation.

In filmmaking, video production, animation, and related fields, a film frame or video frame is one of the many still images which compose the complete moving picture.

In animation and graphics software, a “layer” refers to differing levels on which you can place your drawings and objects, stacked above and below each other. Top layers will obscure bottom layers, just as when stacking things in real life.

A scene is a single event or conversation between characters, occurring during one period of time and in one single place, that moves the story forward toward a climax and resolution. One event, one period of time, one place.

Frame rate, also known as frame frequency, is the frequency (rate) at which an imaging device displays consecutive images called frames. The term applies equally to film and video cameras, computer graphics, and motion capture systems. Frame rate is usually expressed in Frames Per Second (FPS).

In computing, opacity is often used in graphics software to define how “nontransparent” an image is. In other words, the more transparent an image or image layer is, the lower its opacity.

Onion skinning is a 2D computer graphics term for a technique used in creating animated cartoons and editing movies to see several frames at once. This way, the animator or editor can make decisions on how to create or change an image based on the previous image in the sequence.

Rendering or image synthesis is the process of generating an image from a 2D or 3D model (or models in what collectively could be called a scene file) by means of computer programs.

It’s the process of generating intermediate frames between two images to give the appearance that the first image evolves smoothly into the second image. Tweening is a key process in all types of animation, including computer animation.