|One frame from the APOD video of February 5, 2019.|
I don't know if I have ever discussed this topic here before, but when computer animation first became possible, the hope among some people was that animation would be a lot cheaper, a lot easier to do, if all you had to do was create the extremes and let the computer do the inbetweening for you.
Faster and cheaper, right? With perfect rendering, right?
Well, it turned out to be not such a good idea after all in character animation, for reasons that are obvious to animators. The movement of organic objects such as human and animal characters is way more complex than just moving from one extreme to the next. Such a transition will rightly include anticipation, drag, follow through, squash and stretch--almost the entire list of the so-called 12 principles of animation--plus deliberate distortions that are more related to esthetics and showmanship than to physics.
Thus, today's CGI character animator has to have many controllers at her command in order to get the nuances necessary to make believable and entertaining character movement.
The Exception: Rigid Objects
But for the rigid object--a spaceship, a chair, a house viewed from a changing perspective--automatic inbetweening is desirable. In the 1980s and early 90s, when computer animation was not so universally available, I was sometimes asked to animate by hand a rotating signboard, for example, and "make it look like computer animation." It was possible, but it wasn't easy, and I yearned for a simpler way to do it--a way that has now become commonplace.
Having a fascination with astronomy, occasionally I look through the images on a great science website called Astronomy Picture of the Day, or APOD. which is supported by NASA. Daily subjects include enhanced photos of galaxies and nebulae, eclipses, planetary conjunctions, aurorae, comets, meteor showers, photos taken from space stations, and other astronomical images.
Recently they published a fly-by video of the planet Jupiter taken from the NASA spacecraft Juno. With just 21 images, they were able to extrapolate almost 1,600 inbetweens to create a breathtaking close approach to our largest planet.
Take a look here and enjoy!
|The Juno satellite approaches Jupiter.|
|Approximately at perijove, or closest approach to Jupiter.|
|A frame taken as the satellite now moves on past our|
solar system's largest planet.