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What Is Photo Animation?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

Photo animation is the use of one or more photographs to create an animated image or scene, usually through some type of manipulation. One of the simplest ways in which such animations can be created is through the use of multiple still images that suggest motion over time. Text and other features can be added to still photographs to create a narrative that unfolds as the different images in each photograph are revealed. There are also more complicated methods of photo animation, such as the use of photo manipulation software to combine multiple pictures or to change an image to create an animation.

Standard types of animation are created through individual still frames that are viewed sequentially at high speed to allow someone to see a moving picture. In contrast to this, however, photo animation is not necessarily designed to create a smooth flowing image and can use only a single image to create animation. One example of this type of animation would be the animated features created for the British television program Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Photo animation was used in these shows by manipulating a still image so that one part of it could move, such as a person’s mouth, to create animation from the picture.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

More modern forms of photo animation often use computer software and hardware to create a variety of different animations. A series of photographs, for example, can be used together to create a short animation that often involves the viewer imagining the movement that might happen between the still images. Text is often added to this type of photo animation to provide dialog between characters or commentary by the creator. These short animations are typically used on a variety of different websites, often as a graphic information file (GIF), though more elaborate video versions of such animated images can include audio.

There are also ways in which photo animation can be created through the manipulation of only one or a few images using computer software. One photograph can be manipulated in a number of ways, including squashing and stretching the image to create the impression of actual animation. This can include moving the mouth of a person in an image separately from the rest of a picture, often combined with audio to create a rough animation that suggests that the image is talking. Two or more still images can be used to create a photo animation in which one picture morphs into the other; computer software can make this process quite easy and requires only a few images.

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