Animation is the creation of simulated movement by using a series of still images. Historically, animation has been used for cartoons and today is used to produced special effects in commercials, live-action movies, video games, and Web sites.
Watch this clip of a commercial produced in the early 50's for EZ-Pop Popcorn. It is the precursor to the Jiffy Pop Popcorn.
In the 1800's, toys also were made that used animation. One popular toy was called the Zoetrope. The Zoetrope used a cylinder and a long strip of paper with a series of images. When the cylinder rotated, the images could be viewed through slits in the cylinder. The images appear to move. The Zoetrope led to the development of motion pictures. Watch this clip to the right that shows how a Zoetrope works.
The flip-book is another simple animation device that is easy to make. The flip-book consists of a sequence of drawings placed on top of each other and is fastened together along one edge. Each drawing in a flip-book is slightly different from the previous drawing. When the pages are flipped rapidly, the image appears to move.
A concept known as persistence of vision allows this illusion to occur. The brain receives signals of the images the eye is seeing. However, the images are sent faster than the brain can process them. The multiple images being sent to the brain are blended in one images that seems to move. Each second of video recorded on a videotape contains 24 still pictures per second of video. This is how television programs and movies create the illusion of movement.