What is animation?

Cartoon seaside

Keen to learn more about marvellous animation and the amazing results it can deliver for businesses across every industry? Fortunately, the talented team here at Tricks Studio have years of invaluable experience both creating and effectively implementing animation projects to support the aims of your organisation.

To help you determine whether you should consider exploring animation services, our experienced team have pooled their resources to create this ultimate guide. Below, we explore everything from the uses of animation to the history of animation and some key animation examples.


So what is animation?

Animation (also known as ‘motion design’), describes the process of creating the illusion of movement through a series of models or drawings. There exists a long list of animation techniques and types, but traditional, 2D, 3D, and stop motion animation are all some of the most well-known and common types of animation.

Animation is often used in explainer videos, TV commercials, corporate videos, product videos, and even company logos and branding. Animation is just one of a number of tools that creative professionals can utilise to help them to tell a story and captivate their audience. Crucially, animation is designed to be emotive, encouraging the audience to have strong feelings about the subject matter.


Uses for animation

As mentioned above, animation can be found practically everywhere in the modern world – an indication of it’s many, many uses. Below, we explore just some of the main uses of animation to help you determine how animation could support the success of your business.

From providing beloved entertainment to improving education methods, there’s no shortage of uses of animation.


One of the most common ways to use animation is for marketing and advertisement purposes. Using vibrant and eye-catching animation in TV commercials and ads can help to make your product or brand stand out from the crowd.

Plus, animation can help to make your product, company, or service more memorable, encouraging viewers to learn more about your business. It’s also an entertaining and, more importantly, effective way of gaining the interest of your target audience – with some studies stating that animation improves conversion rates.


From immersive gaming to the magic of movies, animation can be used to breathe life into a whole host of entertainment avenues. With a helping hand from animation, video game production companies can create engaging games featuring main characters with realistic emotions and movements.

Similarly, big name animation companies like DreamWorks Animation and The Walt Disney Company are responsible for some of the most magical animated films now known across the world. While these companies have moved away from traditional animation, they continue to delight audience with computer-generated animation techniques.


Ideal for improving both internal and external communication, animation can make educating your audience easier and quicker. By way of illustrating, information presented in a written email could take half an hour to read, however, if this information were to be presented in an animated explainer video, it could be absorbed in a fraction of the time.

The process of educating students also typically involves helping them to understand complex processes and subjects. Animating these processes can make it much easier for this audience to visualise and comprehend the topic, improving understanding as we tend to take in visual information much faster.


With animation, an engineer or architect can analyse how a simulation of a building, structure, or piece of machinery will work within its intended environment. Animation techniques can also be used to build on digital frameworks and create 3D models that are more accurate representations of the desired result.

Interior decorators can also use animation software to bring their visions to life and confer with their clients before committing to removing a wall, adding a built-in piece of furniture or another similarly bold design statement.

While the wide and varied uses of animation don’t end here, it’s clear that animation plays a significant role in informing, educating, and entertaining viewers across the world.


History of animation

While many believe that the history of animation has its origins in filmmaking, this simply isn’t the case. Instead, the history of animation can be traced all the way back to the ancient world. To learn more about the fascinating history of animation, we’ve created a clear timeline depicting the evolution of animation into the incredible tool we now see (or even use ourselves!) every day.

Palaeolithic times

During this period, it’s well-documented that cave drawings were created across the world, including countries such as France, Australia, and Indonesia. However, these motionless drawings have now been explored further, with some archaeologists suggesting firelight may have created the illusion of movement in these drawings.

3000 B.C

While this type of animation is a far cry from the computer-generated animation we see today, it confirms that the history of animation has substantial roots. Since the Palaeolithic period, animation techniques have also been found on pottery from 3000 B.C. This bowl featured a sequence of slightly different images, depicting a goat leaping at a tree.


From 3000 B.C to the 1800’s, animation continued to be an area of interest with many scientists becoming fascinated with optical illusions, but its popularity really began to grow with the advent of the Victorian parlour toy, the Phenakistoscope in 1833.

This children’s toy allows the viewer to see a reflection of the image through a series of moving slits powered by a spinning carboard disc. The flickering images create the illusion of movement, entertaining children and adults alike with repeating animations. Similar inventions include the Zoetrope and the Praxinoscope.


The first animated film to be created using traditional animation techniques was the silent film, Fantasmagorie. This film was created by French caricaturist, Émile Cohl, in 1908 and featured lettering, stop motion, and cut out animation.

Gertie the Dinosaur followed in 1914, complete with an incredible 10,000 hand drawn images created by the director, Winsor McCay. Classic films such as Betty Boop, Popeye, and Superman were then given animation updates following the development of the cel technique – hand-drawing characters on transparent celluloid sheets.

From here, colour animation took off with Warner Brother’s and Walt Disney studio’s infamous work creating classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Merry Melodies, and Looney Tunes. With the integration of television sets making their way into homes, the uses of animation quickly broadened to include marketing and advertisements.


Nowadays, while traditional animation is still practiced, animation tends to take the form of CGI (computer-generated imagery) and computer-generated animation – especially when you watch Disney films. From digital advertisements to films and corporate videos, the uses of animation have substantially increased and diversified from just pure entertainment.


Examples of animation

To help you understand the sheer range of animation that exists in the modern world, our team have provided a brief summary of some helpful animation examples below. From featuring in marketing campaigns to helping boost brand awareness, there are endless animation examples.

YouTube logo animation

Google Logo Animation


This animation helps the viewer to associate the brand name, Google, with the action of using online search through movement. The moving dots in the animation mimic a page loading, while the transition to ‘G’ makes the brand name even easier to remember.

Nespresso On Ice advertisement

Nespresso On Ice. You're just a sip away


Nespresso have created an animated advert to market their ‘On Ice’ Nespresso product. Featuring bright colours, bold shapes, and a revolving focus around their product, the viewer is drawn into the Nespresso On Ice ‘experience’ through the art of animation.

McDonalds brand awareness

McDonald's | #McNuggetworthy?


With the simple addition of animation, this advert is bought to life. Featuring animated flames and lightning, the brand associates itself as being young and vibrant – ideal for connecting with McDonald’s target audience.

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit trailer

Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Trailer


While Claymation doesn’t possess the same popularity as traditional animation and CGI, animated Claymation films are incredibly nostalgic and can still be seen today. Similar animated movies that create incredible characters using clay and stop-motion include Chicken Run (2000), The Boxtrolls (2014), and ParaNorman (2012).

British Gas Meter Readings explainer video

How to Read a Gas Meter and Submit a Reading - British Gas

Part of their customer communications, British Gas created this handy animated explainer video that details how their customers can submit their meter readings. The animated parts of the moving visual effectively draw attention to, and clearly explain, the various ways their customers can get in touch.


Animation and motion graphics services by Tricks Studio

Keen to grow your business by building an impressive online presence, educating your audience, or working on your brand awareness? With a helping hand from the creative professionals at Tricks Studio and our animation and motion graphics services, you can achieve a wide range of marketing and greater business goals.

At Tricks Studio, we use a combination of creative direction and invaluable animation experience to deliver high-quality video content that meets (or even exceeds) our clients’ expectations. To learn more about the way we work and to see previous animation examples of our work, simply take a look at our case study hub and testimonial page.

If you’d like to discuss your content preferences and marketing targets with a member of our tight-knit team, please feel free to call us on 01244 560 537. Alternatively, we also welcome enquiries submitting via email to [email protected] or sent in using our handy online contact form.

Regardless of the size, aim, or budget of your animation or motion graphics project, we want to hear from you.

Thanks to our marketing expert for sharing his insights on his own viral experiences. Are you keen to go viral on social media? We’ve crafted a wide range of paid and organic social campaigns for our clients over the years. Get in touch with us to find out how we can increase your engagement and overall performance through high quality design and animated content.

What is animation?

Gordon Barry

30 June 2023

8 minutes read