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What is tweening in animation?

Tweening, also known as inbetweening, is a process in animation that involves creating intermediate frames, called inbetweens, between two keyframes. The intended result is to create the illusion of movement by smoothly transitioning one image into another.
What this means is that the artist need only draw (or paint) some key frames and a computer creates the in-between frames (using tweening). When all these frames are played together, you obtain the sense of a smooth and lifelike animation. Tweening is used in traditional as well as modern digital animation.
Tweening is thus necessary to achieve a sense of fluid movement with still images and is commonly automated using animation software.

Tweening Techniques in Animation

There are several common tweening techniques in animation. The “Classic Tween” is a technique for creating more traditional video-based animations. It was commonly used in Flash CS3 and earlier.
The “Motion Tween” technique allows the animator to have more control over the tweening process. It is often used in interactive animations and works well with 3D animation.
Adobe Animate, for example, offers both Classic and Motion Tweens, allowing animators to create smooth transitions and movements between keyframes.

Advantages of Tweening in Animation

Tweening leads to faster development time. Because tweening allows for the automatic generation of intermediate frames, it saves time compared to manual frame-by-frame animation.
Tweening also leads to smaller file sizes. Since tweening generates frames automatically, it can lead to smaller file sizes compared to traditional frame-by-frame animation

Disadvantages of Tweening in Animation

Tweening can result in a loss of control over the animation and/or final output, as most frames are generated automatically by the computer.
Further in some cases, tweening can lead to animations that appear repetitive or predictable, because the computer can exercise only a limited amount of creativity in how characters move or morph from one frame to another.

Alternatives to Tweening in Animation

One alternative to tweening in animation is traditional Frame-by-Frame Animation. In this approach, each frame is drawn manually, allowing for precise control over the animation but requiring more time and resources.
A second approach is “Stop-Motion Animation”. This technique involves physically manipulating objects or characters and taking a series of still photographs to create the illusion of movement. It offers a unique visual aesthetic but can be labor-intensive.
If you liked this blogpost and want to explore more about graphics and animation, learn about Python’s turtle graphics module!
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