The term Scanimation is derived from ‘Scanimate’ – an analog computer animation system developed from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Scanimation is an animation technique using which one can create the illusion of motion on plain paper!
Scanimation involves two layers – a background image, usually a black and white silhouette, and a transparent sheet having black bars, called scanlines. The image appears to be blurry or jagged at first, but when the transparent sheet with the scanlines is placed on top of the image and the sheet moved horizontally across the background image, something magical happens. The image suddenly begins to animate! Watch the video below.
Impressive, isn’t it? Here is how you can make your own Scanimation at home.
Get hold of this software called Scanimation Creation. [Download links removed as the software violates the registered trademark Scanimation®]. Alternative open source software.
Now find a GIF animation that you want to turn into a Scanimation. One animation of a cat running is already included with the software for practice. You can use any animated GIFs but Scanimation works best with black & white images and particularly silhouettes, although you can use colored images. You can also use a stick figure animation (these are already black & white silhouettes).
So, you have the software and the GIF file. The next is easy. Simply load the GIF file into the software, adjust the speed of animation (it’s best to leave at the default value of 5.5) and hit the Save icon. This will create two images – a background BMP file and the scanlines.
Now all you have to do is print the image on a regular paper and the scanlines on a clear transparent sheet, which can be bought in any stationary store. Your Scanimation is ready for action.
Tips from the creator
Technically, Scanimation Creation will work with any images. However, there are some conditions which will create better Scanimations. They are listed below, in order of most effective to least effective:
- Use images with few frames. The less frames, the better the Scanimation will look. I suggest a 4 to 5 frame maximum for best results.
- Black and white images also look better, because they don’t contrast as much with the black scanlines and white background.
- Larger images tend to be a bit easier to see. Of course, if you choose an image larger than the screen, you will not see all of it until you save the images with the ENTER key.