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    Animation and Math Correlation


    Constant technological development, changes in the animation industry, and increasing presents of animation in the commercial, film, game, scientific, and education industry, are becoming more technology-based.  Parallel to this, certain aspects and job positions are becoming increasingly more technical. In addition, a career in animation can cover a vast range of job types as undergraduates are exposed to the breath and major areas of the animation industry. As students focus in on the area(s) they desire to work in, the depth of those skills isn’t always apparent. With the growth of animation being applied to other industries, it is becoming more important to know whether and how much math may be required in support of servicing industries with animation.

    Given this trend, a self assessment revealed two obstacles that I felt hinder my competitiveness and capacity of becoming a proficient motion animator;

    1)     Mathematical Foundation – difficulties in applying mathematical concepts, and branches of math (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus) within the context of motion animation (less abstract and more contextual).

    2)     Visualization and Tools – needed to bridge and illustrate the connections between the math, properties, and motions of animated objects and technologies.

    After months of research and gaining a sense of the chasm, I determined that three major domains; math, motion, and visualization would be the focus and foundation of support to reduce these obstacles and help in bridging the correlations between animation and math.

    The mathematical domain consists of formulas, expressions, and functions that support quantity (more or less, measurement, magnitude, single or multitude), space (relative position and direction), structure (data – to store and represent objects) and change (quantity and rate of change), relative to animated objects and entities. In general, the branches of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus, that helps represent the various aspects of visualization representation and motion.

    The motion domain consists of the types of motion and equations that are known to represent the major and subtypes of motion that relate to describing animation.

    Rectilinear Vibratory Rotational Curvilinear
    Displacement Random Fixed Point Path

    The visualization and tool domain consist of how to illustrate the terms, descriptions, and techniques to communicate both abstract and concrete relationship between mathematical and motion domains, parallel with programming languages used, and platforms to present visuals with.


    Given that I am not a teacher, and these explorations are strictly my own self learning, I felt that to maintain coherency I would follow the “Four Step Method” invented by Paul Stephen Prueitt, PhD (2010) (Prueitt), “Illustrate, Name, Revise and Extend”, as a method to present exploration of different topics.

    1) Illustrate: Find an illustrative example of a focus topic.  The focus topics are a minimally enumerated set of topics that cover the curriculum.   Each topic is distinct and yet all of the topics together will cover the complete curriculum.   

    2) Name: Naming the exercise type provides a means to talk using a common terminology.  Peer-to-Peer learning is enhanced.

    3) Revise: Develops one or more exemplars (a typical example or instance) of a specific exercise type.  Some of these “illustrative exemplars” will be easier than the first exemplar.  Some will be more difficult. 

    4) Extend: Develop ability to exposit (explain or expound) the theory, or cognitive process, underlying any specific exercise type. 

    Following this method, would allow me to present bite size topics, that could tie together the three domains aspects with an approach of selecting a descriptive motion (visualization), identify single or multiple motion types (motion) characteristic of the motion, and identify what mathematical equations (math) could be applied to implement an illustration of the descriptive motion. In addition, I could minimize going off on tangents that may be needed in bridging the abstract to concrete.