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Computer animation is a general term for a kind of visual digital display technology that simulates moving objects on-screen. Modern forms of computer animation evolved from more primitive computer graphics over the last few decades, as huge advances in computer technology led to much more sophisticated imaging methods. Modern computer animation can achieve dazzling results with three-dimensional figures acting against a three-dimensional background. As a result, it has largely revolutionized the film industry by reducing the costs associated with setting up physical film sets, hiring extras and gathering props. Now, many of these physical assets can be simulated using computer animation.
The simplest and earliest forms of computer animation simply moved objects around on a screen in what's called two-dimensional computer graphics animation. These kinds of technology are still common, for example, in animated GIF files. Early 64-bit computer systems could achieve these kinds of animation, which gradually developed into more sophisticated forms where pre-drawn images were juxtaposed on moving backgrounds to simulate an elaborate animation reel.
Today's computer animation, also called computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation, uses three-dimensional methods involving digitally produced pieces placed onto a conceptual "skeleton" or other framework. CGI may refer to static or animated content, whereas computer animation specifically refers to displays of objects in motion.