Skeletal Animation

What Does Skeletal Animation Mean?

Skeletal animation is a form of conceptual animation design wherein two individual parts are coordinated: the first one is a skin or surface model, which shows the presentation of a character, and the second one is a set of bones or "skeleton," which is used to drive commands for animation.


Techopedia Explains Skeletal Animation

Commonly, skeletal animation provides user-friendly interfaces for designers who have to engineer the complicated animation of complex objects. Many think of skeletal animation as applying animation to human characters, but the same concept applies to any character or object in a virtual animation project. Simple commands on the skeleton related to complex algorithms use all sorts of heuristic or predictive modeling to determine outcomes.

Skeletal animation includes a hierarchy of bones with their own properties. Ideas like transformation and translation allow designers to apply algorithms or changes to larger fields. Sets of joints influence range of motion. All of these involve an object-oriented approach to an animated design. It combines small integrated components into one main framework that designers can use.

Engineers refer to the construction of sets of bones as "rigging."

Skeletal animation is widely used in movies and videos and in different kinds of artificial intelligence or cutting-edge IT projects.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.