Commonly the effect of animation is achieved by a rapid succession of sequential images that minimally differ from each other. The illusion—as in motion pictures in general—is thought to rely on the phi phenomenon and beta movement, but the exact causes are still uncertain.
Television and video are popular electronic animation media that originally were analog and now operate digitally. For display on the computer, techniques like animated GIF and Flash animation were developed.
The physical movement of image parts through simple mechanics – in for instance moving images in magic lantern shows – can also be considered animation.
The mechanical manipulation of three-dimensional puppets and objects to emulate living beings has a very long history in automata. Electronic automata were popularized by Disney as animatronics.
The creation of non-trivial animation works (i.e., longer than a few seconds) has developed as a form of filmmaking, with certain unique aspects. Traits common to both live-action and animated feature-length films are labor-intensity and high production costs.
Character designers on the visual development team draw model sheets to show how each character should look like with different facial expressions, posed in different positions, and viewed from different angles.