Great question! Unfortunately there is no quick answer. The trick is that there isn’t one answer that covers all projects. Sometimes the limit is two frames while with other projects, the answer may be as many as twelve frames. Here are some of the factors that go into answering this popular question.
- Will your image be animating as the viewing angle changes left/right or up/down? If your image is part of a display that people will walk by, it likely needs to be left/right animating (unless it is be an escalator or a trampoline!). Otherwise, we will always recommend up/down animation. The reason is that left/right animations tend to ghost more than up/down ones do. So up/down animations can more clearly hold multiple frames. Left/right animation should usually be just two frames although sometimes three will work.
- How big is your image? Smaller images actually tend to hold more frames better than do larger ones.
- What are you trying to achieve with the image? Sometimes a “flip” between two image has more impact that a multi-frame animation. Imagine you want to show the function of a door that can be opened or closed. A 2-frame flip between open and closed will often look better and communicate the function more than a 5-frame showing the in-between frames of the door opening and closing. It’s opened/it’s closed. Bam. Story told. Other times, the in-between frames are the story. Every story is slightly different.
One way to look at it is that the more frames you use, the less clearly and distinctly you will see each frame. If your animation is of a waterfall, that may not be an issue. If your image is one sentence changing to another to another to another… that’s going to likely be an issue.
So bottom line is that you should use the fewest amount of frames needed to tell your story. That way, each frame has the best opportunity to be seen in all its glory.
And of course, we’re here to guide you so talk to us about what you’re trying to achieve and we’ll help you make it great!