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Limited animation is a process of making animated cartoons that does not redraw entire frames but variably reuses common parts between frames. One of its major characteristics is stylized design in all forms and shapes, which in the early days was referred to as modern design. The short-subject and feature-length cartoons of Walt Disney from the 1930s and 1940s are widely acclaimed for depicting animated simulations of reality, with exquisite detail in every frame. This style of animation is time-consuming and expensive. "Limited" animation creates an image with abstract art, symbolism, and fewer drawings to create the same effect, at a much lower cost. This style of animation depends upon animators' skill in emulating change without additional drawings; improper use of limited animation is easily recognized as unnatural. It also encourages the animators to indulge in artistic styles that are not bound to real-world limits. The result is an artistic style that could not have developed if animation was solely devoted to producing simulations of reality. Without limited animation, such groundbreaking films as Yellow Submarine, Chuck Jones' The Dot and the Line, and many others could never have been produced.

The process of limited animation aims to reduce the overall number of drawings. Film is projected at 24 frames per second. For movements in normal speed, most animation in general is done "on twos," meaning each drawing is displayed twice, for a total of 12 drawings per 24 frames per second. Faster movements may demand animation "on ones" with a new drawing in each frame, while characters that do not move may be done with a single drawing (a "hold") for a certain amount of time. It is saidTemplate:Who that the Disney average was about 18 drawings per second, pretending that all characters of a scene share the same sheet of paper. Limited animation mainly reduces the number of inbetweens, the drawings between the keyframes which define a movement, and can cause stuttering if inbetweens are poorly set up.

Overall, the use of limited animation does not necessarily imply lower quality as it allows the use of many time-saving techniques that can improve the quality and flow of the keyframes and overall presentation of an animation.

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