This is mostly based on information found on Sakuga Blog, and is presented separately here, primarily as a way of organizing my own thoughts on the subject.
If you have watched the meta-anime Shirobako, you know that cuts are the International Standard unit of measure in anime production. In Shirobako, almost every animator assignment is based on cuts, and the difficulty of an assignment is rated in how heavy (complex) the cuts are. So, like Noah and cubits, my first questions what’s a cut?
I have been looking for a definition of the word ever since Shiro came out. Finally, Sakuga Blog has one, with a couple of really good examples:
Cuts in anime are basically the same as shots in movies – continuous looks at the events. Multiple of them are used to comprise a sequence, and they can be short or long depending on the type of scene (though the latter are rare, since anime’s production model would require a single animator to handle way too many consecutive keyframes). The easiest way to explain them is through examples, so let’s take a look at two recent uploads on the booru: this upload is composed of three cuts (0:00 – 0:09, 0:09 – 0:12, and 0:12 – 0:23), while this upload is one single cut. Another way to think about it is simply the “camera” switching to another position; a cut can move the POV, but it ends the moment it cuts to a different one.
So, if I understand the process correctly, the director sketches out the start of each cut as part of a storyboard:
Then the key animators draw major changes in the positions of characters within a cut
And finally, the in-between-ers draw each frame of the 24fps animation to move from one position to another, and color and backgrounds are added.
So this (non-Shirobako) sequence, from the Sakugabooru blog, looks like it shows development of a single cut. The original storyboard and key animation are at the top, at the bottom, you have the in-betweens drawn in and the background, with the final coloring.