I've spent a lot of time on this blog working with matplotlib animations (see the basic tutorial here, as well as my examples of animating a quantum system, an optical illusion, the Lorenz system in 3D, and recreating Super Mario). Up until now, I've not have not combined the animations with IPython notebooks. The problem is that so far the integration of IPython with matplotlib is entirely static, while animations are by their nature dynamic. There are some efforts in the IPython and matplotlib development communities to remedy this, but it's still not an ideal setup.
I had an idea the other day about how one might get around this limitation in the case of animations. By creating a function which saves an animation and embeds the binary data into an HTML string, you can fairly easily create automatically-embedded animations within a notebook.