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THE HISTORY OF
What is Animation?
a “moving picture” made up of a series of still drawings, computer graphics, or photographs that appears to move through slight progressive changes in each frame
Early attempts at depicting motion
Cave paintings 18,000 BC
Greek vases 430 BC
Thousands of years later,
optical toys became the
precursors to cinematic
these demonstrate the persistence of vision:
the brain retains an image for a fraction of a second after the image has passed. If the eye sees a series of still images in rapid succession, the eyes are tricked into thinking that they have seen motion.
Magic Lantern 1630
Stop motion (puppet, clay)
The Magic Lantern
a series of translucent oil paintings projected by a simple lamp
possibly originating from China in the 1600’s.
a disk with two different pictures on each side attached to pieces of string
When the strings are twirled quickly, the two pictures appear to combine into a single image
Edward Muybridge’s Phenakistoscope
a slotted cardboard disc containing a series of images and attached to a stick or dowel
By holding the image side up to a mirror, spinning the disc, looking through the slots, the images create an illusion of movement
• pictures were drawn on a strip set around the bottom third of a metal drum, with slits cut in the upper section of the drum
• The drum was mounted on a spindle so that it could be spun, and viewers looking through the slits would see the cartoon strip form a moving image
• The faster the drum is spun, the smoother the image that is produced.
a more sophisticated version of the zoetrope viewed in a series of stationary mirrors around the inside of the cylinder, so that the animation would stay in place, and also provide a clearer image.
a larger version of the praxinoscope that could be projected onto a screen, was called the Théâtre Optique.
• first patented in 1868
• A set of sequential pictures seen at a high speed creates the effect of motion.
Stop Motion Animation
• Invented in the early 1900’s
• In stop motion animation, the camera is stopped and an object is moved, removed or added to a shot before filming is resumed
Le voyage dans la lune,
Georges Mélies, 1902
• a traditional art from Indonesia, silhouette animation was explored by western animators in the 1920’s
• jointed, flat-figure marionettes whose
poses are minutely readjusted for each
Animation in the Movies
In 1906, J. Stuart Blackton made the first animated cartoon, Humorous Phases of Funny Faces using stop-motion and filming a blackboard of drawings
Animation in the Movies
• The first animated “personality” was Gertie the Dinosaur hand drawn by Windsor McCay in 1914 with 10,000 drawings, (backgrounds included)
• One of the milestones of efficient animation production was the patenting of a cel (or cellulose acetate) animation production process in 1914.
• Because cels are clear,
different drawings of moving
parts could be laid over a
single static image, reducing
the number of times an
image had to be redrawn
Animation in the Movies
• Before Disney's Mickey Mouse, the most famous cartoon personality was Felix the Cat (1922).
• around 1915 Max Fleischer invented the rotoscope,
which projected live action footage onto the animator's
• By tracing the shape, the animator could create a smooth, realistic action that predated Walt Disney's work by 15 years.
• Fleischer used another technique called “Pose to Pose” animation, in which the animators would produce main poses, or keyframes, then have assistants fill in the in-betweens
• at the time, this led to striking workers at Fleischer Studios, but the practice is
still used today by traditional
cel animation companies,
and has been translated
into the automatic “tweening”
processes found in computer
based animation tools.
The Advent of Disney
With the arrival of sound in 1920, Walt Disney quickly rose to dominate animation at the movies
Mickey Mouse became famous in Steamboat Willie (1928)
And in 1937, Disney made
the first full-length color
cartoon, Snow White
and the Seven Dwarfs
It took 4 years,
2 million drawings,
and a record $1.5 million
regarded as a milestone
in animation history
And over the next 70 years or so…
Toy Story, 1995
the first full-length
created entirely in 3D
own Alias – now
On to the present…
Today, of course, animation is an integral part of the entertainment industry, from movies and television to music videos, games, and advertising, and the internet
And while stop motion is still
used (see works by
Tim Burton and Nick Park)
most 2 and 3-D animation
is now digitally generated
South Park is created
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