All About Animation
What is animation? Animation is the creation of a sequence of images—drawn, painted, or produced by other artistic methods—that change over time to portray the illusion of motion. Before the invention of film, humans depicted motion in static art as far back as the Paleolithic period. In the 1st century, several devices successfully depicted motion in animated images.
History of animation
One early example is a 5,200-year old pottery bowl discovered in Shahr-e Sukhteh, Iran. The bowl has five images painted around it that show phases of a goat leaping up to nip at a tree.
An Egyptian mural approximately 4000 years old, found in the tomb of Khnumhotep at the Beni Hassan cemetery, features a very long series of images that apparently depict the sequence of events in a wrestling match.
Numerous devices that successfully displayed animated images were introduced well before the advent of the motion picture. The majority of these devices didn't project their images, and accordingly could only be viewed by a single person at any one time. For this reason they were considered toys rather than devices for a large scale entertainment industry like later animation.
The magic lantern (c. 1650)
The magic lantern is an early predecessor of the modern day projector. It consisted of a translucent oil painting, a simple lens and a candle or oil lamp. In a darkened room, the image would appear projected onto an adjacent flat surface. It was often used to project demonic, frightening images in a phantasmagoria that convinced people they were witnessing the supernatural. The origin of the magic lantern is debated, but in the 15th century the Venetian inventor Giovanni Fontana published an illustration of a device that projected the image of a demon in his Liber Instrumentorum. The earliest known actual magic lanterns are usually credited to Christiaan Huygens or Athanasius Kircher.
A thaumatrope is a simple toy that was popular in the 19th century. It is a small disk with different pictures on each side, such as a bird and a cage, and is attached to two pieces of string. When the strings are twirled quickly between the fingers, the pictures appear to combine into a single image. This demonstrates the persistence of vision. The invention of the device is often credited to Sir John Herschel, but John Ayrton Paris popularized it in 1824 when he demonstrated it to the Royal College of Physicians.
The phenakistoscope was invented in 1831 by the Belgian Joseph Plateau and the Austrian Simon von Stampfer. It consists of a disk with a series of images, drawn on radii evenly spaced around the center of the disk. Slots are cut out of the disk on the same radii as the drawings, but at a different distance from the center.
The zoetrope concept was suggested in 1834 by William George Horner, and from the 1860s marketed as the zoetrope. It operates on the same principle as the phenakistoscope. The observer looks through vertical slits around the sides to view the moving images on the opposite side as the cylinder spins. As it spins, the material between the viewing slits moves in the opposite direction of the images on the other side and in doing so serves as a rudimentary shutter. The zoetrope had several advantages over the basic phenakistoscope. It did not require the use of a mirror to view the illusion, and because of its cylindrical shape it could be viewed by several people at once.
Flip book (1868)
John Barnes Linnett patented the first flip book in 1868 as the kineograph. A flip book is a small book with relatively springy pages, each having one in a series of animation images located near its unbound edge. The user bends all of the pages back, normally with the thumb, then by a gradual motion of the hand allows them to spring free one at a time.
The first known animated projection on a screen was created in France by Charles-Émile Reynaud, who was a French science teacher. Reynaud created the Praxinoscope in 1877 and the Théâtre Optique in December 1888. On 28 October 1892, he projected the first animation in public, Pauvre Pierrot, at the Musée Grévin in Paris. This film is also notable as the first known instance of film perforations being used. His films were not photographed, but drawn directly onto the transparent strip. In 1900, more than 500,000 people attended these screenings.
Traditional Animation largely consisted of a stick figure moving about and encountering all manner of morphing objects, such as a wine bottle that transforms into a flower. There were also sections of live action where the animator’s hands would enter the scene. The film was created by drawing each frame on paper and then shooting each frame onto negative film, which gave the picture a blackboard look.
During the 1910s, the production of animated short films, typically referred to as "cartoons", became an industry of its own and cartoon shorts were produced for showing in movie theaters. The most successful producer at the time was John Randolph Bray, who, along with animator Earl Hurd, patented the cel animation process that dominated the animation industry for the rest of the decade.
The silent era
Charles-Émile Reynaud's Théâtre Optique is the earliest known example of projected animation. It predates even photographic motion picture devices such as Thomas Edison's 1893 invention, the Kinetoscope, and the Lumière brothers' 1894 invention, the cinematograph. Reynaud exhibited three of his animations on October 28, 1892 at Musée Grévin in Paris, France.
After the cinematograph popularized the motion picture, producers began to explore the endless possibilities of animation in greater depth. A short stop-motion animation was produced in 1908 by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton called The Humpty Dumpty Circus. Stop motion is a technique in which real objects are moved around in the time between their images being recorded, so that when the images are viewed at a normal frame rate the objects appear to move by some invisible force. Some films featuring Stop motion technique are Haunted Mansion by Blackton, Fantasmagorie by the French director Émile Cohl, and Katsudō Shashin by an unknown creator.
Influenced by Émile Cohl, the author of the first puppet-animated film (i.e., The Beautiful Lukanida (1912)), Russian-born (ethnically Polish) director Wladyslaw Starewicz, known as Ladislas Starevich, started to create stop motion films using dead insects with wire limbs and later, in France, with complex and really expressive puppets. In 1911, he created The Cameraman's Revenge, a complex tale of treason,and violence between several different insects. It is a pioneer work of puppet animation, and the oldest animated film of such dramatic complexity, with characters filled with motivation, desire and feelings.
In 1914, American cartoonist Winsor McCay released Gertie the Dinosaur, an early example of character development in drawn animation. The film was made for McCay's vaudeville act and as it played McCay would speak to Gertie who would respond with a series of gestures.
Also in 1914, John Bray opened John Bray Studios, which revolutionized the way animation was created. Earl Hurd, one of Bray's employees patented the cel technique. This involved animating moving objects on transparent celluloid sheets. Animators photographed the sheets over a stationary background image to generate the sequence of images. This, as well as Bray's innovative use of the assembly line method, allowed John Bray Studios to create Colonel Heeza Liar, the first animated series.
In 1915, Max and Dave Fleischer invented rotoscoping, the process of using film as a reference point for animation and their studios went on to later release such animated classics as Ko-Ko the Clown, Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor Man, and Superman. In 1918 McCay released The Sinking of the Lusitania, a wartime propaganda film. McCay did use some of the newer animation techniques, such as cels over paintings—but because he did all of his animation by himself, the project wasn't actually released until just shortly before the end of the war. At this point the larger scale animation studios were becoming the industrial norm and artists such as McCay faded from the public eye.
The first known animated feature film was El Apóstol, made in 1917 by Quirino Cristiani from Argentina. He also directed two other animated feature films, including 1931's Peludópolis, the first feature length animation to use synchronized sound.
In 1920, Otto Messmer of Pat Sullivan Studios created Felix the Cat. Pat Sullivan, the studio head took all of the credit for Felix, a common practice in the early days of studio animation. Felix the Cat was distributed by Paramount Studios, and it attracted a large audience. Felix was the first cartoon to be merchandised. He soon became a household name.
In Germany, during the 1920s the abstract animation was invented by Walter Ruttman, Hans Richter, and Oskar Fischinger, however, the Nazis censorship against so-called "degenerate art" prevented the abstract animation from developing after 1933.
Walt Disney & Warner Bros
In 1923, a studio called Laugh-O-Grams went bankrupt and its owner, Walt Disney, opened a new studio in Los Angeles. Disney's first project was the Alice Comedies series, which featured a live action girl interacting with numerous cartoon characters. Disney's first notable breakthrough was 1928's Steamboat Willie, the third of the Mickey Mouse series. It was the first cartoon that included a fully post-produced soundtrack, featuring voice and sound effects printed on the film itself ("sound-on-film"). The short film showed an anthropomorphic mouse named Mickey neglecting his work on a steamboat to instead make music using the animals aboard the boat.
In 1933, Warner Brothers Cartoons was founded. While Disney's studio was known for its releases being strictly controlled by Walt Disney himself, Warner brothers allowed its animators more freedom, which allowed for their animators to develop more recognizable personal styles.
The first animation to use the full, three-color Technicolor method was Flowers and Trees, made in 1932 by Disney Studios, which won an Academy Award for the work. Color animation soon became the industry standard, and in 1934, Warner Brothers released Honeymoon Hotel of the Merrie Melodies series, their first color films.
The television era
Color television was introduced to the US Market in 1951. In 1958, Hanna-Barbera released Huckleberry Hound, the first half-hour television program to feature only animation. Terrytoons released Tom Terrific the same year. In 1960, Hanna-Barbera released another monumental animated television show, The Flintstones, which was the first animated series on prime time television. Television significantly decreased public attention to the animated shorts being shown in theatres.
Stop motion animation
Stop-motion animation is used to describe animation created by physically manipulating real-world objects and photographing them one frame of film at a time to create the illusion of movement. There are many different types of stop-motion animation, usually named after the medium used to create the animation. Some kind of animation that used stop motion technique are as follows:
1. Puppet animation
2. Clay animation
3. Cutout animation
4. Model animation
5. Object animation
Computer animation encompasses a variety of techniques, the unifying factor being that the animation is created digitally on a computer. 2D animation techniques tend to focus on image manipulation while 3D techniques usually build virtual worlds in which characters and objects move and interact. 3D animation can create images that seem real to the viewer.
Animatronics is the use of mechatronics to create machines which seem animate rather than robotic.
Audio-Animatronics and Autonomatronics is a form of robotics animation, combined with 3-D animation, created by Walt Disney Imagineering for shows and attractions at Disney theme parks move and make noise (generally a recorded speech or song). They are fixed to whatever supports them. They can sit and stand, and they cannot walk. An Audio-Animatron is different from an android-type robot in that it uses prerecorded movements and sounds, rather than responding to external stimuli. In 2009, Disney created an interactive version of the technology called Autonomatronics.
Linear Animation Generator is a form of animation by using static picture frames installed in a tunnel or a shaft. The animation illusion is created by putting the viewer in a linear motion, parallel to the installed picture frames. The concept and the technical solution, were invented in 2007 by Mihai Girlovan in Romania.