The Role and Scope of Animation.

Section Expanded

The dictionary defines animation as “moving pictures”. I don’t know what to make of that. From experience, animation gives the illusion of moving pictures by generating a large number of pictures within a short space of time. The human eye blends it all together, or something like that… I’m gonna research some more.

The webopedia explains that animation is;
A simulation of movement created by displaying a series of pictures, or frames. Cartoons on television is one example of animation. Animation on computers is one of the chief ingredients of multimedia presentations. There are many software applications that enable you to create animations that you can display on a computer monitor.

Note the difference between animation and video. Whereas video takes continuous motion and breaks it up into discrete frames, animation starts with independent pictures and puts them together to form the illusion of continuous motion.

And there we have it… animation. So we know what it is… where did it come from? (Avoiding Wikipedia like the plague, no one likes an easy-moder)

Will be coming back to this to expand. Helpful stuff, but I’m pressed for time this afternoon.

Another helpful tidbit.

Info for this timeline is also taken from Richard Williams’ Animator’s Survival Kit.

Early cave drawings feature mundane animals like warthogs with multiple sets of legs to indicate motion. Either that or Warthogs had a lot more legs back then.

1600BC – The Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II had a temple built to the goddess Isis, which had 110 columns. Ingeniously, each column had a painted figure of the goddess in a progressively changed position. To Horesmen and Charioteers riding past, Isis appeared to move. The Ancient Greeks has a similar idea, they sometimes decorated pots with figures in successive stages of action. Spinning the pot would create a sense of motion.

1640ish – As far as we know, the first attempt to project drawings onto a wall was made in 1640 by Athonasius Kircher with his “Magic Lantern”. He drew each figure on separate pieces of glass which he placed in his apparatus and projected on a wall. Then he moved the glass with strings from above. One these showed a sleeping man’s head and a mouse. The man open and close his mouth and when his mouth was open the mouse ran in.

1824 – ‘The persistence of vision with regard to moving objects‘ – Peter Roget discovered this principle and it rests on the fact that our eyes temporarily retain the image of anything they’ve just seen. If this wasn’t so, we would never get the illusion of an unbroken connection in a series of images and neither movies nor animation would be possible. The principle gave birth to various optical devices, such as the Thaumatrope; a disc with an image on either side, when the disc is spun between two strings, the two images would merge. Such as a bird and a cage.

1860ish – Phenakistoscope invented – Two discs mounted on a shaft – the front disc has slits around the edge and the rear disc has a sequence of drawings. Align the drawings with the slits, look through the openings and as the discs revolve we have the illusion of motion.

1867 – Zeotrope (Wheel of Life) Appeared in the USA and was sold as a toy. Long strips of paper with a sequence of drawings on them were inserted into a cylinder with slits in it. Spin the cylinder, look through the slits and the drawings appear to move.

1868 – Flipper book: In 1868 the flipper book appeared world wide and functions exactly like the flip books of today. Result is animation, the illusion of continuous action. Drawings in time.

1877 – Praxinoscope: Devised by frenchman Emile Reynaud. He was the first to create shorts sequences of dramatic action by drawing on a 30 foot strip of transparent substance called “Crystaloid”.

1889 – Kinetoscope invented by Thomas Edison – projected a 50ft length of film in roughly 13 seconds.

1906 – James Stuart Blackton (a new york newspaper cartoonist) made one of the first animated film which he called “Humorous phases of funny faces.” His method was to draw comical faces on a blackboard and film them. He would stop the film, erase on face to draw another then film the newly drawn face. (Some of the animation appears to be cutout pieces of paper rather than drawn chalk… but I might just be seeing things.) Was created with the help of Thomas Edison photographing the images and consists of 3000 ‘flickering drawings’ to makes it. The novelty brought explosions of laughter and was an instant hit.

1910 – Emile Cohl – first paper cutout animation. It was shown at the Follies Bergeres in Paris. The figures were childlike but the story was relatively sophisticated: a tale of a girl, a jealous lover and a policeman. He also gave lampposts and houses intelligence and movement, with emotions and moods of their own. Cohl’s work prefigures the later animation dictium,

“Don’t do what a camera can do – do what a camera can’t do.” See an example of Cohl’s work in Enroute.

1911 – Winsor McCay produced an animation sequence using his comic strip character “Little Nemo.” Consisted of 4000 drawings.

1914 – Winsor McCay produced a cartoon called “Gertie, The Trained Dinosaur” which amazingly consisted of 10,000 drawings. It was shown as a film in theatres and also as a multi-media event on stage with McCay interacting with the animated Gertie.

1915 – Max Fleisher patented the rotoscope process – live action footage can be traced.

1918 – McCay made the first serious dramatic cartoon, The Sinking of the Lustiania. A war propaganda film expressing outrage at the catastrophe, it was a huge step forward in realism and drama- the longest animated film so far. It took two years of work and needed 25,000 drawings.

1920 – Felix the cat, the most popular character and series of this period, started as a Feline Follies from Sullivan’s studio. The merchandising of Felix’s image for dolls, watches, etc was very successful and paved the way for the later merchandising of animated characters. (Remember… Dead Pirates band)

1923 – Walt and Roy Disney found Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio.

1928 – Steamboat Willie was the first successful sound animated film; it made Mickey an international star and launched the Disney Studio of today.

1930 – Warner Bros. Cartoons was born. First WB short was Sinking in the Bathtub.
Pluto character (walt disney) born in The Picnic.
Fleischer; introduced the character of in Betty Boop.

1934 – Donald Duck’s voice debut’s on Mickey Mouse’s NBC radio program.
Warners first Merrie Melody in colour, the Looney Tunes were in black and white until 1943, coloured in 70’s in Japan.
In the 1950’s, Warner’s burnt all their cels from these series to make storage space available.

1935 – First Porky Pig “I haven’t got a hat.”
Marc Davis, one of the nine Old Men begins working at Disney, spending 42 years there.

1936 – Tex Avery’s first film at Warner’s. Jones, Clampett, and Bo Cannon were also in the unit, which they called Termite Terrace.

1937 – Disney release Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Dwarves?). The first ever full-length animated feature of it’s time.
(Warner) Porkys Duck Hunt introduced the proto-type character of Daffy Duck.

1938 – First Chuck Jones feature, “The Night Watchman.”

1940 – Disney release Pinocchio and Fantasia
(Warner) Avery’s, A WILD HARE, where he defines the character of Bugs Bunny. There were three previous Bugs’, but this was the film where the canon Bugs was born. (Youtube footage available but of poor quality.)
Collaborativeefforts of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera create the first Tom and Jerry, titled; “The Puss Gets the Boot“. (Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer…MGM)
Lantz: Woody Woodpecker introduced in Knock Knock.

1942 – While Warner continued to play out short but sweet features, Walt Disney fire out yet another feature-length classic, Bambi.

1943 – MGM, Tex Avery’s DUMB HOUNDED, character of Droopy is born.

1944 – Leon Schlesinger studio sold to Warners.
Yosemite Sam introduced in Hare Trigger.

1945 – Warners Pepe Le Pew introduced in Odor Kitty, by Chuck Jones. (Pepe is stereotypically french in the way Speedy Gonzales is stereotypically Mexican.)

1946 – Warners create Foghorn Leghorn in Walky Talky Hawk
Terrytoons introduce the Heckle and Jeckle series.
Xerography process invented by Chester Carlson. (Basically the first design for electronic printers we see today attached to most household computers… the real noisy ones that go WHREEERRRR… WHREEERRRR…. WHREEEERRRR when the printhead goes back and forth.)

1947 – Tweetie Pie, AA, Warners: Tweetie and Sylvester together, first Tweetie, first AA for Warners, Friz Freleng.

1949 – Warners introduce the Road Runner with Fast and Furry-ous, directed by Chuck Jones.

1950 – Animation officially becomes an important part of commercial advertising.
(Disney) Release the feature length film, Cinderella. One of the most well know adaptations of the Cinderella story first published by Charles Perrault in 1697 and later by Brothers Grimm. (Not the first or last time the Brothers Grimm fairy tales was turned to animation.)

1953 – Disney release Peter Pan.
Warners release Duck Amuck, with Chuck Jones as the Director.
Gumby first appears in Gumbasia by Art Clokey

1954 – The creation of the Tasmanian Devil in “Devil May Hare” by Bob McKimson.

1955 – The creation of Speedy Gonzales, AA, directed by Friz Freleng. First major Speedy.
Disneyland opened.
Warners release One Froggy Evening, by Chuck Jones.

1957 – Hanna and Barbera were asked to leave MGM (the MGM animation division shut down), founded Hanna Barbera studios.
Warner release “What’s Opera Doc?” directed by Chuck Jones.
Dr. Seuss wrote Cat in the Hat.

1959 – Jay Ward’s on TV (Rocky and Bullwinkle)

1960 – The Flintstones, first animated prime time TV series from the Hanna Barbera Productions.

1961 – Start of the “Nine Old Men” era at Disney. Premier of 101 Dalmations, the first use of Xerox cels.

1962 – Warner Bros. Animation Closes.
Charles Shulz (creator of Comic Strip; “Peanuts”. Snoopy and Charlie Brown et all) writes: “Happiness is a warm puppy.”

1965 – The Dot in the Line, a 10 minute animated short film, made by the MGM Animation/Visual Arts studio and directed by Chuck Jones adapted from the book of the same name won the 1965 Academy Award for Animated short Film.
A Charlie Brown Christmas – First TV special of the comic strip “Peanuts”. Produced and animated by former Warner Bros and UPA animator Bill Melendez.

(On with the show)

1966 – Dr Seuss’; How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Chuck Jones)

1968 – Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (AA, Disney)

1969 – Scooby Doo, Where are you. The animated series debut’s on TV.

1971 – Fritz the Cat, produced by Steve Kantz and directed by Ralph Bakshi. The first animated, X-rated feature in the USA.

1982 – Vincent; a short animated film by Tim Burton and Rick Heinrichs

1987 – The Simpsons originally began as shorts on the Tracey Ullman show.

1989 – Disney’s last animated feature-length film to use traditional cels. (The Little Mermaid)
John Lasseter and William Reeves of Pixar first to win an Academy Award for best Animated Short; Tin Toy. Which grossed over $300 million and proved that animation was not limited to a children’s audience.

1991 – Disney release Beauty and the Beast the first animated feature to be nominated for the Academy Award as Best Picture.
Canadian Animator creates the Ren and Stimpy show. (Believed to have paved the way for more satirical animated shows like Beavis and Butt-head and Southpark.)

1992 – Cartoon Network starts in 2 million homes, by 1995 in 22 million homes.
Frog Baseball starring Beavis & Butthead by Mike Judge, screened to an MTV focus group.
Bill Plympton completes the feature film The Tune.

1993 – Tim BUrton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas

1994 – Disney’s The Lion King

1995 – Pixar’s Toy Story, the first full-length 3D Computer Generated feature film.

1996 – The merger of Time Warner and Turner brings Warner Brothers, Feature TV, and classic animation Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network plus others under one roof.

1997 – King of the Hill airs.

2001 – Pixar’s Shrek, animated movie won the Academy Award for Best Animation.

2003 – Finding Nemo, made by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

2005 – The Simpsons in it’s 16th season, becomes the longest running television comedy series ever made, surpassing The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which tallied 15 seasons from 1952 – 1966.

That’s all I got so far. All information gleamed from the internet but special thanks to

The Role and Scope of Animation.

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