Summer Project - Reviewing the History of Animation
Over the summer I briefly researched the history of animation and placed my findings in an A5 sketchbook.
I’ll share some of the pages I find most interesting and list some of the dates I find important.
I apologise in advance for handwriting this instead of typing - so there is a high probability of spelling mistakes. There are also a few blurs on the page as the paper is very wrinkled and could not be flattened correctly when scanned.
I thought this goblet was interesting. It is considered to be one of the earliest examples of an artist trying to capture motion using frames. As this goblet is spun the goat leaps for the leaves on the trees.
Here is an example I’ve found of the goat moving:
In 1834 a man called William Horner invented a device called the zoetrope (also called the Wheel of Life, or the Wheel of the Devil) - a drum that showed animated loops when spun. It was viewed by looking through slits on the side of the drum.
It is possible that he was inspired by a similar device which was invented by Ting Huan in 180AD, China.
1877 - The zoetrope was then reinvented by a man called Charles Reynaud. The images in a praxinoscope were viewed through mirrors, which produced much clearer images than the zoetrope.
In 1878 a man called Eadward Muybridge was commissioned to take photos of a galloping horse in order to prove that all of the animal’s legs left the ground at some point while running.
These images can be seen in my sketchbook page below. It is true that a horse’s hooves do leave the ground - as can be seen in the second and third frames.
Etienne Jules Marey was a physician who was interested in the science behind motion. He took many photos of people and animals in various situations, performing simple or complex tasks. Even to this day animators find these images provide useful reference.
A bird in flight (Etienne Jules Marey):
In 1888, Charles Reynaud developed his praxinoscope and built the Theatre Optique.
With this machine, instead of viewing a mere second or two of looped animation, one could easily watch a ten minute piece. Not only that but an audience could comfortably sit and view the animation as a group rather than one or two people huddled around a small spinning drum for barely a second of animation.
The above page shows an image of the use of first stop motion in film - The Humpty Dumpty Circus by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton.
Ladislaw Starewicz is a Russian born stop motion animator who began animating with puppets he made out of dead insects. He then developed his puppets - they became so complex that he could control his character’s facial expressions.
1914 - Gertie the Dinosaur.
Windsor McKay’s character ‘Gertie the Dinosaur’ is considered the first real animated character - because of her appeal. She seemingly interacts with her instructor and the audience and this is attractive to many people.
1915 - Earl Hurd and John Randolph Bray recieve patents for the cel animation technique.
In the same year the rotoscope is invented by Max Fleischer.
1926 - the first feature length animation, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, was made using the cut out technique by Lotte Reiniger.
It is at this point that Disney begins to gain popularity. Walt Disney’s inventive approach to animation really appeals to people, even to this day.
This page shows many firsts - the first cel-animated feature. Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The first computer generated hand, a clip which is used in the film Westworld. This clip was made by one of the founders of Pixar.
And the first animation made entirely on computer - the Hunger by Peter Foldes.
Lastly in 1995, is another first. Toy Story by Pixar is the first feature length 3D computer animated film.