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The Unique and Extensively Long History of Animation 

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  • Pages: 9
  • Word count: 2104
  • Category: Honor

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Colors swirl in front of the eyes of the audience as they stare in awe. The motion on the screen entrancing to anyone who looks, but it is not real. It is a picture after picture labored through hours drawing again and again to create motion for all to see. This is known as animation and is considered a more recent way of entertainment but this is nowhere close to the truth. Animation has a long and extensive history that continues to this day.

Animation, as well as the understanding of movement, has integrated the curious minds of humans for thousands of years. To that end, humans have been contemplating movement as well as try to perceive the concept for over 5,000 years. The farthest recorded example of people comprehending motion as well as movement goes back to 3,000 B.C. There have been artifacts found with the most notable artifact being a pot that was uncovered along the banks of the Helmand river, “3,000 B.C. Shahr-e Sukhteh. A bronze-age pottery bowl depicts goats leaping”.

Although the pot does not resemble any form of animation today, the artifact is the oldest version of depicted motion that is known. Furthermore, humans even before film have created ways to show images moving as well as create the earliest form of animation through inventions. During “1600 A.D. to 1887 A.D” many inventions were created without the use of film. Inventions like the “‘Magic Lantern’ made in 1603” as well as the “‘Thaumatrope’ in 1824” were two such inventions simulating animation without film, however, neither would be considered the first animation device sadly, that honor goes to the Phenakistoscope in 1832. The device was made in Belgian by a man named Joseph Plateau, “The Phenakistoscope was the first real animation device. The device was discovered by Joseph Plateau in the year 1832”. Even though there were other creations before the Phenakistoscope, the device showed fluid animation. What’s more, at the end of the era came the very first animation ever. The short, ‘Pauvre Pierrot’, (which translates from French to English as poor pierrot) was presented in 1892 though the animator whose name is Charles-Emile Reynaud created the short in 1887 “History of animation started on 20th of July 1887 in France. Charles-Émile Reynaud self-taught engineer created and presented the 1st Praxinoscope.”(Odessa Animation Studio), the style of animation used in this short would come to be known as “traditional animation”. This invention would begin a new era in the history of animation.

The influence of animation in entertainment would skyrocket during the early 20th century that would be known in the animation world as the Silent Era. To unknown eyes, one would consider this the start of animation though as mention the Silent Era is the third part of the history of animation. It is, however, the start of many styles of animation that is considered what defines animation today. The first animation ever in film actually didn’t use traditional animation where an animator draws picture after picture to create an animation. No, the style of animation used is known as stop-motion, “this is where an animator takes clay or some other moldable substance to create a form then takes a picture and moves the form a bit. This process is repeated till a full animation is made” (Meroz). The name of this animation is ‘HUMOROUS PHASES OF FUNNY FACES’ made in 1906 by a man named J. Stuart Blackton, “1906. ‘HUMOROUS PHASES OF FUNNY FACES’ marks the first entirely animated film, using stop-motion photography to create action” he as made smoke in animation as well during this year, “James Stuart Blackton created animated smoke in 1906” (Odessa Animation Studio).

Nevertheless, the first animation in traditional animation was made just two years later. In France an artist known as Émile Cohl created as well as presented a film under the name ‘Fantasmagorie’ in 1908, “Stepping to France in 1908, we saw the world’s first fully animated film, made by the French artist Émile Cohl. The film was called Fantasmagorie, which contained stick figures encountering various inanimate objects” (Meroz). Yes, the Silent Era was bursting with the creation of styles of animation but this was not the only thing this era accomplished. During this time, animation grew in popularity among the ever-growing audience. What would be considered the first appealing animated character was made in 1914 with a character who was called Gertie, “1914. GERTIE THE DINOSAUR is considered the first cartoon to feature an appealing character”  furthermore, Winsor McCay, the creator of ‘Gertie the Dinosaur’, used techniques keyframes, registration marks, as well as animation loops which hadn’t been used before in animation yet, “Another popular animated film that was produced around this time was Gertie, The Dinosaur, created by Winsor McCay in 1914.

This film was made using techniques such as keyframe, registration marks, and animation loops and is sometimes known as the oldest cartoon film” (Arora). However, Gertie would not be popular enough to be considered a movie that honor goes to another character five years later. In 1919, a well-known icon today was created and his name is one will recognize. Considered the first animated movie star, Felix the Cat was made by ‘Musical Mews and Feline Follies’, “1919. Felix the Cat. Musical Mews and Feline Follies introduced Felix the Cat—often considered the first animated movie star”. The Silent Era was a wonderful time for animation but like all thing, it came to an end.

At the end of the Silent Era came an unknown feud in animation between two influential men to animation. In order for the Silent Era to end, sound in animation had to be but with it came a feud of a lifetime. If one were to ask what was the first animation with sound, most would say Walt Disney’s “1928. STEAMBOAT WILLIE” but they are fairly incorrect. The first sound animation was not made by Walt Disney but by a man named Max Fleischer and with this, in Walt’s eyes, started the feud of between the two of them. The first sound animation was called ‘Oh, Mabel, Mother, Pin a Rose on Me’ and was released May 1924 by Max Fleischer four years before Disney’s ‘Steamboat Willie’, “The first sound-synchronized film was “Oh, Mabel, Mother, Pin a Rose on Me” in May 1924 by the innovated Fleischer’s in the “Phonofilm” sound-on-film process by Lee DeForest”(Beware The Blog). Not only did Fleischer achieve this film but also in the same month of May 1924 he created the common ‘Follow the Ball’ cartoons that used today in children’s music films though because of this Disney saw this as the first event in the two creators’ feud, “In May 1924 Max would invent the “Follow the Bouncing Ball” cartoons where the audience sang along with the words on the screen and strangely this would eventually become one those events in the “feud” as Walt Disney’s would view it”(Beware The Blog).

Surprisingly, sound in animation would not be the only achievement that Max Fleischer would do. The man created the most creative cartoons in his career, but was so special about them? His cartoons interacting with the real world in his films. Max Fleischer created the first device for drawing images in normal pictures with this considered the earliest form of SFX. With his brother, Max Fleischer made the ‘Rotoscope’ in 1914 as well as gain patent 1915, “In 1914 Max Fleischer and his brother Dave made their first cartoon in a process they would obtain the patent for in 1915 called ‘Rotoscope’” (Beware The Blog) the process consists of drawing on a live-action shot and repeating the process to create a cartoon, “The Fleischers invented the rotoscoping process, still in use today, in which a strip of live-action footage can be traced and redrawn as a cartoon” (Kehr). Max Fleischer was an incredible inventor as well as an animator but what happened to him and why do people know Walt Disney and not him? Sadly, Max Fleischer made a few simple but critical mistakes during the feud between Fleischer and Disney that caused the man’s downfall as well as having his name lost to history. The first mistake Fleischer made was keeping his studio in New York rather than moving to California as many animators who resided in New York as well were doing, “The first mistake the Fleischer’s made was keeping their studio in New York where they had started” (Beware The Blog).

Another key mistake made by Fleischer was his creation of a well-recognized character today most would just have to look at her and know her name. Fleischer created many characters like Bimbo the dog but none would gain the praise as well as popularity as Bimbo’s love interest Betty Boop who was made in 1930 as well as designed originally as a humanoid French poodle, “Bimbo had a girlfriend who first appeared in “Dizzy Dishes” on August 9, 1930. She was an anthropomorphic Human-French poodle hybrid named Betty Boop.”(Beware The Blog) of course, Betty Boop was redesigned in 1932 as well as given her own show though because of her new sexual form, Betty Boop would cause Fleischer problems that would help lead to his inevitable downfall, “ In 1932 the new look Betty Boop was given her own series which would last through 1939.

However, the Fleischer’s had a problem with Betty and that was because she was a true sex symbol even if animated” (Beware The Blog). Betty Boop was attacked for her over sexual appearance by a religious group known as ‘The National Legion of Decency’ who were concerned that Betty Boop was not appropriate for children and had a code be passed called the ‘Motion Picture Production Code’ in 1930 but wasn’t acted upon until 1934, “The first attack came from ‘The National Legion of Decency’, a multi-religious group originally founded by the Catholic Church, attacking the sexual nature of Betty Boop as a bad influence on children. Next, the cartoon character got hit by the new “Motion Picture Production Code”. Although the code had been approved in 1930 it wouldn’t go into actual effect until 1934” (Beware The Blog). There are many other events that lead to the downfall of Max Fleischer and because there are so many it is not possible to mention them all. History would continue on without Max Fleischer being forgotten as well as lost.

With history moving forward so did animation as well as the platform it was on. Technological advances in the world created a new form for the animation to thrive in. Computers became popular as well as important to animators for the platform made animation easier to produce. In 1963, student Ivan Edward Sutherland of Massachusetts Institution of Technology created Sketchpad allowing animators interact with computers in new, easier ways, “Animated studios of 60th-70th whose used computer technology were opened by scientists from universities and artists. First, researching/discoveries of computer graphics were in 1963 based on Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when Ivan Edward Sutherland invented Sketchpad, an innovative program that influenced alternative forms of interaction with computers”(Odessa Animation Studio). A fine example of animators using this technology would be the first animation produced on the computer. The name of the animation was ‘Hummingbird’ created in 1967 by Charles Csuri as well as James Shaffer, the animation had over 30,000 images as well as 25 motion sequences, “Hummingbird (1967) was the first computer-generated animated film – it was made using 30,000 images and 25 motion sequences generated by a computer”(Arora). Animation continued to advance to the point it is at today.

All things considered, animation has gone from being so primitive to complicatedly advance. Animation started as just simple pictures on pottery depicting motion over 5,000 years ago. Before film though humans have found a way to create moving images with creative as well as interesting devices. Things would continue this way until the first film animation was produced in 1887. From there came the Silent Era a pivotal time in animation. Animation gained popularity as well as advancements in the varieties of different types of animation styles during the Silent Era. Of course, the Silent Era came to an end but with that end came an unknown feud. A war started between the famous Walt Disney and Max Fleischer who sadly was lost to time. After the feud came the electric age of animation. For one to try to explain every bit of the history of animation would be like one trying to explain the history of the universe. It’s nearly impossible. One can try to summarize the information. So in conclusion, animation truly has a deep long history.

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