Process of giving the illusion of movement to drawings, models, or inanimate objects. From the mid-1850s, such optical devices as the zoetrope produced the illusion of animation. Stop-action photography enabled the production of cartoon films. The innovative design and assembly techniques of Walt Disney soon moved him to the forefront of the animation industry, and he produced a series of classic animated films, beginning with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The Fleischer brothers and the animators at Warner Brothers offered more irreverent cartoons that often appealed to adult audiences. In Europe new animation alternatives to line drawing were developed, including animation using puppets (sometimes made from clay). In the late 20th century computer animation, as seen in the first fully computer-generated animated feature, Toy Story (1995), moved the art to a new level.
Learn more about animation with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Animation is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D or 3-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. It is an optical illusion of motion due to the phenomenon of persistence of vision, and can be created and demonstrated in a number of ways. The most common method of presenting animation is as a motion picture or video program, although several other forms of presenting animation also exist.
Animation can sometimes refer to a way of activating a community, i.e. 'animating' the users. This means actions which encourages users to interact with a given service and is connected to moderation.
Early examples of attempts to capture the phenomenon of motion drawing can be found in paleolithic cave paintings, where animals are depicted with multiple legs in superimposed positions, clearly attempting to convey the perception of motion. A 5,200 year old earthen bowl found in Iran in Shahr-i Sokhta has five images of a goat painted along the sides. This has been claimed to be an example of early animation. There would, however, have been no way of watching the figures in motion, and the claim has been debunked here
The phenakistoscope, praxinoscope, as well as the common flip book were early popular animation devices invented during the 1800s, while a Chinese zoetrope-type device was invented already in 180 AD. These devices produced movement from sequential drawings using technological means, but animation did not really develop much further until the advent of motion picture film.
There is no single person who can be considered the "creator" of the art of film animation, as there were several people doing several projects which could be considered various types of animation all around the same time.
Georges Méliès was a creator of special-effect films; he was generally one of the first people to use animation with his technique. He discovered a technique by accident which was to stop the camera rolling to change something in the scene, and then continue rolling the film. This idea was later known as stop-motion animation. Méliès discovered this technique accidentally when his camera broke down while shooting a bus driving by. When he had fixed the camera, a hearse happened to be passing by just as Méliès restarted rolling the film, his end result was that he had managed to make a bus transform into a hearse. This was just one of the great contributors to animation in the early years.
The earliest surviving stop-motion advertising film was an English short by Arthur Melbourne-Cooper called Matches: An Appeal (1899). Developed for the Bryant and May Matchsticks company, it involved stop-motion animation of wired-together matches writing a patriotic call to action on a blackboard.
J. Stuart Blackton was possibly the first American filmmaker to use the techniques of stop-motion and hand-drawn animation. Introduced to filmmaking by Edison, he pioneered these concepts at the turn of the 20th century, with his first copyrighted work dated 1900. Several of his films, among them The Enchanted Drawing (1900) and Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906) were film versions of Blackton's "lightning artist" routine, and utilized modified versions of Méliès' early stop-motion techniques to make a series of blackboard drawings appear to move and reshape themselves. 'Humorous Phases of Funny Faces' is regularly cited as the first true animated film, and Blackton is considered the first true animator.
Another French artist, Émile Cohl, began drawing cartoon strips and created a film in 1908 called style="font-style : italic;">Fantasmagorie The film 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. This makes style="font-style : italic;">Fantasmagorie the first animated film created using what came to be known as traditional (hand-drawn) animation.
Following the successes of Blackton and Cohl, many other artists began experimenting with animation. One such artist was Winsor McCay, a successful newspaper cartoonist, who created detailed animations that required a team of artists and painstaking attention for detail. Each frame was drawn on paper; which invariably required backgrounds and characters to be redrawn and animated. Among McCay's most noted films are Little Nemo (1911), Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) and The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918).
The production of animated short films, typically referred to as "cartoons", became an industry of its own during the 1910s, and cartoon shorts were produced to be shown in movie theaters. The most successful early animation producer was John Randolph Bray, who, along with animator Earl Hurd, patented the cel animation process which dominated the animation industry for the rest of the decade.
(Also called cel animation) Traditional animation was the process used for most animated films of the 20th century. The individual frames of a traditionally animated film are photographs of drawings, which are first drawn on paper. To create the illusion of movement, each drawing differs slightly from the one before it. The animators' drawings are traced or photocopied onto transparent acetate sheets called cels, which are filled in with paints in assigned colors or tones on the side opposite the line drawings. The completed character cels are photographed one-by-one onto motion picture film against a painted background by a rostrum camera.
The traditional cel animation process became obsolete by the beginning of the 21st century. Today, animators' drawings and the backgrounds are either scanned into or drawn directly into a computer system. Various software programs are used to color the drawings and simulate camera movement and effects. The final animated piece is output to one of several delivery mediums, including traditional 35 mm film and newer media such as digital video. The "look" of traditional cel animation is still preserved, and the character animators' work has remained essentially the same over the past 70 years. Some animation producers have used the term "tradigital" to describe cel animation which makes extensive use of computer technology.
Examples of traditionally animated feature films include Pinocchio (United States, 1940), Animal Farm (United Kingdom, 1954), and Akira (Japan, 1988). Traditional animated films which were produced with the aid of computer technology include The Lion King (US, 1994) Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) (Japan, 2001), and Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003).
Like stop motion, computer animation encompasses a variety of techniques, the unifying idea being that the animation is created digitally on a computer.
- process animation: is the type of animation used to present a process of defined work method in stages. This includes the types of training animation, instruction animation and the likes.
- effect animation: are the type of animation used to stress or emphasize. powerpoint presentations are a typical usage of effect animations where the animation serves to emphasize the message or process.
- story animation: are the type of typical cartoon animations where stories are told using simple animation that are less expensive to produce, are simpler and more direct in delivering the message and due to the simplistic factor, are usable and last for a long time unlike videos that are more age and era specific.