A Brief History of Animation

Animation, in one form or another, has been with us for over a century. Steamboat Willy, one of the most famous historical animations, was a huge success for its time. It jump-started the development of animation as a form of storytelling and entertainment, but it was preceded by J. Stuart Blackton, whose Humorous Phases of Funny Faces introduced audiences to the possibilities of animation in 1906

Out of Steamboat Willy came one of two of the world’s most famous mice — Mickey Mouse and the other, of course, Tom and Jerry’s little mischief-maker, Jerry. Mickey became an icon for the biggest Western animation company, Disney Who now owns, like, half of every entertainment production house or studio.

Of course, on the Eastern side of the Earth, is the Japanese animation studios producing anime, which caters to a wider variety of audience. Some happen to be very weird, indeed.

It Snowed when Animation was taken seriously

It was one of Walt Disney’s most famous productions and the first animated movie to break the record for the highest-grossing movie of all time. That was a take on a Brothers Grimm story about a young princess who had a wicked stepmother (which in itself is an interesting trope) that planned her untimely demise. She, of course, got mercy from the huntsman ordered to carry out the assassination and fled to the woods where she encountered seven dwarves vertically challenged persons of a specific mythical race.

The famous Snow White and the Seven Dwar—vertically-challenged persons. Part of what made this animated piece so successful was that it utilized a new technique in animation at the time, to make the animation appear realistic and compelling. And that was rotoscoping. What rotoscoping essentially is, is filming a person performing an action, as Snow White does in one of the scenes where she dances. Then the frames are painted shot by shot. It was a laborious process back then. Your kid can do something similar with a lot of the phone apps made today that simply require a few button pushes and a couple of selection options.

It’s that simple. It just takes recording a scene (we have a blog here that details how to make video content) and putting it through apps like Clips2Comics or BrushStroke and viola – you have your own animated movie, easy as that. There are other amazing tools, too:

The Coming of Age of Animation

Disney produced some of the greatest animations of all time. For example, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.

As a way of telling stories, animation shifted to more profound themes. Pixar, the company that popularized computer-generated animation, dealt with mature themes despite their light-atmospheric themes — like how a fish suffering from mental health issues (specifically, severe neuroses) is forced out of his comfort zone to search for his son in Finding Nemo. Or the very bittersweet search for meaning after your lifelong partner passes away in the movie Up.

Animation wasn’t even reserved for entire movies. It started early with Mary Poppins where live-action actors would share the screen with animated characters.

But developments in animation technology could make effects so realistic that it became a staple of live-action movies, too. For instance, the use of animation (computer-generated special effects) really came of age in the Marvel series of movies, with characters like the Hulk and Thanos (the big bad) appearing so realistic you were convinced these were actual beings you were watching. Hulk was awe-inspiring in the first Avengers movie as he seemed to really smash the bad guys against the walls of New York buildings. And Thanos inspired dread and a sense of raw, barely constrained power and overwhelming determination. He was presented as a very real threat to the universe, and he was convincing in his zealot-like need to wipe out one-half of living beings from existence. What’s even more amazing is his final fight scene against three human actors (and presumably their stunt doubles) as they all savagely and bitterly brawled it out in a fight for the ultimate fate of existence.

For those who’ve seen it, it was an intense, immense, and incredible experience that had one on the edge of their seat. That was a long, far journey from the first movies to use live-action and animation together, such as Mary Poppins.

Perhaps your own child has an animator deep within them?

Animation is only getting better and better with the advances in computer technology and the profound techniques being discovered and taught. If your kid has a creative streak in them, they too can learn how to make animations. This includes traditional-style animations to more complex computer-generated imagery.

But it’s kiddy steps first and we’d advise you to begin with a school like Tekkie Uni. Our animation course is a great start to an even greater career in animation, making movies only Pixar can dream of.

REFERENCES:

History of Animation

History of Anime

FOR FURTHER INTEREST:

Marvel

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