The progress of the industry of animation is simply amazing. It is breathtaking to see the impressive things animators can do nowadays, thanks to technology. But, the history of animation does not begin when the movie Avatar was launched, not even when Toy Story was first released. Animation began way before the appearance of Pixar, and even before Walt Disney and the movie Steamboat Willie.
In the late 1800s, Stuart Blackton was the star. He is credited with creating the first animation in the United States, and he was among the first people in the world to use stop-motion as a storytelling technique.
As you can see, from the very beginnings of this industry, animation has been a unique, creative way to tell a story. That is the final goal of animation, regardless of the specific techniques that are being used to create it. It could be stop motion, it could be classic drawing, or it could be animation done with computers; but if you are not telling a story, it is not going to work.
In this short but cool article, we would like to present a video timeline of the history of animation. You’ll have the opportunity to see where everything started, to the point we are currently at today. Don’t be surprised if you look back at this article a few years from now and you think that what is today the newest animation release, looks old-fashioned.
This industry is progressing way too fast, and as you are going to learn at the end of this article, your kids could be part of it!
A video timeline of the History of Animation
Watching the first animation films today is kind of funny. Most certainly our kids will look at these pieces of art and laugh at us for liking them. Don’t forget to mention to them, when showing them these videos, that the very first animation films didn’t have any sound! Did you know that in the movie theaters there was a piano man playing the music of the films? Very surprising for modern times like these ones.
Are you ready to watch a video timeline of the History of Animation? We hope you enjoy it, because here we go…
Felix the Cat
This character was part of a movie that was released in 1919. The movie Feline Follies was an animated short film distributed by Paramount Pictures. This lovely character, who with the years developed into something bigger and more relevant, was created by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer during the silent film era.
Want to watch the first appearance of Felix the Cat?
Many people think this was the first animated film to be released. But this was in theaters only in 1922, three years after the release of the Feline Follies. That being said, Steamboat Willie – the first appearance of Mickey Mouse – was the first animated film with sound.
Directed and created by Walt Disney, music plays a leading role here. The movie is about how Mickey entertains his new passenger, Minnie, by playing music out of the menagerie on the boat.
Want to watch the first-ever appearance of Mickey Mouse? Enjoy!
Flowers and trees
Ten years after that, in 1932, color was already an important part of animated films. Flowers and Trees was one of the very first animated films to have both color and sound. This film, like many of Walt Disney’s creations, has a complex background and a story that isn’t all about love and sunshine.
“Flowers and Trees” tells the story of a hollow tree that is jealous of the love between a younger tree and a female tree. Therefore, the tree starts a fire that leaves all the other plants and animals in danger. Want a little spoiler? There is a happy ending!
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Five years after “Flowers and Trees” was released, in 1937 the most popular animated film in history was released. It was time to do things bigger, and Walt Disney certainly knew how to do that!
Snow White, is the first full-length animated feature film and the earliest Disney animated feature film. Kids and families from all over the world watched this film and fell in love with its songs and characters; a structure and pattern that Walt Disney decided to utilize in all of his further films.
Yabadabadoo! It is time for Hannah Barbera. The Flintstones, released in 1960, was one of the first animated sitcoms in the world. Produced by Hannah Barbera, it portrayed real-life issues, situations and relationships, in the remarkably well-illustrated era of the Stone Age.
With unforgettable characters like Fred Flintstone, Betty Rubble, Dino, or Bamm-Bamm, it conquered the hearts of millions of kids all around the world.
It is crazy to think that their first episode was released 60 years ago. It seems like just yesterday when some of us used to enjoy a nice Saturday morning watching Fred playing bowling.
Want to remember them for a little while? Here…
The Adventures of Mark Twain
And the technique changed! It was in 1985 where one of the first animated films produced using the stop-motion technique was released. Based on another film released in 1944, this amazing stop-motion creation conquered the hearts of many.
Directed by Will Vinton, and written by Susan Shadburne, this hidden gem is a film that many people around the world love.
Want to watch something different with your children? Maybe this is the film you were looking for.
And what happens if we mix animation with real-life actors and actresses? Well, thanks to technology, in 1988 that was already possible. Roger Rabbit was the first film to experiment with real human beings interacting with animated characters.
This same structure was used many years after the release of Roger Rabbit in movies like Space Jam, and even in an Argentinian local sitcom named “Dibu”, in which a little animated boy is adopted by a family of humans.
Did you know that a new version of Space Jam is supposed to be released in the next couple of months? We can’t wait to see how they do this with all the animation technology they work with nowadays.
Toy Story was the first animated film fully produced with computers. Even though Buzz Lightyear and Woody didn’t look as real as they do in the newest sequel of the film, Toy Story created a whole revolution in the animation industry.
After its release in 1995, companies like Pixar, and DreamWorks became even more relevant.
If it wasn’t because of the brilliant minds behind Toy Story we might never have watched other films like Bugs, Antz, or even Monsters Inc. Someone had to be the first, and the creators behind Toy Story took that step.
This extraordinary film, released in 2009, is an epic creation of James Cameron, who directed, wrote, and co-produced it. Cameron, the man behind Titanic, waited 10 years to actually do this film, because when he scripted it and created it, the technology to do it in the best possible way wasn’t yet available. Now, that’s persistence and resilience, isn’t it?
In this film, there is also a mix between real-life people and animated characters, but they don’t interact with each other in the way they do in either Space Jam or Roger Rabbit.
The level of detail in both the characters and the land they live in, Pandora, is breathtaking and praiseworthy. Cameron worked for years to make sure everything was perfect. He even created an entire language for the characters, from scratch!
If you haven’t watched this film yet, don’t wait any longer, stop reading this article and start watching on your favorite streaming platform right now.
Pixar’s most recent release. It was first released in December of 2020 through Disney’s streaming service, to the numerous movie theaters that aren’t working because of the coronavirus.
This amazing film follows the line of “Inside Out”, but at this opportunity, talks about the soul, the afterlife, and the beyond in a way that makes these terms and definitions look simple, accessible, and even fun.
With a number of endearing characters, Soul offers us an extraordinary animated film, with a breathtaking level of detail. If you want to be amazed, do an exercise and watch this film, paying attention to the details: look at the character’s hair, the decoration of their houses, the outdoor locations, etc, …
Do yourself a favor and watch “Soul”, you won’t regret it. Promise.
Animation is just around the corner. Your kids can learn it!
It is amazing to see how animation has progressed from The Feline Follies to Soul, and it will be even more amazing to see what your kids could do when they have the real chance to animate their ideas.
Today, in the live online courses offered by Tekkie Uni, your children can become animators in a supportive, open, and encouraging learning environment. Give them all the tools they need to transform their unique ideas into applaudable realities.
Now, this is a real possibility. Animation for kids is just around the corner.