Mini Project 1 – Animation – History

14 Feb

Due to the large quantity of children’s animated cartoons from both television and now also the web it is popular belief that “Animation if for kids”. I highly disagree with this idea due to early examples of animation that is regarded portrayed towards the adult audience. Examples include ‘Sinking of the Lusitania’ (DelGaudio, 1997) and ‘Betty Boop’ (Kanfer, 1997) both of these animations are focused towards the adult audience.

Lets go back to the early years when animation was born, back in 1645 ‘The Magic Lantern (Pfragner, 1974) was invented, this was a very early example of a projector. The technology behind it was a concaved mirror that directed light through a sheet of glass which held a image that would then be enlarged onto a projection screen, which was usually a white wall. However back in the mid 16 hundreds people did not understand the idea of animation and how it worked. Until 1824 when Peter Mark Roget explained the principles of ‘persistence of vision’ (Borrell, 2010). The idea is that a humans retina stores one image until replaced by a new one, this principle is relied on by film and animation

Moving up to 1929 George Horner invents the Zoetrope, this shows the principles of ‘Persistence of vision’ in action. The a British photographer named Eadweard Muybridge invents the Zoopraxiscope, this was more sophisticated as it allowed the projection of more complex images. Further forward the motion-picture projector was invented in 1896 by Thomas Edison. The first animated film in 1906 was created using a chalkboard, it was produced by James Stuart Blackton. After ‘Gertie the dinosaur’ ‘Felix the Cat is know as the first true character in the animation scene in the 1920’s and is regarded as inspiration for for Disney. In 1927 Warner Brothers made ‘The Jazz Singer’, this was renowned for being the first feature length animated film that included the integration of sound and action (Bradley, 1996).

Animation history still flourishes however in the 1950’s we can see the beginnings of a new era of animation that we all know as ‘Motion Graphics’. We begin to see features such as ‘Yogi Bear’ ‘Huckleberry Hound’ and ‘The Flintstones’. We then are introduced to computer animation as Disney creates ‘Tron’. We then see a whole new technique being used in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, Richard Williams uses a computer animation techniques to add realism to composited shots. Computer animation and CGI take off from the 1990’s onwards with films such as Toy story, Shrek and Stuart Little along with large TV shows such as The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy.

We are then delved into the depth of computer animated 3D films. And the rest is history.


DelGaudio, S 1997, ‘If truth be told, can ‘toons tell it? Documentary and animation’, Film History, 9, 2, pp. 189-199, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 February 2014.

Kanfer, S. 1997. Serious business. New York: Scribner.

Pfragner, J. 1974. The motion picture. Folkestone: Bailey and Swinfen.

Borrell, B 2010, ‘BEFORE MICKEY MOUSE’, Scientific American, 303, 2, p. 48, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 14 February 2014.

Bradley, E. M. 1996. The first Hollywood musicals. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.


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