A basic history of animation.

History of Animation


One of the first devices created to project images using light was the ‘Phantasmagoria’ also known as ‘The magic lantern’ created by Etienne Robertson. The device itself is a very important aspect to the history of animation and film as it was a starting point to many other devices to come later in time, such as projectors used to project film rather than just still images.


The next device to come along was Plateou’s ‘Phenakistiscope. The device works by a series of images which are on the outer rim of a spinning plate, which when viewed through the small slits on the parallel plate gives the illusion of a moving image. The animations where only short and repetitive but it was a starting point for the production of animation.


A further development on the ‘Phenakistiscope’ only a year later was the ‘Zoetrope’ created by Horner. The device works in a very similar way, in which when the images are viewed through small slits on the device and the device is spinning, the images would appear to animate. The difference with this device is that it is free standing and the angle it is viewed at makes it easy for a larger group of people to stand around and enjoy the animation simultaneously. Therefore introducing the idea of animations been used for entertainment purposes for an audience.


Heyl invented the ‘Phasmatrope’, a device which was said to be one of the first to project moving images. It used the ‘magic lantern’ device to project the images which were on film and fed through the device at speed to create an animation.


Several years later, the French man Reynaud, invented the ‘Praxinoscope’ this device again was very similar to past inventions. It had a spinning drum with images on the inside which when spun, the illusion of the moving images was created and projected to its audience using small mirrors placed in the centre of the drum.


An animator named Emile Cohl created his line drawn animation ‘Fantasmagorie’. The animation was said to be seen as a distinctive art form and one of the first fully animated films. The technique that Cohl used was very similar to cel animation

Flip Books

Flip books were first patented by Henry Van Hovenbergh in the late 18th century, but it was not until the 19th century that they became popularized. The early books contained simple drawings on each separate page that when flipped created an optical illusion of a moving image. The books became popular again thanks to the ‘cracker jacks’ company who gave them away in their packaging, other companies soon picked up on this and started including them in their products too. You could find the books in cigarette packets, bubble gum, cereal and even car companies  were giving them away to help promote their products. Unfortunately it did not last as in the 1970’s interactive media technology was advancing and there were new ways for companies to advertise. Now a century or so later, we have discovered them again and new ways to use them. A good example of the way we have advanced the ‘flip book’ is this Audi advert that used photos on each page to make the book almost look like a movie, rather than a drawn none technical piece of equipment.


The most well-known name is the American name, ‘Flip Book’ which comes from the verb (to flip over, or to flip through). The French names are Folioscope, kineograph, Feilletoscope or Cinema de poche, but even they use the American name for it more than their own. And the English call it ‘flick book’ or ‘flicker book’. There are also some unusual names used, such as; flip movie, fingertip movie, riffle book, living picture book or hand cinema.

information source:  www.flippies.com/flipbookhistory/ , www.flipbook.info/history.php


Cel Animation

1915 Winsor McCay invented cel animation (celluloid) as an attempt to speed up the tedious process of traditional animation. Cel animation was all about using layers, you would have multiple sheets of transparent celluloid acetate, each sheet would contain a different layer, for example one layer would have the background, another would have a person with no arms drawn, and then on multiple sheets you would draw the arms animation as they are the only part of the image that is moving. This meant that unlike the traditional technique you wouldn’t have to keep drawing the whole scene and everything in the image multiple times, only the necessary parts.  Which as most animations ran at 12 frames per second this technique would obviously save a lot of time and change the way we animate. Although this technique was efficient, the first animation McCay created with this technique ‘The sinking of the Luisitania’ used more than 25,000 drawings. Walt Disney was one of the first people to introduce sound to his movies, as you can see in his animation ‘Steamboat Willie’ in 1937.



Stop Motion

One of the earliest recorded animations was created in 1906 by J Stuart Blackton, he created his animation by drawing images on a chalk board with chalk, he would then film the image for a small amount of time, stop the camera and then draw another image and repeat the process until he had an animated film, this process was called ‘Stop Motion’.


(Computer generated image) The first CGI film to be released was ‘Toy Story’ in 1995. The film was directed by John Lasseter, who used to work for Disney before he joined the company which was to become Pixar. Toy Story was created because John had longed to create a full length film using his new found technique CGI, and this film changed the way we animate to this day.


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