Animation dates back over 12000 years, as ancient cave drawings appear to be drawn, in such a way, as to create the illusion of movement.
At the beginning of animation, there was the zoetrope – or the “Wheel of Life”. The zoetrope is a small drum-type contraption, with slits around the side, and pictures on the inside, beneath the slits. These slits let people look through the slits to see the pictures move when the zoetrope was spun around – by hand! Since there was no electricity when Ting Huan invented it, in 180AD – nearly 2000 years ago, the zoetrope was spun manually.
Back then, though, the zoetrope was called “The Pipe Which Makes Fantasies Appear”. The zoetrope was founded and modernized again in 1834 by William Horner – a British mathematician at the time. He called it the “Wheel of the Devil” - though it is uncertain why. Since the zoetrope hadn't become popular until the 1860s, many other inventors and developers had come up with similar ideas all across the world.
The zoetrope was patented, and appropriately named, in America in the 1860s. The developers named it “zoetrope”, which meant the “Wheel of Life” - this was a much more appropriate name, since the zoetrope brought pictures “to life.”
Trivia – In 2008, the BRAVIA-drome was created in Italy. At 10 tonnes in weight, and 10 meters in width, it was declared in the Guiness World Records as the largest zoetrope in the world.
-In 1980, an artist called Bill Brand created a “linear zoetrope” in an unused subway, so that if people on trains look through the slits on a moving train, they can see the pictures “come to life”. Artists have sincebeen restoring and adding to this “masstransiscope”, as it is known. In 1877, the zoetrope was improved upon, being developed into what is now called a “praxinoscope” or “action viewer”. A French inventor and science teacher called Charles-Émile Reynaud invented the praxinoscope. The praxinoscope replaced the zoetrope's slits with mirrors, which reflected pictures placed on a spinning cylinder – people looked into the mirrors and saw the pictures, this made it easier for people to see the pictures – their view was not limited by a slit.
In 1899, the first example of stop motion animation was used in a film, by Albert E. Smith, called The Humpty Dumpty Circus. Stop motion effect is when some frames in an animation are left out on purpose, to make an animation slightly more dramatic. Stop motion can also be used to give an inanimate object life. Photographs can be taken of an inanimate object appearing in different places in a static environment, giving it the illusion of movement, as if it has come to life, in a way.
In 1906, what is considered the first animation film was created. The black and white film was called “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces” by Stuart Blackton, it features text – an impressive feature, along with footage and animation. It is very well put together for its time.
Émile Reynaud, the inventor of the praxinoscope, went on to add a projector to his praxinoscope in 1892, after Thomas Edison using projection in animation for the first time. Émile's improved praxinoscope displayed pictures painted onto celluloid. This was the beginning of cel animation, which was founded by animators Earl Hurd and John Bray in 1915.
Cel animation is the use of a transparent sheet – a cel – in animation. It is painted on, and can have many layers. These layers can contain a background, characters, and objects that have motion.
These cels are then layered and photographed before they are put together to form an animation. Cel animation is incredibly time consuming, and demands serious attention to detail to be effective, since the animation has to match a soundtrack. This requires that the soundtrack be recorded before the animation is created, the animators can synchronize the animation with the voice acting and movement sounds, making the...