When watching films such as King King and Jurrasic Park, we know that none of it is real, but we still believe. That’s what makes modern filmmaking so intriguing. By using powerful computers, animators and digital effects artists are able to create fantasy worlds and characters that are so lifelike, so convincingly real, they have the viewers suspended in disbelief.
From the beginning, animation has been an important part of filmmaking. The flipbook, thaumatrope and zoetrope are all inventions from the 1800’s which inspired people to make live action films. Flipbooks, zoetropes and thaumatropes display still images moving. On lollipopanimation.com they say that this effect is created “because our eyes hold on to an image for a split second after it has disappeared, so the brain reads images we are shown quickly as an unbroken movement.” This concept is applied to animation, where each frame is a still picture and in each still picture something is moved slightly. When projected quickly, the frames cause us to see movement.
The first animation studio was opened in New York around 1914. Studios in New York, California and elsewhere were producing short films. Over the next few decades, there was a cartoon-series-boom! The creation of popular characters such as Felix the Cat, Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Walter Lantz’s Woody Woodpecker and Warner Bros.’ Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote took place. In the 1940s, George Pal’s Puppetoons represented one of the few examples of commercial animation using three-dimensional
Now, let’s talk Disney, the most famous animation company in the world! (dum-dum-dum-dum). The Disney studios were set up in Hollywood in 1923. In 1928 they made the first cartoon that matched sound with movement, ‘Steamboat Willie’ (starring Micky Mouse). In 1938 Disney made ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, the first American animated feature film. In 1995 they worked with Pixar and made ‘Toy Story’, the first feature-length CGI film, and there is now a ‘Toy Story’ 2 AND 3 (which is 3D, wow!).
Warner Brothers, the other big American animation company, focused more on cartoons than feature-length films. Their animations are comedy characters that move in unnatural and wacky ways to make us laugh, making them different from Disney characters. Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck are two of the many Warner Brothers characters that I remember watching as a kid.
These are not the only methods seen in the development of animation. The famous British company, Aardman animated models made out of clay. They started off with Morph, a plasticine character who appeared in the children’s TV art programme ‘Take Hart’ in the 1970’s and 1980’s. They then went on to make ‘Creature Conforts’ where they made animal characters to match real people’s voices and conversations. ‘Creature Comforts’ won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 1990. Wallace and Gromit (which I’m sure everyone knows) are Aardman’s best loved characters. They have appeared in lots of films including the feature ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ (made incorporation with Dreamworks).
Animation is everywhere: animated feature-length films we can watch at cinemas and cartoons on the TV. Animation has also become widely used in the advertising industry. There are tons of different styles of animation, such as claymation, hand-drawn, CGI, and sometimes animation is mixed in with live action to make a film! ‘Jurassic Park’ was one of the first movies to integrate computer-generated characters with live actors.
Well, that’s it for now. Keep reading to find out more cool stuff about the awesome world of animation.