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The Origin of Animation and Cartoons

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Word animation originally derives from the word “animare”, which comes from ancient Greece and means “to put breath into something without”. Nowadays, animation is everywhere around us: people use it for entertainment and education, advertising and gaming, simulations and different visualizations.

Basic idea behind animation is the constant switching between still series of pictures, that eventually creates an illusion of movement by letting drawings stay on the retina just a little bit longer. Human eye is not developed to the point where it can separately catch every single picture; therefore, it simplifies it to us and make all pictures linked up. To be more specific, cell animation relies on taking a sequence of pictures in collusion to recreate movement. Even though it is a very old process, the mechanics behind this invention are simple and relevant up to date. Cell animation allows people to cut out certain parts of any object which has any sort of movement, for example waves or a running man, and then place them with the ones that have different positions and color, which saves a tremendous amount of time and effort as the image does not have to be fully redrawn.

Cartoons date back to the days of Benjamin Franklin, where they were mainly used to express political points of view. Their use as a daily entertainment did not begin until the end of the nineteenth century, when advances in technology made it possible to produce animated images fast enough to create an actually long cartoon. There was a great improvement since the first animated movie Humorous Phases of Funny Faces created in 1906 by J. Stuart Blackton. The very first animated cartoons, that appeared right after Blackton’s work were all simple hand drawn pictures that were photographed one after the other . After the introduction of celluloid in 1913, the invention made the process go way faster as the complex backgrounds did not have to be redrawn over and over again. Back in the days, cartoons served one specific role as a source of propaganda. Today, this way is the one of the smallest uses of cartoons, however, some countries still have magazines where animated characters criticize political situations.

People might believe that in order for some animation to be considered a cartoon, it needs to have some sort of comical aspect in it. In the reality though, animation has way too many genres to only rely on the comical side. Some cartoons like Mickey Mouse, Tom and Jerry, Ben Ten are mostly admired by the younger audience, while projects like South Park, Rick and Morty or Futurama target mature audience, due to some themes being more philosophically developed and the amount of adult humour.

Norman McLaren, a Scottish-born Canadian animator and film director, quoted,m’Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.’

Animation industry became so enormous that it opens millions of different jobs around the globe. It is crazy to think that animation grew up to the point where instead of using real people, we are having human-looking versions. Animation plays a huge role in films as without animation there are no special effects and without special effects the films look incomplete in action. Apart from film industry animation is being applied in many other fields. Before constructing a building the constructor uses a 3-D animated image of the building, or in the medical field it is used as visual animated body of human for teaching. Animation is used in web-designing as well.

When we talk about animation process, it is important to understand that in order to create a short cartoon it takes a whole team with full engagement. The very first special-effects that are so valued today in films were first created by Georges Melies. He was the first person to discover something that would later be called stop-motion animation. In this process the camera rolling is stopped to change the scene and then the film rolling is continued. Melies discovered this technique accidentally when his camera broke down while shooting a moving bus. When he had fixed the camera, a hearse happened to be passing by just as Melies restarted rolling the film, his end result was that he had managed to make a bus transform into a hearse. J. Stuart Blackton, an American filmmaker, was the first to use stop-motion and hand-drawn animation techniques. Emile Cohl, a French artist, began drawing cartoon strips. After Blackton and Cohl many other artists began experimenting with animation. Winsor McCay, a successful newspaper cartoonist, was one of the many artists; he created detailed animations that required a team of artists. Each frame was drawn on paper; which invariably required backgrounds and characters to be redrawn and animated.

The animation of Walt Disney first kicked off with early animations such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Gallopin’ Gaucho, Plane Crazy. During this early stage of animation these animations were mute and had no sound this eventually changed when the animators first ever animation with sound came along , which was Steamboat Willie featuring Mickey Mouse , this hit as a huge success when premiered in New York late 1928. Since then and well after Steamboat Willie, the Silly Symphonies was created, which included one-shot cartoons based on music. First in this series was The Skeleton Dance and more after that. Once production got off to a start Disney was on his way to making the first feature length animated film in 1934, taking three years to complete, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in December 1937 and became the highest-grossing film of that time by 1939. After the massive featured film the studio continued to release many short and feature length films such as Pinocchio, Bambi, Dumbo and Fantasia. As from then Walt Disney continued making short animated films and grew to be a massive animation industry we now know today.

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The Origin Of Animation And Cartoons. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from
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