How Animation Began
October 4, 2013
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Animation has come so far that it barely even registers to us today. The characters in Pixar films and video games are so lifelike that we get absorbed into their stories, never doubting their authenticity. And the CGI effects in action films are so realistic that we have to look very closely to recognize them.
But animation came a long way to get to our TV and computer screens. Predating filmmaking as well as TVs and computers, animation was born from art and the human desire to recreate the life we see around us.
We’ve all seen “Steamboat Willie,” the animated short cartoon that seemed to launch Disney’s legacy in 1928. Animation, however, didn’t start there. It started a century before that. Here’s how.
1824 – “Persistence of Vision with Regard to Moving Objects” is published by Peter Mark Roget, describing how streaming images together could create the effect of motion.
1832 – The phenakistoscope is created by Joseph Plateau. It is a disk with its edges lined with successive images that appeared to move when you twirled the disk in front of a mirror.
1834 – William Horner develops the zoetrope, a cylinder lined with a sequence of images that could be seen in motion through a slit on the outside when spun.
1868 – John Barnes Linnett patented the kineograph, or flip book.
1877 – Charles-Emile Reynaud creates the praxinoscope, which improved upon the zoetrope by replacing the viewing slits with mirrors to produce a better effect.
1892 – Reynaud combines the praxinoscope with a projector and debuts the first animated film, Pauvre Pierrot, in public.
1900 – “The Enchanted Drawing” is the first animation produced on standard film.
Once animation made its way to standard film, it took off from there. Keep an eye out for more information on the history of animation.