History of Animation

Animation was created by the French artist Émile Cohl in 1908. Cohl created the traditional foundation of the animation we see today. Animation became a key part of Cohl’s career after he became known for his animations targeting people in political power. Cohl made two animations of the president and he was risking it as it became an offense to ridicule him. Cohl became very famous in France, which led to the president’s resignation. Later on in Emile’s life after the censorship was lifted with a new president, he became a big part of an artistic group in France and continued his work with animation and art.

The evolution of animation continued with the famous 1914 animated film Gertie The Dinosaur. This animated film was made by Winsor McCay and was the first animated film in its style. There were over 10,000 drawings made for this film. No other animated film at this time had keyframes that were able to keep objects stationary through each frame. McCay produced his next film in 1918- the first film to use cel animation. This animation style consists of layers of a scene being drawn on clear sheets and placed above on another to create a sequence of movement.

Later in the evolution of animation, Walt Disney created Steamboat Willie, which featured the popular character Mickey Mouse and used sound for the first time. This film was an instant success and was a big step for animation back in 1928. The 1930s were big for animation and were the start of a lot of famous characters including Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Snow White, etc. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is an iconic film that upped the standard for animation when it was released in 1937. It was a big success for Walt Disney and remains a hit today.

Nowadays animation is most commonly made using computer-generated imagery (CGI). Vertigo, released in 1958, was the first film to use computer animation. It is said that the filmmakers used a WWII computer that was originally made to aim weapons to make the opening credits of the film. Computer animation continued to improve throughout the 1960s. In the 1970s, the first computer keyframe animation was created, as well as the beginnings of 3D computer animation. CGI became more advanced in the 80s and was used more regularly in films like Star Trek and in the 90s with films like Batman Returns, Jurassic Park, etc.

Animation has been reinvented over and over since the early 2000s. With the rapid improvement of technology, animations became more realistic and detailed. 3D animation has peaked in popularity and is used with most feature animated films. From the beginning in 2003 with Finding Nemo and to 2016 with Moana, you can see the graphic change and how animation has grown. Moana‘s animations were made using mathematics to figure out things like how to make the large ocean surface without too much work and even creating the animations for small details such as characters’ hair.

Animation is constantly growing and changing with new styles, technology, and graphics. Feature films now almost always include CGI in the form of explosions, waves, and action scenes. Animated films will continue to improve on their details and will be used more and more in media.

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