The history of animation started long before the development of cinematography. Humans have probably attempted to depict motion as far back as the paleolithic period. Shadow play and the magic lantern offered popular shows with projected images on a screen, moving as the result of manipulation by hand and/or some minor mechanics. In 1833 the phenakistiscope introduced the stroboscopic principles of modern animation, and would also provide the basis for cinematography.
There are several examples of early sequential images that may seem similar to series of animation drawings. Most of these examples would only allow an extremely low frame rate when they are animated, resulting in short and crude animations that are not very lifelike. However, it's very unlikely that these images were intended to be somehow viewed as an animation. It is possible to imagine technology that could have been used in the periods of their creation, but no conclusive evidence in artifacts or descriptions have been found. It is sometimes argued that these early sequential images are too easily interpreted as "pre-cinema" by minds accustomed to film, comic books and other modern sequential images, while it is uncertain that the creators of these images envisioned anything like it. Fluent animation needs a proper breakdown of a motion into the separate images of very short instances, which could hardly be imagined before modern times. Measuring instances shorter than a second first became possible with instruments developed in the 1850s.
Early examples of attempts to capture the phenomenon of motion into a still drawing can be found in paleolithic cave paintings, where animals are often depicted with multiple legs in superimposed positions. It has been claimed that these superimposed figures were intended for a form of animation with the flickering light of the flames of a fire or a passing torch illuminating different parts of the painted rock wall, revealing different parts of the motion.
Archaeological finds of small paleolithic discs with a hole in the middle and drawings on both sides have been claimed to be a kind of prehistoric thaumatropes that show motion when spun on a string.
An Egyptian mural approximately 4000 years old, found in the tomb of Khnumhotep at the Beni Hassan cemetery, features a very long series of images that apparently depict the sequence of events in a wrestling match.
The Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) wrote in his poem De rerum natura a few lines that come close to the basic principles of animation: "...when the first image perishes and a second is then produced in another position, the former seems to have altered its pose. Of course this must be supposed to take place very swiftly: so great is their velocity, so great the store of particles in any single moment of sensation, to enable the supply to come up." It must be noted that this was in the context of dream images, rather than images produced by an actual or imagined technology.
The medieval codex Sigenot (circa 1470) has sequential illuminations with relatively short intervals between different phases of action. Each page has a picture inside a frame above the text, with great consistency in size and position throughout the book (with a consistent difference in size for the recto and verso sides of each page).
A page of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) show anatomical studies with four different angles of the muscles of shoulder, arm and neck of a man. The four drawings can be read as a rotating movement.
Ancient Chinese records contain several mentions of devices, including one made by the inventor Ding Huan, that were said to "give an impression of movement" to a series of human or animal figures on them, but these accounts are unclear and may only refer to the actual movement of the figures through space.
Since before 1000 CE the Chinese had a rotating lantern which had silhouettes projected on its thin paper sides that appeared to chase each other. This was called the "trotting horse lamp" [走馬燈] as it would typically depict horses and horse-riders. The cut-out silhouettes were attached inside the lantern to a shaft with a paper vane impeller on top, rotated by heated air rising from a lamp. Some versions added extra motion with jointed heads, feet or hands of figures triggered by a transversely connected iron wire.
Volvelles have moving parts, but these and other paper materials that can be manipulated into motion are usually not regarded as animation.
Shadow play has much in common with animation: people watching moving figures on a screen as a very popular form of entertainment, usually a story with dialogue, sounds and music. The figures could be very detailed and very articulated.
The earliest projection of images was most likely done in primitive shadowgraphy dating back to prehistory. It evolved into more refined forms of shadow puppetry, mostly with flat jointed cut-out figures which are held between a source of light and a translucent screen. The shapes of the puppets sometimes include translucent color or other types of detailing. The history of shadow puppetry is uncertain, but seems to have originated in Asia, possibly in the 1st millennium BCE. Clearer records seem to go back to around 900 CE. It later spread to the Ottoman empire and seems not to have reached Europe before the 17th century. It became very popular in France at the end of the 18th century. François Dominique Séraphin started his elaborate shadow shows in 1771 and performed them until his death in 1800. His heirs continued until their theatre closed in 1870. Séraphin developed the use of clockwork mechanisms to automate the show.
Around the time cinematography was developed, several theaters in Montmartre showed elaborate "Ombres Chinoises" shows that were very successful. The famous Le Chat Noir produced 45 different shows between 1885 and 1896.
Moving images were possibly projected with the magic lantern since its invention by Christiaan Huygens in 1659. His sketches for magic lantern slides have been dated to that year and are the oldest known document concerning the magic lantern. One encircled sketch depicts Death raising his arm from his toes to his head, another shows him moving his right arm up and down from his elbow and yet another taking his skull off his neck and placing it back. Dotted lines indicate the intended movements.
Techniques to add motion to painted glass slides for the magic lantern were described since circa 1700. These usually involved parts (for instance limbs) painted on one or more extra pieces of glass moved by hand or small mechanisms across a stationary slide which showed the rest of the picture. Popular subjects for mechanical slides included the sails of a windmill turning, a procession of figures, a drinking man lowering and raising his glass to his mouth, a head with moving eyes, a nose growing very long, rats jumping in the mouth of a sleeping man. A more complex 19th century rackwork slide showed the then known eight planets and their satellites orbiting around the sun. Two layers of painted waves on glass could create a convincing illusion of a calm sea turning into a very stormy sea tossing some boats about by increasing the speed of the manipulation of the different parts.
In 1770 Edmé-Gilles Guyot detailed how to project a magic lantern image on smoke to create a transparent, shimmering image of a hovering ghost. This technique was used in the phantasmagoria shows that became very popular in several parts of Europe between 1790 and the 1830s. Other techniques were developed to produce convincing ghost experiences. The lantern was handheld to move the projection across the screen (which was usually an almost invisible transparent screen behind which the lanternist operated hidden in the dark). A ghost could seem to approach the audience or grow larger by moving the lantern away from the screen, sometimes with the lantern on a trolley on rails. Multiple lanterns made ghosts move independently and were occasionally used for superimposition in the composition of complicated scenes.
Dissolving views became a popular magic lantern show, especially in England in the 1830s and 1840s. These typically had a landscape changing from a winter version to a spring or summer variation by slowly diminishing the light from one version while introducing the aligned projection of the other slide. Another use showed the gradual change of for instance groves into cathedrals.
Between the 1840s and 1870s several abstract magic lantern effects were developed. This included the chromatrope which projected dazzling colorful geometrical patterns by rotating two painted glass discs in opposite directions.
Occasionally small shadow puppets had been used in phantasmagoria shows. Magic lantern slides with jointed figures set in motion by levers, thin rods, or cams and worm wheels were also produced commercially and patented in 1891. A popular version of these "Fantoccini slides" had a somersaulting monkey with arms attached to mechanism that made it tumble with dangling feet. Fantoccini slides are named after the Italian word for puppets like marionettes or jumping jacks.
Numerous devices that successfully displayed animated images were introduced well before the advent of the motion picture. These devices were used to entertain, amaze, and sometimes even frighten people. The majority of these devices didn't project their images, and could only be viewed by a one or a few persons at a time. They were considered optical toys rather than devices for a large scale entertainment industry like later animation. Many of these devices are still built by and for film students learning the basic principles of animation.
An article in the Quarterly Journal of Science, Literature, and The Arts (1821) raised some interest in optical illusions of curved spokes in rotating wheels seen through vertical apertures. In 1824 Peter Mark Roget provided mathematical details about the appearing curvatures and added the observation that the spokes appeared motionless. Roget claimed that the illusion is due to the fact “that an impression made by a pencil of rays on the retina, if sufficiently vivid, will remain for a certain time after the cause has ceased.”  This was later seen as the basis for the theory of "persistence of vision" as the principle of how we see film as motion rather than the successive stream of still images actually presented to the eye. This theory has been discarded as the (sole) principle of the effect since 1912, but remains in many film history explanations. However, Roget's experiments and explanation did inspire some further research by Michael Faraday and also by Joseph Plateau that would eventually bring about the invention of animation.
In April 1825 the first thaumatrope was published by W. Phillips (in anonymous association with John Ayrton Paris) and became a very popular toy. The pictures on either side of a small cardboard disc seem to blend into one combined image when it is twirled quickly by the attached strings. This is often used as an illustration of what has often been called "persistence of vision", presumably referring to the effect in which the impression of a single image persists although in reality two different images are presented with interruptions. It is unclear how much of the effect relates to positive afterimages. Although a thaumatrope can also be used for two-phase animation, no examples are known to have been produced with this effect until long after the phénakisticope had established the principle of animation.
The phénakisticope (better known by the misspelling phenakistiscope or phenakistoscope) was the first animation device using rapid successive substitution of sequential pictures. The pictures are evenly spaced radially around a disc, with small rectangular apertures at the rim of the disc. The animation could be viewed through the slits of the spinning disc in front of a mirror. It was invented in November or December 1832 by the Belgian Joseph Plateau and almost simultaneously by the Austrian Simon von Stampfer. Plateau first published about his invention in January 1833. The publication included an illustration plate of a fantascope with 16 frames depicting a pirouetting dancer.
The phénakisticope was very successful as a novelty toy and within a year very many sets of stroboscopic discs were published across Europe, with almost as many different names for the device - including Fantascope (Plateau), The Stroboscope (Stampfer) and Phénakisticope (Parisian publisher Giroux & Cie).
In July 1833 Simon Stampfer described the possibility of using the stroboscope principle in a cylinder (as well as on looped strips) in a pamphlet accompanying the second edition of his version of the phénakisticope. British mathematician William George Horner suggested a cylindrical variation of Plateau's phénakisticope in January 1834. Horner planned to publish this Dædaleum with optician King, Jr in Bristol but it "met with some impediment probably in the sketching of the figures".
In 1865 William Ensign Lincoln invented the definitive zoetrope with easily replaceable strips of images. It also had an illustrated paper disc on the base, which was not always exploited on the commercially produced versions. Lincoln licensed his invention to Milton Bradley and Co. who first advertised it on December 15, 1866.
John Barnes Linnett patented the first flip book in 1868 as the kineograph. A flip book is a small book with relatively springy pages, each having one in a series of animation images located near its unbound edge. The user bends all of the pages back, normally with the thumb, then by a gradual motion of the hand allows them to spring free one at a time. As with the phenakistoscope, zoetrope and praxinoscope, the illusion of motion is created by the apparent sudden replacement of each image by the next in the series, but unlike those other inventions no view-interrupting shutter or assembly of mirrors is required and no viewing device other than the user's hand is absolutely necessary. Early film animators cited flip books as their inspiration more often than the earlier devices, which did not reach as wide an audience.
The older devices by their nature severely limit the number of images that can be included in a sequence without making the device very large or the images impractically small. The book format still imposes a physical limit, but many dozens of images of ample size can easily be accommodated. Inventors stretched even that limit with the mutoscope, patented in 1894 and sometimes still found in amusement arcades. It consists of a large circularly-bound flip book in a housing, with a viewing lens and a crank handle that drives a mechanism that slowly rotates the assembly of images past a catch, sized to match the running time of an entire reel of film.
French inventor Charles-Émile Reynaud developed the praxinoscope in 1876 and patented it in 1877. It is similar to the zoetrope but instead of the slits in the cylinder it has twelve rectangular mirrors placed evenly around the center of the cylinder. Each mirror reflects another image of the picture strip placed opposite on the inner wall of the cylinder. When rotating the praxinoscope shows the sequential images one by one, resulting in a fluent animation. The praxinoscope allowed a much clearer view of the moving image compared to the zoetrope, since the zoetrope's images were actually mostly obscured by the spaces in between its slits. In 1879 Reynaude registered a modification to the praxinoscope patent to include the Praxinoscope Théâtre, which utilized the Pepper's ghost effect to present the animated figures in an exchangeable background. Later improvements included the "Praxinoscope à projection" (marketed since 1882) which used a double magic lantern to project the animated figures over a till projection of a background.
Eadweard Muybridge had circa 70 of his famous chronophotographic sequences painted on glass discs for the zoopraxiscope projector that he used in his popular lectures between 1880 and 1895. In the 1880s the images were painted onto the glass in dark contours. Later discs made between 1892 and 1894 had outlines drawn by Erwin F. Faber that were photographically printed on the disc and then coloured by hand, but these were probably never used in the lectures. The painted figures were largely transposed from the photographs, but many fanciful combinations were made and sometimes imaginary elements were added.
Charles-Émile Reynaud further developed his projection praxinoscope into the Théâtre Optique with transparent hand-painted colorful pictures in a long perforated strip wound between two spools, patented in December 1888. From 28 October 1892 to March 1900 Reynaud gave over 12,800 shows to a total of over 500.000 visitors at the Musée Grévin in Paris. His Pantomimes Lumineuses series of animated films each contained 300 to 700 frames that were manipulated back and forth to last 10 to 15 minutes per film. A background scene was projected separately. Piano music, song and some dialogue were performed live, while some sound effects were synchronized with an electromagnet. The first program included three cartoons: Pauvre Pierrot (created in 1891), Un bon bock (created in 1888, now lost), and Le Clown et ses chiens (created in 1890, now lost). Later on the titles Autour d'une cabine (created in 1893) and A rêve au coin du feu would be part of the performances.
Despite the success of Reynaud's films it took some time before animation was adapted in the film industry that came about after the introduction of Lumiere's Cinematograph in 1895. Georges Méliès' early fantasy and trick films (released between 1896 and 1913) occasionally came close to including animation with substitution splice effects, painted props or painted creatures that were moved in front of painted backgrounds (mostly using wires), and film colorization by hand. Méliès also popularized the stop trick, with a single change made to the scene in between shots, that had already been used in Edison's The Execution of Mary Stuart in 1895 and probably led to the development of stop-motion animation some years later. It seems to have lasted until 1906 before proper animated films started to appear in cinemas. The dating of earlier films with animation is contested, while other films that may have used stop motion or other animation techniques are lost and can't be checked.
In 1897 German toy manufacturer Gebrüder Bing had a first prototype of their kinematograph. In November 1898 they presented this toy film projector, possibly the first of its kind, at a toy festival in Leipzig. Soon other toy manufacturers, including Ernst Plank and Georges Carette, sold similar devices. Around the same time the French company Lapierre marketed a similar projector. The toy cinematographs were basically magic lanterns with one or two small spools that used standard "Edison perforation" 35mm film. These projectors were intended for the same type of "home entertainment" toy market that most of these manufacturers already provided with praxinoscopes and toy magic lanterns. Apart from relatively expensive live-action films, the manufacturers produced many cheaper films by printing lithographed drawings. These animations were probably made in black-and-white from around 1898 or 1899, but at the latest by 1902 they were made in color. The pictures were often traced from live-action films (much like the later rotoscoping technique). These very short films depicted a simple repetitive action and were created to be projected as a loop - playing endlessly with the film ends put together. The lithograph process and the loop format follow the tradition that was set by the zoetrope and praxinoscope.
Katsudō Shashin, from an unknown creator, was discovered in 2005 and is speculated to be the oldest work of animation in Japan, with Natsuki Matsumoto,[Note 1] an expert in iconography at the Osaka University of Arts and animation historian Nobuyuki Tsugata[Note 2] determining the film was most likely made between 1907 and 1911. The film consists of a series of cartoon images on fifty frames of a celluloid strip and lasts three seconds at sixteen frames per second. It depicts a young boy in a sailor suit who writes the kanji characters "活動写真" (katsudō shashin, or "moving picture"), then turns towards the viewer, removes his hat, and offers a salute. Evidence suggests it was mass-produced to be sold to wealthy owners of home projectors. To Matsumoto, the relatively poor quality and low-tech printing technique indicate it was likely from a smaller film company.
J. Stuart Blackton was a British-American filmmaker, co-founder of the Vitagraph Studios and one of the first to use animation in his films.The Enchanted Drawing (1900) is considered to be the first film recorded on standard picture film that included some sequences that are sometimes regarded as animation. It shows Blackton doing some "lightning sketches" of a face, cigars, a bottle of wine and a glass. The face changes expression when Blackton pours some wine into the face's mouth and when Blackton takes his cigar. The technique used in this film was basically the substitution splice: the single change to the scenes was the replacement of a drawing by a similar drawing with a different facial expression. In some scenes a drawn bottle and glass were replaced by real objects. Blackton had possibly used the same technique in a lost 1896 lightning sketch film. The effect can hardly be considered animation.
Blackton's 1906 film Humorous Phases of Funny Faces is often regarded as the oldest known drawn animation on standard film. It features a sequence made with blackboard drawings that are changed between frames to show two faces changing expressions and some billowing cigar smoke, as well as two sequences that feature cutout animation.
Blackton's The Haunted Hotel (1907) featured a combination of live-action with practical special effects and stop-motion animation of objects, a puppet and a model of the haunted hotel. It was the first stop-motion film to receive wide scale appreciation. Especially a large close-up view of a table being set by itself baffled viewers; there were no visible wires or other noticeable well-known tricks.  This inspired other filmmakers, including French animator Émile Cohl and Segundo de Chomón, to work with the new technique. De Chomón would release the similar The House of Ghosts and El hotel eléctrico in 1908.
In 1905 American film pioneer Edwin S. Porter used animated letters and a very simple cutout animation of two hands in the intertitles in How Jones lost his roll. He experimented with a small bit of crude stop-motion animation in his trick film Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906). His 1907 film The "Teddy" Bears mainly shows people in bear costumes, but also features a short stop-motion segment with small teddy bears.
Spanish filmmaker Segundo de Chomón made many trick films and has often been compared to Georges Méliès. De Chomón frequently used stop-motion in his films, even before the release of J. Stuart Blackton's groundbreaking The Haunted Hotel. Le théâtre de Bob (1906) features over three minutes of stop-motion animation with dolls and some objects. El hotel eléctrico (1908) features much stop motion with objects, a bit of pixilation and one effect done with drawn animation (a few lines probably drawn on the negative that represent electric sparks).
Arthur Melbourne-Cooper was a British filmmaker who did much pioneering work in stop motion animation. He produced over 300 films between 1896 and 1915, of which an estimated 36 were all or in part animated.
Based on later reports by Cooper and by his daughter Audrey Wadowska, some believe that Cooper's Matches: an Appeal was produced in 1899 and therefore the very first stop-motion animation. The black-and-white film shows a matchstick figure writing an appeal to donate a Guinea for which Bryant and May would supply soldiers with sufficient matches. No archival records are known that could proof that the film was indeed created in 1899 during the beginning of the Second Boer War. Others place it at 1914, during the beginning of World War I. Cooper created more Animated Matches scenes in the same setting. These are believed to also have been produced in 1899, while a release date of 1908 has also been given. There is also an Animated Matches film by Émile Cohl that was released by Gaumont in 1908, which may have caused more confusion about the release dates of Cooper's matchstick animations.
The lost films Dolly's Toys (1901) and The Enchanted Toymaker (1904) may have included stop-motion animation. Dreams of Toyland (1908) features a scene with many animated toys that lasts circa three and a half minutes.
The French artist Émile Cohl created the first animated film using what came to be known as traditional animation methods: the 1908 Fantasmagorie. The film largely consisted of a stick figure moving about and encountering all manner of morphing objects, such as a wine bottle that transforms into a flower. There were also sections of live action where the animator’s hands would enter the scene. The film was created by drawing each frame on paper and then shooting each frame onto negative film, which gave the picture a blackboard look. Cohl later went to Fort Lee, New Jersey near New York City in 1912, where he worked for French studio Éclair and spread its animation technique to the US.
Influenced by Émile Cohl, the author of the first puppet-animated film (i.e., The Beautiful Lukanida (1912)), Russian-born (ethnically Polish) director Wladyslaw Starewicz, known as Ladislas Starevich, started to create stop motion films using dead insects with wire limbs and later, in France, with complex and really expressive puppets. In 1912, he created The Cameraman's Revenge, a complex tale of treason and violence between several different insects. It is a pioneer work of puppet animation, and the oldest animated film of such dramatic complexity, with characters filled with motivation, desire and feelings.
More detailed hand-drawn animations with detailed backgrounds and characters, were those directed by Winsor McCay, a successful newspaper cartoonist, including the 1911 Little Nemo, the 1914 Gertie the Dinosaur, and the 1918 The Sinking of the Lusitania. Gertie the Dinosaur featured an early example of character development in drawn animation. The film was made for McCay's vaudeville act and as it played McCay would speak to Gertie who would respond with a series of gestures. There was a scene at the end of the film where McCay walked behind the projection screen and a view of him appears on the screen showing him getting on the cartoon dinosaur's back and riding out of frame. This scene made Gertie the Dinosaur the first film to combine live-action footage with hand-drawn animation. McCay hand-drew almost every one of the 10,000 drawings he used for the film.
Also in 1914, John Bray opened John Bray Studios, which revolutionized the way animation was created. Earl Hurd, one of Bray's employees patented the cel technique. This involved animating moving objects on transparent celluloid sheets. Animators photographed the sheets over a stationary background image to generate the sequence of images. This, as well as Bray's innovative use of the assembly line method, allowed John Bray Studios to create Colonel Heeza Liar, the first animated series.
During the 1910s, the production of animated short films, typically referred to as "cartoons", became an industry of its own and cartoon shorts were produced for showing in movie theaters. The most successful producer at the time was John Randolph Bray, who, along with animator Earl Hurd, patented the cel animation process that dominated the animation industry for the rest of the decade.
In 1915, Max and Dave Fleischer invented rotoscoping, the process of using film as a reference point for animation and their studios went on to later release such animated classics as Ko-Ko the Clown, Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor Man, and Superman. In 1918 McCay released The Sinking of the Lusitania, a wartime propaganda film. McCay did use some of the newer animation techniques, such as cels over paintings—but because he did all of his animation by himself, the project wasn't actually released until just shortly before the end of the war. At this point the larger scale animation studios were becoming the industrial norm and artists such as McCay faded from the public eye.
In 1919, Otto Messmer of Pat Sullivan Studios created Felix the Cat. Pat Sullivan, the studio head took all of the credit for Felix, a common practice in the early days of studio animation. Felix the Cat was distributed by Paramount Studios, and it attracted a large audience. Felix was the first cartoon to be merchandised. He soon became a household name.
In Germany during the 1920s, an abstract animation / absolute film movement was popularized by Walter Ruttman, Hans Richter, and Oskar Fischinger. The Nazis censorship against so-called "degenerate art" prevented the abstract animation from developing after 1933.
In 1923, a studio called Laugh-O-Grams went bankrupt and its owner, Walt Disney, opened a new studio in Los Angeles. Disney's first project was the Alice Comedies series, which featured a live action girl interacting with numerous cartoon characters. Disney's first notable breakthrough was 1928's Steamboat Willie, the third of the Mickey Mouse series. The short film showed an anthropomorphic mouse named Mickey neglecting his work on a steamboat to instead make music using the animals aboard the boat. Even though many wrongly believe Steamboat Willie was the first cartoon with synchronized sound, since May 1924 and continuing through September 1926, Dave and Max Fleischer's Inkwell Studios produced 19 sound cartoons, part of the Song Car-Tunes series, using the Phonofilm "sound-on-film" process.
In 1933, Warner Brothers Cartoons was founded. While Disney's studio was known for its releases being strictly controlled by Walt Disney himself, Warner brothers allowed its animators more freedom, which allowed for their animators to develop more recognizable personal styles.
The first animation to use the full, three-color Technicolor method was Flowers and Trees, made in 1932 by Disney Studios, which won an Academy Award for the work. Color animation soon became the industry standard, and in 1934, Warner Brothers released Honeymoon Hotel of the Merrie Melodies series, their first color films. Meanwhile, Disney had realized that the success of animated films depended upon telling emotionally gripping stories; he developed an innovation called a "story department" where storyboard artists separate from the animators would focus on story development alone, which proved its worth when the Disney studio released in 1933 the first-ever animated short to feature well-developed characters, Three Little Pigs. In 1935, Tex Avery released his first film with Warner Brothers. Avery's style was notably fast-paced, violent, and satirical, with a slapstick sensibility.
The first known animated feature film was El Apóstol by Quirino Cristiani, released on 9 November 1917 in Argentina. This successful 70 minute satire utilized a cardboard cutout technique, reportedly with 58,000 frames at 14 frames per second. Cristiani's next feature Sin dejar rastros was released in 1918, but it received no press coverage and poor public attendance before it was confiscated by the police for diplomatic reasons. On 18 September 1931 Cristiani's third feature Peludópolis premiered in Buenos Aires with a Vitaphone sound-on-disc synchronized soundtrack. It was received quite positive by critics, but did not become a hit and was an economic fiasco for the filmmaker who soon realized he could no longer make a career with animation in Argentina. None of Cristiani's feature films survived.
The earliest surviving animated feature film is the 1926 silhouette-animated Adventures of Prince Achmed, which used colour-tinted film. It was directed by German Lotte Reiniger and French/Hungarian Berthold Bartosch.
At least seven animated feature films were released before Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered on 21 December 1937.. Six of these films (of which only four survive) were made using cutout, silhouette or stop motion. Only Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons — also by Disney — was totally hand-drawn. It was released seven months prior to Snow White to promote the upcoming release of Snow White.. Many do not consider this a genuine feature film because it is a package film. In addition, at approximately 41 minutes, the film does not seem to fulfill today's expectations for a feature film. However, the official BFI, AMPAS and AFI definitions of a feature film require that it be over 40 minutes long, which, in theory, should make it the first animated feature film using traditional animation.
Following Snow White's success, Disney began to focus much of its productive force on feature-length films while still producing a good amount of shorts throughout the century. Warner Brothers continued to focus on short films.
Competition from television drew audiences away from movie theaters in the late 1950s. The theatrical animated short began its decline, while cartoons became quite popular on television, especially after color television was introduced (to the US Market in 1954).
The scheduling constraints of the 1950s American TV animation process, notably issues of resource management, led to the development of various techniques known now as limited animation. Full-frame animation ("on ones") became rare in the United States outside its use for theatrical productions.Chuck Jones coined the term "illustrated radio" to refer to the shoddy style of most television cartoons that depended more on their soundtracks than visuals. The limited animation style was highlighted by the work of Jay Ward on Crusader Rabbit(1950).Other notable 1950s programs include UPA's Gerald McBoing Boing,, Terrytoons's Tom Terrific (1958), Hanna-Barbera's Huckleberry Hound (1958) (the first half-hour television program to feature only animation) and Quick Draw McGraw, and rebroadcast of many classic theatrical cartoons from Universal's Walter Lantz, Warner Bros., MGM, and Disney.
The Hanna-Barbera cartoon, The Flintstones, was the first successful primetime animated series in the United States, running from 1960 to 1966 (and in reruns since). While many networks followed the show's success by scheduling other cartoons in the early 1960s, including Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, The Jetsons, Top Cat, and The Alvin Show, few of these programs survived more than a year (save Scooby-Doo, which, despite not being a primetime cartoon, has managed to stay afloat for over four decades). However, networks found success by running these shows as Saturday morning cartoons, reaching smaller audiences with more demographic unity among children. Television animation for children flourished on Saturday morning, on cable channels like Nickelodeon, Disney Channel/Disney XD and Cartoon Network, PBS Kids, and in syndicated afternoon timeslots.
Primetime cartoons for mature audiences were virtually non-existent in the mainstream of the United States until the 1990s hit, when The Simpsons ushered in a new era of adult animation. Now, "adult animation" programs, such as, Beavis and Butt-head, South Park, King of the Hill, Family Guy, American Dad! and Futurama have increased the number of animated sitcoms on prime-time and evening American television. In addition, animated works from other countries (notably Japan) have had varying levels of airplay in the United States since the 1960s.
Animation has been very popular in television commercials, both due to its graphic appeal, and the humour it can provide. Some animated characters in commercials have survived for decades, such as Snap, Crackle and Pop in advertisements for Kellogg's cereals.
The legendary animation director Tex Avery was the producer of the first Raid "Kills Bugs Dead" commercials in 1966, which were very successful for the company. The concept has been used in many countries since.
Innumerable approaches to creating animation have arisen throughout the years. Here is a brief account of some of the non traditional techniques commonly incorporated.
This process is used for many productions, for example, the most common types of puppets are clay puppets, as used in The California Raisins, Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep by Aardman, and figures made of various rubbers, cloths and plastic resins, such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Sometimes even objects are used, such as with the films of Jan Švankmajer.
Stop motion animation was also commonly used for special effects work in many live-action films, such as the 1914 Italian cult epic film Cabiria, the 1933 version of King Kong and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
The first fully computer-animated feature film was Pixar's Toy Story (1995). The process of CGI animation is still very tedious and similar in that sense to traditional animation, and it still adheres to many of the same principles.
A principal difference of CGI animation compared to traditional animation is that drawing is replaced by 3D modeling, almost like a virtual version of stop-motion. A form of animation that combines the two and uses 2D computer drawing can be considered computer aided animation.
Most CGI created films are based on animal characters, monsters, machines, or cartoon-like humans. Animation studios are now trying to develop ways to create realistic-looking humans. Films that have attempted this include Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within in 2001, Final Fantasy: Advent Children in 2005, The Polar Express in 2004, Beowulf in 2007 and Resident Evil: Degeneration in 2009. However, due to the complexity of human body functions, emotions and interactions, this method of animation is rarely used. The more realistic a CG character becomes, the more difficult it is to create the nuances and details of a living person, and the greater the likelihood of the character falling into the uncanny valley. The creation of hair and clothing that move convincingly with the animated human character is another area of difficulty. The Incredibles and Up both have humans as protagonists, while films like Avatar combine animation with live action to create humanoid creatures.
Cel-shading is a type of non-photorealistic rendering intended to make computer graphics appear hand-drawn. It is often used to mimic the style of a comic book or cartoon. It is a somewhat recent addition to computer graphics, most commonly turning up in console video games. Though the end result of cel-shading has a very simplistic feel like that of hand-drawn animation, the process is complex. The name comes from the clear sheets of acetate (originally, celluloid), called cels, that are painted on for use in traditional 2D animation. It may be considered a "2.5D" form of animation. True real-time cel-shading was first introduced in 2000 by Sega's Jet Set Radio for their Dreamcast console. Besides video games, a number of anime have also used this style of animation, such as Freedom Project in 2006.
Machinima is the use of real-time 3D computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production. Most often, video games are used to generate the computer animation. Machinima-based artists, sometimes called machinimists or machinimators, are often fan laborers, by virtue of their re-use of copyrighted materials.
|1917||Feature film||El Apóstol||Created with cutout animation; now considered lost|
|1926||The Adventures of Prince Achmed||Oldest surviving animated feature film, cutout silhouette animation|
|1919||Filmed in Rotoscope||The Clown's Pup||Shortfilm|
|1924||Synchronized sound on film||Oh Mabel||Short film; used Lee DeForest's Phonofilm sound on film process, though none of the characters "speak" on screen|
|1926||Synchronized sound on film with animated dialogue||My Old Kentucky Home||Short film; used Lee DeForest's Phonofilm sound on film process; a dog character mouths the words, "Follow the ball, and join in, everybody!"|
|1930||Filmed in Two-color Technicolor||King of Jazz||Premiering in April 1930, a three-minute cartoon sequence produced by Walter Lantz appears in this full-length, live-action Technicolor feature film.|
|1930||Two-color Technicolor in a stand-alone cartoon||Fiddlesticks||Released in August 1930, this Ub Iwerks-produced short is the first standalone color cartoon.|
|1930||Feature length puppet animated (stop-motion) film||The Tale of the Fox|
|1931||Feature-length sound film||Peludópolis|
|1932||Filmed in three-strip Technicolor||Flowers and Trees||Short film|
|1934||Filmed in Stereoptical Process||Poor Cinderella||Short film|
|1936||Two-reel short filmed in three-strip Technicolor||Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor|
|1937||Feature filmed in three-strip Technicolor||Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs|
|1942||limited animation||The Dover Boys||Shortfilm|
|1949||Television series||Crusader Rabbit|
|1950||Short lived TV show||The Adventures of Paddy the Pelican|
|1953||Filmed in stereoscopic 3D||Melody||Short film|
|Presented in widescreen||Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom||Short film|
|1955||Feature filmed in widescreen format||Lady and the Tramp|
|Animated TV series to aired outside of USA||A Rubovian Legend|
|Stop-motion television series||The Gumby Show|
|1956||Primetime television series||CBS Cartoon Theatre||Compilation television series|
|1957||Television series to be broadcast in color||Colonel Bleep||Television series|
|1958||Half-hour television series||The Huckleberry Hound Show|
|1959||Animated series to have its production outsourced to an overseas company||Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show||Television series|
|Syncro-Vox||Clutch Cargo||Television series|
|1960||Xerography process (replacing hand inking)||Goliath II||Short film|
|Primetime animated sitcom||The Flintstones||Television series|
|1961||Feature film using xerography process||One Hundred and One Dalmatians|
|Long-running TV show||Minna no Uta|
|1964||Feature film based on a television show||Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!|
|1969||Adult anime film||A Thousand and One Nights||Lost film|
|G-rated cartoon film||A Boy Named Charlie Brown|
|1970||Primetime animated sitcom created for syndication||Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies||Television series|
|1972||Adult cartoon film||Fritz the Cat|
|Adult cartoon TV series||Wait Till Your Father Gets Home|
|1974||R-rated cartoon film||The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat|
|1977||PG-rated cartoon animated film||Wizards|
|1978||Animated feature to be presented in Dolby sound||Watership Down|
|1983||3D feature film - stereoscopic technique||Abra Cadabra|
|Animated feature containing computer-generated imagery||Rock and Rule|
|Animated TV series to be recorded in Stereo sound||Inspector Gadget|
|1984||Fully CGI-animated film||The Adventures of André and Wally B.||Short film|
|1985||Feature length clay-animated film||The Adventures of Mark Twain|
|1988||Cinematography milestone||Who Framed Roger Rabbit||First feature film to have live-action and cartoon animation share the screen for the entire film|
|1989||TV cartoon to be broadcast in Dolby Surround sound.||Hanna-Barbera's 50th: A Yabba Dabba Doo Celebration|
|1990||Produced without camera
Feature film using digital ink and paint
|The Rescuers Down Under||First feature film completely produced with Disney's Computer Animation Production System|
|1991||First animated film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture||Beauty and the Beast||As of 2017 no animated film has won the Best Picture award.|
|1993||Direct-to-video CGI-animated series||VeggieTales|
|CGI-animated TV series||Insektors|
|1994||Half-hour computer-animated TV series||ReBoot|
|1995||Fully computer-animated feature film
G-rated CGI feature film
|Animated television series to be broadcast in Dolby Surround||Pinky and the Brain|
|1997||Animated series produced for the Internet
|The Goddamn George Liquor Program|
|1998||PG-rated CGI animated film||Antz|
|1999||IMAX Disney animated film||Fantasia 2000|
|2000||First Aardman Rated-G Film||Chicken Run|
PG-13-rated CGI animated film
|Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within|
|First Academy Award for Best Animated Feature||Won by Shrek||Monsters, Inc. and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius were also nominated.|
|2002||Flash-animated television series||¡Mucha Lucha!|
|2003||First Flash-animated film||Wizards and Giants|
|2005||Feature shot with digital still cameras||Corpse Bride|
|2007||Feature digitally animated by one person||Flatland|
|Presented in 7.1 surround sound||Ultimate Avengers
Ultimate Avengers 2
|2008||Feature film designed, created and released exclusively in 3D||Fly Me to the Moon|
|Adult CGI animated film||Free Jimmy|
|2009||Stop-motion character animated using rapid prototyping||Coraline|
|First animated feature film to be produced in 3D, instead of being converted into 3D in a post-production process||Monsters vs. Aliens|
|2010||Animated feature film to earn more than $1,000,000,000 worldwide
Feature film released theatrically in 7.1 surround sound
|Toy Story 3|
|2012||Stop-motion film to use 3D printing technology for models||ParaNorman|
|2016||First R-rated CGI feature film||Sausage Party|
The history of Hollywood animation as an art form has undergone many changes in its hundred-year history, the following lists four separate chapters in the development of its animation:
The roots of Czech puppet animation began in the mid-1940s when puppet theater operators, Eduard Hofman and Jiří Trnka founded the Poetic animation school, Bratři v triku. Since that time animation has expanded and flourished.
Estonian animation began in the 1930s and has carried on into the modern day.
Iran's animation owes largely to the animator Noureddin Zarrinkelk. Zarrinkelk was instrumental in founding the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IIDCYA) in Tehran in collaboration with the late father of Iranian graphics Morteza Momayez and other fellow artists like Farshid Mesghali, Ali Akbar Sadeghi, and Arapik Baghdasarian.
Animation in Malaysia began in 1946 with the establishment of the Malayan Film Unit (now known as National Film). The first short animated film was the Hikayat Sang Kancil (Anandam Xavier, 1978) and aired in 1983. Short films that appeared between 1985 and 1987 were: The Mouse & Monkey, The Mouse & Crocodile, The Crow Rage, the Rabbit Arrogant and the Lion of Haloba made by Hassan Abdul Muthalib.
See: Weta Digital
ASIFA-Hollywood, an American non-profit organization in Los Angeles, California, United States, is a branch member of the "Association Internationale du Film d'Animation" or "ASIFA" (the International Animated Film Association). Its purpose is to promote the art of film animation in a variety of ways, including its own archive and an annual awards presentation, the Annie Awards. It is also known as the International Animated Film Society.Many branches of ASIFA exist throughout the world; in the US there are chapters in San Francisco, New York City, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, the Detroit area, and others, while internationally, organizations exist in Annecy, France, in Italy, and Japan. ASIFA also sponsors several animation film festivals throughout the world, including the ASIFA-Hollywood Student Animation Festival.ASIFA-Hollywood has the largest membership internationally of all other chapters, largely because the most popular cartoons ever produced were by studios and animation professionals located in the city of Burbank, which is also the location of the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Center. It includes a virtual archive, museum, library and research facility, containing the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Project.Animator
An animator is an artist who creates multiple images, known as frames, which give an illusion of movement called animation when displayed in rapid sequence. Animators can work in a variety of fields including film, television, and video games. Animation is closely related to filmmaking and like filmmaking is extremely labor-intensive, which means that most significant works require the collaboration of several animators. The methods of creating the images or frames for an animation piece depend on the animators' artistic styles and their field.
Other artists who contribute to animated cartoons, but who are not animators, include layout artists (who design the backgrounds, lighting, and camera angles), storyboard artists (who draw panels of the action from the script), and background artists (who paint the "scenery"). Animated films share some film crew positions with regular live action films, such as director, producer, sound engineer, and editor, but differ radically in that for most of the history of animation, they did not need most of the crew positions seen on a physical set.
In hand-drawn Japanese animation productions, such as in Hayao Miyazaki's films, the key animator handles both layout and key animation. Some animators in Japan such as Mitsuo Iso take full responsibility for their scenes, making them become more than just the key animator.Cel
A cel, short for celluloid, is a transparent sheet on which objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation. Actual celluloid (consisting of cellulose nitrate and camphor) was used during the first half of the 20th century, but since it was flammable and dimensionally unstable it was largely replaced by cellulose acetate. With the advent of computer-assisted animation production, the use of cels has been all but abandoned in major productions. Disney studios stopped using cels in 1990 when Computer Animation Production System (CAPS) replaced this element in their animation process, and in the next decade and a half, the other major animation studios phased cels out as well.Disney animators' strike
The Disney animators' strike was a labor strike by the animators of Walt Disney Productions. The strike began on May 29, 1941, and lasted roughly five weeks. Though it resulted in the studio officially recognizing labor unions, it resulted in many departures and had a permanent psychological impact on the studio and its founder, Walt Disney.History of Azerbaijani animation
The history of Azerbaijani animation is so far a nearly unexplored field for Western film theory and history. Most of Azerbaijan's production of animation for cinema and television was created during Soviet times. A lengthy history interlocks between the art, politics and the ever-changing economy.History of Brazilian animation
The history of Brazilian animation is relatively recent. In the first half of the 20th century, there were some small experiments produced in animation without much continuity, to the emergence of several animated films in the other half of the century. The 21st century saw the advent of many animated series for television.History of Canadian animation
The history of Canadian animation involves a considerable element of the realities of a country neighbouring the United States and both competitiveness and co-operation cross-border.History of Chinese animation
The history of Chinese animation began in the 20th century in the Republic of China when the people became fascinated with the idea of animation. A lengthy history interlocks between the art, politics and the ever-changing economy. Chinese animation has long been under the shadow of Disney and Japanese animations, but it once played a very important role in world animation.History of Iranian animation
The history of Iranian animation, which began in its modern form in the mid 20th century in Iran, can also be traced back to the Bronze Age.History of Korean animation
The history of Korean animation, the manipulation of images to make them appear as moving, began with Japanese and American characters dominating the industry. The first sound animated character was created in 1936. The first feature-length animated character appeared in 1967. Dooly the Little Dinosaur revolutionized the character market in 1987. As animation characters specific to Korea appeared, the Korean character market continued to grow. Since then, Korean character franchises have even exported their characters to other countries.History of Russian animation
The history of Russian animation is the film art produced by Russian animation makers. As most of Russia's production of animation for cinema and television were created during Soviet times, it may also be referred to some extent as the history of Soviet animation. It remains a nearly unexplored field in film theory and history outside Russia.Independent animation
Independent animation is animated short cartoons and feature films produced outside the professional Hollywood animation industry. A good portion of the work is viewed in animation festivals and private screen rooms along with schools that produce animation through instruction. The significance of independent animation is as important as studio fare.Mexican animation
The Mexican animation industry is a part of Mexico's domestic film industry. It utilizes the flash, CG, and traditional animation formats, typically produced on a small budget. It began in the 1960's and continues decades later.Praxinoscope
The praxinoscope was an animation device, the successor to the zoetrope. It was invented in France in 1877 by Charles-Émile Reynaud. Like the zoetrope, it used a strip of pictures placed around the inner surface of a spinning cylinder. The praxinoscope improved on the zoetrope by replacing its narrow viewing slits with an inner circle of mirrors, placed so that the reflections of the pictures appeared more or less stationary in position as the wheel turned. Someone looking in the mirrors would therefore see a rapid succession of images producing the illusion of motion, with a brighter and less distorted picture than the zoetrope offered.Rubber hose animation
Rubber hose animation was the first animation style that became standardized in the American animation industry. The defining feature of the style is "rubber hose limbs"—arms, and sometimes legs, that are typically simple, flowing curves, without articulation (no hinged wrists or elbows).Strobe light
A strobe light or stroboscopic lamp, commonly called a strobe, is a device used to produce regular flashes of light. It is one of a number of devices that can be used as a stroboscope. The word originated from the Greek strobos (Greek: στρόβος), meaning "act of whirling".
A typical commercial strobe light has a flash energy in the region of 10 to 150 joules, and discharge times as short as a few milliseconds, often resulting in a flash power of several kilowatts. Larger strobe lights can be used in “continuous” mode, producing extremely intense illumination.
The light source is commonly a xenon flash lamp, or flashtube, which has a complex spectrum and a color temperature of approximately 5,600 kelvins. To obtain colored light, colored gels may be used.UPA (animation studio)
United Productions of America, better known as UPA, was an American animation studio active from the 1940s through the 1970s. Beginning with industrial and World War II training films, UPA eventually produced theatrical shorts for Columbia Pictures such as the Mr. Magoo series. In 1956, UPA produced a television series for CBS, The Boing-Boing Show, hosted by Gerald McBoing Boing. In the 1960s, UPA produced syndicated Mr. Magoo and Dick Tracy television series and other series and specials, including Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol. UPA also produced two animated features, 1001 Arabian Nights and Gay Purr-ee, and distributed Japanese films from Toho Studios in the 1970s and 1980s. Gerald McBoing-Boing (2005–2007) is a more recent television series based on UPA's memorable character and licensed and co-produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment and Classic Media, for Cartoon Network. A French-American reboot television series of Mr. Magoo, another one of UPA's memorable characters has been announced by Xilam as their first collaboration with DreamWorks Animation, and is set to premiere on France 3 in France and Universal Kids.UPA Pictures' legacy in the history of animation has largely been overshadowed by the commercial success and availability of the cartoon libraries of Warner Bros., MGM and Disney. Nonetheless, UPA had a significant impact on animation style, content, and technique, and its innovations were recognized and adopted by the other major animation studios and independent filmmakers all over the world. UPA pioneered the technique of limited animation. Although this style of animation came to be widely used in the 1960s and 1970s as a cost-cutting measure, it was originally intended as a stylistic alternative to the growing trend (particularly at Disney) of recreating cinematic realism in animated films.
The UPA library was later purchased by Universal Pictures, after their successful acquisition of DreamWorks Animation.Vietnamese animation
The Vietnamese animation (Vietnamese: Hoạt hình Việt Nam) began in 1959 when the Vietnam Animation Studio was formed by a group of young animators (Ngô Mạnh Lân, Lê Minh Hiền, Hồ Quảng, Trương Qua...) who were educated in the Soviet Union.Walt Disney
Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons. As a film producer, Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. He was presented with two Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards and an Emmy Award, among other honors. Several of his films are included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Born in Chicago in 1901, Disney developed an early interest in drawing. He took art classes as a boy and got a job as a commercial illustrator at the age of 18. He moved to California in the early 1920s and set up the Disney Brothers Studio with his brother Roy. With Ub Iwerks, Walt developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928, his first highly popular success; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years. As the studio grew, Disney became more adventurous, introducing synchronized sound, full-color three-strip Technicolor, feature-length cartoons and technical developments in cameras. The results, seen in features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio, Fantasia (both 1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942), furthered the development of animated film. New animated and live-action films followed after World War II, including the critically successful Cinderella (1950) and Mary Poppins (1964), the latter of which received five Academy Awards.
In the 1950s, Disney expanded into the amusement park industry, and in 1955 he opened Disneyland. To fund the project he diversified into television programs, such as Walt Disney's Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club; he was also involved in planning the 1959 Moscow Fair, the 1960 Winter Olympics, and the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1965, he began development of another theme park, Disney World, the heart of which was to be a new type of city, the "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" (EPCOT). Disney was a heavy smoker throughout his life, and died of lung cancer in December 1966 before either the park or the EPCOT project were completed.
Disney was a shy, self-deprecating and insecure man in private but adopted a warm and outgoing public persona. He had high standards and high expectations of those with whom he worked. Although there have been accusations that he was racist or anti-Semitic, they have been contradicted by many who knew him. His reputation changed in the years after his death, from a purveyor of homely patriotic values to a representative of American imperialism. He nevertheless remains an important figure in the history of animation and in the cultural history of the United States, where he is considered a national cultural icon. His film work continues to be shown and adapted; his namesake studio and company maintains high standards in its production of popular entertainment, and the Disney amusement parks have grown in size and number to attract visitors in several countries.