Animation is the procedure of producing the illusion of motion by the high speed array of a sequence of still images that slightly differ from each other.
Animation is all around us, your favourite movies, tv shows, music videos etc. It has had a history dating back to the 1800s, there are three main periods of animation: pioneers and animation techniques before film, development of animation techniques and contemporary/ digital animation techniques.”The beginnings of modern animation can perhaps be traced back to a paper published by Peter Roget in 1824 for The British Royal Society, “The Persistence of Vision with Regard to Moving Objects”. This theory referred to the phenomenon whereby the eye’s retina retains an image briefly after it had disappeared, which means that if the images are flashed in rapid succession they appear to the human brain as one continuous image” (Cavalier 2011 p.34).For example when a sparkler is moved around quickly it shows a trail of light known as the ‘sparklers trail effect’.
The persistence of vision has gave birth to early animation techniques. By introducing a sequence of still images rapidly, the viewer is presented with a continuous moving image. Many novelties were created to demonstrate the theory. Dr. John Paris created the thaumatrope in 1825, this was the first device to show the persistence of vision.
It was made of a round disk with a bird drawn on one side and cage drawn on the other and held together by strings. When wound it spun and the images would blend together to look like a bird in a cage. Pictured to the left. A more complex device was the zoetrope, it was introduced by william horner in 1834 pictured to the right, this was a major advance in the evolution of animation. The zoetrope was influenced by other devices predating to the 17th century such as the thaumatrope. it relies on the persistence of vision principle to create the illusion of fluent motion. It is made out of a simple drum and axis, a series of images on the inside of the drum can be seen through equally spaced slits around the outside of the drum.
When spun, these stills create the illusion of movement. The visual effect created by a zoetrope is still used today to create animated GIFs.One of the biggest animation companies today, pixar have used a Zoetrope In order to show the public how animation really works, Pixar created their own zoetrope made from 18 spinning sculptures and a strobe light.
A picture of it is shown to the left.Another device that supports the illusion of vision theory is the kinetoscope pictured to the right. The Kinetoscope was designed by thomas edison in 1888 for films to be viewed by one individual at a time through a peephole. It creates the illusion of movement by conveying a strip of perforated film containing sequential images over a light source with a high speed shutter. It was not a movie projector but it inspired the concept from which cinematic projection was born, the cinematograph. The Kinetoscope was gaining notice on the other side of the Atlantic. In 1894, the Lumière brothers became inspired by this device, they would then go on to develop the first commercially successful movie projection system.This was called the cinematograph pictured to the left, the Lumière brothers wanted to further develop the kinetoscope to include a projector.
They corrected the flaws of the kinetoscope, developing a machine with both sharper images and better illumination. A private screening was held on the 28th of december 1895.Following this, the cinematograph became a popular attraction for people all over the world. The Lumière brothers quickly became known as the fathers of cinema, making many films for the screen. Throughout the history of animation, animation techniques have developed massively.
The early days of animation involved drawing frames onto glass sheets and then filming each frame one at a time. The process advanced and led to the development of celluloid sheets (pictured to the right). These were flexible and easier to work with, making the process of drawing frames a lot simpler.The walt disney company is one of the worlds most successful animation studios. Disney’s nine old men were the walt disney company’s core directors who also refined the 12 principles of animation. In traditional hand-drawn animation, cels were used.
Outlines of the characters were drawn in ink on the fronts of the sheets, while on the opposite side contained the colors and details of the characters. The cels, were then placed over painted backgrounds and photographed by a movie camera one cel at a time. Playing the chain of images on a projector displayed the illusion of motion. In a short film shot in 1957, Walt Disney described the multiplane camera. The multiplane camera could shoot several independently moving backgrounds instead of just one, creating a sense of depth and perspective. Before the multiplane camera, animators found it hard to create a successful tracking shot using traditional animation methods. Furthermore, the act of animating the forward motion was costly and time-consuming.
The multiplane camera answered this problem by creating a realistic sense of three dimensional depth in a cartoon setting. The most famous multiplane camera was invented by William Garity for the Walt Disney Studios to be used in the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. By the 1920s, cartoon animation using either cels was established as the superior mode of animation production.
Increasingly, three-dimensional forms such as clay were pushed away, as the cel method became the favoured method. This may be due to the extremely laborious work needed for claymation. Claymation is one of many forms of stop motion animation. Each object or character is sculpted from clay around a wire skeleton, and then arranged on the set, where it is photographed before being manipulated slightly for the next shot. When playbacked, the mind of the viewer perceives the series of slightly changing, rapid images as motion. Clay-animated films were produced in the United States as early as 1908, when Edison Manufacturing released a trick film entitled The Sculptor’s Welsh Rarebit Dream. Will vinton produced notable claymation work, this included the california raisins advertising campaign, The campaign was so popular, The California Raisins were the official mascots of Post Raisin Bran, appearing in commercials and on packaging.
They also released four studio albums. This use of animation wasn’t just for entertainment purposes but for advertisement, to gain profit, this shows the broad spectrum of use of animation. Clay animation has also been used in Academy Award-winning short films such as “Closed Mondays” (Will Vinton and Bob Gardiner, 1974) more recent successes include the massively popular wallace and gromit by nick park of aardman animations.
Another stop motion approach was developed by Ray Harryhausen, the dynamation approach. This is a split-screen process, where viewers were able to see the actors directly interacting with the animation e.g a dinosaur with a man. Ray Harryhausen was the stop-motion animator behind such creatures as the fighting skeletons, the cyclops, Medusa, in such classics as “Jason and the Argonauts” ( 1963 ), “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” ( 1958 ), and “Clash of the Titans” ( 1981 ). The split-screen was a simple process that used mattes to block out portions of the film. Since film only develops from the light that escapes through the eye of a camera, any portion that is blackened out remains undeveloped. When the film is rewound the blackened out portion can be used again. This technique was used as far back as the early 1900s.
Dynamation however, used a model in between the matte and the background image to create a three layered image. This film was developed and rear-projected on a screen. Harryhausen would place his model on an animation stand in front of this screen and then place a large pane of glass in front of that. On this glass he painted in black the foreground that he wished to block out.
After filming the animated sequence where the creature interacted with the actors as planned, he then rewound the film and filmed through the glass again, this time with the image he had previously filmed blackened out. The first ever 3D animation was created in 1972 by Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke, computer scientists at the university of Utah. The experimental short, a computer animated hand was the world’s first 3D rendered movie, an animation version of Ed’s left hand. After creating a model of Catmull’s left hand, 350 triangles and polygons were drawn in ink on the model, digital counterparts of these polygons would represent the surface of his hand in the computer. The model was digitized and animated in a three-dimensional animation program that Catmull wrote.
This animated clip was discovered by a Hollywood producer and incorporated into the 1976 movie, futureworld. The pioneering techniques used here are the basis for the 3d rendering we still use today in video games, movies and special effects. In 2011, the film was inducted in the National Film Registry, labelled “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Library of Congress scholars wrote: “In creating the film, Catmull worked out concepts that would become the foundation for computer graphics that followed.” The process had matured by 1982 when Disney released ‘Tron’ featuring 30 minutes of 3D animation, the movie is heralded as a milestone of computer animation. The first fully 3D piece of animation was Pixar’s Andre and Wally B, it was made in 1984 using c.g.
i. and was groundbreaking for its time and marked the start of the film industries fascination with c.g.i. Pixar later went on to create another revolutionary short called Luxo Jr, both of these animations set the groundwork and showed what was capable with computer animation The first completely computer generated feature film was Pixar’s 1995 box office hit ‘Toy Story’, which opened the doors to a new era of mainstream animated feature film. Each character was either created out of clay or was first modeled off of a computer-drawn diagram before reaching the computer animated design.
Once the animators had a model, motion controls were coded; this would allow each character to move in a variety of ways, such as talking, walking, or jumping. “Toy Story is a monumental landmark in animation history; it is the seismic moment when John Lasseter and Pixar proved to the world that it was possible to make fully developed, sympathetic characters with human personalities through computer animation” (Cavalier, 2011, p.298). Stop motion has evolved greatly since the likes of claymation. Laika is a stop motion animation studio specialising in feature films, commercial content, music videos and short film. The studio is best known for its stop motion feature films, coraline, ParaNorman, the boxtrolls and kubo and the two strings. CEO Travis Knight stated why they had chose stop motion animation “When we started Laika 10 years ago, we could see the writing on the wall.
Stop-motion animation was basically taking its last, dying breath. We had to come up with a way, if we wanted to continue to make a living in this medium that we loved, to bring it into a new era, to invigorate it.” the reason for the decline of stop motion was that in a film industry that favors quick turnaround and endless scalability, stop-motion is a slow, difficult way to tell a story: It involves moving characters around on set by hand, shooting tiny movements individually, at a rate of 24 individual frames of action for each actual second. That’s particularly challenging for animations like Kubo as it is so complicated. But Laika’s version of stop-motion is particularly striking because its characters and backdrops are so detailed, and move so smoothly, that its films could be mistaken for wholly CGI creations, instead of stop-motion with digital assistance.