Some may think that animated films, whether they’re full-length features or short clips, are fairly recent innovations. It’s easy for them to think so since this type of media is among the most widely used. From digital marketing firms like Vonazon to mainstream entertainment outfits like Disney, animation is among the staple media production outputs.
Unknown to many, animation and its most basic concepts are quite old. Its age also ensures the existence of a colorful history.
Animation In The Old Days
Walt Disney is among the pioneers of modern animation, true. But Victorian England has the concept already figured out hundreds of years earlier. A quick Google search of the term “zoetrope” will yield the perfect result. Devised by the English mathematician William George Horner in 1834, the zoetrope consisted of a drum filled with still images on the inside panel. When the drum is spun, the series of images create the illusion of motion.
Historians also agree on several pioneers which predated modern animation advancements. Among the earliest was the French cartoonist Émile Cohl, who is considered the “Father of the Animated Cartoon.” It is said that in 1908, Cohl’s Fantasmagorie was technically the first ever fully animated film ever made. It’s also worth noting that British filmmaker J. Stuart Blackton’s The Enchanted Drawing (1900) somehow predated Cohl’s work, with Blackton among the first to use stop-motion photography.
The House Of Mouse
Many people think that animation is Walt Disney, and it begins and ends with his work. In some ways, this is true. Disney’s contributions to animation still draw from the previous efforts of his industry forebears, but his body of work set the table for modern animation.
Perhaps Disney’s most notable (and arguably most important) film is 1928’s Steamboat Willie. It was the first ever animated film to incorporate synchronized sound after 1927’s The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson. Steamboat Willie was incredibly ahead of its time and was iconic not only for its technical innovation but also for its introduction of the characters of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Since then, technological advancements have made it possible to go to great lengths animation has never seen. There is hope for the future, and it could be exciting to anticipate what is in store.