History Of Animation

Why is animation important, does it even matter? Animation is important because it brings our dreams and fantasies to life. We all grew up watching cartoons on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, etc. Animation is all about entertainment, I don’t think I would even have a childhood without cartoons. There are also cartoons that can be educational to little kids, animated shorts that teach them the ABC’s or how to count. For many animators, animation is an art medium that allows you to tell your own story, it allows you to be creative in your own way. Another thing about why animation is important is that it’s good for business. Especially when you’re trying to appeal to kids. Kid’s love animations, so whenever you’re trying to sell a children’s toy or some product for children, animation isn’t a bad choice. It’s much more entertaining to watch an animated short of something than to read about it. These are some of the reasons why animation is so important in our lives.

Early Stages Of Animation

Animations have evolved many times over the years, all the way from early B.C. to today. It is important to look back and see how far we came. Without these devices or ideas of animation, we wouldn’t have cartoons, animated films, etc; without the past, we can’t advance to the future. 

B.C. – A.D.

The first “animations” weren’t smooth transitions of hand-drawn illustrations, instead, it was still images drawn in 30,000 B.C. – 1500 A.D. on the walls of caves, pottery, etc. most of the drawings had animals or people in motion.




Magic Lantern


The magic lantern was one of the earliest forms of a slide projector. It was invented in the 1600’s. To use the magic lantern, you would slide these images that were on transparent plates in the magic lantern and it would display it on the wall, by using a light source like a candle. Eventually, stronger light sources were made to improve how the images appear on the wall. 





A thaumatrope was an optical toy that was really popular in the 19th century.  It had one image of something on two separate disks. The disks also had strings attached to them, which you would use your fingers to twirl the strings to make the two images on the disks to appear as one.





The phenakistoscope, invented around 1832, was considered one of the early animation devices that showed fluid motion. The phenakistoscope was a cardboard disk with images on it, and when you spun the handle that was attached to the disk, the images would move.





Kinda like the phenakistoscope, the zoetrope was a device that was invented around 1834 where it would have illustrations in a cylinder like machine, and If you were to turn it in a circular motion, the images would appear to move.





The flip book was one of the most popular ways of animation and is still popular today. On the pages of the flip book, there would be a drawing slightly changed from the last one on each page. After you covered most of the book with drawings you would then turn the pages in a rapid motion, moving the pages fast would make the drawings appear to be animated.




The praxinoscope was an animation device invented in 1877, which was a successor to the zoetrope device. The praxinoscope had a similar cylinder look, where illustrations or images were placed around it.  Unlike the zoetrope, this device had mirrors inside of it. The mirrors reflected the images when it would be spun around.



The Silent Era 

This era of animation was where the first few hand-drawn animations were made. The Enchanted Drawing was created in 1900 by J. Stuart Blackton. This “animated video” revolves around a drawing of a face, while it’s expression changes by using film cutting/ stop-motion techniques. Blackton then would create another short animation, Humorous Phases Of Funny Faces, on a chalkboard 6 years later. 2 years later Emilie Cohl created an animation called Fantasmorgie, which historians consider to be the first entirely hand-drawn animation, the animation consisted of stick figures and morphing objects. This era was really important because this was the era where actual animations were being made; this is the era where people started to notice the importance of animation and how they can take it a step further.



By the time it reached 1914, animators started to make cartoons that include appealing characters to look at. Then animation was taken a step further with Walt Disney’s “Steamboat Willie.” This animation featured the one and only Mickey Mouse. But the reason this took animation to the next level, was because it was the first animation with sound, for example, the whistling.

The Golden Age Of American Animation 


This era was important because animators started to add sound to their characters, transportation, scenery, etc. These are also years where animators started to really improve and experiment on their animations by adding music, improved storytelling and a technicolour multi-plane camera. But most importantly, animators started to create popular and recognizable cartoon characters we all know today. For example Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Tom & Jerry, etc. Then In 1937, Walt Disney decided to release Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, the first feature-length animated film that was fully hand-drawn. There were many problems during the production of the animated film, but this film opened up many ideas for animation in the future.









The American Television Era


This era was important because entertainment played an important part for these animated shows. With the help of television, studios started to create cartoons for TV, which aired on cable channels like Disney channel, Nickelodeon, etc. This allowed the studios to show their creations on TV and entertain the children that watched them. Then earn money to produce more animated shows for the coming years.








Modern American Era


This was the era where animators started to take notice of how technology has improved since then. Animators started to make CGI animations by using computer programs to make 3D models. Even if animators weren’t making CGI animations, they had drawing tablets and programs to improve their animations, no longer did animators have to deal with having to hand-draw everything, instead, it was easier with programs like Adobe animate. Not only did animations improve, but memorable TV shows and movies were made. For example; The Adventure Of Andre & Wally B, Simpsons, Toy Story, Family Guy, Finding Nemo Etc.