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History and Styles of Animation
Transcript of History and Styles of Animation
Animation has existed in one form or another for well over 100 years, with the initial idea that spurred its earliest examples having been discovered in 1824. Further developed in the early 1900's, this idea - the 'persistence of movement' - allows animation creators to use the way the human eye perceives movement to trick it into connecting a series of still pictures to give a sense of fluid, constant motion. The first example we'll look at is called a "Zoetrope".
"Modern" Animation Techniques
Although almost 100 years old, traditional cel animation can still be considered modern given its continued development and use in mainstream cinema up until 1995 with the release of Toy Story and the advent of CG technology which has slowly expanded in use to eclipse cel animation altogether.
Invented in 1915 and pioneered by the likes of Max Fleisher and Walt Disney, cel animation allows animators to move characters and objects on a background without having to redraw the entire frame as they are separated by layers, unlike early hand animation.
Another style of animation, Anime uses the same methods as traditional western animation - cel, digital and 3D - but often uses distinctly Japanese design choices such as large eyes and symmetrical hair to separate itself. However, not all anime follows these stylistic choices and instead the term can be used to denote any animation of Japanese origin.
The modern Zoetrope was invented in 1833, although it wouldn't gain popularity until much later when it was patented and sold in both England and America.
The zoetrope consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. On the inner surface of the cylinder is a band with images from a set of sequenced pictures. As the cylinder spins, the user looks through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and the user sees a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.
Inspired by a similar device at the Ghibli Museum in Japan, Pixar created their own Zoetrope, incorporating figurines rather than still drawings and a strobe light to mimic the effect of the cylinders rotation
Stop-motion or Puppet animation generally involves the manipulation of physical objects such as figurines or dolls. Following the same principles as other forms of animation, by making small adjustments to the subjects for each frame the illusion of movement is created when the frames are played back sequentially. Variants of stop-motion include "Claymation" and "Pixilation".
This early example of stop-motion was created in 1906 by J. Stuart Blackton, a pioneer of the medium
Using the same technique as stop-motion, Claymation is preferred by some animators due to the level of control they can have over the movement of the figures they make, allowing more abstract and fluid levels of expression when compared to regular stop-motion using regular dolls or action figures. Some famous examples of Claymation include Gumby, Wallace and Gromit and Pingu.
Modern examples of stop-motion animation include Wallace and Gromit, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline and Paranorman. The last 3 titles were all directed by Henry Selick, a modern pioneer of this artform.
Pixilation is a stop-motion technique
which uses real actors rather than clay, puppets or dolls. Many famous examples of this technique were made by avant garde filmmakers such as Jan Svankmejer.
Although it had been done previously by artists such as Terry Gilliam from Monty Python, the use of cardboard and paper cutouts to create animation was brought back to the forefront of public interest after its use by Matt Stone and Trey Parker to create South Park. Although they switched to computer animation due to time constraints, the pilot episode of South Park was created by the pair over a 4 month period using scissors, paper, glue and a camera.
Rotoscoping involves tracing over live action footage to give it an animated look. First used by Max Fleisher in 1915, it was later used by famed animator Ralph Bakshi in many of his films. Rotoscoping was also used by Walt Disney extensively to achieve smoother movement, most noticeably in Snow White when she dances.
CGI - 3D Animation
Popularised by Pixar, 3D animation existed as early as the 1970's. It was not until the success of Toy Story in 1995 that many companies began to see how viable the technology had become since its humble beginnings.
Luxo Jr. is a short created by John Lasseter in 1986. His 1988 short Tin Toy would be the inspiration for the original Toy Story.
Computer Animation - 2D
Given the success of Pixar, many other companies have since switched to 3D Animation such as Dreamworks, Sony Pictures and Disney themselves.
Many companies have been using 2D computer animation since the late 80's and early 90's. Disney was one of the first major companies to do this, beginning in 1989 for sections of The Little Mermaid. Slowly, many other companies have begun to switch over to this process, including Fox, Dreamworks, Studio Ghibli etc. There was a period of crossover - for example, while Futurama premiered in 1999 as a totally digital creation, The Simpsons did not switch to computer animation until 2002.
In early 2013, Disney fired all of its traditional 2D hand animators, instead opting to go fully digital for the forseeable future. This leaves 2009's The Princess and the Frog as the last Disney film to use any form of hand-drawn animation.
Because of the relatively high cost
of producing cel animation domestically, many companies in the US outsource the work to studios in Mexico, Korea and Japan. For example, Fox have outsourced the animation for the Simpsons to South Korea since it first began airing in 1989.
More Computer Animation
Thanks to the combination of advancing hardware and software, creating 2D animation has become possible for many people. Programs like Adobe Flash and Toon Boom, easily accessible by consumers, are used to create many animated TV shows we see today.
Unlike the western world, where animation is deemed primarily for children, anime often deals with stories and concepts that would otherwise be reserved for live-action features.
The success of anime series such as Pokemon, DragonBall Z, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop has seen more and more anime become available in the western world, with western produced shows such as Avatar: The Last Airbender seeking to imitate the style.
On a more technical note, anime producers and animators have a reputation for being very good at cutting corners during production. This is known as limited animation which involves breaking many of the rules of traditional animation in order to save both time and money. You've probably noticed some of the
techniques used while watching animation
produced for television, especially any
made in the 70's - 90's.