From Emile Cohl’s ‘Fantasmagorie’ to Walt Disney’s classics to Marvel’s cinematic blockbusters, animation has undergone a massive transformation throughout the years.
Back in the year 1900, James Stuart Blackton directed and released the first ever animated film The Enchanted Drawing – a short stop motion film about a grumpy man who has his top hat and cigar stolen by the artist who draws him.
Fast forwarding a century (and five years), the same stop motion techniques were showcased in the feature-length film Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, albeit a lot more refined and updated than 105 years prior.
In that time, and continuing to now in 2017, the popularity of animation has grown immensely. Whether it be The Simpson’s, Family Guy, Spongebob Squarepants, South Park, animation is everywhere – an inescapable, engulfing treat for the eyes.
The approaches used when generating animations have varied throughout the years, predominantly in line with the modern-day advances in technology. Current methods of animation include:
• Stop motion – numerous photographs taken sequentially to make it appear as if an object is moving on film
• Traditional animation – hand-drawn animation commonly used in Disney’s early days
• 2D animation – similar to traditional animation but makes use of computer software
• 3D animation – otherwise known as computer-generated imagery (CGI) involving the use of computer graphics to develop 3D realistic animations
The most popularly used forms of animation today are 2D (i.e. Disney films) and 3D (i.e. Marvel films), which both take advantage of computer software such as Adobe After Effects and Adobe Flash to streamline the animation process and get blockbuster films to the screen quicker.
Producing animations is not all about feature films and TV shows though. In fact, research is showing that the rise of animations as an educative tool in schools is really benefitting students’ learning process and ability to retain information. This has been especially apparent within science subjects, where animations are now frequently recommended to break down complex scientific processes into a format that is visually engaging and easier to understand for students.
It’s no wonder then that animation has continually grown in popularity from its inception to now, both in films and educationally. It offers so much more than simply moving pictures – it is an art that can convey emotion, humour and knowledge through its storytelling. It’s like a book you can’t put down, or a Netflix show you simply can’t stop watching – animations engage you and leave you wanting more.
Where will animation go from here? That’s difficult to tell, but with the ever-expanding world of technology, and based on its historical popularity, it is likely that animations will only keep getting better, more widespread and, in the famous words of Pixar’s animated classic Toy Story, keep on going ‘to infinity and beyond.’