Tuesday, August 17, 2010

History of Animation by Tej Kohli

Tej Kohli

History of animation
Animation has come a long way from papers to the computer screens and now the big screen. But do you even now how animation started? Tej Kohli blog takes on a delighful journey of the animation...
Animated films have entertained people from all around the world for over years now. A shark leaping out of the water to attack, a humanoid swinging through the trees centuries in to the future, or a bird flying so close you can almost hear the flapping of its wings – these are a few examples of animation work seen by zillions across the globe in animation movies. What started as groups of hand-drawn pictures of cartoons about a century ago has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry that entertains and challenges us the way no artform has ever done.
Early History Of Animation
The inception of the animation dates back to 1824 when Peter Roget wrote a scientific paper on how the brain sees individual images as a continuous series of motion. This was followed by the invention of the first camera, the kinetoscope by Thomas Edison that could project 13 seconds of a film. Within a decade, photographer and owner of the Vitagraph Studios, J. Stuart Blackton made the first ever animation film with the help of a blackboard. Known as 'Humorous phases of funny faces', he drew a comic face them filmed it, stopped the camera while he erased a face and made a new face and then filmed it again. This outcome of changing faces or stop-motion became the first animated film technique.
The Silent Era
In 1910, the French caricaturist and animator Emile Cohl used paper cutouts to demonstrate an early example of animated films. His technique revolved around repositioning the figure instead of drawing it again, which was time saving. By the year 1914, Winsor McCay, also known as the father of American animation, created a cartoon named Gertie the Dinosaur, which needed thousands of individual drawings. In the same year, Earl Hurd, when working at John Bay studios, developed the technique of drawing on transparent cels and then photographed each one. This cel animation technique became the foundation of animated film making for years.

Disney's animated Cels
In 1923m Walt Disney, a commercial artist, shifted from Kansas City toLA to work as a director. Disney wanted realism in his characters and trained his animators to study anatomy to add more life to the characters. He advanced the Hurd's Cel animation technique. Images were hand drawn on transparent cels in layers, one on top of another. Background cel was kept at the bottom of the pile as each layer was filmed then removed. The process was time consuming and took weeks to generate a single sequence. It was in 1928, when Disney made its first talking animated film, “steamboat Willie”, an instant success that introduced Mickey Mouse. By 1937, Disney produced the first full length colored animated film “Snow white and the seven dwarfs”, earning an academy award, the first of 37 Oscars for Disney.
Early Computer Animation
By the year 1980, what had taken weeks to do manually was replaced by the first computer animated production system – CAPS, and by the year 1985, Disney studio adopted this computer generated process entirely. With a wider color palette and blended and shaded tones, this computer software added a more realistic appeal to the animation. Developed by Disney and Pixar artists and engineers, this program allowed camera movements such as pan, tilt and zooms as a part of entire filming process. Disney took over Pixar in 2006, replacing CAPS with newer 2D and 3D animation techniques.

CGI animation and 3D
The introduction of CGI, computer generated imagery, changed film making for good. With movies like the 'Terminator 2' and 'Jurrassic Park' in the 1990, animation marked a new epoch in the film making industry. In 1995, Walt Disney Productions and Pixar animation studios jointly produced “Toy Story', the first film to be completely animated using CGI technology. Motion capture is a technique where any movement is recorded and transferred digitally. This technique is used by the US military to create battlefield scenarios in its training. This method was first used in 2004 movie “The Polar Express” . In 2009, film “Avatar” reinvented 3D technology as the first ever movie to use performance capture imagery to produce life-like 3D characters and an entire world.
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