The History of Animation Timeline Since the 1900s
19 May2015

The History of Animation Timeline Since the 1900s

Whether you think of animation as art in movement or the art of movement, animation conjures up images of magical creativity — often involving funny cartoons and imitations of real-world people. But today’s advances in animation extend well beyond an entertaining world of cartoon shows. The benefits of animation in advertising now enable companies to find more effective ways of telling powerful stories in their video marketing campaigns. In this article, Video Caddy provides some historical perspectives about where animation has been and where it might be going.

Definition of Animation

What is animation? Here is a working definition of animation: It is the process, art and science of producing a movie by combining photographs of static people, computer graphics and drawings — giving “life” and “movement” to still images and “characters” by a variety of techniques other than continuous filming of live-action images. Animation can also refer to special effects and images created by animation techniques and then incorporated in “traditional” live-action movies.

Early History of Animation

Animation started appearing before 1910 but was immediately recognized as highly labor-intensive — 100 drawings for each minute of film. With “Steamboat Willie” in 1928, Walt Disney was the first animator to add sound. He is also recognized for his creation of the first full-length animated feature film: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937.

The Era of Hand-Drawn Animations

Hand-drawn animations represented the best and only way to “get the job done” in early animation productions. Even with animated features as recent as “Beauty and the Beast” (produced by Walt Disney Animation Studio) in 1991, pictures were first drawn on paper — with each subsequent drawing slightly different to create the illusion of movement when combined on film. With this hand-drawn process, the most-skilled animators typically draw several animations and then an “inbetweener” fills in the gaps with additional drawings.

The Dawn of Computer-Generated Animations

As computer-based technologies advanced, it was only a matter of time before computer-generated animations joined the animation revolution. During the past 25 years or so, animation artists have transformed the film and animation industry by blending the benefits of computers and animation. This not only cuts production costs and time but also enables impressive special effects. It is entertaining and educational to witness the evolution of CGI effects and animation over the years — for example, by comparing the 1977 version of “Star Wars” with later films in the series.

The Great American Animation Renaissance

Many American entertainment companies experienced a “creative slump” during the 1970s and early 1980s. Animation departments were especially impacted as “cartoons” began to fall out of favor with the general public.

With the help of advanced technology and a willingness to take new risks, studios began to gradually experience a resurgence of interest in animation. The appearance of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 1988 was one animation milestone and Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” in 1991 marked another milestone as the first original series made expressly for cable television.

With more successful examples such as these, the American Animation Renaissance began and is still in force today — thanks to stellar animated productions such as “Toy Story” (and many others) by Pixar (now owned by Disney, as is Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise).

The Global Animation Industry Today

How big is the global animation industry? By a monetary measure, the industry now exceeds $200 billion in annual sales — about $222 billion in 2013. Eight of the primary global markets include the United States, Canada, Japan, China, France, Britain, Korea and Germany. Most animation industry segments are showing annual growth rates of 7 percent, a healthy pace in a difficult economic environment.

This growth is supported by strong demand for animated entertainment, particularly on the Internet. Some countries subsidize their national film industries — co-productions and production subsidies can create additional market opportunities.

Outsourced Computer Animation Production

Some of the most successful animation series are no longer directed at children but instead are designed for teenagers, adults and family viewing. As the animation industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds, many companies might be wondering how they can participate in a smart and cost-effective way.

The practical answer? By outsourcing many of the most time-consuming and costly computer animation production tasks to experts such as Video Caddy. Whether you are a business exploring the potential benefits of animation in advertising, an animation studio or an independent television program producer trying to take advantage of joint ventures involving film subsidies by local governments, Video Caddy can help make your dream a reality.

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