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Ever since the beginning of photography, people learned that pictures taken in quick series, of a moving object, could be flipped through, in succession, to create the illusion of a moving picture. For many years Animation has been used. Animation was done in black and white such as cartoons and movies in the early 1900’s. The backgrounds and the cartoon drawings were made simple. Animation technology has come a long way since the early days of hand-drawn cartoons. The tools have changed dramatically. Animation is a graphic representation of drawings to show movement within those drawings. A series of drawings are linked together and usually photographed by a camera. The drawings have been slightly changed between individualized frames so when they are played back in rapid succession (24 frames per second) there appears to be seamless movement within the drawings.

Early animations, which started appearing before 1910, consisted of simple drawings photographed one at a time. It was extremely labor intensive, as there were literally hundreds of drawings per minute of film. Early animators used an animation technique known as stop action. With the camera stopped, items would be rearranged, removed, or added to the shot then the director would start rolling again. Live action films using this procedure were called Trick Plays. American studios soon turned to flat animation as opposed to dimensional animation, finding it much more efficient for their “assembly-line techniques” of making animated films. To illustrate the difference between the two, picture Gumby (a dimensional character) as opposed to Tweety Bird, a drawing. The development of celluloid around 1913 quickly made animation easier to manage. Instead of numerous drawings, the animator now could make a complex background and/or foreground and squeeze in moving characters in between several other pieces of celluloid, which is transparent except for where drawings are painted on it. This made it unnecessary to repeatedly draw the background, as it remained static and only the characters moved. It also created an illusion of depth, especially if foreground elements were placed in the frames. The first animated cartoon was created in 1910 by pioneers such as Emile Cohl and Winsor McCay. The animation timeline then starts to progress with several films being produced during the next twenty years; Gertie the Dinosaur, produced by Winsor McCay and distributed to commercial movie theaters in 1914 being a land mark during this period. In the 1920s and 1930s Warners, MGM and Disney studios developed cartoon techniques, producing more and more sophisticated cartoons using traditional animation techniques of producing complex backgrounds and then imposing moving figures on them with celluloid, a transparent film. Walt Disney took animation to a new level adding sound in 1928 and producing the first full length animated film in 1937 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Since the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Disney in 1937, animated films have become one of the most commonly enjoyed forms of entertainment. Disney has a long history of developing, producing, and distributing films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. The stories and characters of these popular animated feature films have become part of our modern traditions, enjoyed by every generation. Traditionally, these popular animated feature films have been created using the time-consuming and labor-intensive process of two-dimensional, hand-drawn cel animation. Today animation is rarely done on cel (Cel is a sheet of transparent cellulose acetate used as a medium for painting animation frames. It is transparent so that it can be laid over other celluloid and/or a painted background, then photographed.) Cel animation is extremely time consuming and requires incredible organization and concentration to detail. The way of doing animation today is different and is more effective and it majorly depends on the new advanced computer technology.

Remarkable animated films wouldn’t have been possible without the new advances in computer technology. On the other hand even the computer technology itself is not new. Films like Toy Story, Madagascar, Finding Nemo, Up etc are the magnificent pieces of work done by Disney and they wouldn’t have been possible without the computer technology. In the past the animators used to work very hard just to make a small video, but now its all computerized and one can easily see the evolution of animation that how significantly it has improved and made a special place for itself in the industry. According to Buffy Naillon, “Computer animation changed the animated film industry. Animation today is based more on math formulas than the ability to draw” According to Library.ThinkQuest.org, computer animation began about 40 years ago by General Motors. The company created a design system called DAC (Design Augmented by Computers). With it, they could look at 3D models of their cars from every angle.

Consistent with PIXAR “where films go through four stages: development, creating storyline; pre-production, addressing technical challenges; production, making the film; and post-production, “polishing” the final product.” Today animation is done in a very effective manner, it’s a complete process with various steps which includes the idea of the film development, then to create a story line in which pre-production is done and dealing with all the technical challenges are also done in this step, later comes the production and the making of the film and then with the final touches the polishing is done.

Today we have 3 dimensional animated films, which give the impression of being more realistic. Everyone today is fond of animated films. When that sledgehammer comes down on Sylvester the Cat’s big toe and it grows to the size of a watermelon there’s no trick photography involved. The stories are very beautiful yet simple. And the most important the quality of the animated films today is way different then what we had in past. Animated films today when played in rapid succession appear to have seamless movements within the layouts. Seeing the old methods of animation and the methods used today really shows how the animating process has evolved and how it is getting better and better. The animation timeline carry on in the new millennium with movies like How to train your Dragon, Toy Story 3, Shrek The Final Chapter, and many more to follow.