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Animation is an art form which, in its modern apearance, appeared alongside the development of film. Earlier attempts at making drawings move were only experimental.

The past

Cave paintings

The earliest examples derive from still drawings, which can be found in Palaeolithic cave paintings, where animals are depicted with multiple sets of legs in superimposed positions, clearly attempting to convey the perception of motion.

Pottery of Persia

A 5,200-year old earthen bowl found in Iranmarker in Shahr-i Sokhtamarker has five images painted along the sides. It shows phases of a goat leaping up to nip at a tree. However, since no equipment existed to show the images in motion, such a series of images cannot be called animation in a true sense of the word. The Visual Linguist: Burnt City animation VL

Egyptian murals

An Egyptianmarker mural, approximately 4000 years old, shows wrestlers in action. Even though this may appear similar to a series of animation drawings, there was no way of viewing the images in motion. It does, however, indicate the artist's intention of depicting motion.


A zoetrope is a device which creates the image of a moving picture. The earliest elementary zoetrope was created in Chinamarker around 180 AD by the prolific inventor Ting Huan (丁緩). Made from translucent paper or mica panels, Huan hung the device hung over a lamp. The rising air turned vanes at the top from which hung the pictures painted on the panels would appear to move if the device is spun at the right speed.

The modern zoetrope contraption was produced in 1834 by William George Horner. The device is basically a cylinder with vertical slits around the sides. Around the inside edge of the cylinder there are a series of pictures on the opposite side to the slits. As the cylinder is spun, the user then looks through the slits producing the illusion of motion. No one thought this small device would be the initial beginnings for the animation world to come. As a matter a fact, in present day beginning animation classes, the Zoetrope is still being used to illustrate early concepts of animation.

Leonardo shoulder study (ca. 1510)

Seven drawings by Leonardo da Vinci extending over two folios in the Windsor Collection, Anatomical Studies of the Muscles of the Neck, Shoulder, Chest, and Arm, show detailed drawings of the upper body (with a less-detailed facial image), illustrating the changes as the torso turns from profile to frontal position and the forearm extends.

The magic lantern

The magic lantern is the predecessor of the modern day projector. It consisted of a translucent oil painting and a simple lamp. When put together in a darkened room, the image would appear larger on a flat surface. Athanasius Kircher spoke about this originating from China in the 16th century. Some slides for the lanterns contained parts that could be mechanically actuated to present limited movement on the screen.

Thaumatrope (1824)

A thaumatrope was a simple toy used in the Victorian era. It was a small circular disk or card with two different pictures on each side that was attached to a piece of string running through the centre. When the string were twirled quickly between the fingers the two pictures appear to combine into a single image. The creator of this invention may have been either John Ayrton Paris or Charles Babbage.

Phenakistoscope (1831)

The phenakistoscope was an early animation device, the predecessor of the zoetrope. It was invented in 1831 simultaneously by the Belgianmarker Joseph Plateau and the Austrianmarker Simon von Stampfer.

Praxinoscope (1877)

The praxinoscope, invented by French scientist Charles-Émile Reynaud, was a more sophisticated version of the zoetrope. It used the same basic mechanism of a strip of images placed on the inside of a spinning cylinder, but instead of viewing it through slits, it was viewed in a series of small, stationary mirrors around the inside of the cylinder, so that the animation would stay in place, and provide a clearer image and better quality. Reynaud also developed a larger version of the praxinoscope that could be projected onto a screen, called the Théâtre Optique.

Flip book (1868)

The first flip book was patented in 1868 by a John Barns Linnet. Flip books were yet another development that brought us closer to modern animation. Like the Zoetrope, the Flip Book creates the illusion of motion. A set of sequential pictures flipped at a high speed creates this effect. The Mutoscope (1894) is basically a flip book in a box with a crank handle to flip the pages.

The present

Traditional animation

The first animated film was created by Charles-Émile Reynaud, inventor of the praxinoscope, an animation system using loops of 12 pictures. On October 28, 1892 at Musée Grévinmarker in Parismarker, Francemarker he exhibited animations consisting of loops of about 500 frames, using his Théâtre Optique system - similar in principle to a modern film projector.

The first animated work on standard picture film was Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906) by J. Stuart Blackton. It features a cartoonist drawing faces on a chalkboard, and the faces apparently coming to life.

Fantasmagorie, by the French director Émile Cohl (also called Émile Courtet), is also noteworthy. It was screened for the first time on August 17, 1908 at Théâtre du Gymnasemarker in Parismarker. Émile Courtet later went to Fort Lee, New Jerseymarker near New York Citymarker in 1912, where he worked for French studio Éclair and spread its technique in the US.

The first puppet-animated film was The Beautiful Lukanida (1912) by the Russian-born (ethnically Polish) director Wladyslaw Starewicz (Ladislas Starevich).

The first animated feature film was El Apóstol, made in 1917 by Quirino Cristiani from Argentinamarker. He also directed two other animated feature films, including 1931's Peludopolis, the first to use synchronized sound. None of these, however, survive to the present day. The earliest-surviving animated feature, which used colour-tinted scenes, is the silhouette-animated Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) directed by German Lotte Reiniger and French/Hungarianmarker Berthold Bartosch. Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), often considered to be the first animated feature when in fact at least eight were previously released. However, Snow White was the first to become successful and well-known within the English-speaking world.

The first animation to use the full, three-color Technicolor method was Flowers and Trees (1932) made by Disney Studios which won an academy award for this work.

The first Japanese-made anime film was the propaganda film Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors (桃太郎 海の神兵) by the Japanese director Mitsuyo Seo. The film, shown in 1945, was ordered to be made to support the war by the Japanese Naval Ministry. The film's song AIEUO no Uta (アイウエオの歌) was later used in Osamu Tezuka's anime series Kimba the White Lion. Originally thought to have been destroyed during the American occupation, a negative copy survived and the film is now available in Japanmarker on VHS.

Stop motion

Stop motion is used for many animation productions using physical objects rather than images of people, as with traditional animation. An object will be photographed, moved slightly, and then photographed again. When the pictures are played back in normal speed the object will appear to move by itself. This process is used for many productions, for example, clay animations such as Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit, as well as animated movies which use poseable figures, such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Sometimes even objects are used, such as with the films of Jan Švankmajer.

Stop motion animation was also commonly used for special effects work in many live-action films, such as the 1933 version of King Kong and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

CGI animation

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) revolutionized animation. The first film done completely in CGI was Toy Story, produced by Pixar. The process of CGI animation is still very tedious and similar in that sense to traditional animation, and it still adheres to many of the same principles.

A principal difference of CGI Animation compared to traditional animation is that drawing is replaced by 3D modeling, almost like virtual version of stop-motion, though a form of animation that combines the two worlds can be considered to be computer aided animation but on 2D computer drawing (which can be considered close to traditional drawing and sometimes based on it).

The future

Animated humans

Most CGI created films are based on animal characters, monsters, machines or cartoon-like humans. Animation studios are now trying to develop ways of creating realistic-looking humans. Films that have attempted this include Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within in 2001, Final Fantasy: Advent Children in 2005, The Polar Express in 2004, and Beowulf in 2007. However, due to the complexity of human body functions, emotions and interactions, this method of animation is rarely used. The more realistic a CG character becomes, the more difficult it is to create the nuances and details of a living person. The creation of hair and clothing that move convincingly with the animated human character is another area of difficulty.

Cel-shaded animation

A type of non-photorealistic rendering designed to make computer graphics appear to be hand-drawn. Cel-shading is often used to mimic the style of a comic book or cartoon. It is a somewhat recent addition to computer graphics, most commonly turning up in console video games. Though the end result of cel-shading has a very simplistic feel like that of hand-drawn animation, the process is complex. The name comes from the clear sheets of acetate, called cels, that are painted on for use in traditional 2D animation. It may be considered a "2.5D" form of animation. True real-time cel-shading was first introduced in 2000 by Sega's Jet Set Radio for their Dreamcast console. Besides video games, a number of anime have also used this style of animation, such as Freedom Project in 2006.


History of Iranian animation

The oldest records of animation in Persia (Iranmarker) dates back to 5000 years ago. An animated piece on an earthen goblet that belongs to 5000 years ago was found in Burnt Citymarker in Sistan and Baluchestan Provincemarker, southeastern Iran. On this ancient piece that can be called the first animation of the world, the artist has portrayed a goat that jumps toward a tree and eats its leaves. Similar forms of animated pottery can also be found in medieval Persian Islamic pottery.

\/as practiced in modern day began in Iran in the 1950s. Iran's animation owes largely to the animator Noureddin Zarrinkelk. Zarrinkelk was instrumental in founding the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IIDCYA) in Tehran in collaboration with the late father of Iranian graphics Morteza Momayez and other fellow artists like Farshid Mesghali, Ali Akbar Sadeghi, and Arapik Baghdasarian.

History of Chinese animation

History of Indian Animation

Main Article: Indian animation

History of Japanese animation

  • The first Japanese Animation
Found recently in Kyoto, the film depicts a boy wearing a sailor uniform performing a salute. The film dates back to around the year 1900 and is on 35mm Celluloid, composed of 50 frames put together with paste.


  • Animation before film in 20th century.

History of British animation

History of Czech animation

History of Estonian animation

History of French animation

The first animated cartoon (1908), and most animation techniques: morphing (1909), puppet animation and color animated cartoon (1910), pixilation (1911), first animated series (Le chien Flambeau, 1916).

History of Italian animation

  • The 1970 Italian animated cartoon art and industry (La Linea , Caliméro...)
  • The 1977 animated Italian classic, Allegro non troppo, is both a parody of and homage to Disney's Fantasia. This is director Bruno Bozzetto's most ambitious work and his only feature-length animation, although he also directed several notable shorter works including West and Soda, an animated spaghetti western. [41011]

History of Russian animation

  • 1910-1913 Ladislas Starevich creates puppet animations
  • 1935 First animated feature film in the USSRmarker, The New Gulliver
  • 1935 Soyuzmultfilm Studio is created, will go on to fund many thousands of short animated films, mostly for kids
  • late 1930s to 1950s - enforced Socialist Realism in cartoons (with a few exceptions).
  • 1953 Puppet animation division re-founded at Soyuzmultfilm (it was closed shortly after The New Gulliver was released)
  • 1962 Fyodor Khitruk's short film History of a Crime introduces new aesthetic to Soviet animation
  • 1969 First episode of popular series Nu, Pogodi!
  • 1972 First Cheburashka short is made
  • 1979 Yuriy Norshteyn releases Tale of Tales, since then voted twice by a large panel of international critics as the best animated film ever made.
  • 1989 Studio Pilot, the first private animation studio in the USSR, is founded
  • 1990s government subsidies shrink dramatically, while the number of studios grow.
  • 2000s some high-profile animated features are made.

History of animation in Croatia

North and South America

History of Argentinian animation

History of Canadian animation

  • Early Work
  • Contributions of the National Film Board of Canada's animation department
  • Early commercial productions
    • Contributions of Canadian voice actor recordings
  • The 1980s- rise of the major indigenous industry

History of Cuban animation

History of United States animation

  • Beginning of industrial production of animated cartoon.

Because the history of Hollywood animation as an art form has undergone many changes in its hundred-year history, Wikipedia presents four separate chapters in the development of its animation:

Animation in the United States during the silent era (1900s through 1920s)

*The beginnings of theatrical, the earliest animated cartoons in the era of silent film, ranging from the works of Winsor McCay through Koko the Clown and Felix the Cat

*The Bray Studios was the first and foremost cartoon studio, housed in New York Citymarker. Many aspiring cartoonists started their careers at Bray, including Paul Terry of "Mighty Mouse" fame, Max Fleischer of "Betty Boop" fame, as well as Walter Lantz of "Woody Woodpecker" fame. The cartoon studio operated from circa 1915 until 1928. Some of the first cartoon stars from the Bray studios were Farmer Alfalfa (by Paul Terry) and Bobby Bumps (by Earl Hurd).

*Max and Dave Fleischer formed their own studio Fleischer Studios, and created the Koko the Clown, Out of the Inkwell, and Sound Car-Tunes series.

Golden Age of American animation (1920s through 1950s)

*The dominance of Walt Disney throughout the 1930s, through revolutionary cartoons Silly Symphonies, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck.
*The rise of Warner Bros. and MGM
*The Fleischer Studios creation of Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons
*Disney's Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs marks the start of the "Golden Age" at Disney.
*The departure from realism, and UPA

Animation in the United States in the television era (1950s through 1980s)

*The emergence of TV animated series from Hanna-Barbera Productions
*The decline of theatrical cartoons and feature films
*Saturday morning cartoons
*The attempts at reviving animated features through the 1960s
*The rise of adult animation in the early 1970s
*The onslaught of commercial cartoons in the 1980s

Modern animation in the United States (1980s through present)

*Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the Disney Renaissance
*Steven Spielberg's collaborations with Warner Bros.
*A flood of newer, bolder animation studios
*The Simpsons marks the resurgence of adult-oriented animation.
*The rise of computer animation
*The decline of traditional animation
*The decline of Saturday morning cartoons, the rise of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network
*The Anime Explosion: mainstream popularization of Japanese animation, known as anime. Toonami/Cartoon Network contributes largely to the success.
*Cartoon Network's late-night animation block Adult Swim becomes immensely popular and leads to a resurgence in short, adult animation.



  1. The Art of Animation, Bob Thomas, 1958
  2. Oldest Animation Discovered In Iran. Animation Magazine. 12-03-2008.
  3. History of Media, University of Minnesota, accessed May 13 2006
  4. Press TV - Zarrinkelk, father of Iran animation
  5. [1]
  6. [2]
  7. [3]
  8. [4]

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