2D Animation Essay
“Animation offers a medium of story telling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world.”
Animation is the manipulation of drawings to create the illusion of movement. Anmation started in the 19th century with the earliest forms of animation being the phenakitoscope, the zoetrope, the praxinoscoe and the kinetoscope. All four of these forms of animation were devices which used a set of images moving in a circular motion the create the illusion of movement which is still the same basis for animation today. The phenakistoscope was an early animation device. It was invented in 1831, simultaneously by the Belgian Joseph Plateau and the Austrian Simon von Stampfer. It consists of a disk with a series of images, drawn on parts evenly spaced around the center of the disk. Slots are cut out of the disk on the same parts as the drawings, but at a different distance from the center. The device would be placed in front of a mirror and spun. As the phenakistoscope spins, a viewer looks through the slots at the reflection of the drawings, are momentarily visible when a slot passes by the viewer’s eye. This created the illusion of animation. Another early form of animation is the flip book, John Barnes Linnett made the first flip book in 1868. A flip book is a small book with each page having one in a series of animation images located near its unbound edge. The user bends all of the pages back, normally with the thumb, then by a gradual motion of the hand allows them to spring free one at a time. As with the phenakistoscope, zoetrope and praxinoscope, the illusion of motion is created by the apparent sudden replacement of each image by the next in the series. Early film animators cited flip books as their inspiration more often than the earlier devices, which did not reach as wide an audience.
The earliest animated film was made by Edward Muybridge, he took many photos of a horse galloping to prove that at one point all four of the horses hooves are in the air so he could win a bet, he then realised if he put these photos together it would make a moving image, this is considered to be the birth of animation as we know it. The first entirely animated film was “Humourous Phases of Funny Faces” (1906) by James Blackton who is considered as the father of American animation due to this film. The film featured a number of drawings offices that would be changed and had another photo taken of them this was originally done using chalk animation on a chalkboard but towards the ned of the film they started using paper in an effort to reduce time.
In Europe, the French artist, Émile Cohl created the first animated film using what is now known as the traditional type of animation in the film Fantasmagorie (1908). The film largely consisted of a stick figure moving about and encountering all manner of morphing objects, such as a wine bottle that transforms into a flower. There were also sections of live action where the animator’s hands would enter the scene. The film was created by drawing each frame on paper and then taking photos of each frame and compiling them to create the film. After the cinematograph popularized the motion picture, producers began to explore the possibilities of animation in greater depth. A short stop-motion animation was produced in 1908 by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton called The Humpty Dumpty Circus which used stop motion animation this featured a circus of animals and acrobats in motion. A few other films that featured stop motion technique were released afterward, but the first to receive wide scale appreciation was Blackton’s Haunted Hotel, which baffled viewers with its abstract and weird scenes which featured dolls moving and other supernatural. This inspired much further development in to animation. After this animation became very experimental and abstract until the cinematic animation era started.
In 1923 Walt Disney opened a studio in Los Angeles. Disney’s first notable breakthrough was 1928’s Steamboat Willie, the third of the Mickey Mouse series. It was the first cartoon that included a fully post-produced soundtrack, featuring voice and sound effects put on the film itself . The short film showed an anthropomorphic mouse named Mickey neglecting his work on a steamboat to instead make music using the animals aboard the boat. This animation was done using drawn animation this cost in total $4296 to make, which included the animation itself and the sound effects. Many consider Walt Disney’s 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the first animated feature film, though at least seven films were released earlier. However, Disney’s film was the first one completely made using hand-drawn animation. The previous seven films were made using cutout, silhouette or stop motion, except for one also made by Disney seven months prior to Snow White’s release. But as Snow White was also the first one to become successful and well-known throughout the world, people tend to disregard the seven films. Following Snow White’s release, Disney began to focus much more on feature-length films. Though Disney did continue to produce shorts throughout the century while Warner Brothers continued to focus on shorts such as Looney Tunes which featured drawn animation rather than feature length films.
By the 1960s Animation began to disappear from movie theaters; while Disney continued to produce animated features after losing Walt Disney, MGM and Warner Bros closed their studios and got out of animation entirely by the end of the decade. The majority of American animation came to be dominated by limited animation made for TV.
Television animation developed from the success of animated movies in the first half of the 20th century. While studios gave up on the big-budget theatrical short cartoons that were big in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, new television animation studios would thrive. By the end of the 1980s, most of the Golden Age animators had retired or died, and their younger successors were ready to change the industry and the way that animation was perceived. This era brought along famous animations such as Looney Tunes, The Flintstones and Tom and Jerry. Also during this era many companies were very successful such as Disney, MGM and Hanna-Barbera.
The first major animation studio to produce cartoons exclusively for television was Hanna-Barbera Productions. When MGM closed its cartoon studio in 1957, Hanna-Barbera began producing cartoons directly for television, directing their animations to families. The first two animated series from Hanna-Barbera was The Ruff & Reddy Show which was the pioneer show of limited animation, limited animation requires fewer drawings, less ink and painting, the method was used to reduce cost in an effort to make more profit and hovels chance of bankruptcy. However, the studio hit its stride in 1960s with The Flintstones, the first half-hour animated sitcom. Like many of its immediate successors it was originally aired during prime time when the whole family would be watching television. The Flintstones also used limited animation.
In 1991, Nickelodeon introduced The Ren & Stimpy Show which used traditional means of animation. Ren & Stimpy was a wild and off-beat series that violated all the restrictions of Saturday morning cartoons, instead favoring the outrageous style of the shorts from the Golden Age period. Nicklelodeon produced many animations like this during the 1990’s such as Rugrats and Hey! Arnold.
This era lasted to around the 1990’s where the decline of 2D animation began and companies using CGI such as Pixar became prominent.
Rise of CGI
The rise of computer generated animation can almost all be credited to Pixar and Disney. In 1991 Pixar made a $26 million deal with Disney to produce three computer-animated feature films, the first of which was Toy Story. At the point of the deal the Pixar was frequently losing money and owner Steve Jobs often considered selling the company. Toy Story went on to gross more than $350 million worldwide. The Disney-Pixar partnership continued with more films made such as A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. After the Incredibles Pixar began to look for another partner as their contract with Disney was up. On January 24 2006 it was reported Disney had acquired Pixar from Steve Jobs for $7.4 billion. Disney-Pixar have gone on to make 11 more films with 5 films including Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4 already in production.
Adult Animation and Present Day
In 1987, “The Simpsons”, an animated short cartoon segment of The Tracey Ullman Show, debuted. Matt Groening’s creation gained its own half-hour series in 1989, the first prime-time animated series since The Flintstones. Although 70 percent of the first episode’s animation had to be redone, pushing the series premiere back three months, it became one of the first major hit series for the Fox network. The Simpsons caused a sensation, entering popular culture and gaining wide acclaim for its satirical handling of American culture, families, society as a whole, and the human condition.
The success of The Simpsons led Fox to develop other animated series aimed at adults, including King of the Hill (created by Mike Judge), Futurama (also by Groening), Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show (all created by Seth MacFarlane). King of the Hill was an instant success, running 13 seasons. Both Futurama and Family Guy were cancelled by the network; after strong DVD sales and ratings in re-runs, both returned to the air.
I believe 2D animation has survived the modern world of CGI as it is still used in many popular cartoons such as The Simpsons and Family Guy. On the other hand the use of 2D animation has definitely declined due to the rise of CGI animation which has almost taken over animation itself.