So continuing on from Part 1, Animated pictures made significant strides in the early 20th-Century. The first animated film was a series of funny faces created with stop-motion photography.
However, the foundations of animation as we know it today were laid two years later with the 1908 film, Fantasmagorie. The French artist Emile Cohl created the film using hand-drawn animation which would become the traditional creative expression of animated cartoons for the lion share of the 20th Century.
Although 2D animation popularised cartoons on a commercial scale, the first stirrings of 3D animation was already underway. Around the same time as Cohl was developing his motion picture stick man, Edison Manufacturing produced the 1908 film, The Sculptor’s Welsh rarebit Dream captured the sculpturing of three busts. The technique became known as clay animation, or claymation.
It would be another 82 years before claymation became a commercial success. From 1911, cartoonists began drawing comical characters – many of whom would become household names.
The revolution began in 1914, with the groundbreaking film Gertie the Dinosaur by cartoonist Winsor McCay. It was the first film to combine live-action footage with animation. McCay would stand next to the screen and ask Gertie questions in which the character would answer. McCay then walked behind the screen, and with pre-recorded footage seemed to appear on-screen and ride out of frame on Gertie’s back.
In the same year, John Bray revolutionised how animation was created when he patented the cel technique which involved moving objects on transparent celluloid sheets.
Cartoons began to gain popularity during WW1. The Cartoon Film company produced a series of 26 topical cartoons before newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst lured most of Barré Studio’s animators away to set up his International Film Service.
Animated film became an international success in 1919 when Paramount Pictures distributed Felix the Cat, considered to be the first animated movie star and one of the most recognised cartoons characters are created. But even Felix’s fame would be eclipsed in the following decades.
Join us next week for the final part of A Brief History Of Animation.