Animation and movie history go side-by-side: they both make use of the same principle, creating and reproducing an illusion of motion by a quick succession of a series of slightly altered static images. While moving pictures were seen as a medium for reproducing motion as it occurred in the real world, early on, there were people who knew that there was a whole other world of infinite possibilities waiting to be explored. Constructing a new reality frame-by-frame brought artists endless possibilities for entertainment, artistic expression, and for playing various tricks with the viewer’s eyes and mind, without the limitations and constraints of reality.
1906, Humorous Phases Of Funny Faces by James Stuart Blackton
Blackton’s first experiment was The Enchanted Drawing (1900), followed by Humorous Phases (1906) and Lightning Sketches (1907). He used a blackboard and chalk to draw a series of drawings of various characters, making slight modifications and using a film camera to shoot each phase frame-by-frame, therefore his experiments are closer to stop motion technique than drawn animation.
In 1907, Émile Cohl – a contemporary of George Melies and the Lumiere Brothers – started making his first animation in Paris, France and it was called Fantasmagorie (1907). In this film he applied all of the basic principles of drawn animation, making a series of drawings photographed on motion picture film. For this reason Cohl can be considered the first cartoon animator.
In 1911, Winsor McCay displayed his first animation, Little Nemo, which set a very high standard of artistry and fluidity of motion that would not be surpassed for 20 years. His other works include How A Mosquito Operates (1912) and, most importantly, Gertie The Dinosaur (1914) – an original mix of live performance and animation, projected onto a screen on stage, creating an illusion of interacting with the animated world.
Otto Messmer, employed by the Pat Sullivan Studio, in 1919 created Felix the Cat – the first true animated cartoon and comic strip character, revolutionary in its own right. Felix had a distinctive personality, typical mannerisms and an incredible charm that made him incredibly popular, earning him a unique place in modern culture.
- according to some sources Otto Messmer drew Felix cartoon strips and directed many Felix animated shorts, but studio head Pat Sullivan continued to take the sole credit for Felix, earning millions in royalties, while the unassuming Messmer continued to receive his usual salary at the studios.
Walt Disney, although some accuse his studios of “killing” animation as an art form early after its rich beginnings, he is undoubtedly the most influential cartoon producer who had great vision and the ability to push the quality of drawn animation to almost impossible heights, bringing to life cartoon characters that have iconic status in modern culture.
- In 1928 Steamboat Willie was released, which became the first Mickey Mouse cartoon with synchronised sound. (Mickey had appeared in two earlier cartoons, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho). The cartoon was written and directed by Walt Disney and his collaborator Ub Iwerks.
Max Fleischer – the head of Fleischer Studios, is responsible for the creation of other legendary characters, such as Betty Boop (1932) and Popeye the Sailor (1933). He also developed and patented the method of capturing realistic motion in animation, using live-action footage, which was re-drawn on paper frame-by-frame – Rotoscope (1915).
Looney Tunes, a Warner Bros. animated cartoon series, incredibly popular and rich in many famous characters that was made from 1930 to 1969, created and developed by animators like Tex Avery, Chuck Jones and Fritz Freleng.
- Its most popular characters include Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester, Tweety, Taz, Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner and Speedy Gonzales.
TO BE CONTINUED
Useful alphabetical list of famous world animators of the past and present from Wikipedia.