Five pioneers of early animation

Today, animation is all pervasive. Its reach has extended beyond television and penetrated our market through internet, mobile phones and even out-of-home media. When we think of animation, the one person that invariably comes to mind is Walt Disney, known as the father of modern animation. But few of us that animation existed long before Walt Disney made it a household name. In this post, we will recollect five giants of animation who laid the foundation of the empire that the animation industry has become today.

Émile Cohl

ÉmileCohlThis young cartoonist from France is fondly known as the father of the animated cartoon. In the year 1908, he created the first fully animated cartoon ever to be produced on film. The work was titled Fantasmagorie. When one watches the film, it appears as though the film was made on a black chalkboard but this is nothing more than an illusion. Instead, Cohl traced a set of seven hundred drawings by filming them with black lines on white paper, then reversing the negative to give the effect of black chalkboard. It took him about three months to complete the movie.

Click here to watch Fantasmagorie

Georges Méliès

GeorgesMeliesPopularly called the world’s first cinemagician, this French filmmaker quickly became well known in the industry for the use of special effects in his films. He made over 530 films in his career, using rudimentary filmmaking tricks, which were considered state-of-the-art technology at the time. In 1902, he appeared in one of his own films, L’oeuf du sorcier, which depicted several photography tricks that form the basis of the special effects industry today.

Click here to watch L’oeuf du sorcier

Winsor McCay

WinsorMcCayKnown as the father of ‘true’ animation, Winsor McCay surprised movie goers with his production of ‘Litte Nemo’, which featured two minutes of pure animation previously not seen in films.

Click here to watch ‘Little Nemo’

J. Stuart Blackton

JStuartInspired by Thomas Edison’s inventions, J. Stuart Blackton founded the American Vitagraph Company and started producing films. His first movie was The Enchanted Drawing in the year 1900. He was among the first people in the industry to create stop motion animation.

Click here to watch The Enchanted Drawing

Eadweard J. Muybridge

EadweardThe animal locomotion studies of Muybridge weren’t exactly animation; they were one of the very first experiments in moving images, laying the groundwork for generations of videographists to come. In 1893, he famously used the phenakistoscope – an animation device that captured the ‘persistence of vision’ principle in order to depict an illusion of motion – to further his visual studies in the field of animation.

The phenakistoscope

The phenakistoscope

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