For more than a century, audiences have been captivated by animation, a mesmerising art form that brings stories to life through moving pictures. Animation has developed into a potent medium that cuts beyond age, culture, and language, from the playful antics of Mickey Mouse to the beautiful worlds of Studio Ghibli. However, animation had modest beginnings, just like any creative endeavour. In this essay, we take a historical journey to investigate the birth of the first animation and the amazing discoveries that paved the way for the enthralling animated films we now enjoy.
The Phenakistoscope: The Birth of Animation
Early 19th-century inventors and artists were attempting to imitate the motion of objects when animation first emerged. The phenakistoscope, created by Joseph Plateau in 1832, was one of the first instruments to accomplish this feat. A spinning disc with a string of still images arranged around it made up the phenakistoscope. The pictures gave the impression of being animated when seen via well positioned slots while the disc was spinning. The emergence of animation as an art form was enabled by this revolutionary discovery.
The Praxinoscope and Émile Reynaud
French inventor Émile Reynaud improved animation with his invention, the praxinoscope, which built on the idea of the phenakistoscope. The praxinoscope, created in 1877, contained a number of mirrored strips inside of a cylinder. These mirrors created the appearance of fluid motion as they were spun by reflecting the images placed on the other side of the cylinder. By employing the praxinoscope to cast animated images onto a screen, Reynaud advanced this idea and gave rise to projected animation.
The Cinématographe and the Lumière Brothers
The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, made significant contributions to the advancement of animation in the late 19th century. Although the Lumière brothers are most recognised for their groundbreaking work in cinema, they also made significant contributions to the area of animation. The “pantomimes lumineuses,” a collection of hand-drawn animations made with their invention, the cinématographe, were first presented in 1892.
The cinématographe was a revolutionary machine that could both record motion and project it onto a screen. The Lumière brothers brought their animations to a wider audience with the cinématographe, enchanting viewers with the wonder of moving images. This important development paved the way for the development of animated films.
Dinosaur Gertie with Winsor McCay
American cartoonist and animator Winsor McCay was instrumental in the early 20th century’s popularisation of animation. The ground-breaking animated short film “Gertie the Dinosaur,” which was produced in 1914, is McCay’s most well-known work. “Gertie the Dinosaur” used aspects of storytelling, character development, and animation to create the first instance of a figure with a distinct personality.
Animation was raised to new heights by McCay’s painstaking attention to detail and commitment to developing a convincing character. McCay pioneered the blending of live-action and animation, blurring the lines between reality and the animated world through Gertie’s interactions with her creator on-screen.
The Evolution Keeps Going
The phenakistoscope and praxinoscope, two groundbreaking innovations, along with the Lumière brothers’ and Winsor McCay’s inventive narrative, laid the groundwork for modern animation. Animation has developed into a wide and diverse art form throughout the years, incorporating different methods, genres, and streamkiste tv