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Animation timeline

Frame rate the rate an imaging device plays frames. Also known as Frames Per
Second (FPS).
1824 Thaumatrope
Sir John Herschel invented a device (popularised by John Ayrton Paris) which was
two small disk stuck together with two pieces of string attached. The disks had a
picture on each (for example, a monkey and a cage), and when the string is
twisted and the disks spin, the pictures combine. This demonstrated the
persistence of vision.
Persistence of vision a theory where our brains keep an afterimage for a
fraction of a second after witnessing a motion. It is the reason we cannot see the
black spaces between frames when we watch a film.

1831 Phenakistoscope
Joseph Plateau and Simon von Stampfer invented a device called the
phenakistoscope, which is a disk with a series of images drawn round the center
evenly and slots where cut out between these images. The user must stand in
front of a mirror, look through the slots, and spin the device. In the reflection
they should see the images taking motion, creating the illusion of animation.
However, due to only one person at a time being able to view the images, the
device was considered a toy. This was the first time people saw sequential
images moving to create motion.
Animation a sequence of images which when played after one another shows
the illusion of motion.

1834 Zoetrope
Invented by William Horner, the Zoetrope is similar to the phenakistoscope. The
device is a cylinder with a series of images printed on a strip placed on the inside
of the cylinder. Similarly to the phenakistoscope, slits would be cut between
these images and the device would be spun. However, unlike the
phenakistoscope, the animation could be viewed by multiple people and have no
need for a mirror.

1868 Kineograph
John Linnett created the first flip book, called the kineograph. The kineograph is a
small book with an image printed on each page. When the book is bent back and
the pages slowly released by the finger, the images quickly replace each other
and create motion. This device only requires the users hand to be able to work
and there is a heightened number of images which can be drawn in the book
compared to those on the earlier devices, allowing a longer animation. The
kineograph could also be a more personal device anyone could make one.

1877 Praxinoscope
Charles-mile Reynaud created the praxinoscope, a similar device to the
zoetrope. The praxinoscope was a cylinder with a series of images printed on a
strip and placed on the inside of the cylinder. There was a smaller cylinder in the
middle which was covered in mirrors. The outside cylinder was spun and in the
mirrors reflection you could see the images taking motion. This was the
entertainment at many parties as multiple people could easily view the
animation at once. It is noted as the first known occurrence of film perforations*
being used.
*Film perforations are holes placed in the film stock used to steady the

1878 Praxinoscope Theatre

Charles-mile Reynaud produced the Praxinoscope Theatre an improved
version of the praxinoscope including a glass viewing screen, allowing the
animation to be overlaid on a changeable background. This added focus to the
motion and also content, since you look through a small screen focusing on the
pictures, and add a background of your choice to add to the content.

1879 Zoopraxiscope
Edward Muybridge invented the Zoopraxiscope. This device projected images
from turning glass disks to create motion. The images were painted onto the
glass as silhouettes.
Muybridge is also known for his sequence of photographs of a race horse in
motion, proving for the first time that when a horse gallops, all its feet leave the

1880s Projection Praxinoscope

1880 - Charles-mile Reynaud created the first projectable version called the
Projection Praxinoscope. This device used a lantern to project the animation onto
a screen. However, even with the ability to allow a large audience to view it, it
was still limited to 12 images.
1888 - a large scale projection version was made. This involved painted glass
plates mounted in leather bands, which were connected by a metal strip with
holes through it which attached to pins on a turning drum and aligned the image
with the projecting lantern. Charles-mile Reynaud was able to create a
continuous motion because he mounted the connected image strips on a pair of
The use of projection on a screen allowed audiences to view the animation,
creating a public display.

1888 Kinetoscope
Thomas Edison created the kinetoscope a tall box-like device, powered by
electricity, which inside conveys a strip of images on perforated film over a light
source with a high-speed shutter. The viewer would look through the peep-hole

at the top of the device and see the images turned into animation. The
kinetoscope introduced the basic approach to movie projection and became the
standard for all cinematic projection before video.
A Nickelodeon is a place where there are multiple kinetoscopes in a room.

1892 Cinematograph
Lon Bouly invented the cinematograph a motion picture film camera, film
projector and printer, but due to lack of money, he sold his rights to the device
and its name to the Lumire Brothers.
1895, the Lumire Brothers applied the name to a device of their own creation.
The Cinmatographe was operated by a hand-crank and could project an image
onto a screen allowing many people to view it at once. It was also portable,
unlike Thomas Edisons kinetoscope, and produced a sharper projected image
than ever before. The Cinmatographe popularised motion picture.

1906 The first entirely animated stop-motion film, Humorous Phases of Funny
Faces, was made by J. Stuart Blackton.
1908 - mile Cohl created Fantasmagorie. mile Cohl drew each frame on paper
before shooting each fame onto negative film creating a blackboard effect. The
film consisted of a stick figure, morphing objects (a wine bottle transforming into
a flower), and live action of the animators hands. These introduced stop-motion
animation into the world.
Stop motion an animation technique where an image of a real object is
recorded, then between the last and next recording, the object is moved slightly.

When the images are played at a normal frame rate, the objects appears to be in

Cartoons, animated short films, became a new industry and cartoon shorts were
used to show in movie theatres.
1912 Raoul Barr came up with an idea that to keep an animator's drawings
lined up, he would punch two holes at the bottom of every sheet and pass them
through two pegs glued to the animation table. The peg system is still
functioning today.

John Randolph Bray and Earl Hurd patented the cel animation process, where
they would animate images on transparent celluloid sheets. They would
photograph the sheets over a still background image to produce the sequence of
images. The background and characters would be drawn on separate cells, one
in front of the other making it easier to animate and show dimension.
1914 - Winsor McCay released Gertie the Dinosaur, a drawn animation where he
would speak to Gertie who would respond with a series of gestures. Gertie the
Dinosaur was also the first film to combine live action with hand drawn
animation. This developed the animation industry with the idea of combining
both live-action with animation. Gertie the Dinosaur used layered cells.

1915 Rotoscoping
Max and Dave Fleischer invented rotoscoping, this is when recorded live-action
film images are projected onto a frosted glass panel and re-drawn by the
animator, who traces over the footage frame by frame. The equipment was
named a rotoscope and developed the animation industry even further by
introducing the first manually created matte to overlay the images onto any

They later release Ko-Ko the Clown, Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor Man, and
1917 Feature film
The first animated feature film was created, called El Apstol. It was created by
Quirino Cristiani using cutout animation (where the objects are cut out of
paper/card and moved). The film has since been lost.
Willis O'Brien created The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy, a
fully animated stop-motion silent film using puppets and clay models, developing
away from 2D drawings and into 3D models.
Animators were limited, and those who could animate took a long time, as the
animation process was very long. However, Ubbe Iwerks, a fellow cartoonist of
Walt Disney, could turn out 700 drawings a day.
1923 - Walt Disney opened a studio in Los Angeles and his first project was the
Alice Comedies series - featuring a real girl interacting with cartoon characters.
This shows the combination of live-action with animation.
1927 The Jazz Singer was the first feature-length motion picture with
synchronized dialogue sequences. It's release publicised the commercial
dominance of the "talkies" (sound films incorporating synchronized dialogue) and
the decline of silent films.
1928 Disney's Steamboat Willie was released and was the first cartoon that
involved a fully post-produced soundtrack. The voice and sound effects were
printed on the film itself ("sound-on-film") and the lip-sync at this point was very
basic. Also, animation at this point took on a very circular formula with
characters often having hosepipe-like arms and legs and a rounded body.
The impact of sound on the animation industry allowed narrative to be told
through music.
1930 Puppetoons
Puppetoons, created by George Pal, was a series of animated puppet films. He
used replacement animation. This is where a series of different hand-carved
wooden puppets, heads or limbs were used for each frame. The puppet would
move or have a part of its body swapped in each frame rather than moving a
single puppet. This replacement technique made animating easier and inspired
many other animators to use the technique.

Two-colour Technicolour and three-step technicolour was being introduced into

the animation industry with productions including King of Jazz (the first fulllength, live-action two-colour Technicolour cartoon feature film), Fiddlesticks (the
first standalone two-colour Technicolour cartoon), and Flower and Trees (the first
animation to use the full, three-color Technicolour method). Soon after these,
colour animation became the industry standard.
1930 - The Tale of the Fox was the first feature length stop-motion puppet
animated film which popularised puppets.
1931 The first animated feature-length sound film was released, named
1933 Ubbe Iwerks invented the first multiplane camera consisting of four
layers of horizontal artwork underneath a down-pointing camera. The device
moves a number of pieces of artwork past the camera at differing speeds and
distances to create a 3D effect. The artwork is transparent in various places,
allowing the other layers to be visible. Each movement is slightly different and
captured frame-by-frame. This device has been used in many stop-motion
animation films, including Disney's Bambi and Snow White.
1938 Xerography (originally called electrophotography) was invented by
Chester Carlson. Xerography is a dry photocopying method which uses no liquid
chemicals. It combines electrostatic printing with photography and has
influenced films such as 1960s Goliath II.
1939 Sparko, the Robot Dog was invented and was the very first modern day
animatronics character. Animatronics is the use of robotic devices to imitate a
human or an animal and bring life-like characteristics to an inanimate object.
This developed the animation industry by programming the animatronics to
move, creating the animation. The animatronics could either be programmed to
move on its own and be filmed, or to move only slightly each time, for the stopmotion effect.
1940 Stereophonic sound
Disney's Fantasia was filmed with Stereophonic sound.
Stereophonic sound is when the sound has two or more audio channels with
configuration of two or more loudspeakers or stereo headphones and creates the
illusion that sound is heard from different directions by lowering the volume of
one audio channel to emphasise the other, adding depth of perception into the
animation industry.
1953 - Melody was a short film recorded in stereoscopic 3D.
Stereoscopy is the technique used to enhance the illusion of depth in an image.
Most methods have two offset images separated as far as the left and right eye
is. These images then combine to create the perception of 3D depth. This added
to the animation industry by presenting the 3D effect.
Syncro-vox was developed by cinematographer Edwin Gillette and introduced
through television commercials with talking animals. It's a filming method which

combines static images with moving images (placing talking lips on a

1959 A television series named Clutch Cargo (among others) used Syncro-Vox
as a cheap animation technique.
1960 - Goliath II, a short film, used the xerography process.
By now the public's attention was leaning away from animated shorts shown in
the theaters and more towards the television.
1961 One Hundred and One Dalmatians used the xerography process to
multiply the dalmatians in the opening sequence, making the process easier for
the animators to multiply the dogs whilst spending less time and money drawing
1961 Walt Disney begins developing modern animatronics technology.
1963 Ray Harryhausen produced Jason and the Argonauts a live-action film in
collaboration with stop motion animation. Ray Harryhausen used mattes to
create this combination of animation and live-action. He would project a liveaction image onto a rear screen in front of the animation table. Then he would
place a glass sheet in front of that and the camera pointing towards it all. He
would animate with the live-action footage at the same time, and when the
combined media footage was played back, both the live-action and the
animation would interact with each other.
1963 The first animatronics created by Disney are the Enchanted Tiki Birds in
1970-80s combining stop-motion with 3D modelling
1975 Greeblies was created it used clay animation with stop-motion
animation and was the inspiration for the simple clay character Morph. Aardman
Animations, an animation studio, introduced 3D clay modelling into the stopmotion animation industry and later became the inspiration of some extremely
popular and renowned animation series one of which was Aardmans own;
Wallace and Gromit, in the 1980s.
1983 - Rock and Rule - the first animated feature film containing 2D ComputerGenerated imagery (CGI). This opened up a lot of paths for animators as they
now had a method of artificially producing animations without the added
restraint of the camera positions.
CGI - the application of computer graphics to media. It can be 2D or 3D, and can
be used to create characters, scenes, special effects, etc. Drawing is replaced by
3D computer modeling.
1984 The Adventures of Andr and Wally B. was the first fully CGI-animated
film, made with 3D CGI.

1988 Pixar produced Tin Toy, a computer-animated film with the use of
PhotoRealistic RenderMan a photorealistic 3D rendering software. Its used to
render all Pixars 3D animations. Tin Toy later inspired Disneys Toy Story in
1995, which used the same type of animation.
1985 The Adventures of Mark Twain was a feature length clay-animated film,
also popularizing clay as a medium for animation.
The brothers Quay added stop-motion animation into their music videos. They
worked with puppets mostly, and their productions often took on a slightly dark
1986 Street of Crocodiles by the brothers Quay.
1990 The Rescuers Down Under was the first feature film completely produced
with Disney's Computer Animation Production System. It was produced without a
camera and used digital ink and paint.
1991 Beauty and the Beast was released by Disney Disney used procedure
modelling to create scenes in the film which enabled the camera to fly around
a 3D room. Procedural modelling is a term for techniques in computer graphics to
create 3D models and textures.
CGI television series began becoming popular, with series' like 1993s Insektors.
1993 Tim Burton uses animatronics to animate The Nightmare Before
Christmas where the camera is attached to a programmed computer and
moves a fraction of an inch per frame. Animatronics are also used to animate the
1994 - The Lion King was released by Disney Disney used computer duplication
to be able to show a lot of similar looking characters at once instead of having to
create and animate each one individually this is seen in the wildebeest scene
where the wildebeest have been duplicated to create more. This saves animators
both money and time.
1995 The fully computer-animated feature film Toy Story was released, with use
of 3D modelling.
2004 Cel-shaded animations were released such as Appleseed and Steamboy.
Cel shading is a type of non-photorealistic rendering, used to make 3D-looking
graphics flat. It uses less shading colour and gradients and often mimics a comic
book style.
2005 The Adventures of Bottle Top Bill was created and the animation style
imitates the traditional modelling features hosepipe legs and arms and rounded
2009 The stop-motion animation Coraline used rapid prototyping. Rapid
prototyping is a group of techniques used to quickly make a scale model using
3D Computer Aided Design data, saving time and thus money for animators.

2009 Magic Light Pictures produced The Gruffalo an animation which uses 3D
modelling designed to look like clay.
2010 Disneys Toy Story 3 was released, which features 3D projection. 3D
projection is the method of creating a 3D look on a 2D piece. The film is shot with
two cameras, as far apart as the human eyes are. Then the images are overlaid
and become 3D. Often 3D required the use of 3D glasses, which have one lens
tinted with red, and the other tinted with blue. This is because the film was
recorded with one cameras footage outlined in red, and the other outlined in
Channel idents
Channel idents started in the 1950s when a broadcaster displayed a logo
between programmes to identify its service. The idents went from simple black
and white images to full colour short films of the modern era as technology
progressed, many nowadays including animation.