'A Critical Examination Of The Development Of The Genre Of Animation, With Close Reference To Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs(1937) And Madagascar(2005)'

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‘A Critical Examination Of The Development Of The Genre Of Animation, With Close Reference To Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs(1937) and Madagascar(2005)’

The animation genre was, and continues to be one of the most popular genres with adults and children alike.

In this essay I am going to explore the genre of animation in depth; looking at techniques used throughout the animation genre, and I am also going to observe the development and changes which have occurred since the very early forms of animation began and also since the very first feature length animation film was made; Snow White (1937). By comparing these past techniques with a present animated film Madagascar (2005) I will be looking to see if audiences think animation has improved and why they think this. By researching the animation process from the past and comparing it with more recent and updated animation techniques; I am looking to observe the major changes that have occurred within the genre and what impact this has on audiences in our modern society. And overall whether we as an audience think the animation genre has come a long way since it first began.

Animation is the graphic representation of drawings to show movement within those individual drawings.  The individual drawings are linked together and usually photographed by a camera. The images are then slightly changed or altered in some way and photographed again which when played back will show movement within the drawings.  The process of animation or ‘‘showing movement’’ within an image can be traced back millions of years. Many images found in the Altamira caves of Northern Spain appear to show animals with eight legs suggesting an early attempt to show movement within a still 2D image.

As time has progressed in the late 19th century there were two main inventions which aimed to further the animation process.  The ‘‘phenakistoscope’’ which was invented by a man named Joseph Plateau in 1826.  The Phenakistoscope was a circular card which had several slits around its outside edge, in order to see a moving image you would have

to place this card in front of a mirror and look into the slits as the piece of card rotated around.  As the card rotates a series of still images were shown around the circumference of the card hence enabling the viewer to see a moving object.  Similar to this design was the ‘‘zeotrope’’ invented by Pierre Desvignes in 1860.  The zeotrope was a cylinder in the shape of a kind of drum which turned on a spindle.  A strip of paper with images on it was placed into the cylinder.  As the cylinder was turned you were able to view the images through the slots on top.  The rapid speed of the cylinder turning, created the moving image.

Stuart Blackton made a short film in 1906 entitled ‘‘Humorous Phases Of Funny Faces’’ in which he drew a humorous face onto a blackboard, he then erased it and drew the same face in a different stage.  This process is known as the ‘’stop-motion effect’’ and at the time audiences were amazed that they were able to see images seemingly coming to life.

In the early 20th century a man named Thomas A. Edison developed the idea of the motion camera and projector.  This provided one of the first inventions to make animation. This was only an early idea and animation was still done in a very simple style.  

In the early 1920’s the animated cartoon had become less popular as audiences wanted something more than an animation that lasted for a few minutes, lacked storylines or plots and without development of characters. Creators of cartoons were looking for other means to entertain their audiences.

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The process of animation was no where near a stage where a full length film by today’s standards could be achieved. The closest anyone came to this at this point in time was a man named Windsor Macay who created a cartoon named ‘‘Gertie The Dinosaur.’’ This type of character had never been seen by audiences before and the sight of a dinosaur moving and coming to life on a screen was astonishing.  Another ‘first’ of it’s time was an animated cartoon ‘‘Felix the cat’’ created by Otto Messmer. The overall feature of this cartoon and many others of this ...

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