The Evolution of Animation Throughout the Ages

evolution animation
evolution animation


“Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.” – Norman McLaren

Animation has been such an integral part of our daily lives now, that we cannot imagine a life without it. But a century ago, this is not how animation was. Animation has gone through a tremendous change from the time it had been discovered to the time we see it today. The changes have been due to contributions from great technologies as well as some great minds. If you are someone who enjoys working with animations and graphics, you will love this article.

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Now, Below mentioned are some of the milestone achievements that took place during the evolution of animation and brought it to the state which we see it in today.

1887 The year that it all began

In 1887, an individual named H.W. Goodwin created a celluloid film that was capable of holding images. The celluloid was made from gum cotton and gum camphor.

1892 The early moving-picture creation

In 1892, A Frenchman named Emil Reynaud started a theatre by using an invention named the Praxinoscope. It was made from turning mirrors that were used to reflect the images and generate a 10 to 15 minute “moving scene.”

1893 Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope


By making the use of the celluloid film created by H.W. Goodwin in the year 1887, Edison was able to create moving film pictures that were projected on the wall. The film rolled over a series of wheels in order to produce the animation.

1899 Capturing the Sound

With the help of a magnetic recording device, the sound for an animated video had been recorded for the very first time in the history of animation. The animation enthusiasts had latched themselves onto this particular technology.

1900 The Enchanted Drawing

James Stuart Blackton had used the animation techniques of the previous century to create a short film. The film documented the drawing process of the movie characters, without ever showing it to the artist. J. Stuart Blackton was known popularly as the father of animation. His silent film is credited to be the first animated sequence in film ever.

1908 The first official animated film

French Caricaturist Émile Cohl produced the film called “Fantasmagorie.” It was the first fully animated cartoon movie with no live-action whatsoever. It was a great hit and is popular today to be known as the first animated film. With the characters morphing and transforming in the entire movie, Cohl wanted to demonstrate the fantastical, reality-defying ability of animation through his production.

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1914 Gertie the Dinosaur


Windsor McCay’s film, Gertie the Dinosaur, became famous very quickly. Gertie was the first animated character to achieve notoriety. It was the first animation movie to make use of techniques such as keyframing, registration marks, inbetweening, and animation loops. These techniques then became a part of the standard industry practice for the traditional animation production for the upcoming decades.

What I love most about animation is, it’s a team sport, and everything we do is about pure imagination.”–Jeffrey Katzenberg

1915 Creating a patent for the process

John Bray had successfully developed and patented a complete streamlined process for the purpose of creating animated films. He had tried to force some of the other companies to use the designs he had made but was not very successful.

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1920 Felix the Cat

Otto Messmer created a character called Felix the Cat. The character was extremely successful and even landed up in watches and dolls. Felix the Cat was a leading character in a series of short cartoons stories created by Otto Messmer. Felix became the first ‘star’ of the animated industry’s silent film era.

1922 Laugh-O-Grams

I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” – Walt Disney

The Twenty-year-old Walt Disney started his first animation film studio called the Laugh-O-Grams. But it failed immediately after only one short time.

1928 Steamboat Willie

Continuing to do what he liked, Walt Disney still was making animated movies. In the year 1928, he created a short film named Steamboat Willie, which had Mickey Mouse in it. It used sound for the first time, and the movie was an instant success. Steamboat is generally mistaken to be Mickey Mouse’s debut. But this wasn’t actually his first outing. But it was the first animated movie to popularize Mickey mouse.

1930 The rise of Warner Bros. Studio

warner brothers

Looney Tunes is considered to be a spin-off from the Silly Symphonies created by Disney. It soon captured the attention of the masses and became very successful. This is a part of Disney’s Silly Symphonies series, and it was the first animated film to win the Academy Award for the Best Animated Short film.

Throughout the 1930s period, many now-iconic characters had been created. These included Popeye the Sailor, Betty Boop, and Daffy Duck.

1933 – the creation of King Kong

Popularly considered as one of the leading movies of all time – King Kong has earned a spot in the history of the evolution of animation for including the most advanced and the most convincing stop motion animated characters as seen till then.

1937 Creation of Snow white and the seven dwarfs

Walt Disney created the first-ever full-length animated movie. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had been a major hit. It was probably the first animated movie on the timeline which still holds up nowadays. This labor-intensive yet visually attractive production makes this a work that made Walt Disney be one of the world’s innovative storytellers.

1961 – One Hundred and One Dalmatians

This was the first full-feature animated film that Disney made by using xerography. It is a process that eliminates the hand-inking of the outlines of a character on each cell. Rather, the drawings are printed directly on the cells. This leads to saving a great amount of time, energy and labor.

1972 Computer generated movies


Ed Catmull at The University of Utah developed a technique of creating computer-generated films. It made use of the scripting language. This led to a number of other greater movies and animated blockbusters being created over the years.

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1988 – Animation and real characters together in Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the first film to have live-action along with cartoon characters to share the same screen. The Roger Rabbit movie is also an important milestone in the evolution of animation because of the number of characters and the assets from the different studios who made an appearance in the movie. It had Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse to share the same scene.

1993 – The next level of animation movies – Jurassic Park

The Jurassic Park movie made the use of mixed animatronics, stop-motion along with CGI in order to produce the most photo-realistic animated dinosaurs ever before seen on the big screen. The company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is the visual-effects studio behind these prehistoric creations. It took them a year just to create 4 minutes of the computer-generated dinosaur.

1995 – Toy Story

Pixar came up with the first-ever entirely computer-generated film. It included full model articulation as well as motion-control coding that helped to bring Andy’s toys to life. The movie was a real breakthrough in the 3D animation industry which secured the position of Pixar as the studio to beat.

2002–The rise of The Lord of the Rings: The Twin Towers


The second part of Peter Jackson’s movie, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is notable for a number of reasons. This includes motion capture as well as the CGI work which went into creating the character of Gollum. Gollum was the first real character that reflected the world what motion capture and CGI are capable of. A totally computer-generated character would appear alongside the actors and it would look amazing.

2009 – Avatar

Moving ahead of the LotR’s CGI characters to the real-world settings, the coming milestone in the evolution of animation history was the contribution from James Cameron’s movie, Avatar, which hay real actors in a completely computer-generated world. The movie has advanced CGI as well as motion capture techniques. This Brought the lush, alien world of character to life.

2012 – ParaNorman

ParaNorman, created by studio LAIKA reflects some of the advanced stop-motion and modeling methods in the animation field to date. It was also the first movie to make the use of mass 3D printing for the models. It created more than 31,000 individual face parts during the entire production process.


Thus it can be seen that the evolution of animation had come a long way from simple sketches to detailed computer-based animation. The journey has not been a smooth ride.

But only by overcoming the obstacles and facing a lot of failures has the field of animation reached this stage today. Hence it is the hard work as well as the creative minds of the great caricaturists which lead to the wonderful world of animation come into existence and develop as an entire industry in itself.


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