A Brief History On The Golden Age Of Animation

A Brief History On The Golden Age Of Animation

No more silent films.
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The Silent Age of Animation was a period of animation that lasted from the 1900s through the 1920s. These productions were generally very low cost, and were viewed as a novelty. Animation in the United States would not achieve true mainstream status until the late 1920s with the advent of sound in animation, as well as the introduction of many recognizable, mascot characters that the audience could form an attachment to. The first cartoon to ever feature sound, including character dialogue and a musical score, was Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks’ "Steamboat Willie" in 1928. This propelled Mickey Mouse to popularity. Although Mickey Mouse debuted months prior to "Steamboat Willie" in a test screening of the short "Plane Crazy," this short is generally credited as his debut as it was the first to be widely distributed. Mickey Mouse was created as Disney’s response to the loss of creative control over Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to Universal Studios, and he would go on to become one of the most recognizable pop culture icons of all time. The popularity of Mickey Mouse, as well as the success and technical merit of "Steamboat Willie," started what is known as the Golden Age of Animation.

The Golden Age of Animation is well known for introducing many characters whose popularity endures to this day. This includes Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Tom and Jerry, and many more. Perhaps one of the defining factors of this era is the debut and prevalence of the theatrical animated short. Following a string of roughly a dozen successful Mickey Mouse shorts, Disney created the Silly Symphonies line of shorts. Silly Symphonies was a series of animated shorts produced by the newly formed Walt Disney Productions that ran from 1929 to 1939. In contrast to the Mickey Mouse shorts, which established a continuity and mainstay cast of characters, these shorts generally featured self-contained stories. However, these shorts did introduce Donald Duck, who would go on to join the Mickey Mouse shorts.

The premise of Silly Symphonies was, as the name implies -- imaginative animated shorts accompanied by music. The series is well documented as being used by Disney and his animators as a sort of testing ground for experimental animation processes and techniques -- such as Technicolor multi-plane camera, storytelling, and musical score. Disney has said himself that his work on these shorts was essential for gaining the knowledge to produce, what would be the hallmark of this era, feature-length animated films.

During June of 1934, Walt Disney announced that his first feature-length animated film was in production. The film was based on the classic fairy tale "Snow White" by The Brothers Grimm. In spite of the knowledge Disney and his animators gained from their work on various animated shorts over the years, the team faced many challenges during production. One of these challenges was production cost. Disney estimated the film to cost $250,000, which was many times more than the average cost of one of the Silly Symphonies. The film ended up costing roughly $1.5 million, which Disney had to mortgage his house to help finance.

Another challenge was the lack of faith from the public. During production, the media negatively referred to the film as “Disney’s folly," citing the exorbitant budget, and unlikelihood of an animated feature being commercially successful as reasons to not have faith in the project. Many people close to Disney also attempted to dissuade Disney from the project, including his brother, Roy Disney, and his wife, Lillian Disney.

During the early stages of the production of the script, Disney intended for the film to be mostly comical in nature. The focus of the story was the personalities of the seven dwarfs, and how well they lent themselves to gags and humorous situations. Each dwarf was named after a distinctive characteristic -- such as Happy, Sleepy, and Dopey. At some point during production, Disney decided to change the focus of the film, as he feared a purely comedy film would not be taken seriously. Disney and his team shifted focus towards telling a classically themed fairy tale with elements of humor, and creating a beautifully realized world that was whimsical, colorful, and alive. Just as with the Silly Symphonies, music was an important factor in the film. This is evidenced by one of the most famous scenes from the film which features Snow White singing with various animals.

Walt Disney Production Studios premiered "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" on December 21, 1937. It was later released to the public on February 4, 1938. The film received widespread positive reception, and commercial success. Adjusted for modern inflation, it is the 10th highest grossing film of all time. The success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would set the precedent for Disney to become the top animation studio for the duration of the Golden Age. In addition, this film was the start of Disney producing various feature-length projects based on fairy tales, as well as the start of what would become the Disney Princess media franchise.

While Walt Disney is well established as the dominant animation studio during the Golden Age, they did have competition from various other studios. These included Hanna-Barbera, the creators of "Tom & Jerry," and the "Looney Tunes," who were created primarily by Tex Avery. These franchises were the primary competitors against Disney when it came to animated theatrical shorts, and continued to enjoy great success when Disney shifted focus to features. The Looney Tunes were created in order for Warner Bros. Studios to directly compete with Disney shorts, specifically the Silly Symphonies line. They were originally known as Merrie Melodies, and shared a similar focus of humorous animals and a whimsical score. These shorts lasted for the entirety of the Golden Age, and introduced America to many popular characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and Porky Pig.

Animation had a significant impact on the culture of America throughout the Golden Age, especially during wartime America. Because of the success of animated shorts and features during the 1930’s, animation was no longer viewed as something for kids, but something that can be influential to people of all ages. During World War II, the American government sought to use animation to garner support for the war effort. One of the more notable shorts was "Scrap Happy Daffy," which featured Daffy Duck as the guard of an American scrap pile against the invading Nazis. This short was used to encourage people to donate scrap metal, which was used to create tanks, ships, planes and weapons.

Another short was the Walt Disney-produced "The Spirit of ’43." It featured Donald Duck, and was meant to encourage Americans to pay their taxes to support the war effort. The defining feature of these shorts was that they were simultaneously satirical, humorous and informative.

The US Army, in collaboration with animator Chuck Jones, produced a series of instructional shorts featuring a character named Private Snafu. The titular character was an “adorable idiot," not unlike Elmer Fudd, who always found himself in humorous wartime situations against Nazis. These shorts were meant to instruct army members on various military conditions, and to increase troop morale.

It is important to look at the differences among the various shorts that were produced during the Golden Age, as well as the effect they had on American culture. Animation as a form of entertainment was generally viewed as escapism for Americans who wanted to get away from the problems of their realities. Some of these problems included financial stability, and work related stress.

The biggest difference in presentation comes from the comparison of the Disney produced shorts, and the Warner Bros. produced shorts. While the Disney produced shorts were generally, but not always, light-hearted and innocent in nature, the Warner Bros. shorts typically provided a satirical and humorous view on American society, as well as a bigger emphasis on slapstick. A majority of the shorts that enjoyed great success during this era of animation often offered a unique, sometimes mocking, viewpoint on American culture.

As evidenced by the continued success of animation in modern times, the Golden Age of Animation solidified its place in history as culturally relevant to what was happening in America from the late 1920s through the late 1960s. People began to view animation as a mature and respected form of entertainment, as well as something that could be influential and persuasive. The most important thing to come from this era was the feature-length animated film, which established Walt Disney Studios as an animation powerhouse. This is supported by the fact that the company is still the most successful studio to this day, having recently released Frozen, which is the highest grossing animated films of all time. Many of the characters that were introduced during this time are still popular in American culture, having been reinvented countless times to fit the sensibilities of a modern America. Animation is a powerful, important, and wide-reaching form of entertainment that shows no signs of slowing down.

Cover Image Credit: jonathantony.com

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To the guy that shot my brother...

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To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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5 Ways You Can Stop Producing so Much Trash

We produce a lot more trash than you think, until you start paying attention to your actions.

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One of my major goals this year is to do more to save the planet as well as animals. I have already been vegetarian for three years. and I'm plan to stay vegetarian, but I want to have a more plant based diet. As well, I want to start reducing the amount of trash I produce. Not only because I realize just how drastically our trash is affecting wildlife, but also because I think having to take out your trash twice a week is way too much trash!

1. Bring recyclables to a recycling center or reuse them around the home!

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This is something I want to start doing! I always get take out food and throw away the containers, when I could be using those containers to carry my lunch everyday! Also, I want to start collecting my plastic water bottles and taking them to the recycling center on campus instead of just throwing them away

2. Invest in a reuseable water bottle

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This would actually fix my water bottle problem. I need to invest in a nice, reuseable water bottle that I can refill, rather than throwing away 3-4 water bottles a day. Amazon has a lot of varieties of these bottles ranging from inexpensive to expensive, cool designs, and even one that holds snacks.

3. Reuseable Straws

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This is a great addition to your new reuseable water bottle! Like trash, you don't realize how much you use (and throw away) straw, until you actually start to keep count. I thought i didn't use straws at all because I never bought them in my life, but then you go out to eat (straw), you go to Starbucks (straw). Having a glass straw is actually really useful to reduce your trash, in cases when you wish you had a straw but don't, and sanitary purposes. Those straw sitting out at Starbucks, are they really that clean?

4. Donate old/unwanted clothes

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This is something I already do. I go through my drawers and closet once a year, and just put all the clothes I haven't worn all year, or just don't want into a garbage bag. I'm usually able to fill at least one (gallon) garbage bag with clothes to take to Goodwill!

5. Use actual plates instead of paper plates

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This is another huge mistake of mine! I hate doing dishes, so I try to buy paper plates to make less dishes, but in the end I'm producing more and more trash! I'm convinced the reason I have to take out my trash so often is because I eat so much! It's time to be a big girl now and start washing my dishes...or start using my dish washer

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