Hand-Drawn to Computers: The Animated Film

Hand-Drawn to Computers: The Animated Film

Let's take a break from the real world and see what started animation in media - we all need some bright colors.
419
views

When you compare where technology was in one era and where it is now, it is obvious that things will be improved in ways almost unimaginable. Less than seventy years after the Wright Brothers made their first flight, Neil Armstrong took his giant leap onto the Moon. Comic books were propaganda machines during the Second World War, but by 1989, famed graphic novels such as Watchmen and Maus were top sellers. Film is the same way, with technology and techniques changing almost every year. Among many shining examples of this is animation. What began as simple drawings and music has evolved into almost lifelike computer effects. While the combination of animation and live-action is notable, this is going to focus on entirely-animated films, with some exceptions. So, how did animated movies become a mainstay of the industry?

In 1906, the first animated short film appeared – Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, directed by J. Steward Blackton. This project used chalkboard drawings put to film and sped up in order to give the appearance of motion. This, in turn, led to others trying to jump in on the cartoon market, and “traditional animation” was born following the release of the French cartoon Phantasm. A massive boom in animation started, with political cartoonists started taking animation jobs in the rising film industry. During the silent film era, studios would package cartoons with their releases, making a typical movie-going experience as seeing a cartoon or two, then a few serials (half-hour “chapters” not unlike a television program), a newsreel, another cartoon, then the feature film. In 1926, the oldest surviving animated full-length film was released, being The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Many of these films are lost, with only frames or rough descriptions available. However, at this point in time, none of the features used all hand-drawn animation for the entire project.

Meanwhile, Walt Disney was running an animation studio when it went bankrupt. Disney formed another company and produced the Alice Comedies, which combined a live-action girl with animated characters. He also created Steamboat Willie, which introduced Mickey Mouse. Warner Brothers started bringing in people to work on their cartoon packages, and Disney kept his people working. In 1934, Disney announced his first feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. During the production, the animators who were working on Betty Boop cartoons were brought in, as Disney's team was not used to animating people. These animators had a vastly different design for Snow White, a modest dress that showed her ankles and fuller facial features. Disney declared this too “risque” for the audience, and the design was changed. Going over budget countless times, the project was almost set to be a failure. This would be proven wrong following the 1937 release, to widespread acclaim. Walt Disney led his company to produce at least one film a year, in addition to countless shorts. At Warner Brothers, Mel Blanc and Tex Avery were just starting out, and the Looney Tunes followed shortly thereafter. Disney and Warner Brothers became fast competitors, a rivalry that continues to this day.

To achieve the lifelike motion of the characters, Disney employed live-action models for the films. A difficult to draw scene would be filmed with some props and actors in full costume, and then the animators would use that to work the scenes out on paper. This method would be used and expanded upon in a process called rotoscoping. A live-action reference was filmed, then animators drew over the frames of the actors to match the cartoon – think of it as early motion capture. The controversial Song of the South and the less-remembered Reluctant Dragon were the first features to have actors directly interacting with animated characters. As time went on, more and more techniques were used, and the Japanese film industry began producing animated films and television programs. To go into an explanation about every innovation and new territory the animators found themselves discovering would be almost impossible. The world of animation exploded in the Cold War era, leading to more and more people trying to push the limits. One of these people was none other than George Lucas, visionary behind Star Wars.

During production on The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas established the Graphics Group as a division of Industrial Lights and Magic (ILM). They were tasked with finding new ways of creating images for film, using any and all resources. The 1982 Disney film Tron introduced computer-generated environments and pushed the Group to attempt it themselves. Meanwhile, John Lasseter was fired from Disney and showed his plans for a computer-animated film. Working as a freelance animator, Lasseter made The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. Around this time, Lucas was finalizing a bitter divorce, and Lucasfilm was losing money due to the decline of licensed merchandise for Return of the Jedi. After the team developed the Pixar Image Computer, Lucas began shopping the company around, eventually making a deal with Steve Jobs, then recently fired from Apple. The Graphics Group was renamed Pixar in 1985, and Lasseter continued to work with the team to produce computer animation, winning Oscars in the process. Eventually, this led to an attempt to create an entirely computer-animated feature. In 1995, Toy Story took the film industry by storm and launched a multi-billion dollar empire for Pixar.

American animation began leaning towards CG, while Japanese animation (anime) was still a traditional medium. Studio Ghibli's famed string of hit films continued to keep hand-drawn animation afloat in Japan, such as Kiki's Delivery Service. By the early 2000s, Dreamworks entered the scene as a competitor for Pixar. Disney, who had distributed the Pixar films, wanted total ownership of the studio, and when they refused, Disney created Circle 7, a failed animation studio that would have produced sequels to Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles. Eventually, Pixar and Disney were able to strike a deal, and Pixar was free to make the sequels at their leisure. The last traditionally animated mainstream American film was The Princess and the Frog – while there are others, it is the last one to be given true fanfare and promotion. Since then, the studios have moved to only CGI.

In the last one hundred or so years of film, animation has changed as dramatically as any other tool or method. From simple flipbooks to Moana and Frozen, the cartoon has become a mainstay of cinema. Since the anti-Axis propaganda of World War II, we have evolved animation into a powerhouse and a genuine respected form of art. All because of some artists trying to test the waters of what early film could do, Walt Disney was able to create a studio that now owns one network, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and the list goes on and on. Every year, the Academy Awards features categories for features and shorts made by a team of artists, digital or hand-drawn, using cartoons to present their story to the world. Considering all these advancements in technology, we must wonder what animation will look like in another one hundred years.

Cover Image Credit: Walt Disney/Disney

Popular Right Now

To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

690349
views

To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.

1012
views

Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.


Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.


After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

Related Content

Facebook Comments