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Aspect of films

Animation has been an important aspect of entertainment especially in the aspect of films. Through animation, we are able to create or recreate life, wherein the only thing that limits us is our imagination. Animation of the present day boasts of highly technological and sophisticated way of doing it, with the use of computers and computer generated images. The outcomes are detailed images which are not bordered by reality and imagination. But no matter how flashy or how sophisticated today’s animation is, we still go back to the “primitive” way of doing it, which is through pen and paper.

These are the types of animated films released way back in the early 1900’s. No matter how old-school or how simple these animated films are, these are the ones which paved way to the development of the present day animation. If not for them, we would be looking at our films differently; else we wouldn’t be enjoying our films at all. One of the earliest “animators” was J. Stuart Blackton. His silent film The Enchanted Drawing is regarded as the earliest animated film made, which was in 1900. The length of the film was 90 seconds, wherein it shows a man with a cartoon drawing.

He draws other things on the canvas, which he pulls out of the canvas and becomes real things when he desires. Looking closely, we can see that it was a basic stop-motion film, wherein frames were shot of whatever the man was doing (Locke, 1992). We can observe that the film does not flow smoothly, wherein the pictures seemed to be shaking, especially when he is about to pull something out of the canvas. This is common with the crude stop-motion since you have literally stopped the shooting so that you could put in real things like the wine and the glass to the next frame.

After it was stopped, the actor would have to get the materials then pose in the exact same place when the film was stopped, now holding the real life objects. The problem was that without the use of modern technology, you can’t pinpoint the exact same position that the actor has been when the film was stopped, so when the film is viewed, it somewhat “jumps”. This is evident when he makes the drawing drink wine, wherein it had a change of expression from a frown to as smile. The curve of the lips jumped from one different shape to another that it is very noticeable.

Given that this film was the first of its kind, it was very entertaining despite the noticeable loopholes which are polished in the other films that followed. Another silent film that J. Stuart Blackton created was the 1906 cartoon Humorous Phases of Funny Faces. It didn’t show any actor, instead it features a cartoonist drawing faces on a board, and afterwards, the drawings would move. It is animated using stop motion, wherein it was made to move at 20 frames per second (Crafton, 1984).

He was able to give life to whatever was drawn by shooting different frames with very small changes in the drawings so that it would have a smooth flow when it is put together. Another technique that Blackton used was with cutout animation, wherein he created cutouts which were made to look like chalk outlines so that he wouldn’t draw it over and over again, and the shape of the figure would be more consistent, as drawing it over and over would somehow distort the image at some point. This film also uses an early effect in one of its shots wherein the frames are played back on the reverse order when it was shot.

When shown, it started more as an erased image, and then it slowly cleared to form two faces. The faces slowly lose detail until there is nothing but lines and the lines would grow shorter until the board was all blank. This was achieved by shooting using stop motion the process of drawing the faces, then erasing it in the end. It was played on reverse order to achieve the desired effect (“A Short History of Animation,” 2007). Other animators followed with their own cartoon animations in the years that followed.

The early works had no clear story or message to convey, but in the following years, they used animation in order to tell a story. George Herriman’s Krazy Kat series was an example of this animation with a story. It tells about the adventures of Krazy Kat and Ignatz mouse. It is more like a moving comic strip, wherein the dialogues between characters are delivered through speech bubbles(King Features Syndicate Inc. , 2003). Just like the previous animations, it was a product of stop motion, though we can see now that it has smoother movements compared to the early works.

The whole film was a bit shaky, but movements of the characters body as well as their environment are almost natural, with no big “jumps” as compared to previous works. Animations at that time were used for various purposes. Raoul Barre’s The Phable of a Busted Romance is an animated film which tells the viewers of a lesson. It uses the story telling technique of a silent film, wherein words that describe a scene is flashed in an empty frame. It also uses stop motion, but there is a lot of shaking, so we can say that it wasn’t as polished as other animations during that time.

One breakthrough in the field of animation was the introduction of the cel animation process (Worth, 2005). This was first used by Earl Hurd in his Bobby Bumps cartoons. With the use of this type of animation, the back is still while the characters were drawn in clear sheets of celluloid, which would then be placed over the backgrounds when shooting the film. We can see that the Bobby Bumps animation is a lot better as compared to the paper animation of its predecessors. The background is not at all shaky as compared to the earlier ones, combined with the creativity of the artist and the appeal of the character.

The introduction of the cel animation was indeed a big step for the field.

References: Crafton, D. (1984). Before Mickey: The Animated Film, 1898-1928: The MIT Press. King Features Syndicate Inc. (2003). Krazy Kat. Retrieved September 28, 2008, from http://www. krazy. com/toc. htm Locke, L. (1992). Film Animation Techniques: A Beginner’s Guide and Handbook: Betterway Books. A Short History of Animation. (2007). Retrieved September 28, 2008, from http://www. fi. edu/fellows/fellow5/may99/History/history. html Worth, S. (2005). Vintage Ink & Paint. Retrieved September 28, 2008, from http://www. vintageip. com/Term. html

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