2D Animation history, techniques and case study.


The techniques and development of two dimensional animation!

Unit 34 – Task one : the techniques and process of 2D animation and case study on Seth Macfarlane and the history and evolution of the animation industry.

————————————————- Introduction —————————————————

Throughout this report I will be talking about different things such as the very first ever film animation to how Seth Macfarlane became to be one of the greatest animators in the world today. I will also be touching on topics such as what types of styles that animators like Seth Macfarlane and Joanna Quinn use to create their animation such as chalks, toon boom, charcoal and sand which animators like Joanna Quinn and Samantha Moore use.

Furthermore the research that I have collected will help me to better understand the different techniques that are involved when creating an animation like the British bull dog. It is also required for me to understand what goes into creating an animation like the British bull dog because it will help me in my next assignment where we are creating our own 2D animation, so I need to be knowledgeable about what is available for me to use as an animator. In addition the research methods that I will be using will be from the internet on websites such as YouTube because this will allow me to find my information easier than other methods such as finding a book and picking my information from there.

I will also be talking about the evolution of animation and showing detailed examples from creators such as Walt Disney and how far animation has developed today with new ways to animate characters such as motion capture and green screen effects.

To finalize I will also be going over how Seth Macfarlane has grown as an animator from his first animation sketches in a newspaper to creating the television hit series family guy.

——————————————– The history of animation —————————————-

The history of animation is a massive and developing sector in the world today with names such as Dr. Joseph Antoine Plateau and J. Stuart Blackton making the very first animation steps in history that would later effect things such as the very popular Disney films and other animation techniques that are used today to create amazing pieces of art.

In theory animation started back in 1824 when a man named Peter Roget presented a theory called ‘The persistence of vision‘ to the British Royal Society. His theory was that the human eye was only able to retain images for around 0.05 seconds before losing the image for another image similar to the image before but with a different outlook. This then was said to lead onto the theory that our ability to perceive a series of images as a moving picture was due to this theory of ‘The persistence of vision‘.

Moving forward from that theory a Belgian scientist known by the name of Dr. Joseph Antoine Plateau created a machine know as the phenakitstoscope. They used Peter Roget’s theory in order to create something wooden with a handle and a spinning disk.

Furthermore the disk was vertically attached to the handle which has slits drawn evenly along the edges and then the images drawn between each slit of the disks. The images are altered slightly every time they’re drawn so when the user spins the disk and focuses on the one point the drawing will look like it’s moving which creates animation.

The example below shows a phenakitstoscope of running mice, when the phenakitstopscope is spun the mice look like they’re running from the middle out over the sides of the phenakitstoscope which creates a continuous animation of running mice.


From this point on to 1872 other aspiring animators tried to create mechanisms such as the phenakitoscope but not actually succeeded in doing so, but however in 1872 a photographer called Eadweard Muybridge started creating galleries based on animals in motion. His most famous experiment to date resulted in the theory that horses could momentarily fly through the air which of course at that time he sounded a bit strange saying that horses could momentarily fly through the air so he collected his evidence.

Furthermore Eadweard Muybridge then collected a bunch of cameras to capture an image of a horse running at different points in time which resulted in the evidence that a horse (when running) has all four hooves off the ground at some point in time.

He eventually wanted to do something with his discoveries that a horse did actually leave the ground whilst running at some point in time so he invented the zoopraxiscope.

This essentially is a projector, like the projectors we have today but a bit less modern. The photographs that Eadweard Muybridge would have taken were placed along side the rim of a circular glass plate and by using limelight and opaque shutters the images are deceived as moving images to create animation through moving photographs.

After the invention of the zoopraziscope in 1872 Charles-Emile Reynaud a French science teacher used his early invention of the praxinoscope which he invented in 1879 is made up of a cylinder, a strip of paper and a single mirror which allows there to be a total of 12 frames of animation. The drawing or picture would be drew onto the strip of single paper to create an image for the animation. As the cylinder rotates around, the mirrors in the middle of the cylinder shows a single image in an ongoing motion which creates an ever lasting animation. This is an illusion which was theory crafted by Peter Roget when he created the theory of the ‘perception of vision’.


In 1888 a man named Thomas Edison described that he wanted to design “…an instrument which does for the Eye what the Phonograph has done for the Ear, which is the recording and reproduction of things in motion….” 

This then lead to various different experiments and eventually he settled for a system which was in it’s own was a closed cabinet, some say it looked like a mantle piece clock which in them days I guess it kinda did look like a normal average home made furniture piece with images or photographs on the inside. To use this device the user will have to open the ‘slot‘ and peer through. The images that were then inside were on a set of rollers which was illuminated by a back light in order for the user to be able to see the images inside the kinetoscope. Furthermore if the images were moving at a considerable pace it would then give of the illusion of a moving animation.

From the phonograph to the cinematography in 1894 the Lumiere Brothers announced their device known as the cinematography in order to develop shaper images and better illumination. This device was very light and easily moved around and it also works exactly like the kinetoscope did though this is operated by a handle.

There was a bigger difference that was made clear to scientists and animators in 1894 when they found out that the device would be able to project the images to a much more larger proportion compared to it’s brother the phonograph which means more people could watch small shows and other animation short films simultaneously together on a much more larger scale rather than having to watch it one by one through a small hole.

This is seen in the scene in Tarzan where Jane is showing Tarzan pictures of the outside world compared to the forest/jungle life Tarzan has been use to. This is Disney’s way of harking back to animation history and how images were projected.

Further down the line in 1896, Thomas Armat and Charles Francis Jenkins created what was officially known as the first early film projector which they call the vitascope. This device uses very basic and easily assembled projector equipment which is ironically still used to this day. In the early 1990’s J. Stuart Blackton made his first animated film which he later called ‘Humorous Phases of funny faces‘.

J. Stuart Blackton wanted to essentially draw pictures step by step onto a blackboard with white chalk. He then followed up drawing different faces or parts of different faces and took multiple photographs of the drawings to create a stop motion animation which became very popular in the early 90’s. He then moved onto different creations and animations further delving into stop motion animation and other types of animation such as ‘The Enchanted Drawing’ and ‘The magic fountain pen’.

(nickname) ‘The father of American animation’ (nickname.)


Moving forward to 1908, the animation above is from a French animator by the name of Emile Cohl. He produced this short minute and a half film which is made up of over 700 white drawings with a black background to give it an ever lasting effect. This whole minute and a half film was a complete silent piece made up of over 700 of Emile’s drawings which she took photographs of to make this short piece of stop motion animation. Following on from his success with her last stop motion animation which she named ‘FantasmagorieEmile Cohl created yet another shot film which  he later named ‘En Route’ which was the very first paper cut-out animation in history.

In 1914 a man named Winsor McCay former famous illustrator produced the first animated film called ‘Gertie the dinosaur‘ which was designed up of over eight to ten thousand different Winsor McCay drawings. The whole animation was centred around the fact that McCay was ordering the dinosaur around to do anything McCay asked for.


After the success of the first animated piece that McCay had drawn and designed him and his assistants worked on another animated piece in 1918 which he later named ‘The sinking of the Lusitania‘ though this animation was in production for nearly two years.

(This piece of animation is 100 years old. 2014) 

In addition to the success of Winsor McCay in 1914 to 1918 I don’t think anyone could of predicted anything from Walt Disney and Roy Disney when they founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio in 1923. Walt Disney eventually went on to improve and advance Max Fleischer’s technique of joining live action characters with cartoon/drawn characters which resulted in ‘Alice Comedies‘ which would eventually become ‘Alice In Wonderland‘ but in a series format. Following up on ‘Alice Comedies‘ in 1928 Walt Disney designed and created the first ever cartoon which had completely synchronized moving images and sounds, he later named it ‘Steamboat Willie‘ this cartoon is the first ever time Walt Disney used Mickey and Minnie mouse in a Disney animation.

Two years later from Walt Disney’s successful animated film ‘Steamboat Willie‘ in 1930 the first technicolour was created by Universal and a man named Walter Benjamin Lantz who was more well known for cartoons such as Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda and later founded the Walter Lantz productions. Walter Benjamin Lantz used early versions of RGB (red, green and blue) which would then go onto being used in bigger cartoons in today’s day and age.


Four years after technicolour came about a man named Urb Irwek created what is now know as a multi-plane camera this device was normally used for live action films and television series but this device allowed and still allows the animators to move drawings and other things past the camera at various different times and speeds, This also gave the animation a three dimensional feel and look to the final film.

Final thoughts about the history and future of animation. 

From this point on companies such as Disney and Warner Brother studio and other relative technologies have grown increasingly stronger and have developed much more over the past few years with motion capture now effecting animation and other technologies in different ways to make animation the best it possibly can be. Moving from this point it’s just going to improve more over the upcoming 20 years, it’s scary to think that over the 200 years that animation has been around since ‘The persistence of vision’ in 1824 to now with large animation projects such as Disney’s Frozen and game animation taking off into new heights with different technology such as motion capture.

Some famous faces. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

——————————————– The Process of animation  ————————————-

Like any other design or creation process, animation also takes time and has to be done in the correct order, from things like the concept of the animation through to the sound and voice acting of some of the characters in the animation piece that is being created.

The building block of an idea, concept art: 



One thought on “2D Animation history, techniques and case study.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s