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Serious Animation

Who doesn’t love a kung fu panda? HI-YA! From cave paintings, frieze reliefs and spinning pottery attempting to convey motion, to the Victorian thaumatrope toy and the 1868 flip book, the development of animation has come a long way to reach a fully animated martial arts panda. This development urges us to think of animation as art, not just entertainment.

You may not first think of animation as a highly esteemed visual art form, but it certainly captures a large and important audience, along with highly talented creators, not to mention a hefty chunk of revenue. Possibly the first animated film, created in 1906 by American J. Stuart Blackton, was Humorous Phases of Funny Faces. The film tells the story of a cartoonist drawing faces on a chalkboard, with the faces coming to life. In the United States, animation began in the 1900s age of silent film with Bray Studios in New York City with characters like Felix the Cat, and moved into the Golden Age of Hollywood animation with Walt Disney’s many creations including Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop and Popeye. The 1950s through the 1980s brought the beginning of Saturday Morning Cartoons, perhaps the first visual art to which most children are exposed. Today, modern animation seems limitless with evolving computer technology, marked by the first fully computer generated feature film Toy Story. Animation now caters to adult audiences and appeals to the masses with niches such as Japanese Anime and stop motion animation like Wallace and Gromit. It is also incorporated into live action movies such as the Lord of the Rings series, blurring the lines between the two forms of cinema.

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Filed under: Art, Film, Musings

 

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