Animation: Past, Present, and Future

nobbie animationYou know them, you love them: animated movies! With many of the top-grossing movies in recent years being animated films, this art form is more popular than ever. But how did we get from hand-drawn animated shorts to the full-CGI budget behemoths we have today? Let’s explore how animation has evolved over the years and see where it’s going to go next!

438px-Zoetrope
A zoetrope

Past
We have been depicting motion in art for millennia, as demonstrated by a 5,200 year old bowl with five sequential painted images that show a goat leaping into the air to snatch leaves from a tree. If you were to spin the bowl, it would appear as animation. Before the creation of film, there were numerous devices designed to display animated images, including the magic lantern, the zoetrope, and the still popular flip book.

After the creation of film, though, animation truly came to life. Starting in 1900 with the Enchanted Drawing, the first animated sequences recorded on film, people became fascinated with moving pictures. Soon after, color was introduced into animation for the first time in Flowers and Trees, produced by Disney Studios, who won an Academy Award for the cartoon. But what really launched animation into the public eye was the 1937 release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was created entirely using hand-drawn animation. This style of animation dominated the genre for years, with television hits like The Flintstones boosting the widespread popularity of animated shorts and features.

Present
From stop motion to cut-out animation, there have been many styles over the years, but none so popular as computer generated imagery (CGI) animation. Toy Story, released by Pixar 1995, was the first computer animated feature film, and it permanently changed the world of animation. The key difference between CGI animation and traditional animation is that hand-drawing was replaced by 3D modeling.

A computer generated image featuring a house, made in Blender. via Wikipedia
A computer generated image featuring a house, made in Blender. via Wikipedia

CGI is by far the dominant style of animation today, although stop motion has had a strong following since its creation, with modern hits like ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls, as well as old favorites like Jack Frost and The Nightmare Before Christmas. ParaNorman is a particularly interesting animation, as it was the first stop-motion film to use 3D printing technology for its models.

3D animation is one of the most popular formats for feature films for kids, powered by huge animation studios like Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks. Currently, digital animation is the second most popular type of movie (behind live action), with almost 12% market share of all movies released in 2015.

Future
It’s no surprise that animation has caught on with kids: they love the animated movies they see on the big screen and want to be able to create them themselves. Today’s young movie fans will become tomorrow’s animators.

Kids can get started with animation by using online resources like DreamWorks Create and even an online course in 3D animation or 3D printing to start learning professional skills and software early! They can also read about current trends in animation to stay up to date on the latest in the industry.

Once they grow up, there is a variety of careers that people with a background in animation can pursue. Kids can become professional texture artists, art directors, or 3D modelers! As technology continues to evolve, there is no limit to what kids can create with the 3D modeling and graphic design skills required for animation.

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