Animation history may seem like its all fun and games, and it is, but it’s also something that you may learn a lot from to improve your work and your critical viewing eye. It’s important to learn about animation history beyond the general knowledge that Disney invented animation (he didn’t) and that animation is strictly for children (it’s not). For instance, did you know Steamboat Willie wasn’t the first cartoon with sound?
If you did know that excellent job, if not don’t feel bad you’re not alone. This isn’t going to be an article ragging on Disney but I use that as an instance about how animation history often times will need further research and investigation than just what is general knowledge.
But how may animation history help me today? Good question! Animation history may help you today in lots of ways, hence me writing this article. What I think is most important about it though is an aptitude to look at your own work in a broader world beyond yourself and the cartoon.
We’ll get to more of my philosophical ramblings at the end, but primary let’s talk about rules.
Animation would not exist without film, and much like film history there were people who determined to do animation before animation was a thing. A popular example is the Nine Old Men from Disney who actually took Disney to the next level with The Old Mill and into Snow White where they established and polished an animation approach their own, entire one that blended realism with cartoons.
Now we can begin to split hairs here about what is standing on the shoulders of giants and what is ripping off, but that’s beside the point. The main point I’m trying to get at, and hopefully you are hearing, is that throughout history animation has taken big twists and turns in diverse directions. People have all figured out rules that make animation work in a certain way, and it’s significant to know those rules if for no other reason than to break them. You should know you’re breaking a rule and break it for a cause, not because you didn’t know you weren’t “supposed” to shoot things on sixes.
Now back to my philosophical ramblings, I promise to keep it short. Animation history is something that as animators and film makers we must all indulge ourselves in not because it’s good to know everything, but because we are taking element in an art form that’s ever lasting and powerful. Animation history has been chronicled from the start; it’s one of the rare art forms that apply to. We can see it change and shift, and because we are making films and animating we are altering the landscape of animation. We’re taking element in something that has an audience, and because of that we must think of it as a timeline that we are joining, and it’s important to know what you are joining and hold it as you push forward and continue that evolution of animation.