Evidence and Resources
Here you can find more information about some of the topics we have covered recently...
‘Animation’ is from a Latin word, ‘anime', meaning 'breath' or 'soul'. It is related also to the Latin word 'animat', meaning 'instilled with life'.
The first moving pictures
In our sessions, we looked at the first moving pictures, such as thaumatropes (from the Greek words 'thauma' meaning ' wonder', and 'trope' meaning 'turning'), and flicker books, and made our own versions. We watched a silent Disney cartoon on a 'Ray' projector. These projectors were very popular with children in the 1920s and '30s, and were made and sold in the UK by Construments. Everyone had a go at running the projector. We looked at one of the reels of film and worked out how many pictures we would have to draw to make a minute of animated film.
Victorian thaumatrope Koko the Clown flicker strip Ray projector and films
Early cartoon films
In this film, made in 1919, Wallace Carlson shows how the earliest cartoon films were made. He was famous as one of the first animators in the American film industry. You can see how closely linked the whole process is to the thaumatropes and flicker books we made:
Martin Scorsese's film, Hugo
We also talked about the modern film, 'Hugo', which is all about these early days of cinema animation. It was made by Martin Scorsese, who knows a lot about early cinema in Europe. In Hugo, he recreated many scenes from films made by those pioneer filmmakers. This review (written for adults) includes a list of most of them: . If you haven't seen the film before, though, just watch and enjoy it. It is really good.
Finally, here are the original versions of a couple of films by Georges Méliès, which Martin Scorsese recreated in Hugo:
1) George Méliès' 1903 film The Kingdom of Fairies combines live action with animation and special effects that are obviously taken straight from the theatre. This is a hand-coloured version -- we worked out that at 25 frames per second, it meant hand-colouring 1,500 individual frames for each minute of film.
2) Méliès 1902 film, A Trip to the Moon, was the first ever science fiction film. For many years, everyone thought only black and white versions had survived until this one turned up in Spain. An old man had it in his collection of films and when he died, his family gave it to a film archive: