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Sophie Costello

Intro. Following on from last years independent practice where I explored the beginning of the first moving image and the creation of animation, I have gone down the route of finding out about how things used to work at Disney in the 1920’s. Disney started with the silent-era in 1923 and created the first animation with syncronised sound in 1928, the “intirely new form of story-telling”. 700 artists and musicians would work on creating one disney classic, working in shifts, night & day. Writers, sketch artists, director, editors, musical composers and animators. The animators draw the images frame by frame onto paper using a lightbox. Next the images are clamped into a frame, photographed and sent off for developement. The film was then test run in an old projector called a moviola and once okayed by Walt himself, the thousands of drawings would be sent to a factory where hundreds of women would “ink” them onto celluloid sheets. In a seperate factory, the colour would be added to the backs of the cells. The famous disney classic, snow white and the seven dwarfs (1934) was created using over 250,000 celluloid sheets. Then in another department, artists would sepnd months working on painting watercolour backgrounds which would go off to repeat the process of placing into a clamped frame and being photographed in technicolour, teamed with the finished coloured cells. For Snow white, the clamping and photo process had to be repeated more then half a million times! The next stage would be adding the sound affects, then an orchestra, and lip syncing while playing the film frame by frame. Although this is obviously a tedious process, I wish to experiment with making my own animated drawings come to life in all of the various different ways.

The Beginning of Animation Early examples of attempts to capture the phenomenon of motion drawing can be found in paleolithic cave paintings, where animals are depicted with multiple legs in superimposed positions, clearly attempting to convey the perception of motion. A 5,000 year old earthen bowl found in Iran in Shahr-i Sokhta has five images of a goat painted along the sides. This has been claimed to be an example of early animation. However, since no equipment existed to show the images in motion, such a series of images cannot be called animation in a true sense of the word. A Chinese zoetrope-type device had been invented in 180 AD. The phenakistoscope, praxinoscope, and the common flip book were early popular animation devices invented during the 19th century. These devices produced the appearance of movement from sequential drawings using technological means, but animation did not really develop much further until the advent of cinematography. Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which animators trace over live-action film movement, frame by frame, for use in animated films. Originally, recorded live-action film images were projected onto a frosted glass panel and re-drawn by an animator. This projection equipment is called a rotoscope, although this device has been replaced by computers in recent years. In the visual effects industry, the term rotoscoping refers to the technique of manually creating a matte for an element on a live-action plate so it may be composited over another background.

My Influences.

I’ve been following a blog recently that belongs to a university lecturer in the states named Peter Emslie. He has worked freelance as a cartoonist for the last 30 years and has done many pieces for disney as can be seen on his website, and over 50 books for Disneys Licensees. He shows in steps all of the work he has done for disney such as the backgrounds - which he prefers doing in watered down gouache to watercolour, and then the placing of the acetate. Although he has explains that his heart and mind belong in the 60’s, he occassionally ventures into the world of digital and combined them with his painted backgrounds. This is something I plan on doing myself.

Flip Books A flip book or flick book is a book with a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion or some other change. Flip books are essentially a primitive form of animation. Like motion pictures, they rely on persistence of vision to create the illusion that continuous motion is being seen rather than a series of discontinuous images being exchanged in succession. Rather than “reading” left to right, a viewer simply stares at the same location of the pictures in the flip book as the pages turn. The book must also be flipped with enough speed for the illusion to work, so the standard way to “read” a flip book is to hold the book with one hand and flip through its pages with the thumb of the other hand. The first flip book appeared in September, 1868, when it was patented by John Barnes Linnett under the name kineograph (“moving picture”). They were the first form of animation to employ a linear sequence of images rather than circular (as in the older phenakistoscope).


Further Development.

Please click the image below to view my draft video.


Currently in my independent practice I have been making stop movies and learning about Chronophotographs for the use of short films that currently have no message or meaning. I am also gathering a few photography skills in the making as I am having to take hundreds of frame by frame shots. I’ve also been delving into the history of animation and where stop motion films began. I’ve been practicing making my own Zoetropes and other forms of vintage use of motion within illusion. Although I am still unsure of what area of graphic design I am most interested in, I am enjoying where my independent practice is taking me. I have been playing around with different methods of animation and examining some mainstream illustrators such as PES and Airside. Looking at the way their short films are both so different but attractive, and the different methods of animation available to me. I have been doing a lot of investigating and mock up ideas but would like to take this a lot further, to create a more professional look on my work and to really learn the ins and outs of flash, and, if the courage hits me, to maybe tackle 3D studio programs. Inside of this I would like to study about what it is in Internet virals and animated television adverts that really sell to consumers. What short clips get messages across better than others and why. Following this perhaps move on from my meaningless stop movies and I could attempt to create the ultimate viral?! Research methods would be: Visual, literary, field research and visits of some sort to find more illustrators. Resources I will use: Computers and programs (Flash, Illustrator, iMovie) and feedback from my peers