“Animation is an Art-Form which has a fourth dimension in Time. It is Art that is moving” – Ram Mohan (Design Master)
Rightly put, animation portrays the illusion of motion. It does so through the sequential usage of small fragments of time. The wonderful artifice so created is open to manipulation through innumerable ways. Animation has the ability to exaggerate, abstract, entertain, advertise humour, sell product, simplify, portray human emotion, empathise, relax the human conscience, and address uncomfortable and difficult subject matter. In short, it has the ability to create magic.
This marriage of art and technology, facilitated in 1892, has traversed a long and arduous path to taste the sweet fruit of success. Animation was not how we see it today and it will definitely progress by leaps and bounds in future. For all you creative geniuses who want to make a splash by doing something different, here is a glimpse of the elusive world of illusion.
Emile Cohl (1857 – 1938), made the first animation movie “Fantasmagorie” in 1908 and after that, there was no stopping him. He made 250 animation films in his entire film career. He believed in the concepts of insanity, dreams, hallucinations, and nightmares, which formed the basis of his inspiration.
Then came Winsor McCay (1867 – 1934), who dazzled the world with his “Gertie the dinosaur”, and a series called “Dream of the rarebit fiend” with his son Robert. Kodak produced the first 16mm film in 1926 and Disney started the very popular “Oswald the rabbit” series in
1927. The Warner Bros. cartoons came into being in 1930 with a character called Bosko who was the first take off on Mickey Mouse.
Walt Disney, over time, won many academy awards, the first for “Flowers and trees” in 1932. Goofy was born the very same year in “Mickey’s Revue”. This gave rise to an endless list of characters like Donald duck, Popeye, Snow white, and many others. Disney progressed and single handedly mastered the world of animation.
John Bray (1879 – 1978), Willis O’Brien (1886-1962), Max Fleischer (1883-1972), Charles Bowers (1889-1945), Walter Lantz (1900-1995), and Victor Bergdahl (1887-1939) are some other influential names from the history of animatronics. A career in animation was considered exciting, replete with unknown thrills and surprises, back then.
Be it Cinderella, Shrek, Happy Feet, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, or UP!, the transition in the basic nuances and detailing of an animation movie has been extraordinary. We love the Smurf’s and the Minions, and will continue to do so in the future as well. However, animation is not just restricted to cartoon characters. It is an idea which blossoms in the light of several verticals.
According to Joe DiDomenico from Applehead Factory Design Studio, “The future of animation is… LIMITLESS! Over the years, technology has advanced animation farther than most could have imagined. Each year we have new tools and techniques that allow us to create things quicker and easier than the year before. There is also a larger resource pool to pull artists from which I believe has helped grow the industry. Animation is used in all areas of our lives now and the only real limitation is one’s imagination.”
Continuing with this school of thought, to see what lies ahead for this institution, one only needs to look into the past. And what we have learnt so far is:
- Animation is no more the monopoly of Hollywood. Countries like India, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia too have joined the fray.
- Animation can be expressed through computer-generated films.
- This field of work is no longer restricted to animators.
- Animation has become an essential tool in the education industry.
- It is now at par with live-action filmmaking.
As we can see, animation today is much, much different from what it was before. We can never say for sure, but this is what the future might have in store for this creative arena:
- With the advent of internet, the “short” is likely to come back as a form of entertainment. Viewing habits have changed and people prefer to watch a short-form of content as opposed to lengthy visuals.
- Mature animation is making its presence felt in the entertainment industry. It has come to stay and is continuously improving in quality, too.
- Major studios spend millions of dollars on an animated feature. It is rumoured that Toy Story 3 had a budget of about $300 million. Considering the advent of “shorts”, the budgets of animation movies are expected to fall in the near future.
- In future, merchandise will become a major source of revenue generation for the animation film industry.
- Animation will be viewed at par with live-action movies in terms of variety and skills. A lot more cross-pollination will be witnessed, with animation no longer existing only “for the kids”.
Although animation has become international, countries like India and Indonesia have a long way to go before they meet the standards of Hollywood. People know about animation, but are not very aware of its nuances of precision and detailing. Like in the west, animation in India needs to be segregated for children and for adults.
Individuals who have realised the potential of this field are vying to work in some of the leading animation studios to best express their talent and creativity. Jobs in animation are not very difficult to come by. The field of animation is constantly evolving and the search for creative geniuses is on.