The film industry has come a long way over the past century from transitioning to sound, developing color pictures, and using computer technology. All of these aspects are important to how the film industry has become what it is today, but the evolution of animation and computer generated images are arguably the most important in today’s film world. The term “summer blockbuster” comes to mind when thinking about how CGI has shaped Hollywood today. Movies that are considering gigantic box office smashes would never have been able to be made today if it were not for animation and CGI. There are huge action sequences, super heroes coming to life, worlds that are beyond a kid’s wildest dreams, and stunts like no other that are being performed in today’s films. That is all possible because of the images that are animated and generated by computers.
Animation dates all the way back to the early 1800’s but it was never even considered to be used as an art. As displayed in my timeline, devices and little toys were designed to trick the human eye into thinking that still images were moving or have life like qualities. These toys though sparked some of the greatest minds to thinking how they could improve those toys and create something from nothing. As the years went on and the concept of animation was being researched, filmmakers eventually stumbled upon this idea. Film already had taken the idea of still images and making them move, but now they were tampering with the idea of making hand drawn still images come to life. This fascinated filmmakers because it opened so many doors as to what could be shown on screen. Stop motion was introduced the cartoons were now able to be transferred onto screen.
When the 1900’s hit, Walt Disney was the front man for animation. He took the works of Winsor McCay and the Fleischer Brothers to enhance the idea of creating a movie that was completely animated. Walt opened his studio with the sole intent of showing the public eye that animation was a thing of beauty and could create tales that no other form of art could. Through his first master piece of ‘Snow White,’ Walt achieved this and soon artists, animators, and filmmakers were drawn to the idea of animation. The animation phenomenon was not only in the United States though. Film industries across the globe saw what was being achieved through CGI and animation and other countries hopped on board. Displayed in my international animation studios map, the Asian region primarily had studios that flourished. Now, Japan is a leading country in the field of design which is largely due to the cultural love of anime.
Animation studios were opening across the world and in the United States, film companies were starting to open animation branches as a part of their studio. This included companies such as Lucas Arts, Warner Brothers, and 21st Century Fox. The biggest development for the world of animation came from Steve Jobs’ acquisition of the Lucas Arts computer animation team, which included John Lasseter. Jobs went on to create Pixar studios and thus began the revolution of animation in the film industry. With the creation of Pixar and access to Apple’s technology, John Lassester was able to shock the world and create some of the finest pieces of work the film industry has ever seen. Movies like ‘Toy Story’ and ‘The Incredibles’ showcased how magical animation could be. Animated feature films started to become wildly popular and it was proven by Pixar that animated features were profitable.
It was not long before all filmmakers started to recognize the power of CGI and what they could achieve by implementing it into their own films. Directors of major motion pictures started to tamper with adding CGI elements into non-animated features. Movies like ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Titanic’ were able to be made because of how far animation had come and the development of computer generated animation. Soon CGI dominated Hollywood and the majority of the films being made utilized some form of animation or CGI in them. On my website, I added some links to box office records for both animated features and regular movies. The records show that almost all of the highest grossing films from recent decades are giant blockbusters which use CGI and animation. Not only that, but a large amount of the animated features listed on the highest grossing films of all time.
I also used wordle to analyze an article that was written about how Winsor McCay thought that animation was an art doomed to succumb to business. It is a sad truth, but Winsor was correct when he predicted that animation studios would dominate and animators would lose sight of what the true art form was. Even though the studio system did take over, there are still studios like Pixar who pride themselves on being innovative and creating magical stories through which could be done with animation. So, while Winsor may have been right, there are still studios in the world that understand the beauty of animation. The simple fact is, without the business, there would have been no animation studios and the film industry would not have made it where it is. In a second article that I analyzed, I focused in on Steve Jobs and his creation of Pixar shaped the industry as well. In the grand scheme of things, Pixar showed the world how animation can be properly used and they developed the technology needed to create the CGI that is being used today.
I plan on trying to update this website and keep it preserved for as long as the topic is relevant. I will make sure that the box office records remain up to date and that the website I am using remains credible. Updating is easy, and the timeline will continue to grow as more technological advancements are made. The film world owes it to the men who created those little trinkets back in 1800 because without them , there would be no CGI today. That or it would have taken much longer to reach where we have gotten today.
All information used was taken from the books below and websites listed. As well, information on the history on Pixar was taken from their documentary.
- “Animation History, Winsor McCay, Max Fleischer.” Animation History, Winsor McCay, Max Fleischer. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.
- Cavalier, Stephen. The World History of Animation. Berkeley: University of California, 2011. Print.
- “List of Animation Studios.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.
- Terdiman, Daniel. “With Pixar, Steve Jobs Changed the Film Industry Forever.” CNET News. CBS Interactive, 06 Oct. 2011. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.
- Thomas, Frank, and Ollie Johnston. Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life. New York: Abbeville, 1981. Print.
- “The Story of Pixar” a Documentary.