February 17, 2020 Sacha Licholai

How Technology Changed Animation

Animation in film started in the early 1900s as lightbox animation, and today a lot of animated film is created through computers. But how did this change occur?

Animated films started as early as 1906. The first, “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces,” was made through drawings on paper and negatively shot back through film. For a long time shorts and eventually full movies were created with hand drawn images, slightly altered and put together to create a look of movement.

All the way until the 1980s, this was the only way of animating movies that did not include real world people or objects. Computers were just starting to become popular in the ’80s, and the first fully computer animated film released in 1986. “Luxo Jr” was created with the ‘Pixar Image Computer,’ which used new scanning techniques to eliminate the process of redrawing images. From then on, computer animation became a new technique that created a totally different visual experience.

Animation through computer software did not actually make the lengthy animation process any shorter, but it did open a door for future animation and started a market that would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars only around thirty years later.


The Humorous Phases of Funny Faces – J. Stuart Blackton, 1906

Luxo Jr – Pixar, 1986