History of Photography

The history of photography commenced with the invention and development of the camera and the creation of permanent images starting with Thomas Wedgwood in 1790 and culminating in the work of the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826


The coining of the word "Photography" has been attributed in 1839 to Sir John Herschel based on the Greek φς (phos), (genitive: phōtós) meaning "light", and γραφή (graphê), meaning "drawing, writing", together meaning "drawing with light

Technological background

Photography is the result of combining several different technical discoveries. Long before the first photographs were made, Chinese philosopher Mo Ti and Greek mathematicians Aristotle and Euclid described a pinhole camera in the 5th and 4th centuries BC.[3][4] In the 6th century AD, Byzantine mathematician Anthemius of Tralles used a type of camera obscura in his experiments[5]

Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965 in Basra – c. 1040 in Cairo) studied the camera obscura and pinhole camera,[4][6] Albertus Magnus (1193/1206–80) discovered silver nitrate, and Georges Fabricius (1516–71) discovered silver chloride. Daniel Barbaro described a diaphragm in 1568. Wilhelm Homberg described how light darkened some chemicals (photochemical effect) in 1694. The novel Giphantie (by the French Tiphaigne de la Roche, 1729–74) described what could be interpreted as photography.

Monochrome process

Around the year 1800, Thomas Wedgwood made the first known attempt to capture the image in a camera obscura by means of a light-sensitive substance. He used paper or white leather treated with silver nitrate. Although he succeeded in capturing the shadows of objects placed on the surface in direct sunlight, and even made shadow-copies of paintings on glass, it was reported in 1802 that "[t]he images formed by means of a camera obscura have been found too faint to produce, in any moderate time, an effect upon the nitrate of silver." The shadow images eventually darkened all over because "[n]o attempts that have been made to prevent the uncoloured part of the copy or profile from being acted upon by light have as yet been successful."[7] Wedgwood may have prematurely abandoned these experiments because of his frail and failing health; he died aged 34 in 1805.

The oldest surviving permanent photograph of the image formed in a camera was created in 1826 or 1827 by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce.[1] The photograph was produced on a polished pewter plate. The light-sensitive material was a thin coating of bitumen, a naturally occurring petroleum tar, which was dissolved in white petroleum, applied to the surface of the plate and allowed to set before use.[9] After a very long exposure in the camera (traditionally said to be eight hours, but possibly several days), the bitumen was sufficiently hardened in proportion to its exposure to light that the unhardened part could be removed with a solvent, leaving a positive image with the light regions represented by hardened bitumen and the dark regions by bare pewter.[9] To see the image plainly, the plate had to be lit and viewed in such a way that the bare metal appeared dark and the bitumen relatively light.[10]

Niépce had previously experimented with paper coated with silver chloride. Unlike earlier experimenters with silver salts, he succeeded in photographing the images formed in a small camera, producing his first results in 1816, but like his predecessors he was unable to prevent the coating from darkening all over when exposed to light for viewing. As a result, he had become disenchanted with silver compounds and turned his attention to bitumen and other light-sensitive organic substances.[10]

In partnership, Niépce (in Chalon-sur-Saône) and Louis Daguerre (in Paris) refined the bitumen process,[11] substituting a more sensitive resin and a very different post-exposure treatment that yielded higher-quality and more easily viewed images. Exposure times in the camera, although somewhat reduced, were still measured in hours.[10]

In 1833 Niépce died of a stroke, leaving his notes to Daguerre. More interested in silver-based processes than Niépce had been, Daguerre experimented with photographing camera images directly onto a silver-surfaced plate that had been fumed with iodine vapor, which reacted with the silver to form a coating of silver iodide. Exposure times were still impractically long. Then, by accident according to traditional accounts, Daguerre made the pivotal discovery that an invisibly faint latent image produced on such a plate by a much shorter exposure could be "developed" to full visibility by mercury fumes. This brought the required exposure time down to a few minutes under optimum conditions. A strong hot solution of common salt served to stabilize or fix the image by removing the remaining silver iodide. On 7 January 1839, Daguerre announced this first complete practical photographic process to the French Academy of Sciences,[12] and the news quickly spread. At first, all details of the process were withheld and specimens were shown only to a trusted few[citation needed],. Arrangements were made for the French government to buy the rights in exchange for pensions for Niépce's son and Daguerre and then present it to the world (with the de facto exception of Great Britain) as a free gift.[13] Complete instructions were published on 19 August 1839.[14]

After reading early reports of Daguerre's invention, William Henry Fox Talbot, who had succeeded in creating stabilized photographic negatives on paper in 1835, worked on perfecting his own process. In early 1839 he acquired a key improvement, an effective fixer, from John Herschel, the astronomer, who had previously shown that hyposulfite of soda (commonly called "hypo" and now known formally as sodium thiosulfate) would dissolve silver salts.[15] News of this solvent also reached Daguerre, who quietly substituted it for his less effective hot salt water treatment.[16]

A calotype print showing the American photographer Frederick Langenheim (circa 1849). Note, the caption on the photo calls the process Talbotype

Talbot's early silver chloride "sensitive paper" experiments required camera exposures of an hour or more. In 1840, Talbot invented the calotype process, which, like Daguerre's process, used the principle of chemical development of a faint or invisible "latent" image to reduce the exposure time to a few minutes. Paper with a coating of silver iodide was exposed in the camera and developed into a translucent negative image. Unlike a daguerreotype, which could only be copied by rephotographing it with a camera, a calotype negative could be used to make a large number of positive prints by simple contact printing. The calotype had yet another distinction compared to other early photographic processes, in that the finished product lacked fine clarity due to its translucent paper negative. This was seen as a positive attribute for portraits because it softened the appearance of the human face. Talbot patented[17] this process, which greatly limited its adoption. He spent the rest of his life in lawsuits defending the patent until he gave up on photography. Later George Eastman refined Talbot's process, which is the basic technology used by chemical film cameras today. Hippolyte Bayard had also developed a method of photography but delayed announcing it, and so was not recognized as its inventor.

In 1839, John Herschel made the first glass negative, but his process was difficult to reproduce. Slovene Janez Puhar invented a process for making photographs on glass in 1841; it was recognized on June 17, 1852 in Paris by the Académie Nationale Agricole, Manufacturière et Commerciale.[18] In 1847, Nicephore Niépce's cousin, the chemist Niépce St. Victor, published his invention of a process for making glass plates with an albumen emulsion; the Langenheim brothers of Philadelphia and John Whipple and William Breed Jones of Boston also invented workable negative-on-glass processes in the mid-1840s.[19]

In 1851 Frederick Scott Archer invented the collodion process.[citation needed] Photographer and children's author Lewis Carroll used this process.[citation needed]

Roger Fenton's assistant seated on Fenton's photographic van, Crimea, 1855.

Herbert Bowyer Berkeley experimented with his own version of collodian emulsions after Samman introduced the idea of adding dithionite to the pyrogallol developer.[citation needed] Berkeley discovered that with his own addition of sulfite, to absorb the sulfur dioxide given off by the chemical dithionite in the developer, that dithionite was not required in the developing process. In 1881 he published his discovery. Berkeley's formula contained pyrogallol, sulfite and citric acid. Ammonia was added just before use to make the formula alkaline. The new formula was sold by the Platinotype Company in London as Sulpho-Pyrogallol Developer.[20]

Nineteenth-century experimentation with photographic processes frequently became proprietary. The German-born, New Orleans photographer Theodore Lilienthal successfully sought legal redress in an 1881 infringement case involving his "Lambert Process" in the Eastern District of Louisiana.


General view of The Crystal Palace at Sydenham by Philip Henry Delamotte, 1854

Mid 19th century "Brady stand" photo model's armrest table, meant to keep portrait models more still during long exposure times (studio equipment nicknamed after the famed US photographer, Mathew Brady).

1855 cartoon satirizing problems with posing for Daguerreotypes: slight movement during exposure resulted in blurred features, red-blindness made rosy complexions dark.

A photographer appears to be photographing himself in a 19th-century photographic studio. Note clamp to hold the poser's head still. An 1893 satire on photographic procedures already becoming obsolete at the time.

A comparison of common print sizes used in photographic studios during the 19th century.

The daguerreotype proved popular in response to the demand for portraiture that emerged from the middle classes during the Industrial Revolution.[citation needed] This demand, that could not be met in volume and in cost by oil painting, added to the push for the development of photography.

In 1847, Count Sergei Lvovich Levitsky designed a bellows camera which significantly improved the process of focusing. This adaptation influenced the design of cameras for decades and is still found in use today in some professional cameras. While in Paris, Levitsky would become the first to introduce interchangeable decorative backgrounds in his photos, as well as the retouching of negatives to reduce or eliminate technical deficiencies.[citation needed] Levitsky was also the first photographer to portray a photo of a person in different poses and even in different clothes (for example, the subject plays the piano and listens to himself).[citation needed]

Roger Fenton and Philip Henry Delamotte helped popularize the new way of recording events, the first by his Crimean war pictures, the second by his record of the disassembly and reconstruction of The Crystal Palace in London. Other mid-nineteenth-century photographers established the medium as a more precise means than engraving or lithography of making a record of landscapes and architecture: for example, Robert Macpherson's broad range of photographs of Rome, the interior of the Vatican, and the surrounding countryside became a sophisticated tourist's visual record of his own travels.

By 1849, images captured by Levitsky on a mission to the Caucasus were exhibited by the famous Parisian optician Chevalier at the Paris Exposition of the Second Republic as an advertisement of their lenses. These photos would receive the Exposition's gold medal; the first time a prize of its kind had ever been awarded to a photograph.[citation needed]

That same year in 1849 in his St. Petersburg, Russia studio Levitsky would first propose the idea to artificially light subjects in a studio setting using electric lighting along with daylight. He would say of its use, "as far as I know this application of electric light has never been tried; it is something new, which will be accepted by photographers because of its simplicity and practicality".[citation needed]

In 1851, at an exhibition in Paris, Levitsky would win the first ever gold medal awarded for a portrait photograph.[citation needed]

In America, by 1851 a broadside by daguerreotypist Augustus Washington was advertising prices ranging from 50 cents to $10.[21] However, daguerreotypes were fragile and difficult to copy. Photographers encouraged chemists to refine the process of making many copies cheaply, which eventually led them back to Talbot's process.

Ultimately, the modern photographic process came about from a series of refinements and improvements in the first 20 years. In 1884 George Eastman, of Rochester, New York, developed dry gel on paper, or film, to replace the photographic plate so that a photographer no longer needed to carry boxes of plates and toxic chemicals around. In July 1888 Eastman's Kodak camera went on the market with the slogan "You press the button, we do the rest". Now anyone could take a photograph and leave the complex parts of the process to others, and photography became available for the mass-market in 1901 with the introduction of the Kodak Brownie.

In the twentieth century, photography developed rapidly as a commercial service. End-user supplies of photographic equipment accounted for only about 20 percent of industry revenue. For the modern enthusiast photographer processing black and white film, little has changed since the introduction of the 35mm film Leica camera in 1925.[citation needed]

The first digitally scanned photograph was produced in 1957. The digital scanning process was invented by Russell A. Kirsch, a computer pioneer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He developed the system capable of feeding a camera's images into a computer. His first fed image was that of his son, Walden Kirsch. The photo was set at 176x176 pixels.[22]

Color process

Main article: Color photography

The first durable color photograph, taken by Thomas Sutton in 1861

A practical means of color photography was sought from the very beginning. Results were demonstrated as early as 1848, but exposures lasting for hours or days were required and the colors were so light-sensitive they would only bear very brief inspection in dim light.

The first durable color photograph was a set of three black-and-white photographs taken through red, green and blue color filters and shown superimposed by using three projectors with similar filters. It was taken by Thomas Sutton in 1861 for use in a lecture by the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell, who had proposed the method in 1855.[23] The photographic emulsions then in use were insensitive to most of the spectrum, so the result was very imperfect and the demonstration was soon forgotten. Maxwell's method is now most widely known through the early 20th century work of Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii. It was made practical by Hermann Wilhelm Vogel's 1873 discovery of a way to make emulsions sensitive to the rest of the spectrum, gradually introduced into commercial use beginning in the mid-1880s.

Two French inventors, Louis Ducos du Hauron and Charles Cros, working unknown to each other during the 1860s, famously unveiled their nearly identical ideas on the same day in 1869. Included were methods for viewing a set of three color-filtered black-and-white photographs in color without having to project them, and for using them to make full-color prints on paper.[24]

The first widely used method of color photography was the Autochrome plate, commercially introduced in 1907. It was based on one of Louis Ducos du Hauron's ideas: instead of taking three separate photographs through color filters, take one through a mosaic of tiny color filters overlaid on the emulsion and view the results through an identical mosaic. If the individual filter elements were small enough, the three primary colors would blend together in the eye and produce the same additive color synthesis as the filtered projection of three separate photographs. Autochrome plates had an integral mosaic filter layer composed of millions of dyed potato starch grains. Reversal processing was used to develop each plate into a transparent positive that could be viewed directly or projected with an ordinary projector. The mosaic filter layer absorbed about 90 percent of the light passing through, so a long exposure was required and a bright projection or viewing light was desirable. Competing screen plate products soon appeared and film-based versions were eventually made. All were expensive and until the 1930s none was "fast" enough for hand-held snapshot-taking, so they mostly served a niche market of affluent advanced amateurs.

A new era in color photography began with the introduction of Kodachrome film, available for 16 mm home movies in 1935 and 35 mm slides in 1936. It captured the red, green and blue color components in three layers of emulsion. A complex processing operation produced complementary cyan, magenta and yellow dye images in those layers, resulting in a subtractive color image. Maxwell's method of taking three separate filtered black-and-white photographs continued to serve special purposes into the 1950s and beyond, and Polachrome, an "instant" slide film that used the Autochrome's additive principle, was available until 2003, but all the color films for making prints and slides currently (2013) available use the multilayer emulsion approach pioneered by Kodachrome.

Development of digital photography

Main article: Digital photography

The charge-coupled device (CCD) is the most important invention for digital photography[citation needed]. It was invented in 1969 by Willard Boyle and George E. Smith at AT&T Bell Labs. The lab was working on the Picturephone and on the development of semiconductor bubble memory. Merging these two initiatives, Boyle and Smith conceived of the design of what they termed 'Charge "Bubble" Devices'. The essence of the design was the ability to transfer charge along the surface of a semiconductor.

  • 1973 - Fairchild Semiconductor releases the first large image forming CCD chip; 100 rows and 100 columns.[25]
  • 1975 - Bryce Bayer of Kodak develops the Bayer filter mosaic pattern for CCD color image sensors
  • 1986 - Kodak scientists develop the world's first megapixel sensor.

The web has been a popular medium for storing and sharing photos ever since the first photograph was published on the web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1992 (an image of the CERN house band Les Horribles Cernettes). Today popular sites such as Flickr, Picasa and PhotoBucket are used by millions of people to share their pictures.


3D computer graphics

3D computer graphics (in contrast to 2D computer graphics) are graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data (often Cartesian) that is stored in the computer for the purposes of performing calculations and rendering 2D images. Such images may be stored for viewing later or displayed in real-time.

3D computer graphics rely on many of the same algorithms as 2D computer vector graphics in the wire-frame model and 2D computer raster graphics in the final rendered display. In computer graphics software, the distinction between 2D and 3D is occasionally blurred; 2D applications may use 3D techniques to achieve effects such as lighting, and 3D may use 2D rendering techniques.

3D computer graphics are often referred to as 3D models. Apart from the rendered graphic, the model is contained within the graphical data file. However, there are differences. A 3D model is the mathematical representation of any three-dimensional object. A model is not technically a graphic until it is displayed. Due to 3D printing, 3D models are not confined to virtual space. A model can be displayed visually as a two-dimensional image through a process called 3D rendering, or used in non-graphical computer simulations and calculations.


Main article: History of computer animation

William Fetter was credited with coining the term computer graphics in 1961[1][2] to describe his work at Boeing. One of the first displays of computer animation was Futureworld (1976), which included an animation of a human face and a hand that had originally appeared in the 1971 experimental short A Computer Animated Hand, created by University of Utah students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke.[3]


3D computer graphics creation falls into three basic phases:

  • 3D modeling – the process of forming a computer model of an object's shape
  • Layout and animation – the motion and placement of objects within a scene
  • 3D rendering – the computer calculations that, based on light placement, surface types, and other qualities, generate the image


The model describes the process of forming the shape of an object. The two most common sources of 3D models are those that an artist or engineer originates on the computer with some kind of 3D modeling tool, and models scanned into a computer from real-world objects. Models can also be produced procedurally or via physical simulation. Basically, a 3D model is formed from points called vertices (or vertexes) that define the shape and form polygons. A polygon is an area formed from at least three vertexes (a triangle). A four-point polygon is a quad, and a polygon of more than four points is an n-gon[citation needed]. The overall integrity of the model and its suitability to use in animation depend on the structure of the polygons.

Layout and animation

Main article: Computer animation

Before rendering into an image, objects must be placed (laid out) in a scene. This defines spatial relationships between objects, including location and size. Animation refers to the temporal description of an object, i.e., how it moves and deforms over time. Popular methods include keyframing, inverse kinematics, and motion capture. These techniques are often used in combination. As with modeling, physical simulation also specifies motion.


Main article: 3D rendering

Rendering converts a model into an image either by simulating light transport to get photo-realistic images, or by applying some kind of style as in non-photorealistic rendering. The two basic operations in realistic rendering are transport (how much light gets from one place to another) and scattering (how surfaces interact with light). This step is usually performed using 3D computer graphics software or a 3D graphics API. Altering the scene into a suitable form for rendering also involves 3D projection, which displays a three-dimensional image in two dimensions.


There are a multitude of websites designed to help educate and support 3D graphic artists. Some are managed by software developers and content providers, but there are standalone sites as well. These communities allow for members to seek advice, post tutorials, provide product reviews or post examples of their own work.

Distinction from photorealistic 2D graphics

Not all computer graphics that appear 3D are based on a wireframe model. 2D computer graphics with 3D photorealistic effects are often achieved without wireframe modeling and are sometimes indistinguishable in the final form. Some graphic art software includes filters that can be applied to 2D vector graphics or 2D raster graphics on transparent layers. Visual artists may also copy or visualize 3D effects and manually render photorealistic effects without the use of filters. See also still life.[citation needed]


Web design

Web design encompasses many different skills and disciplines in the production and maintenance of websites. The different areas of web design include web graphic design; interface design; authoring, including standardised code and proprietary software; user experience design; and search engine optimization. Often many individuals will work in teams covering different aspects of the design process, although some designers will cover them all.[1] The term web design is normally used to describe the design process relating to the front-end (client side) design of a website including writing mark up. Web design partially overlaps web engineering in the broader scope of web development. Web designers are expected to have an awareness of usability and if their role involves creating mark up then they are also expected to be up to date with web accessibility guidelines.


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For other uses, see Animation (disambiguation).

Animation is the process of creating the continuous motion and shape change[Note 1] illusion by means of rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other. The illusion — like in motion pictures in general — is thought to rely on phi phenomenon.

The bouncing ball animation (below) consists of these six frames.

This animation moves at 10 frames per second.

Animations can be stored or recorded on either analogue media, such as Flip book, motion picture film, video tape, on digital media, including formats such as animated GIF, Flash animation or digital video. To display it, a digital camera, a computer, or a projector are used.

Animation creation methods include the traditional animation creation method and those involving stop motion animation of three-dimensional objects, e.g. puppets, clay, or Lego figures. Images are displayed in a rapid succession, usually 24, 25, or 30 frames per second.


From Latin animātiō, "the act of bringing to life"; from animō ("to animate" or "give life to") and -ātiō ("the act of").[citation needed]


Main article: History of animation

A phenakistoscope disc by Eadweard Muybridge (1893)

Early examples of attempts to capture the phenomenon of motion into a still drawing can be found in paleolithic cave paintings, where animals are often depicted with multiple legs in superimposed positions, clearly attempting to convey the perception of motion.

A Chinese zoetrope-type device had been invented in 180 AD.[1]

The Voynich manuscript that dates back to between 1404 and 1438 contains several series of illustrations of the same subject-matter and even few circles that – when spun around the center – would create an illusion of motion.[2]

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. The cinématographe was a projector, printer, and camera in one machine that allowed moving pictures to be shown successfully on a screen which was invented by history's earliest film makers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, in 1894.[3]

The phenakistoscope (1832), zoetrope (1834) and praxinoscope (1877), as well as the common flip book, were early animation devices to produce movement from sequential drawings using technological means, but animation did not develop further until the advent of motion picture film.

The first animated projection (screening) was created in France, by Charles-Émile Reynaud, who was a French science teacher. Reynaud created the Praxinoscope in 1877 and the Théâtre Optique in December 1888. On 28 October 1892, he projected the first animation in public, Pauvre Pierrot, at the Musée Grévin in Paris. This film is also notable as the first known instance of film perforations being used. His films were not photographed, but drawn directly onto the transparent strip. In 1900, more than 500,000 people had attended these screenings.

Praxinoscope, The first projection (1877)

The first film that was recorded on standard picture film and included animated sequences was the 1900 Enchanted Drawing, which was followed by the first entirely animated film - the 1906 Humorous Phases of Funny Faces by J. Stuart Blackton, and is because of that considered the father of American animation.

The first animated film created by using what came to be known as traditional (hand-drawn) animation - the 1908 Fantasmagorie by Émile Cohl

In Europe, the French artist, Émile Cohl, created the first animated film using what came to be known as traditional animation creation methods - the 1908 Fantasmagorie. The film largely consisted of a stick figure moving about and encountering all manner of morphing objects, such as a wine bottle that transforms into a flower. There were also sections of live action where the animator’s hands would enter the scene. The film was created by drawing each frame on paper and then shooting each frame onto negative film, which gave the picture a blackboard look.

The author of the first puppet-animated film (The Beautiful Lukanida (1912)) was the Russian-born (ethnically Polish) director Wladyslaw Starewicz, known as Ladislas Starevich.[citation needed]

The more detailed hand-drawn animations, requiring a team of animators drawing each frame manually with detailed backgrounds and characters, were those directed by Winsor McCay, a successful newspaper cartoonist, including the 1911 Little Nemo, the 1914 Gertie the Dinosaur, and the 1918 The Sinking of the Lusitania.

During the 1910s, the production of animated short films, typically referred to as "cartoons", became an industry of its own and cartoon shorts were produced for showing in movie theaters. The most successful producer at the time was John Randolph Bray, who, along with animator Earl Hurd, patented the cel animation process which dominated the animation industry for the rest of the decade.

El Apóstol (Spanish: "The Apostle") was a 1917 Argentine animated film utilizing cutout animation, and the world's first animated feature film.[4] Unfortunately, a fire that destroyed producer Frederico Valle's film studio incinerated the only known copy of El Apóstol, and it is now considered a lost film.

Computer animation has become popular since Toy Story (1995), the first animated film completely made using this technique.

In 2008, the animation market was worth US$68.4 billion.[5]


Traditional animation

Main article: Traditional animation

Traditional animation (also called cel animation or hand-drawn animation) was the process used for most animated films of the 20th century. The individual frames of a traditionally animated film are photographs of drawings that are first drawn on paper. To create the illusion of movement, each drawing differs slightly from the one before it. The animators' drawings are traced or photocopied onto transparent acetate sheets called cels, which are filled in with paints in assigned colors or tones on the side opposite the line drawings. The completed character cels are photographed one-by-one against a painted background by a rostrum camera onto motion picture film .

The traditional cel animation process became obsolete by the beginning of the 21st century. Today, animators' drawings and the backgrounds are either scanned into or drawn directly into a computer system. Various software programs are used to color the drawings and simulate camera movement and effects. The final animated piece is output to one of several delivery media, including traditional 35 mm film and newer media such as digital video. The "look" of traditional cel animation is still preserved, and the character animators' work has remained essentially the same over the past 70 years. Some animation producers have used the term "tradigital" to describe cel animation which makes extensive use of computer technology.

Examples of traditionally animated feature films include Pinocchio (United States, 1940), Animal Farm (United Kingdom, 1954), and L'Illusionniste (British-French, 2010). Traditional animated films which were produced with the aid of computer technology include The Lion King (US, 1994), Akira (Japan, 1988), Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) (Japan, 2001), Les Triplettes de Belleville (France, 2003), and The Secret of Kells (Irish-French-Belgian, 2009).

Excerpt from the 1919 Feline Follies with Felix the Cat.

n example of traditional animation, a horse animated by rotoscoping from Eadweard Muybridge's 19th century photos

  • Full animation refers to the process of producing high-quality traditionally animated films that regularly use detailed drawings and plausible movement. Fully animated films can be made in a variety of styles, from more realistically animated works such as those produced by the Walt Disney studio (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King) to the more 'cartoon' styles of the Warner Bros. animation studio. Many of the Disney animated features are examples of full animation, as are non-Disney works such as The Secret of NIMH (US, 1982), The Iron Giant (US, 1999), and Nocturna (Spain, 2007).
  • Limited animation involves the use of less detailed and/or more stylized drawings and methods of movement. Pioneered by the artists at the American studio United Productions of America, limited animation can be used as a method of stylized artistic expression, as in Gerald McBoing Boing (US, 1951), Yellow Submarine (UK, 1968), and much of the anime produced in Japan. Its primary use, however, has been in producing cost-effective animated content for media such as television (the work of Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and other TV animation studios) and later the Internet (web cartoons).
  • Rotoscoping is a technique patented by Max Fleischer in 1917 where animators trace live-action movement, frame by frame. The source film can be directly copied from actors' outlines into animated drawings, as in The Lord of the Rings (US, 1978), or used in a stylized and expressive manner, as in Waking Life (US, 2001) and A Scanner Darkly (US, 2006). Some other examples are: Fire and Ice (USA, 1983) and Heavy Metal (1981).
  • Live-action/animation is a technique combining hand-drawn characters into live action shots. One of the earlier uses was in Koko the Clown when Koko was drawn over live action footage. Other examples include Who Framed Roger Rabbit (USA, 1988), Space Jam (USA, 1996) and Osmosis Jones (USA, 2001).

Stop motion animation

Main article: Stop motion

Stop-motion animation is used to describe animation created by physically manipulating real-world objects and photographing them one frame of film at a time to create the illusion of movement. There are many different types of stop-motion animation, usually named after the medium used to create the animation. Computer software is widely available to create this type of animation; however, traditional stop motion animation is usually less expensive and time-consuming to produce than current computer animation.

  • Puppet animation typically involves stop-motion puppet figures interacting in a constructed environment, in contrast to real-world interaction in model animation. The puppets generally have an armature inside of them to keep them still and steady as well as to constrain their motion to particular joints. Examples include The Tale of the Fox (France, 1937), The Nightmare Before Christmas (US, 1993), Corpse Bride (US, 2005), Coraline (US, 2009), the films of Jiří Trnka and the TV series Robot Chicken (US, 2005–present).
    • Puppetoon, created using techniques developed by George Pal, are puppet-animated films which typically use a different version of a puppet for different frames, rather than simply manipulating one existing puppet.
  • Clay animation, or Plasticine animation (often called claymation, which, however, is a trademarked name), uses figures made of clay or a similar malleable material to create stop-motion animation. The figures may have an armature or wire frame inside, similar to the related puppet animation (below), that can be manipulated to pose the figures. Alternatively, the figures may be made entirely of clay, such as in the films of Bruce Bickford, where clay creatures morph into a variety of different shapes. Examples of clay-animated works include The Gumby Show (US, 1957–1967) Morph shorts (UK, 1977–2000), Wallace and Gromit shorts (UK, as of 1989), Jan Švankmajer's Dimensions of Dialogue (Czechoslovakia, 1982), The Trap Door (UK, 1984). Films include Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Chicken Run and The Adventures of Mark Twain.
  • Cutout animation is a type of stop-motion animation produced by moving two-dimensional pieces of material such as paper or cloth. Examples include Terry Gilliam's animated sequences from Monty Python's Flying Circus (UK, 1969–1974); Fantastic Planet (France/Czechoslovakia, 1973) ; Tale of Tales (Russia, 1979), The pilot episode of the TV series (and sometimes in episodes) of South Park (US, 1997).

A clay animation scene from a Finnish television commercial

    • Silhouette animation is a variant of cutout animation in which the characters are backlit and only visible as silhouettes. Examples include The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Weimar Republic, 1926) and Princes et princesses (France, 2000).
  • Model animation refers to stop-motion animation created to interact with and exist as a part of a live-action world. Intercutting, matte effects, and split screens are often employed to blend stop-motion characters or objects with live actors and settings. Examples include the work of Ray Harryhausen, as seen in films such Jason and the Argonauts (1963), and the work of Willis O'Brien on films such as King Kong (1933 film).
    • Go motion is a variant of model animation that uses various techniques to create motion blur between frames of film, which is not present in traditional stop-motion. The technique was invented by Industrial Light & Magic and Phil Tippett to create special effects scenes for the film The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Another example is the dragon named "Vermithrax" from Dragonslayer (1981 film).
  • Object animation refers to the use of regular inanimate objects in stop-motion animation, as opposed to specially created items.
    • Graphic animation uses non-drawn flat visual graphic material (photographs, newspaper clippings, magazines, etc.), which are sometimes manipulated frame-by-frame to create movement. At other times, the graphics remain stationary, while the stop-motion camera is moved to create on-screen action.
    • Brickfilm A sub-genre of object animation involving using Lego or other similar brick toys to make an animation. These have had a recent boost in popularity with the advent of video sharing sites like YouTube and the availability of cheap cameras and animation software.
  • Pixilation involves the use of live humans as stop motion characters. This allows for a number of surreal effects, including disappearances and reappearances, allowing people to appear to slide across the ground, and other such effects. Examples of pixilation include The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb and Angry Kid shorts.

Computer animation

Main article: Computer animation

Computer animation encompasses a variety of techniques, the unifying factor being that the animation is created digitally on a computer. This animation takes less time to produce than previous traditional animation. 2D animation techniques tend to focus on image manipulation while 3D techniques usually build virtual worlds in which characters and objects move and interact. 3D animation can create images that seem real to the viewer.

2D animation

2D animation figures are created and/or edited on the computer using 2D bitmap graphics or created and edited using 2D vector graphics. This includes automated computerized versions of traditional animation techniques such as interpolated morphing, onion skinning and interpolated rotoscoping. 2D animation has many applications, including analog computer animation, Flash animation and PowerPoint animation. Cinemagraphs are still photographs in the form of an animated GIF file of which part is animated.

2D Terms

  • Final line advection animation,[6] a technique that gives the artists and animators a lot more influence and control over the final product as everything is done within the same department:

In Paperman, we didn’t have a cloth department and we didn’t have a hair department. Here, folds in the fabric, hair silhouettes and the like come from of the committed design decision-making that comes with the 2D drawn process. Our animators can change things, actually erase away the CG underlayer if they want, and change the profile of the arm. And they can design all the fabric in that Milt Kahl kind-of way, if they want to.[7]

3D animation

Main articles: Computer animation and 3D computer graphics

3D animation is digitally modeled and manipulated by an animator. The animator starts by creating an external 3D mesh to manipulate. A mesh is a geometric configuration that gives the visual appearance of form to a 3D object or 3D environment. The mesh may have many vertices which are the geometric points which make up the mesh; it is given an internal digital skeletal structure called an armature that can be used to control the mesh with weights. This process is called rigging and can be programmed for movement with keyframes.

Other techniques can be applied, such as mathematical functions (e.g., gravity, particle simulations), simulated fur or hair, and effects such as fire and water simulations. These techniques fall under the category of 3D dynamics.

3D Terms

  • Cel-shaded animation is used to mimic traditional animation using CG software. Shading looks stark, with less blending of colors. Examples include, Skyland (2007, France), Appleseed Ex Machina (2007, Japan), The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (2002, Japan)
  • Machinima – Films created by screen capturing in video games and virtual worlds.
  • Motion capture is used when live-action actors wear special suits that allow computers to copy their movements into CG characters. Examples include Polar Express (2004, USA), Beowulf (2007, USA), A Christmas Carol (2009, USA), The Adventures of Tintin (2011, USA)
  • Photo-realistic animation is used primarily for animation that attempts to resemble real life, using advanced rendering that mimics in detail skin, plants, water, fire, clouds, etc. Examples include Up (2009, USA), Kung-Fu Panda (2008, USA), Ice Age (2002, USA).

Mechanical animation

Audio-Animatronic version of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

  • Animatronics is the use of mechatronics to create machines which seem animate rather than robotic.
    • Audio-Animatronics and Autonomatronics is a form of robotics animation, combined with 3-D animation, created by Walt Disney Imagineering for shows and attractions at Disney theme parks move and make noise (generally a recorded speech or song), but are fixed to whatever supports them. They can sit and stand but cannot walk. An Audio-Animatron is different from an android-type robot in that it uses prerecorded movements and sounds, rather than responding to external stimuli. In 2009, Disney created an interactive version of the technology called Autonomatronics.
    • Linear Animation Generator is a form of animation by using static picture frames installed in a tunnel or a shaft. The animation illusion is created by putting the viewer in a linear motion, parallel to the installed picture frames. The concept and the technical solution, were invented in 2007 by Mihai Girlovan in Romania.
  • Chuckimation is a type of animation created by the makers of the cartoon Action League Now! in which characters/props are thrown, or chucked from off camera or wiggled around to simulate talking by unseen hands,
  • Puppetry is a form of theatre or performance animation that involves the manipulation of puppets. It is very ancient, and is believed to have originated 3000 years BC.[1] Puppetry takes many forms but they all share the process of animating inanimate performing objects. Puppetry is used in almost all human societies both as entertainment – in performance – and ceremonially in rituals and celebrations such as carnivals. Most puppetry involves storytelling.

Toy Story zoetrope at Disney California Adventure creates illusion of motion using figures, rather than static pictures.

  • Zoetrope is a device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures. The term zoetrope is from the Greek words ζωή (zoē), meaning "alive, active", and τρόπος (tropos), meaning "turn", with "zoetrope" taken to mean "active turn" or "wheel of life".

Other animation styles, techniques and approaches

  • Drawn on film animation: a technique where footage is produced by creating the images directly on film stock, for example by Norman McLaren, Len Lye and Stan Brakhage.
  • Paint-on-glass animation: a technique for making animated films by manipulating slow drying oil paints on sheets of glass, for example by Aleksandr Petrov.
  • Erasure animation: a technique using traditional 2D media, photographed over time as the artist manipulates the image. For example, William Kentridge is famous for his charcoal erasure films, and Piotr Dumała for his auteur technique of animating scratches on plaster.
  • Pinscreen animation: makes use of a screen filled with movable pins that can be moved in or out by pressing an object onto the screen. The screen is lit from the side so that the pins cast shadows. The technique has been used to create animated films with a range of textural effects difficult to achieve with traditional cel animation.
  • Sand animation: sand is moved around on a back- or front-lighted piece of glass to create each frame for an animated film. This creates an interesting effect when animated because of the light contrast.
  • Flip book: a flip book (sometimes, especially in British English, called a 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 often illustrated books for children, but may also be geared towards adults and employ a series of photographs rather than drawings. Flip books are not always separate books, but may appear as an added feature in ordinary books or magazines, often in the page corners. Software packages and websites are also available that convert digital video files into custom-made flip books.
  • Character animation
  • Multi-sketching
  • Special effects animation


As with any other form of media, animation too has instituted awards for excellence in the field. The original awards for animation were presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for animated shorts from the year 1932, during the 5th Academy Awards function. The first winner of the Academy Award was the short Flowers and Trees, a production by Walt Disney Productions and United Artists.[8] However, the Academy Award for a feature length animated motion picture was only instituted for the year 2001, and awarded during the 74th Academy Awards in 2002. It was won by the movie Shrek,[9] produced by DreamWorks and Pacific Data Images. Since then, Disney/Pixar have produced the most movies either to win or be nominated for the award. The list of both awards can be obtained here:

  • Academy Award for Best Animated Feature
  • Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film

Several other countries have instituted an award for best animated feature film as part of their national film awards: BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film (since 2006), César Award for Best Animated Film (since 2011), Goya Award for Best Animated Film (since 1989), Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year (since 2007). Also since 2007, the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Animated Feature Film has been awarded at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Since 2009, the European Film Awards have awarded the European Film Award for Best Animated Film.

The Annie Award is another award presented for excellence in the field of animation. Unlike the Academy Awards, the Annie Awards are only received for achievements in the field of animation and not for any other field of technical and artistic endeavor. They were re-organized in 1992 to create a new field for Best Animated feature. The 1990s winners were dominated by Walt Disney, however newer studios, led by Pixar & DreamWorks, have now begun to consistently vie for this award. The list of awardees is as follows: