Today in 1908, the first animated cartoon, Fantasmagorie, was released. The film (watch it on YouTube) was created by Émile Cohl by drawing each frame on paper and then shooting each frame onto negative film, which gave the picture a blackboard look.
The film features a stick figure moving about and encountering all manner of morphing objects, such as a wine bottle that transforms into a flower. There are also sections of live action where the animator’s hands enter the scene. The title is a reference to the “fantasmograph,” a mid-Nineteenth Century variant of the magic lantern that projected ghostly images that floated across the walls.
Also today, twenty-five years ago, Pixar Animation Studios premiered Luxo Jr. (watch a clip and download) at SIGGRAPH, its first film following its establishment as an independent film studio. It is a computer-animated short film (two and a half minutes, including credits). The title character, a small desk lamp, will become a part of the company’s logo. It was the first Computer-generated Imagery (CGI) film nominated for an Academy Award.
“Luxo Jr. sent shock waves through the entire industry – to all corners of computer and traditional animation. At that time, most traditional artists were afraid of the computer. They did not realize that the computer was merely a different tool in the artist’s kit but instead perceived it as a type of automation that might endanger their jobs. Luckily, this attitude changed dramatically in the early ’80s with the use of personal computers in the home. The release of our Luxo Jr. … reinforced this opinion turnaround within the professional community.” –Edwin Catmull, Computer Animation: A Whole New World, 1998.