The Fascinating History of Animation

The Fascinating History of Animation


I was always somebody that was into finding
the answers to things. And that’s where the archive became the perfect place for me because
my job is to find answers for research questions. There’s all this cultural history and value
locked in this collection and what we try to do in access is try to help people unlock
that. In a collection this large, you have material on basically every major topic relevant
to the history of the 20th century. We have over 300,000 holdings and a collection spans
from the dawn of cinema to the present. So we have a lot of everything. When we talk
about film preservation, in the archival world we’re talking about saving film to 35mm safety
film. Digital formats are a constant moving target and we really don’t know how long the
current digital formats that are in vogue are going to be viable. But we do know that
if we take this off the shelf in 60 years and hold it up to the light that with safety
film that image is still going to be there. Some historians estimate that over 80-90%
of all silent film is just lost to time. So we’re very lucky that we have this large silent
film collection that’s actually survived and the silent animation area of the collection
that’s especially interesting. ‘Bob’s Electric Theatre’ is one of the first puppet, stop
motion films ever made. In the silent era, before color film stocks were even invented,
some films would be hand colored or hand stenciled and it was a way to add another layer of vibrancy
and energy to film. Long, long before ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ — ‘A Pool Plunge’ gives
you an example of combining live action with animation. And of course live action was much
cheaper to shoot then animation, so the idea of combining the two in some ways was kind
of a cost saving measure. But the novelty of combining limited animation and live action
could produce a very entertaining and surreal result. The pioneering stop motion animation
in ‘The Lost World’ by Willis O’Brien, who did the special effects on King Kong a few
years later, really enchanted audiences when it first came out. The realism was something
they had never seen before. It reportedly startled viewers and was so exciting it made
the front page of The New York Times. ‘The Lost World’ was not only a great film, but the predecessor of today’s
Hollywood, special effects filled blockbuster.

David Anderson

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2 thoughts on “The Fascinating History of Animation

  1. Hey Amberly says:

    I wonder how many miles of film there is!

  2. Ultimate fan boy says:

    as some one who is obsessed with animation history I say….WTF happened to the humpty dumpy circus?! it was James Stewart blacktons firs fully Animated films (that we know of). JAMES Stewart Blackton! the freaking FATHER OF ANIMATION. WHY DID Some one not save atleast SOME of it. I mean by God….we saved humorous fases of funy faces, we saved the puppets nightmare, we saved a love ofere in toy lannd, we saved the haunted hotel so… why is it so Freaking IMPOSSIBLE to fined it? why is it so lost? we saved Teddy rosiveleds garny to the safari (sorry if I got its name wrong) and that's no where near as Important to animation as the humpty dumpy circus. it Gust basil's me

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