Still Life With Animated Dogs


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Snow White and Dwarfs
The Advent of Disney
With the arrival of sound in 1920, Walt Disney quickly rose to preeminence through his imaginative use of sound and color, his lively characters and clever gags. Mickey Mouse achieved fame in Steamboat Willie (1928), Disney's first sound film. Short films or "shorts" starring Mickey gradually incorporated a number of other popular characters and ran for several years.

Mickey Mouse
In 1937, Disney made his first full-length color cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His studio continued to make full-length animated films, and developed more advanced techniques combining animation with live action. His style of cel animation, known as full animation because it has constant movement and a high ration of drawings per second of film, has most strongly influenced animation worldwide.

Other competing animation studios emerged in the 1930s and '40s, including Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Terrytoons, Walter Lantz Productions, and Warner Bros.

But the '40s and '50s saw reactions against the Disney style. Artists like Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera (creators of "the Jetsons," "the Flinstones," "Yogi Bear" and "Scooby Doo"), Tex Avery ("Droopy Dog") Paul Terry ("Mighty Mouse" and "Heckle & Jeckle"), and Chuck Jones (creator of "Road Runner" and "Pepe LePew," also brought Bugs Bunny and friends to life) added an anarchic and surreal quality to their animated films. The artists working for United Productions of America (UPA) - including Art Babbit and John Hubley, who had once worked at the Walt Disney - reacted against the detailed naturalism of the Disney style by producing spare drawings inspired by contemporary art. Their techniques became known as limited animation, because fewer of their highly stylized drawings were used per second of film. UPA's method of limited animation was embraced by many small studios producing animation for television as a way to create material cheaply and quickly. These new studios helped the United States fill the demand for Saturday morning cartoons in the early 1960s.

The proliferation of college film programs and an increased focus on social issues during the 1960s, '70s and '80s resulted in animation that explored broader themes. Internationally, animation continued flourish, particularly in Eastern Europe, Canada and other countries with government-supported animation studios.

Much of the animation created today is heavily influenced by advancing computer technologies. George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic has pioneered the use of computer animated special effects in movies like Star Wars and Forrest Gump. And in 1995, the film Toy Story was the first full-length film entirely generated by a computer.

From cave drawings to computer animated video games, the popularity of animated storytelling as art and entertainment continues to thrive all over the world. As creative artists are churning out new technologies and techniques every day, they are firmly rooted in the history of their predecessors. Animation is not only a cultural relic of the past but also an exciting art form for the future.

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