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Before Disney: Early Animation Successes

Cinema continues to go further with animation, and the rise of technological equipment makes almost anything possible for animators now. From CGI to traditional animation and stop-motion pictures, we’ve seen cinema evolve at Meadows Farm Studios. The start of animation, although now considered very simplistic, made quite an impact in its day.

Fantasmagorie (1908)

Émile Cohl, a French cartoonist and animator often called ‘the father of the animated cartoon’ created what is now considered to be the first fully animated film ever made. Lasting just over a minute, the comic strip film, which premiered in Paris, was created from around 700 drawings.

Each drawing was placed on an illuminated glass plate, before tracing the next drawing so that each variation was reflected. The characters mimic chalkboard drawings to fit with the trends of the time. Movement was created and animation was born!


Humpty Dumpty Circus (1908)

humpty dumpty circus

(via Old Wood Toys)

The first American film to use stop-motion animation was directed and produced by J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith, founders of Vitagraph Studios. The film followed the characters of a circus with acrobats and animals all being moved across the screen. Smith is said to have used his daughter’s small set of circus dolls, balancing them in place and making them do stunts due to their jointed limbs.


Felix the Cat (1919)

felix the cat

(via The Cartoon Scrapbook)

Famous animated cartoon characters came before Walt Disney’s creations, and Felix the Cat pipped Mickey Mouse in becoming the lead role in the first of a long line of fun-loving sequences. Post-war silent film era brought with it numerous animated cartoon characters with the designs of Otto Messmer and Pat Sullivan setting the trend.

The legend is still alive today although the initial sketches have been considerably updated for the modern market, with sound too! Since his time on the screen, the cat has starred alongside Betty Boop and Charlie Chaplin. Felix has become an iconic part of American history, taking to film screens too, and even becoming a mascot.

Check out the rest of our blog for more posts about Early Cinema and the history of film. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at Meadows Farm Studios to book a slot in one of our filming studios. If you have any special requirements, let us know.