Traditional animation materials include clay, foam, puppets, cut-outs, and pen drawings, and now we have impressively depicted computer generated animations which push the very precincts of make believe; we have virtual worlds coming ever closer to representing that which we call reality.

The word animation comes from the latin "animare", which literally means "to give life to."
All humans may be accused of doing this on some level. There is even more magic than in film, to seeing the unvarying, the inorganic, the never ever alive, take on a certain vivacity! And if we must say it, to take on the appearance of life itself!

Animation involves the capture and training of motion itself.
The forms in animated pieces can be absolutely imaginary in nature, and fantastical, and must involve that certain Frankenstein-ian level of enthrallment and investment.

The genesis of animation can be traced all the way back to the Paleolithic times. Cave art was essentially a diagrammatic narrative, what was almost certainly the first pictorial expression of human thought and emotion.
There is evidence of a machine as early as 70 B.C. that projected hand drawn images in succession.

The first animator in this modern era was Emile Cohl. Emile Cohl created "Fantasmagoria" in 1908 by shooting 700 drawings frame by frame in a sequential order. The film has no real plot to speak of, but it does follow a train of events which are linked through metamorphosizing forms, for example an elephant transmogrifying into a house.

There are painstaking labours involved in traditional cel animation. It takes 24 entire frames to make one second of moving film.

I like anything by Walt Disney. I like the Simpsons. I like Mr Punch.
I also love Japanese anime.

So much for Steamboat Willie. The earliest concrete archaeological evidence of animation comes from around 3000 BCE, which makes the art form about the same age as Christmas. The animation in question appears on a small (8 cm by 10 cm) eathenware goblet, depicting eight hand painted "frames" of a long-horned goat making two leaps towards a plant. The goblet was found by a team of archaeologists in late 2004 as they excavated the ancient site known as Burnt City in the Sistan-Baluchistan province in southeastern Iran. It was found near the skeleton of what the scientists believe to be the creator.

Though cave walls and surviving pottery from this and even earlier times often portray animals and plants in narratives, they are most often depicted on a scene-by-scene basis (comics per Scott McCloud's excellent definition) or as simple repetition. The eight frames of the goblet show no narrative change other than the change in position of the goat—clearly an effort to describe motion rather than salient events.

I hazard that, being on a goblet which the holder can rotate, this may be the earliest known zoetrope as well.

Source: Press release by the Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency 30 December 2004
See an animation of the frames (along with cheesy goat bleatings) at

An`i*ma"tion (#), n. [L. animatio, fr. animare.]


The act of animating, or giving life or spirit; the state of being animate or alive.

The animation of the same soul quickening the whole frame. Bp. Hall.

Perhaps an inanimate thing supplies me, while I am speaking, with whatever I posses of animation. Landor.


The state of being lively, brisk, or full of spirit and vigor; vivacity; spiritedness; as, he recited the story with great animation.

Suspended animation, temporary suspension of the vital functions, as in persons nearly drowned.

Syn. -- Liveliness; vivacity; spirit; buoyancy; airiness; sprightliness; promptitude; enthusiasm; ardor; earnestness; energy. See Liveliness.


© Webster 1913.

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