Week 3: What is animation?

In this seminar, we started with a discussion about a few definations of animation and learnt about “persistence of vision”. Then we went through the brief history of old forms of animation. It’s interesting to know how early that animation has actually been created in the world, and we can still see a few of the early animation tools such as Zoetrope in some museums.

“Zoetrope”
Zoetrope

After that, we watched several early animations, including Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895), L’ Arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat (1897) and A Trip to the Moon (1902). We looked into A Trip to the Moon specifically and tried to think about its meaning in depth.

The story is simple, a group of people who might be astronauts traveled to the moon with a cannon, and fighted with some strange creatures (or Aliens?) live in the moon.

Since the visual effects haven’t been mature during the production of A Trip to the Moon, it has used an older technique – special effects. Although the special effects in the film seems to be very simple and crude for us to see nowadays, I could image how surprise that people live in 1900s would be by watching that film. Since techniques at that time haven’t been popularly used in film production, they might find the effects in the movie really dramatic.

A Trip to the Moon

This film also reminds me of the film Star Wars (1977), which is famous for its amazing visual effects. As new series have been produced with more developed techniques, people start to realize how basic the earlier ones are.

In A Trip to the Moon, we can see there are many artwork included, used for background or part of the special effects. The combination of real people and man-made objects created a foggy illusion for the audience. It seems that film has brought the audience to an unknown world – the space. And the enemies are also fantastical, as there’s no prove of aliens. I think that may be why the film is so successful.

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