Animation is one of the most ubiquitous and pervasive forms of visual communication available today. And it can be found everywhere from the plethora of TV channels dedicated solely to cartoons, to the title sequences of our favorite movies, to the reactive graphic interfaces on our smartphones and other mobile devices. We tend to take for granted the wonderful visual wizardry that is now available, due to the fact that most of us have only a sketchy understanding of how, when, and where it all originated. Of course, many of you would think about Walt Disney as the pioneer for animation.

In deed, it was not Walt Disney with the introduction of Mickey Mouse in 1928 as most people believe. Muybridge, who pioneered and laid the groundwork for animation 35 years earlier, deserves to be recognized for his achievements. It dated back to 1893 with his creation of Waltzing Couple in 1893 as the first kind of animation. While Eadweard J. Muybridge’s animal locomotion studies are not technically animation, they are among the earliest visual explorations with moving images ever attempted. His research established the groundwork for other kinds of videography to emerge.

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Muybridge’s  creation of Waltzing Couple in 1893 as the first kind of animation.

As part of his visual research, Muybridge employed the phenakistoscope, a pioneering animation device that utilised the “persistence of vision” principle to produce the illusion of motion, in 1893 to expand his work to include animation as well.
His groundbreaking work on animal locomotion, completed in 1877 and 1878, which employed multiple cameras to capture motion in stop-motion photographs, as well as his zoopraxiscope, an early motion picture projection device that predated the flexible perforated film strip used in cinematography, are among his most well-known achievements today.
When he arrived at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in the 1880s, he began a period of intense productivity, collecting more than 100,000 photographs of animals and humans in motion, catching what the human eye was unable to detect as discrete movements.

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Kingston Museum, near his hometown, was established in 1904 and continues to house a collection of his works in a special ‘Muybridge Exhibition’ that is open to the public on a daily basis.

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Image Credit: TheAtlantic.com

Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network: https://www.awn.com/
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/tech
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist: https://beforesandafters.com/
  4. Bloomberg News: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/
  5. Insider: https://www.insider.com/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eadweard_Muybridge
  7. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/07/before-walt-disney-5-pioneers-of-early-animation/241448/