Animation is the process of creating motion and shape change illusion by means of the rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other. The illusion—as in motion pictures in general—is thought to rely on the phi phenomenon. Animators are artists who specialize in the creation of animation.
The first film that was recorded on standard picture film and included animated sequences was the 1900 Enchanted Drawing,which was followed by the first entirely animated film - the 1906 Humorous Phases of Funny Faces by J. Stuart Blackton,who, because of that, is considered the father of American animation.
In Europe, the French artist, Émile Cohl, created the first animated film using what came to be known as traditional animation creation methods - the 1908 Fantasmagorie.The film largely consisted of a stick figure moving about and encountering all manner of morphing objects, such as a wine bottle that transforms into a flower. There were also sections of live action in which the animator’s hands would enter the scene. The film was created by drawing each frame on paper and then shooting each frame onto negative film, which gave the picture a blackboard look.
The author of the first puppet-animated film (The Beautiful Lukanida (1912)) was the Russian-born (ethnically Polish) director Wladyslaw Starewicz, known as Ladislas Starevich.
The more detailed hand-drawn animations, requiring a team of animators drawing each frame manually with detailed backgrounds and characters, were those directed by Winsor McCay, a successful newspaper cartoonist, including the 1911 Little Nemo, the 1914 Gertie the Dinosaur, and the 1918 The Sinking of the Lusitania.
During the 1910s, the production of animated short films, typically referred to as "cartoons", became an industry of its own and cartoon shorts were produced for showing in movie theaters. The most successful producer at the time was John Randolph Bray, who, along with animator Earl Hurd, patented the cel animation process which dominated the animation industry for the rest of the decade.
El Apóstol was a 1917 Argentine animated film utilizing cutout animation, and the world's first animated feature film. Unfortunately, a fire that destroyed producer Frederico Valle's film studio incinerated the only known copy of El Apóstol, and it is now considered a lost film.
Stop motion is an animation technique which makes static objects appear to be moving. It is central to the claymation technique used on popular children's shows such as Gumby and to the puppet-based animation of such well-known films as The Nightmare Before Christmas (Tim Burton, 1993) and Chicken Run (DreamWorks/Aardman Animations, 2000).
Stop motion requires a camera, either motion picture or digital, that can expose single frames. It works by shooting a single frame, stopping the camera to move the object a little bit, and then shooting another frame. When the film runs continuously for more than 15 frames per second, the illusion of continious movement is created and the objects appears to move by themselves. This is similar to the animation of cartoons, but with real objects instead of drawings.
Computer animation has become popular since Toy Story (1995), the first feature-length animated film completely made using this technique.
In 2008, the animation market was worth US$68.4 billion.Animation as an art and industry continues to thrive as of the mid-2010s, because well-made animated projects can find audiences across borders and in all four quadrants. Animated feature-length films returned the highest gross margins (around 52%) of all film genres in the 2004-2013 timeframe.