Wednesday, March 08, 2006

First American Animation from 1906

In 1906, James Stuart Blackton created 'Humorous Phases of Funny Faces,' the first animated American film.

Blackton, along with his partner, Robert E. Smith, had already started the first motion picture studio, Vitagraph Pictures, when this animation was made.

It uses a simple chalk-board technique, but provides an excellent glimpse into the excitement and experimentation of the time. And, frankly, it is so early that it completely avoids the overbearing Disney invention known as 'squash and stretch.' There is so much about 'squash and stretch' that obliterates all attempts at seriousness and artistic expression. It is interesting to watch early animators who had no knowledge of that technique. Try, if you will, to imagine how animation might have developed if it had bypassed Disney.

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