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On International Animation Day, on October 28, it’s time to get in touch with your inner child and remember when you thought the best thing you could do in life was to watch cartoons. Of course, maturity and sophistication have elevated your appreciation for moving static images so that, today, you share a worldwide interest in this creative art form and vibrant industry.
History of International Animation Day
In 2002, the International Animated Film Association (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation) created this unofficial holiday to commemorate the day when animation had its first public appearance. That was October 28, 1892, at the Grévin Museum in Paris, when Charles-Émile Reynaud and his Théâtre Optique presented his first production, “Pantomimes Lumineuses.” It was a collection of three cartoons, ‘Pauvre Pierrot,’ ‘Un bon bock,’ and ‘Le Clown Et Ses Chiens.’
It was 1888 when Reynaud patented Théâtre Optique, a machine that produced images on a screen using 36 mirrors, two magic lanterns or supplementary lights that were the source of a stationary background, and a projector. The images were painted on a long band that would be wound up on two spools that had to be rotated by hand. Working the spools demanded some skill, so it was usually Reynaud’s hand.
Each of the three animations consisted of 500 to 600 individually painted images and ran for about 15 minutes. Reynaud acted as the projectionist and a piano player accompanied him. Actors on the side provided the dialogue. The show ran until 1900 and was seen by half a million people.
By then, animation had begun to evolve. The next step forward was ‘lumière style,’ which replaced hand-drawn images with photographs for a more realistic visual experience. Audiences embraced the more modern style and lost interest in the performances at the Grévin Museum. Reynaud had presented 12,800 shows.
Reynaud did not adapt to change, and he suffered the consequences. In 1913, disillusioned and ruined financially, he smashed the last Théâtre Optique machine with a hammer and threw most of his films into the Seine.
International Animation Day timeline
Émile Cohl, a French artist, creates the first animated film using what we now consider to be traditional animation methods.
Walt and Roy O. Disney found the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California.
"The Gumby Show," starring a green clay humanoid with a slanted head, premieres on NBS.
Pixar releases "Toy Story," the world's first computer-animated feature film, which becomes the highest-grossing film of the year — earning $362 million worldwide.
International Animation Day FAQs
Who is ASIFA?
The International Animated Film Association (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation] was founded in Annecy, France, in 1960, with Canadian Norman McLaren as the first president. Its mission is to enrich and develop the art and the industry through international cooperation and the free exchange of information and ideas.
Is there an award show for animation?
In 1972, voice actor June Foray, who was best known for her voice as Rocky the Flying Squirrel, resolved to organize an awards show through ASIFA-Hollywood. She recruited Grim Natwick, the creator of “Betty Boop,” as emcee, and ASIFA handed out the first “Annies” for excellence in animation in film and television.
What is ‘anime?’
‘Anime’ is a loose term derived from the French ‘animé,’ (‘animated, lively’), which generally refers to animation that is produced in Japan. But in Japan, they use the term for all animated drawings, no matter what country they’re from.
International Animation Day Activities
Relive your childhood by watching one of the classic animated films of whatever is your yesteryear: "Bambi" (1942), "Lady and the Tramp" (1955), "Aladdin" (1992), "Spirited Away" (2004), "Frozen" (2013), etc. Or gleefully repeat "Moose And Squirrel!" as you follow the adventures of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” on YouTube.
Try your own claymation
Using the camera on your smartphone and several tubs of Play-Doh you've just bought, see if you can recreate Gumby walking. It should be easy; he's practically a stick figure!
Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Pay homage to the Simpsons, who got their Hollywood star in 2000. Since then, their show has become the longest-running scripted American TV show, on the air since 1989.
5 Facts About International Animation Day That Will Blow Your Mind
Festivals warmed the Cold War
During the Cold War, ASIFA organized film festivals in Eastern Europe to bridge the East and West through animation.
Festivals benefited from print promotion
ASIFA promoted festivals by publishing the first magazine exclusively about animation, written in French, English, and Russian.
The first was founded in France
ASIFA's first international animation festival was in Annecy, France, in 1960, and is now the major international destination for more than 100,000 people in the animation industry.
Creativity pays homage to destruction
The Hiroshima International Film Festival was founded in 1985 as ASIFA's way of commemorating the 40th anniversary of the bombing at the end of World War II.
Zagreb leads to Hollywood
Winners of the Grand Prix at Animafest Zagreb in Croatia automatically qualify for the Academy Award and the European Animation Award.
Why We Love International Animation Day
Cartoons are fun
We can still watch cartoons as we get older. They let us enjoy a temporary escape from being a grown-up.
Cartoons can be healthy
Cartoons have always been great babysitters. They help kids with cognitive and language development, enhance their creativity, and promote laughter, which releases those good endorphins.
Cartoons are cultural artifacts
As a sophisticated adult consumer of animation, you can experience work from other countries. Animation can provide a window into other cultures and customs, even while treating common human problems.
International Animation Day dates