Step back a ways, and many of us remember watching movies that were on film, whether in the cinema or in school. Those kinds of movies were actually optical illusions, relying on the brain, film speed, and persistence of vision so we would not see the individual frames, but perceive actual motion. Movies on film that lasted a long time. What happened before? One gadget was Thomas Edison's kinetoscope, using film and that optical illusion thing. (A short video about the kinetoscope is here, and a kind of tour of the machine is here.) The earliest Western films were on the kinetoscope as well.
Before that, there was a toy called the thaumatrope, where a card or disk was given drawings on each side and it was twirled on a string. There could be a bird on one side, a cage on the other, and twirling gave the viewer the image of a bird in a cage. So, that's the beginning of animation history, right?
|Rhinos in Chauvet Cave, public domain via Wikimedia Commons|
Due to a bit of observant happenstance, burning torches flickered on the cave walls with paintings in Lascaux, and animation effects were observed. Sure does look like ancient humans were using some very advanced techniques indeed!
Fred Flintstone may have been able to go to the movies after all if researchers are right in their observations that so-called Stone-Age man used animation effects.To read the entire short article, click on "Movie-making an off-the-wall idea". Also, a pretty good student report on the thaumatrope is below.
Cave paintings that archaeologist Marc Azéma, of the University of Toulouse–Le Mirail in France, and artist Florent Rivère studied are a fascinating insight into the technical knowledge ancient man possessed.
. . .
They say ancient man drew multiple images of the same animal with what they described as cartoon–like techniques to create the effect of movement across cave walls. The cinematic effects were revealed by the flickering light of burning torches.