Earliest Animation?

OTL, as i understand it, animation was super early in the twentieth century. But how early is it possible? Guilded Age? Progressive Era in the US? what might some effects be of this medium arising decades earlier?
 
All you need is a good light/dark contrast to illuminate or cast shadows, a series of sequential images on some medium (even hand painting or paper cutouts would work), and a mechanism to quickly switch them. From an engineering standpoint it probably could have been built anytime since the Antikythera mechanism.
 
As @Escape Zeppelin noted, animation's biggest obstacles were not necessarily technological. Precursors like flip books appeared in the mid/late 1800s, and earlier examples like the lanterna magica appeared even further before that. Animation was always considered "for children", and animation requires a great deal of skill. Until the 20th century, children's entertainment was not particularly profitable (children rarely have any money, after all). Animation requires large studios and a wealthy consumer market that is willing and able to spend money on their children. To this day, adult animation is still rarely considered respectable on the same level of live action movies and television.

Perhaps if there was a breakthrough adult animated film in the early 1900s, it could encourage copycats and lead to more animated films being produced. However, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Disney having the means to do so.
 
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As @Escape Zeppelin noted, animation's biggest obstacles were not necessarily technological. Precursors like flip books appeared in the mid/late 1800s, and earlier examples like the lanterna magica appeared even further before that. Animation was always considered "for children", and animation requires a great deal of skill. Until the 20th century, children's entertainment was not particularly profitable (children rarely have any money, after all). Animation requires large studios and a wealthy consumer market that is willing and able to spend money on their children. To this day, adult animation is still rarely considered respectable on the same level of live action movies and television.

Perhaps if there was a breakthrough adult animated film in the early 1900s, it could encourage copycats and lead to more animated films being produced. However, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Disney having the means to do so.

Not really. The oldest known animated film was an Argentine political satire from 1917. The animation age ghetto wasn't a universal thing either, I mean the Flintstones aired prime time and was aimed at adults hence why they had the notorious ads with Fred and Barney smoking Winstons.
 
So high stone age animation would be possible. A potter's wheel on each side, a long strip of papyrus with pictures on it scrolling across a window into a room with a bright fire inside, a wall or cliff opposite cleaned and painted white. Or phantasmagoria: fog banks and clouds for the silver screen instead of a wall.
 
So high stone age animation would be possible. A potter's wheel on each side, a long strip of papyrus with pictures on it scrolling across a window into a room with a bright fire inside, a wall or cliff opposite cleaned and painted white. Or phantasmagoria: fog banks and clouds for the silver screen instead of a wall.
Probably technically possible, but it requires a kind of big intuitive/conceptual leap
 
It depends on your definition of animation.
There are, from what I can tell, "traditionally animated" (individually painted pictures) shorts from the 1890s
(which is super-super early as 20th century goes...).

The animation age ghetto didn't really become a thing until tv did.

The oldest known animated film was an Argentine political satire from 1917.
First animation feature film.
 
I know that @DValdron was planning to do a one shot on Renaissance animation at one point, though he never got around to it.
Yeah, my premise was that Leonardo Davinci was going to take his Camera Obscura experiments up to the next level, by using it to display a rapid succession of stained glass images, which would allow him to discover persistence of vision, and lead to animation. Initially, this gets him a crude Zoetrope. But it's also a marvelous commercial success, leading him to make more and more elaborate clockwork camera obscuras shuttling through a series of lightly painted thin glass panes to show sequences several minutes long and tell stories. Because of the difficulty in rendering lifelike humans easily over hundreds of panes, he creates a stylized Christian mouse named Michael (actually a dig at rival Michaelangelo) who has various misadventures.

But the adventures of Michael begin to pall, so he has to commission new adventures. He has a brainstorm! All he needs to do is make more camera obscura/zoetropes, each one identical, and he can then circulate each adventure of Michael the Mouse from one city to the next through Italy and France. This venture makes him wealthy, and puts him and his backers at the core of a centralized international network. The need to craft identical obscura/zoetropes, and identical interchangeable glass sequences leads him to pioneer techniques, measures and processes for standardisation and assembly line production.

Over the next twenty years of Leonardo Da Vinci's life, the fallout from these projects consume him - standardisation and refinement of clockwork construction techniques creates a flood of universal and standard sized gears and spindles, a flood which saves other artisans considerable time and money from making or commissioning their own, and leads to a literal explosion of clockwork devices of all kinds. Efforts to craft better and faster images, more durable images, and less fragile 'plates' and sequences lead to innovations. Efforts to figure out how to generate or concentrate light also proceed. And of course, he invents pornography.

At the end, Da Vinci and his mouse Michael, sit at the center of a continent spanning entertainment empire, whose spin offs create an early and different pseudo-industrial revolution, early discoveries and accomplishments in optics, mechanics, information and chemistry. He is so famous and so remarkable, that in order to handle his many visitors and pilgrims, he builds a theme park, and calls it DaVinciWorld, or DaVinciLand.

One of his heirs or inheritors, takes the Da Vinci name as his own, and calls himself Cevil B. Da Vinci..

Honestly, I wanted to do tons of puns, gags, call backs to early animation, Da Vinci, Mills and early Hollywood, as well as tell a few jokes.

That's sort of the outline of what I wanted to do, but it would have involved a lot more research into what that Leonardo's era of technology was, where it could extend, and how accessible later developments were. Just how far could it have gotten? Could Leonardo's society, kicked in this direction, have found its way to photography, or to transparent film strips? Could they have developed a chemical or electrical bright light? Could Leonardo have developed something similar to Edison's early phonograph? And beyond that, what would be the consequences of standardisation and mass production of clockworks and clock parts? The implications of a sort of 'cinema' circuit? I just never had the time.
 
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bpbruce said:
So high stone age animation would be possible. A potter's wheel on each side, a long strip of papyrus with pictures on it scrolling across a window into a room with a bright fire inside, a wall or cliff opposite cleaned and painted white. Or phantasmagoria: fog banks and clouds for the silver screen instead of a wall.
Flashman: Probably technically possible, but it requires a kind of big intuitive/conceptual leap.

In one swell foop, yes, that's a big mental leap. But it's not a big capital investment like the antikythis device. They were making scrolls, fires, rooms, walls, potter's wheels anyway. And they could arrive at it in three easy steps. One, shining a light through a papyrus picture to a wall. This is easy enough that someone probably did this in our timeline. Two, unrolling a scroll from picture to picture. This is more of a stretch, but if you were in signals for an army led by a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night you'd be used to trying special effects. Temples always had a show biz streak. Three, unrolling a scroll between potter's wheels? Okay, that went full Flintstones. But there are some remarkably long Chinese scrolls.
 
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