Established in 2002 and celebrated in over 40 countries, International Animation Day - celebrated on October 28th - commemorates the first public performance of Reynaud's Théâtre Optique, the very first projected, animated film, at the Grevin Museum in Paris in 1892.
Reynaud developed Théâtre Optique as an improvement to his earlier, 1877 invention of the Praxinoscope, which was itself a successor to the Zoetrope. Not only did the Théâtre Optique allow Reynaud to project larger images that could be enjoyed by an entire audience, it also enabled him to create longer sequences.
Although it was eclipsed by the Lumière
Brothers' invention of the Cinematograph in 1895, Reynaud's Théâtre Optique played at the Musée Grévin until 1900. By 1910, Reynaud had been driven into bankruptcy. While his fame was short-lived, the impact of his work lives on to this day and is all the more impressive when one considers the fact that his efforts predate the invention of camera-made movies.
While Reynaud’s Théâtre Optique was all-too-quickly eclipsed by the advent of live-action of motion pictures, it served to inspire many early animators – like Cohl, Blackton, Bray and of course Max Fleischer – who combined innovation, invention and artistry to bring worlds created almost entirely of pen and ink to wonderful, animated life.
Max Fleischer, like Reynaud, would go on to hold numerous of patents for his innovative animation techniques and mechanisms, including the Rotoscope (1915) which he used in making the 1919 The Tantalizing Fly featured below. It offers a wonderful contrast to Reynaud's earlier work, and it's interesting to note that both films feature the antics of classic clown characters.
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