In recognition of International Animation Day, we're taking a look back at a pioneer of animation who actually never set foot in Fleischer Studios and whose work predates Max Fleischer's invention of the Rotoscope by more than twenty years: Charles-Émile Reynaud.
Reynaud's technique involved creating numerous tiny paintings that he would then string together to create a sense of movement. As the drawing (below) demonstrates, Reynaud used two projectors to project his animated work: one to project the stationary background and another to project moving objects.
Looking at the excerpt below from Reynaud's charming early work, Pauvre Pierrot, one can see how, even in its early and somewhat crudely executed state, animated pictures captured the public’s imagination.
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.
For more information on International Animation Day, visit Association Internationale du Film d'Animation on their website or check them out on Facebook.
Pauvre Pierrot (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)