The Artist's Part in the Production of an Animated Cartoon
Cartoon animation as it has been perfected and is practiced by Walt Disney and his staff of artists and craftsmen is a special art. More accurately, it is a collaboration of several arts and crafts.
The cartoon in motion is a process of illusion.
Separate drawings, inked upon celluloid and projected upon a screen at the rate of 24 per second, create the semblance of life. By experience, we attribute life to any object which seems to move of its own volition. In the case of the cartoon in motion upon a screen, the illusion of animation is created by the optical fact that the eye retains an after-image for a fraction of time beyond the instant of first sight. Thus blended, 24 successive separate images per second on a ribbon of film seem to flow in continuous action.
To maintain this smooth flow so that the eye accepts it as evidence of reality, the timing, the position of the image and the mechanics of photographing and projecting the cartoon must be coordinated with the finest precision.
The artist’s part in the production of the animated cartoon is, of course, basic. Each artist is a specialist in his own field. In defining his place in the operation and his relationship to the other collaborative talents, I will begin with the men responsible for the inception of the picture-always under the executive guidance and supervision of Walt Disney himself. These are the story men and the story sketch artists.