From stick figures to CGI: animation changes over time

By Ellie White

Animated cartoons have been part of most students’ childhoods, and it seems nearly impossible to go anywhere without encountering some form of cartoon, from TV shows to the newspaper funny pages to animated videos on YouTube. For such a present art form, cartoons have changed and grown much over time.

Cartoons have changed for a number of reasons. Technology has changed drastically in the last few years, going from having an almost wall size computer to having computers in people’s pockets. This of course has improved and changed animation, especially Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) animation. “More recently, technology tools facilitating computer animation include for example the digital pen, tablet, and digital sculpting tools,” said Paul Meyer, a writer for MemeBurn, a tech-savvy insight and analysis blog.

Junior Annie Savage, an animation student, said that animation has changed with technology. “Computer tech is evolving, so there’s less hand drawn, which is kind of sad,” Savage said. She also thinks that it has changed because of the evolution of popular culture.

Gender portrayals in media have also been an influence on cartoons. Lately women have been portrayed as more powerful and not just princesses in pretty dresses.

Art student junior Abbey Pour thinks that animation has changed because of how women are portrayed. “Women went from being portrayed as the damsel in distress, and now they’re the heroes of the story ,” Pour said. Disney is a prime example of this change. In the past, the Disney princess movies have had the princesses as the victims, but in the most recent Disney princess movie, Moana, the title character is the hero of the story. She has no love interest to speak of and in the end saves the day.

Savage also said that she prefers stop motion over other animation styles, and some of her favorite movies include Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline. Pour said that she prefers the animation of some of the older Disney films such as Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and Beauty and the Beast.

However, another factor in the changes of animation could be the artists themselves. All artists have their own styles and the styles change and grow constantly. Professional Illustrator Steve Harpster is the creator of Harptoons, a company dedicated to getting young artists excited about art and their imagination. He has illustrated over 100 books for children and travels all over the country teaching kids how to draw. “There are so many different styles right now,” Harpster said. “I think that cartoons change with the times; they aren’t necessarily worse or better… I think that some things are just amazing like the Pixar shorts, but I do think it’s sad that the traditional 2-D animation is dying out,” Harpster said. Harpster said that some of his favorite modern cartoons, that he watches with his kids include Teen Titans and Spongebob Squarepants, while his favorite older cartoons are the Hanna Barbara cartoons and Looney Tunes.

While cartoons may change and grow, it is certain that they will always be around in some style or fashion. Cartoons will always have something for everyone to enjoy.

Cartoons have changed quite a bit from the times of Looney Toons. “I think that they evolved into what people want to see, or at least what they think they want to see.… I think they are evolving into something else entirely,” junior Abbey Pour said.

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