2D Animation, Snow White and Techniques Research

The animation process used in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the use of cel animation. This form of animation makes use of sequential hand drawn frames, usually done on a stack of paper. This allows the animator to flip the pages back and forth, checking the sequence of movements in a way similar to that of a flip book. To aid with this process, of which is time consuming, key frames, storyboards, and final designs are usually established before the main body of animating work is commenced. Once the animation is mostly complete, the drawings will be traced, with ink, onto plastic cells (transparent sheets), painted and then compiled together over the background art to create the final animation.
In regards to the animation techniques used in the creation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, traditional cel animation was employed. Seeing as this film was the pioneer for this technique and process when it came to feature films, the large scale production was pioneering in the field. Once the story, storyboards and conceptual art had been completed, dialogue is recorded and then the animators set to work creating thousands of drawings, using pencils and traditional flip-book techniques for the sequential nature of the animation. Usually, the more experienced animators will create the main ‘key-frames’, while others will draw the in-between frames to complete the scenes and movements. After the bulk of the animating work was completed, the drawings were handed off to other employees to trace, using ink and transparent sheets of plastic to recreate the drawings. Painting came next, with every single frame (cel sheet) being painted and coloured, with the paint being applied to the back of the sheets to preserve the inked line quality. Once this has been completed, the sheets were compiled over the backgrounds, painted using Tempera or Water Colour onto panels of glass, and photographed in sequence, effectively creating the animation.
During this entire process, the animators and various other members of the studio would test their animations and seek feedback, personally viewing as well as presenting rough animations and sequences to their peers. To accompany the animation, sound effects and musical scores were creating. As they did not have sophisticated music production software back in those days, all of the sounds and music had to be manually created and recorded, allowing them to have a more authentic and real sound quality to them.
Not only did Disney Studios create the first full-length animated feature film, but it was a pioneer in large-scale cel animation, the use of Technicolour and multi-plane camera use.


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Simon, B. (2002). The One That Started It All… The Making Of Snow White – Animated Views. [online] Animatedviews.com. Available at: http://animatedviews.com/2002/the-one-that-started-it-all-the-making-of-snow-white/ [Accessed 1 Apr. 2017].

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