Monday, January 7, 2013

Hardware History

J.J. Sedelmaier has written an interesting history of animation disks for Imprint magazine.

People who entered the animation business in the recent past have  lived totally within a digital world.  But before computers, animation had its own set of very specific hardware, developed from the 1910s onward to facilitate the creation of cartoons.

There were studios with their own peg standards as well as Acme pegs (which dominated the California business) and Oxberry pegs (which dominated in New York).  There was even another standard, not mentioned in the article, that came from the U.S. Signal Corps from World War II and made it into the animation industry as war surplus.

The picture above is a Fleischer set-up.  Note the goose-neck lamp for top lighting.  Fleischer used top pegs, where Disney used bottom pegs.  There's a wire coil at the top right to hold pencils and brushes and the holder on the left for ink and paint.  The disk rotates on rubber rollers (pictured in the article).  As the Fleischers were inventors and very mechanically minded, they put a lot of effort into creating equipment that would make production efficient.

The article shows a great many disks and set-ups.  It's a walk down memory lane for many of us and a history lesson for those who grew up more likely to be manipulating a mouse than a pencil.

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