Analysis of ‘Humorous phases of funny faces’

‘Humorous phases of funny faces 1906’ by J. Stuart Blackton (1875-1941). This short film was the first animated film recorded on standard picture film.

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Blackton “draws” a series of funny faces, including a line drawing of two faces, a man with an umbrella, a line drawing of two faces in profile, a clown and the profile of a seated man.

In the cartoon, animated hand-drawn scenes appear on a chalkboard, such as a clown (which has been animated by the use of cut out animation) playing with a hat and a dog jumping through a hoop. In the beginning the cartoonist’s hands are included, too, which are then left out, using stop-motion. This animation is often compared to Emile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie from 1908, which is regarded as the world’s first animated cartoon drawn on paper.

Stuart Blackton drew faces on board, photographed them onto film, ran the film sequentially to show the faces and it is also considered stop-motion. Stop motion is a form of animation that relies on photographs of still objects to create movement. Objects are manipulated and photographed sequentially. When the photographs move together in a quick sequence (like in a film) it creates the illusion of movement.

What I enjoyed about this animation film was how Blackton’s hands were included as he was drawing which gave a sense of mystery as they come and go, this also makes it quite personal and unique.

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