TIMELINE OF BRITISH ANIMATION

Designed by Firecatcher with facts curated by Sandra Greatorex (QUAD), Kieran Argo and Anim18

TIMELINE

TIMELINE – Author’s Biography

Kieran Argo has been working in animation for over 25 years. He worked at Aardman for fifteen years where he promoted a number of favourites including Wallace & Gromit and managed their Events and Exhibitions Department. He travelled extensively marketing their work through festivals and producing large-scale exhibitions. The career highlight was working with Studio Ghibli in Japan on a year-long special exhibition at the famous Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. He also served on many international film festival juries including BAFTA. He helped establish the Encounters Short Film Festival in Bristol and served as a Board Director for twelve years. He has been the Animation Programmer since 2010. In recent years Kieran has been responsible for delivering a number of professional development events including the Encounters Producers Courses and a number of training events for the Random Acts film-makers in the South West of England. With extensive knowledge and experience of animation and film production Kieran is proud to help new and established talent and offer advice on marketing, awards, festival strategies and professional development.

 

2000-2018

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British Virtual Reality Company collaborate with Google

The first ever Virtual Reality (VR) 360 degree interactive Google Doodle ‘Back to the Moon’ is made at Nexus Studios (London) by FX Goby.

2018
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Loving Vincent is released

Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela write, produce and direct ‘Loving Vincent’ a feature film about Vincent Van Gogh made from over 65,000 oil paintings. The film employs 125 painters and received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

2017
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Ethel & Earnest

The feature film ‘Ethel and Ernest’ is released. Another adaptation of a Raymond Briggs novel this film tells the tale of Brigg’s parents moving through their lives from 1928 to 1971. The film was produced by Lupus Films in London.

2016
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Hand Drawn Film gains prestigious nomination

Richard Williams receives an Oscar nomination for his hand-drawn film ‘Prologue’.

2015
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The Clangers are revived

Daniel Postgate (son of Oliver Postgate) collaborates with Peter Firmin on a new series of ‘The Clangers’.

2014
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Paranorman directed by British Animator

2012 – ‘Paranorman’ (Laika, USA) is released internationally, co-directed by Aardman alumnus Sam Fell.

2012
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Grant Orchard creates Award Winning short film

‘A Morning Stroll’ by Grant Orchard receives an Oscar nomination.

2011
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Barry Purves finishes his 10th film

One of Britain’s most revered stop-motion puppet animators, Barry Purves finishes his 10th film ‘Tchaikovsky’. Purves’ films are admired internationally and have picked up multiple festival awards. Barry is also an acclaimed screenwriter, educator and stage director.

2011
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The Illusionist made in Edinburgh

Sylvain Chomet directs his feature ‘The Illusionist’ in Edinburgh, Scotland. The film picks up numerous top film awards.

2010
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Flushed Away hits Cinemas

Sam Fell directs ‘Flushed Away’ Aardman’s first computer-generated feature film (Aardman/DreamWorks).

2006
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Yet another British Animation wins Oscar

Suzie Templeton writes and directs the stop-frame film ‘Peter and the Wolf’. The film wins the Best Animated Short Oscar in 2007. Hugh Welchman co-produces this film and goes on to make ‘Loving Vincent’ (2017).

2006
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The Curse of the Were-Rabbit proves to be Oscar Worthy

Wallace & Gromit in ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ gives Nick Park (Aardman) his fourth Oscar win.

2005
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Magic Light Pictures is set up

Michael Rose leaves his successful production run at Aardman to set up Magic Light Pictures with Martin Pope in London. MLP films such as ‘Chico & Rita’, ‘The Gruffalo’, ‘Room on the Broom’ and others have been nominated for four Oscars, won two Baftas, two International Kids Emmys, a European Film Award and multiple Annecy festival awards.

2003
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The Animator's Survival Guide

Richard Williams publishes ‘The Animator’s Survival Kit’ which is regarded as the ‘bible’ reference for animators.

2002
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Chicken Run comes out

Aardman’s ‘Chicken Run’ was the first Aardman film made with DreamWorks backing and remains one of the highest grossing stop-frame feature films of all time. The DreamWorks/Aardman relationship lasted until 2006 and produced 3 feature films.

2000

1990s

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Animation Company formed in Scotland

Red Kite Animation is formed in Edinburgh, Scotland and produces children’s series such as ‘Dennis the Menace and Gnasher’ and ‘Wendy’.

1997
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Peter Lord gains Oscar Nomination

Peter Lord receives an Academy (Oscar) nomination for ‘Wat’s Pig’.

1996
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Third Oscar win for Aardman Creator

Nick Park’s Wallace & Gromit in ‘A Close Shave’ wins him his third Oscar.

1995
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Peppa Pig's creators form company

The company Astley Baker Davies is formed who later produce the global children’s hit ‘Peppa Pig’ (2004).

1994
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NFTS Graduates win Oscar

National Film and Television School graduates Alison Snowden and David Fine win an Oscar for the traditional 2D drawn comedy ‘Bob’s Birthday’. Tim Watts and David Stoten receive an Academy Nomination the same year for their film ‘The Big Story’.

1994
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The Little Princess' Production company is launched

The Illuminated Film Company is established by Iain Harvey and goes on to produce the successful ‘Little Princess’ children’s series.

1993
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bloexbrothers are formed

bolexbrothers in Bristol is founded by Dave Borthwick and Dave Alex Riddett. The collective of individuals at bolexbrothers included some of Britain’s most successful creative talent who helped define a golden decade of British animation. ‘The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb’ combining pixilation and stop-frame animation is a cult classic.

1993
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The Wrong Trouser

‘The Wrong Trousers’ directed by Nick Park wins an Oscar and dozens of other international awards and is widely considered one of the greatest stop-frame films of all time.

1993
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The Sandman

Manchester’s Paul Berry makes his short horror stop-frame film ‘The Sandman’ which earns him an Oscar nomination. He goes on to work on Tim Burton’s ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993) and as supervising animator on Henry Selick’s ‘James and the Giant Peach’ before his untimely death in 2001.

1991

 

1980s

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Creature Comfort's Commissioned

Channel Four commission Aardman to produce the Lip Synch series of five films including the classic ‘Creature Comforts’ that earned Nick Park his first Oscar.

1989
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Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Canadian born animation master Richard Williams directs the animation for the hugely successful ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ Williams credits Bob Godfrey for helping him get started in England. It takes Williams almost 40 years to finish his magnum opus ‘The Thief and the Cobbler’.

1988
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Passion Pictures Produces High End Animations

Andrew Ruhemann establishes Passion Pictures in London – a high end production studio producing numerous projects including the long running tv commercial campaign ‘Compare the Market.com’, ‘Gorillaz’ and the Academy award winning short ‘The Lost Thing’.

1987
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The Black Dog

Alison De Vere produces ‘The Black Dog’ widely regarded as her best work.

1987
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Girl's Night Out wins big at Annecy

Joanna Quinn’s hilarious ‘Girls Night Out’ funded by Middlesex Polytechnic/Channel Four and S4C goes on to win top prizes at the Annecy International Animation Festival. Quinn’s outstanding drawing skills, humour and strong female characters make her one of Britain’s premier animators.

1986
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Sledgehammer Animated Music Video is an Award winning Collobration

Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ was quickly produced in two weeks at Aardman with a large collaboration of animators. It went on to win dozens of awards and is one of the most successful music videos ever made.

1986
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Quay Brothers release Street of Crocodiles

the American born Quay brothers (Timothy and Stephen) produce their unconventional film ‘Street of Crocodiles’ widely considered to be a classic ‘ethereal gothic’ short film that won many film awards. The Quay’s also contributed to Peter Gabriel’s music video ‘Sledgehammer’ around the same time.

1986
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When the Wind Blows

The British nuclear disaster feature film ‘When the Wind Blows’ is released. It was directed by Jimmy Murakami and produced by John Coates at TVC London.

1986
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A Productions is Formed

A Productions in Bristol is formed and goes on to produce a variety of children’s television work.

1985
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Trap Door

he plasticine creatures of ‘The Trap Door’ series by Charlie Mills, Terry Brain (CMTB Animation) and Steve Box is first shown on ITV and gains a huge cult following.

1984
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Dreamland Express

David Anderson wins a BAFTA for ‘Dreamland Express’.

1983
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The Snowman Arrives

The television short film ‘The Snowman’ produced by John Coates (TVC London), was released featuring the popular flying snowman sequence to the song ‘Walking in the Air’ (by Howard Blake).

1982
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The Launch of S4C launches Welsh Animation

S4C was borne from a grassroots movement led by Welsh-language activists. The movement to enhance the scope of the Welsh language began in 1962, but the specific aim to have broadcasting channels in Welsh took hold in the 1970s. The funding that came with it that opened the floodgates for Welsh animation.

1982 Onwards
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The Arrival of Channel 4

Channel Four and S4C in Wales are launched. Channel Four soon employs Clare Kitson as Commissioning Editor for animation. In the 10 years from 1989 – 1999 Clare helps produce one of the most successful periods in British animation history. Many successful short films and commercials were made for Channel Four during this time. S4C go on to make the hit ‘Super Ted’ along with other successful animation projects.

1982
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Rupert and the Frog Song

Paul McCartney recruits Geoff Dunbar to direct ‘Rupert and the Frog Song’ and begins a creative relationship lasting over 30 years

1981

 

 

1970s

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Pink Floyd's The Wall is Animated

Illustrator and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe contributes the double album artwork and 15 minutes of surreal animation to the feature film ‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd. The dystopian vision and unique style of Scarfe created the visual identity of the film and album and all future stage performances.

1979
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The Red Turtle's Director Graduates

The London based Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit graduates from the West Surrey College of Art and Design and goes on to make ‘The Monk and the Fish’ (Oscar nomination) and ‘Father & Daughter’ (Oscar win). Later, Dudok de Wit becomes the first non-Japanese director for the Studio Ghibli/Wild Bunch feature film ‘The Red Turtle’ (Oscar nomination) 2016.

1978
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Watership Down is Marked as International Success

The feature film ‘Watership Down’ directed by Martin Rosen is a huge international box office success. The cel animation film based on Richard Adams’ book is helped by Art Garfunkel singing Mike Batt’s hit song ‘Bright Eyes’.

1978
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Morph is Born

Aardman established in Bristol and began making ‘Morph’ for the children’s television art programme ‘Take Hart’. Morph is alive and well and still in production today.

1976
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Paddington Bear is Animated

Sheila Graber creates the animation for the BBC children’s series ‘Paddington Bear’ with Ivor Wood at Filmfair

1975
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Cosgrove Hall finds its home in Manchester

Cosgrove Hall Films is established in Manchester and went on to produce some of Britain’s most successful and widely regarded children’s animation such as: ‘Noddy’, ‘Chorlton and the Wheelies’, ‘Bill and Ben’ and ‘Danger Mouse’. The prolific output and success of Cosgrove Hall Films cannot be underestimated.

1975
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Bob Godfrey wins an Oscar

Bob Godfrey wins an Oscar for his film ‘Great’. Bob goes on to make the hugely successful children’s series ‘Roobarb’, ‘Noah and Nelly’ and ‘Henry’s Cat’. Bob’s career lasted over 50 years and his short films for adult audiences were notable for their satirical humour.

1975
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Bagpuss is Born

The lovable saggy old cloth cat ‘Bagpuss’ is first shown on BBC. This short series of 13 episodes made by Smallfilms was much loved by a generation of British children.

1974
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Award winning New York Animator moves to London

Erica Russell moves to London from New Zealand and works with Richard Williams before making her great films ‘Feet of Song’ (1988) and ‘Triangle’ (1992) which gained her an Oscar nomination.

1972
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Aardman Animations is Formed

Aardman Animations is formed by Peter Lord and David Sproxton. Over the next 40 plus years Aardman becomes one of the most successful animation companies in the world.

1972
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Special BFI Award for Animation

Political cartoonist Abu Abraham receives a special BFI award for his film ‘No Arks’.

1970
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An Animated Education

Animation began to be taught at colleges and the National Film School, prepping many of the generation that saw success in the following two decades.

1970s

1960s

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The Arrow is released

Newspaper cartoonist Mel Calman produces his first directed film ‘The Arrow’.

1969
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The Clangers Land in Britain

 Smallfilms produce the children’s series ‘Clangers’ about a family of hand-knitted creatures dwelling on a moon-like planet. The Clangers communicate by slide-whistle and live on green soup made by the silver Soup Dragon and blue string pudding. 

1969
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Animated Beatles

Britain’s second British animated feature film was made 1968’s Yellow Submarine, featuring The Beatles music directed by George Dunning and aided by John Coates (TVC London) is released. The film is a psychedelic 1960’s animated classic.

1968
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Terry Gilliam moves to London

Terry Gilliam moves to London from California and soon begins working with the Monty Python team producing his renowned style of irreverent and surreal cut-out animation.

1967
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Camberwick Green broadcast on the BBC

‘Camberwick Green’ a (13 x 5 minute) children’s puppet animation series written and produced by Gordon Murray and animated by Bob Bura, John Hardwick and Pasquale Ferrari was first shown on BBC. Camberwick Green was part of a trilogy including ‘Trumpton’ and ‘Chigley’.

1966
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Cinemascope Animation

Ray Harryhausen makes his first and only widescreen ‘Cinemascope’ format film ‘First Men on the Moon’ based on the novel by H.G. Wells.

1964
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Automania 2000

‘Automania 2000’ directed by John Halas receives an Oscar nomination.

1963
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‘Jason and the Argonauts’ directed by Ray Harryhausen is considered to be one of his best works.

1963
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Australian born Bob Godfrey makes the satirical ‘Do It Yourself Cartoon Kit’ using paper cut-out technique later used to greater acclaim by Terry Gilliam.

1961
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An American in Britain

American stop-motion and visual effect pioneer Ray Harryhausen moves to the U.K.

1960

 

 

 

1950s

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Smallfilms Established

The company Smallfilms is established in a cowshed by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate. Their first series of cut-out animation for children ‘Ivor the Engine’ is produced. They go on to make other successful series such as ‘Pogle’s Wood’ and ‘Noggin the Nog’.

1959
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Wallace and GRommit Creator Born

1958 – Nicholas Wulstan Park is born in Preston Lancashire. He would later go onto be the creator of Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep.

1958
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TVC London Formed

The production company TVC London is established by John Coates. TVC made films such as ‘Wind in the Willows’ and Famous Fred’. Between 1957 and 1997 TVC made over 1500 commercials, 70 documentaries and 80 entertainment films.

1957
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BATFA Winning Animation

‘Pan-tele-tron’ a promotional film for the tech company Phillips directed by Digby Turpin wins a BAFTA for Best Animated Film.

1957
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McLaren wins Short Film Palme d’Or award

Norman McLaren’s animated film ‘Blinkity Blank’ wins the Cannes Festivals Short Film Palme d’Or award.

1955
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Boom in Animated Advertisments

The first independent broadcast channel ITV is launched prompting a rapid growth of animation commercials.

1955
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The First British Animated Feature Film - Animal Farm

 Halas and Batchelor release their adult animation feature-length film of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’.

1954
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Norman McLaren wins Oscar

Stirling born Norman McLaren wins an Oscar for ‘Neighbours’ (1952) a film using the animation technique ‘pixilation’ where the human body and objects are moved slightly, one frame at a time.

1953
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Europe's First Stereoscopic Animation

 Halas and Batchelor produce the first European stereoscopic ‘3D’ film ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’

1952
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Animated Series based on the British Isles

G-B Animation – the short-lived British studio founded by Disney animator David Hand – brought us Musical Paintbox, a series of ten shorts that lasted from 1948 to 1950.Each short in the series focuses on a British or Irish locale, showcasing folksongs, legends (often with comical twists) and other bits of local flavour.

1950

 

 

 

1940s

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Julius Pinschewer's King Coal

 The film ‘King Coal’ directed by Julius Pinschewer is produced. This is a recruitment and propaganda film for the National Coal Board.

1948
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G.B. Animation Formed

G.B. Animation (company) is formed by J Arthur Rank to try and rival Disney’s success. The company produced the ‘Animaland’ and ‘Musical Paintbox’ series and the film ‘Longitude and Latitude’. The company closed in 1950 due to lack of commercial success.

1946
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Handling Ships

Handling Ships’ is the first feature film to be produced from Halas and Batchelor and is the first ever British animated feature film.

1945
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Halas and Batchelor Formed

Halas and Batchelor was established by Joy Batchelor and John Halas. Halas and Batchelor became one of the most successful and leading British and European animation companies of all time. The company was formed to produce propaganda and war information films along with commercials. As in the First World War, the animation industry was inadvertently boosted by a new conflict. But this time the growth was consolidated in the post-war period thanks to new sponsorship opportunities.

1940

1930s

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Music Man

“John Halas and Joy Batchelor worked on Music Man in 1938, before they formed the Halas & Batchelor studio. Halas directed the film; although Joy Batchelor is not credited, she is identified as an animator on the film by Vivien Halas and Paul Wells’ book Halas & Batchelor Cartoons”(source: 100 Greatest Cartoons film by Vivien Halas and Paul Wells’ book ‘Halas & Batchelor Cartoons’)

1938
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Ivor Woods Born

Ivor Wood is born in Leeds. Wood’s career includes ‘The Magic Roundabout’ with Serge Danot in the 1960’s and, in the 1970’s ‘The Adventures of Parsley’, ‘The Wombles’ and ‘Paddington’.

1932
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The GPO Film Unit

The General Post Office (GPO) establishes the GPO Film Unit to produce public information films. The documentary film maker and head of the GPO Film Unit John Grierson employed animation pioneers such as Norman McLaren and Len Lye. Animation was seen to be an effective public information communication tool.

1930s

1920s

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‘The Jazz Stringer’ was the first British animated film combining sound with picture and featured the character ‘Orace the ‘Armonious ‘Ound’ animated by Joe Noble.

1928
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‘Jerry the Troublesome Tyke’ was a cartoon dog character created by Sid Griffiths and Bert Bilby in Cardiff. ‘Jerry the Tyke’ was similar in style to Max Fleischer’s Felix the Kat and appeared in a long series of around 42 short films made over two years.

1925
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Bonzo the Dog

Anson Dyer made a series of Sam Cartoons and G.E. Studdy made ‘Bonzo the Dog’. These are considered to be some of the earliest commercial films made to sell things.

1920s

Pre 1910s

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Lancelot Speed makes the short propaganda film ‘Britain’s Effort’ celebrating the British war effort in the First World War.

1918
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John Bull's Animated Sketchbook No 15

Here is a notable example of Short, humorous stop-frame animation propaganda film made for British Home Front audiences during the First World War. Anson Dyer produces ‘John Bull’s Animated Sketchbook No 15’ one of the earliest British propaganda films. Anson Dyer was a major figure in early British animation.

1916
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The Sporting Mice

One of the first ‘silhouette animation’ short films ‘The Sporting Mice’ is made by Charles Armstrong.

1909
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Arthur Melbourne Cooper produces ‘Dreams of Toyland’ one of the first animated films to be shown in public.

1908
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The Variety of the Animation Technique in the Decade

‘Dolly’s Toys’ is considered to be Britain’s first animated film by Arthur Melbourne Cooper along with Walter R. Booth’s film ‘The Devil in the Studio’.

1901
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Perceived Motion

Edward Muybridge experiments with sequencing photographic images to create perceived motion.

1872
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Camera Negative Invented

Henry Fox Talbot invents the first camera ‘negative’ using a salt and silver nitrate process in Lacock, near Chippenham, England.

1835
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Sequential Images and Perception

Peter Mark Roget discusses the illusion of motion. One of the earliest scientific discussions of sequential images and perception.

1825