ByJancy Richardson, writer at
To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'
Jancy Richardson

Animated movies - as we know and love them today - were a long time coming. Sure, cartoons look fun, simple and easy, but a lot of time, effort and love went into developing the art form. Check out just a few of the real game-changers that altered the course of animation forever...

1. Fantasmagorie (1908)

Made By: Émile Cohl.

Type of Animation: Hand-drawn animation - the 'chalk line effect'

How it Changed the Game: Fantasmagorie premiered in Paris as the world's very first cartoon composed entirely of animation. 700 double-exposed drawings were used to animate the movie.


2. Steamboat Willie (1928)

Made By: Disney

Type of Animation: Hand-drawn animation

How it Changed the Game: One of the first cartoons to come with a recorded soundtrack, Steamboat Willie catapulted Mickey Mouse - and Disney - to international acclaim. The world has not been the same since.


3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)

Made By: Walt Disney

Type of Animation: Hand-drawn animation

How it Changed the Game: The first animated feature filmed in three-strip technicolor, paving the way for further Disney advancement in their masterpiece, Fantasia in 1940. Snow White also famously traumatized many children with a super-scary witch.


4. Mighty Joe Young (1949)

Made By: RKO

Type of Animation: Stop-motion

How it Changed the Game: The first outing for animation legend Ray Harryhausen may not have been as impressive as his later Jason and the Argonauts (1963) but Joe Young won the Academy Award for Special Effects, and set the standard for animators forever. Mighty indeed.


5. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Made By: Studio Ghibli

Type of Animation: Anime

How it Changed the Game: Hayao Miyazaki first truly hit international notice with My Neighbor Totoro, bringing the stunning visuals of anime genius powerhouse, Studio Ghibli to the masses. His later works, such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, are possibly even better.


6. Akira (1988)

Made By: Tokyo Movie Shinsha / Toho

Type of Animation: Hand-drawn Anime

How it Changed the Game: Akira's unprecedented budget and painstaking creative team made it the most stunning showcase for hand-drawn animation you're likely to see. The gritty, urban feel of Akira has made it an adult fave since its release.


7. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Made By: Touchstone / Skellington Productions

Type of Animation: stop-motion puppetry

How it Changed the Game: Possibly the best-loved of all of Tim Burton's creations, Jack Skellington and pals created both a mainstream and cult hit, and one of the most prominent uses of puppetry in screen history.


8. Toy Story (1995)

Made By: Pixar

Type of Animation: Computer Animation

How it Changed the Game: back when Pixar was a just a risk that Disney were willing to take, Toy Story altered animation forever. It was the first full-length movie to be completely computer-animated. Pixar: the little company that could.


9. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

Made By: Comedy Central/Scott Rudin Productions

Type of Animation: 3D animation used to simulate 2-D paper-cut-out stop-motion

How it Changed the Game: South Park pushed the envelope in terms of both graphic, adult content, but also for popularizing a fairly niche form of animation. Not since Fritz the Cat (1972) has an animated movie shocked so many people. Great songs, too.


10. Shrek (2001)

Made By: Dreamworks

Type of Animation: Computer Animation

How it Changed the Game: Shrek was the first movie to win the newly-created Oscar for 'Best Animated Film', showing the increasing critical respect for animation work - perhaps the regular films didn't want the competition...


It's been a long, incredible journey, animation fans. Obviously this is only a small selection of the most influential moments in animation - what's your favorite animated game-changer?


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