In the world of cartoons what we see when we view the finished product is just that, finished. What we don’t see are all the things that go into making a cartoon. Those inside the industry itself claim that if everyone knew exactly how a cartoon was made it would totally take out the fantasy aspect of it and cartoons as a form of entertainment would lose a lot of its charm. The same could probably be said with many live action movies, especially science fiction and fantasy. So you may not want to read what’s about to come next. It may ruin Bugs Bunny for you for life.
Contrary to what you see and believe, moving animations don’t move. They are simply a series of still images shown at such a fast rate that they give the impression of movement. Some feature length films may have tens of thousands of these animated stills. Making a cartoon is a massive undertaking, even with today’s advanced computer technology.
However, taking just the basic process of the simplest cartoons, the kind we saw in the 50s and 60s growing up as a child, what you are about to read is how these basic cartoons are put together. This is the process that you don’t see. 4anime
The first thing that is done is that the story itself is developed as what is called a “storyboard”. This is literally a giant sized comic strip. As the story is developed the artist adds new drawings to this storyboard. Sometimes the entire story is known beforehand and other times it is developed as they go along. These drawings are pinned into a cork board so it is very easy to make changes as they go along.
After the storyboard is laid out, backgrounds are made for the cartoon. These are painted on cardboard with either tempera, acrylic or sometimes even oil paints. These backgrounds are where the characters of the cartoon will be performing their movements and are extremely large to allow for all the motion that may be required. The camera will then move across the background as the characters move across it.
Before the drawing of the characters even begins, the voices of the characters are recorded on tape and then transferred to magnetic film. The film is fed through a sound reader and every syllable is recorded on an exposure sheet. This is required in order to perform the synchronization between the sound and the picture. Each frame of film must be synchronized separately. This is extremely time consuming.