Television Animation

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					                        Television Animation
                            By Ben Kleber- B00121759

In the late 1940s/early 1950s, animations and cartoons, back then increasingly popular
thanks to studios such as Disney, began venturing into a new era and medium: television.
Of course TV had been established and commercially used since the 1930’s, but as with
most media, it wasn’t clear to anyone whether or not animation would find it’s place in
the TV world and become successful. “Felix the Cat”, which saw great success in the
pioneering years of cartoons; the 1920s, and back then silent; made it’s first appearance
on television in 1953. Television animation back in it’s childhood days was mostly
thought of having the purpose of entertaining kids only, however. This was mainly
because a lot of children’s TV shows were amongst the first programs to broadcast
cartoons as part of their daily schedules. Walt Disney showed “Disneyland”, which
would later become “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color”, however even though
these were shown weekly, they were mainly “commercials” for Disney’s newly opened
theme park “Disneyland” and showed parts of older animations, because the company
never saw a big success in Television and thus never created original content to be
released on TV until the later 1950s and 60’s.
One studio that did see a success in Television from an early time onwards was Hanna-
Barbera- the first major studio to produce animations just for TV. “The Ruff and Reddy
Show”, as well as “The Huckleberry Hound Show” were amongst the early works of the
company, however the biggest success seen to date was “The Flintstones”, created in
1960, already in colour. More today well-known shows were added. “Tom and Jerry”
made regular TV appearances, as did the “Looney Tunes”, though both in heavily edited
form: since both were initially aired in children’s TV hours and programs, much of the
cartoon violence, ethnic stereotypes as well as swearing had to be removed or edited,
especially during the 1970s. Political correctness was also one of the issues in 1940s’,
50s’ and 60s’ cartoons, later to be censored or edited out.
It is quite clear that cartoons like the above mentioned weren’t aimed at kids alone, adult
jokes or expressions were featured to keep things interesting for more mature audience.
Again, if these were too explicit, these animations couldn’t be shown to children.
It was maybe for that reason that over time, cartoons solely produced for adults were
released, such as the popular “Family Guy”, featuring adult language, sex references and
Of course, successful TV cartoons that are produced to fit a weekly broadcast schedule
have to be out of the door fast, and can’t take up years of production time.
In the early days of animations, those mass-produced, like the early Hanna-
Barbera/MGM and “Looney Tunes” often relied on minimalist animation to achieve this
goal. Characters were shown in front of static backgrounds, often recycled in other
scenes/episodes, walking- and talking-cycles were re-used, and even score and sound
effects often duplicated. But especially for cartoons in the years of the Late 1990’s and
early 2000’s this was replaced by ever-growing teams and utilization of computer
hardware and 3D tools, to produce 2D animation more efficiently. Two examples: The
popular “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy”: the creation of one single 20-25 minute
episode of each takes about six months to complete. Of course, while cinema productions
require the whole team of an animation to work on the same storyline, with TV
productions teams can be split up to work on different episodes. This is one of the
reasons why animated cartoons shown on TV are ready for release of a new season most
commonly every year. Rather than having all of the artists and writers focusing on one
episode and working together on it, different teams can work on their own unique
episodes together that in the end make up the season.
With “The Simpsons”, for example, the process of the creation of a new episode always
starts with each of it’s 16 writers proposing new ideas at the beginning of each year’s
December. Each episode’s main writer then writes a script, which then will be revised
and edited, the teams start working on it. Audible content is recorded first, as in, voices
are being recorded according to script. The artists then start their work, animating the
characters, also according to script, and using the recorded voices to get lip-synching etc.
However, the minimalist approach to animation is still in use in “The Simpsons” as well
as “Family Guy”. As an example: in “Family Guy” backgrounds are static most of the
time, and apart from their mouths, nothing moves on a character in most conversations.
“Family Guy” is also know for it’s “falling” animations, where when a character gets
“beaten down” or stumbles and falls, there are no in-between frames between the
character standing and the character lying on the floor.
“The Simpsons” uses similar techniques. If we were to compare both series to cinema
productions, for example the likes of Disney or Warner Brothers, we’d also find major
differences in character development and storytelling; most TV cartoon episodes
comprise the main characters embarking on one or multiple adventures or daily-life
stories, that are independent from previous or latter episodes, there is no real character
development throughout a season or even over several episodes as all characters retain
the same looks, age etc. in all episodes. Stories are also told from a more “everyday”
point of view in weekly TV episodes, whereas cinema productions tend to bring across
some sort of moral, or drive the story towards a conclusion or “highlight”. Though this
sometimes is the case in TV shorts, it is not used to great extend, the way cinema does it.
All in all the main purpose of TV cartoon’s storylines are entertainment, with social-
satirical and comical cartoons becoming increasingly popular, “Furturama”, “Family
Guy”, “South Park” and “The Simpsons” to name a few. That popularity is based upon
the simple fact that travesty and “out-of-this-world”-humor as it is portrayed in most –
especially adult- TV series today are not often seen outside of animation and are no
longer restricted to adults; gone are the days that cartoons were for kids. In America,
shows like “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” have even replaced popular sitcoms of the
1980’s and 1990’s, because they can deliver humor in the same- if not a better way while
also being able to add fictional elements that are either in conformity with whatever story
is being told or completely random; either way they achieve the desired effect, to
Another important factor about TV animation is budget. Working on a film for several
years and spending multiple million dollars is always taking a risk. While starting up a
new TV animation series may be equally risky, those who are established and watched by
millions have it easier to experiment: artistic styles, jokes or storylines can be altered for
one episode at a time without affecting the series as a whole too much. Those suffering
from insufficient viewing numbers can get back on track by making similar changes.
“Family Guy” was cancelled by US broadcaster “FOX” twice, however returned both
times due to a vast fan base and DVD sales numbers, and today is one of the most
successful and widely- known animated TV series. Not to forget Anime series, which in
most of Asia as well as the western world possesses a cult following: most people will
have heard of “Pokemon” and “Dragonball” from kids’ programmes, but there also is a
huge variety of adult-oriented anime series that even in countries in Europe and
especially the US are part of the daily television broadcast schedules.
TV animation series are now a major industry in the entertainment business, and the same
way animation made it’s way onto the cinema screens of this world, cartoons made it
onto the television screen, starting slowly mid-last-century, but being a multi-million-
dollar- industry nowadays.
Series are produced fast and without complications. It is a concept that works

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