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A New History of Animation: Book Based on Influential Animation History Class at CalArts

New book by Maureen Furniss, Director of the CalArts’ Experimental Animation Program, chronicles the history of animation from its earliest antecedents to the present day.


A New History of Animation by CalArts' Maureen Furniss from CalArts on Vimeo.

Famed for such stellar alumni as Academy Award recipients John LasseterPete Docter and Brenda ChapmanCalifornia Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is recognized as the preeminent educational institution for aspiring animators. Now, a new book by Maureen Furniss, Director of the Institute’s Experimental Animation Program, tells animation’s story from its earliest antecedents to the present day. Based on Furniss’ influential Animation History class at CalArts, A New History of Animation is the first textbook to chronicle the history of the field. It is also a must-read reference for fans and scholars. Released in October, from Thames & HudsonA New History of Animation is available through Amazon and the publisher

Furniss’ class has provided an essential historical foundation for her students in their careers with studios and as independent filmmakers. A New History of Animation brings her insightful and comprehensive overview of the field to the public and to students in film and animation programs around the world. “In 20 years of teaching animation history, I have never found one book that covered all of the aspects of history I wished to present,” said Furniss. “Consequently, I developed my own extensive database of historical notes to use for my lectures. When I was contacted by Thames & Hudson to develop a book on the history of animation, I used my notes as the basis for the chapters.”   

From 17th Century magic lantern shows to the rise of Pixar and beyond, A New History of Animation tells the story of animation’s evolving artistry and technical innovation. The book introduces readers to industrial productions and arts-based practices related to drawn and painted animation, stop-motion, and computer-generated imagery; major studios within the United States and Japan; and animation produced throughout Eastern and Western Europe, the UK, Australia, Latin America, South Africa, and elsewhere. The analysis of these works is placed within historical contexts that help readers understand the “big picture” that has influenced the development of the art form throughout the years.

Many CalArts animation students have become the established masters and rising stars of the industry—with accumulated box office grosses through September 2016 for animated features directed by CalArts alumni totaling more than $39.5 billion. Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, directed by alumnus Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen, won the 2016 Oscar for Best Animated Feature—marking the 10th time a graduate of the CalArts Character Animation Program took home the award. This year, Sanjay’s Super Team, directed and written by alumnus Sanjay Patel for Disney/Pixar, was nominated for the Best Animated Short Oscar. Alumni have two series on Disney XD: Aaron Springer’s series, Billy Dilley’s Super-Duper Subterranean Summer will premiere in 2017 and alumna Daron Nefcy’s series, Star vs. the Forces of Evil has been picked up for its third season.  Jason Carpenter received a 2016 Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement In Animation for his work on the National Geographic Channel’s He Named Me Malala.

Maureen Furniss, PhD is an animation historian at CalArts, where she teaches animation history courses and is the director of the Experimental Animation Program. Furniss is the author of Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics and The Animation Bible. She is the founding editor of Animation Journal, and a founding member and former chairman, of the board of the Society for Animation Studies. She has received awards for her contributions to the field of animation from the Hollywood chapter of the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA and from Variety.

Ranked as America’s top college for students in the arts by Newsweek/The Daily Beast, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines and cultural traditions.