Animated cartoons are short films for the television, cinema or the computer which are either hand-drawn or created using computers. Cartoon animations feature a story or an event or they are meant to convey a message. These kinds of animations used in cartoons are known as traditional animation.
The arrival of the film technology opened a door of opportunities to the development of the art of cartoon animation. The first cartoons created had no audio and were black-and-white. Among them, Felix the Cat is a notable cartoon animation. Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie, in 1928, is considered to be the first cartoon to have synchronised sound, although the less popular "My Old Kentucky Home" by Max Fleischer in 1926 is correctly credited to have this innovation.
More and more musical themes flourished with the arrival of sound film and animated characters were often used to perform the action by running them in "loops" - where the sketches were repeated again and again, correctly timing it with the music. In 1931, the first ever full-colour cartoon was produced by Disney in Technicolor, known as "Flowers and Trees". Previously other producers had tried making cartoons using the less-developed 2-color processes; Technicolor was the first to come up with their revolutionary 3-color process to provide full-colouring. In the later years, a number of other technologies arrived including the stereophonic sound, multilane cameras, widescreen processes and 3D which were adapted in cartoon animation.
At present, cartoon animation is commonly created using computers. The advent of the computer animation has given the animators a fresh set of tools that is otherwise not available in the traditional hand-drawn animation. However, there are certain types of computer animations that cannot be classified as cartoons. Most of the 3D animations stop motion filming makers and clay animation cannot be strictly regarded as cartoons. Animated cartoons that are created using Adobe Flash are known as webtoons.
The first animated feature film that used Technicolor and was released worldwide was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937. Till present, 44 "Classic" hand-drawn feature films have been produced by Disney. After then, the studio had been closed and so were all its facilities since Disney went ahead with their computer-animated features only. Recently, it is being heard that the new head of Disney, John Lasseter, is trying to restore the studio's 2-D wing and has announced to make use of the traditional animation to produce their upcoming feature "The Frog Princess".
In the 1950s, very limited animation was featured on the American Television which was mostly done by Jay Ward in Crusader Rabbit. Most of the cartoons back at that time used to emphasise more on the soundtrack rather than the visuals itself. A few other notable programs in the 1950s include Hanna-Barbara's Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw together with some rebroadcast of classical cartoons from MGM, Disney and Warner Bros.
The first ever successful primetime animation in the US was "The Flintstones" by Hanna_Barbera. It ran straight from 1960 to 1966 together with a number of reruns since then. The show's success was noted by many other networks and they also followed by introducing other primetime animations such as "The Jet sons", "The Alvin Show" and "Top Cat". However, none of the series lasted more than one year in the primetime. Some of the networks gained success by broadcasting these shows as Saturday morning cartoons to minor audiences and children. These TV animation for children achieved popularity on cable channels such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.
Cartoon Animation has achieved great success in TV commercials largely as a result of the humour and the graphic appeal that it adds to it. There are a few animated commercial characters that have been there since decades, for example, Snap, Crackle and Pop in the Kellogg's cereals advertisements. In 1966, Tex Avery, regarded as one of the legendary animators was the first to produce the Raid "Kills Bugs Dead" advertisements which brought the company a great deal of success. Since then, this very concept has been acquired in numerous countries.