From little acorns do mighty oaks grow...
This section of the History of Animation
covers animation in its most primitive forms. There are no stars, no series, nothing concrete.
Now, this era of animation has no known starting point. Why? Because in fact, animation as a whole is as old as mankind itself.
Even in early cave paintings you can see and tell that even back in that time we were trying to simulate motion with pictures in some way as a form of communication. As times changed and knowledge grew, many toys and gimmick tools came around to take advantage of what we call Persistence of Vision
- basically, playing a trick on our eyes.
You may know some of these truly ancient examples as tools like a circle with two strings which you spin - a bird on one side, a cage on the other. Spin fast enough, and it looks as if the bird is trapped in the cage. (You can actually see this device used at several points in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow
Another well-known tool (and a precursor to even the earliest film projector) is the Zoetrope, which was a wheel with several different pictures stamped on it. Take a wild guess at what happens when you spin the wheel fast enough. A similar, modern equivalent would be something like a View-Master, but not so much like a slide show.
As far back as the late eighteenth century, there were also "Magic Lantern Shows", which were the forerunners to cinema. Essentially they were someone moving silhouette puppets around on the equivalent of an overhead projector against a translucent painting as background, accompanied by a band or narration.
But it would still be a while before the medium would truly begin to take shape...