Animated films (Master in Film and Screen Studies)

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Program details
Subject: Animated films
Course: First
Semester: 2
Modality: Optional
Professor: Jaume Duran


The starting point of this subject is to learn about the history and evolution of animated film from pre-cinematographic inventions to the use of computer media and platforms, paying attention to its techniques and the most outstanding works, authors and studies. However, the aim is to go deeper and reflect on the hybridisation between the real image and the computer-generated image, as well as on the impact of digital animation techniques and references in contemporary cinema.


Students are expected to learn to identify the fundamental contents of animated film and to be able to extrapolate them to other areas of the audiovisual world. On the other hand, the course will provide an analytical criterion and an aesthetic approach to contemporary animation.


  • UNIT 1. Origins and techniques of animation
    • Fundamental concepts of animation. Origins and conventional techniques. Flat animation, volume animation and computer animation. The optical theatre of Émile Reynaud. Main cinematographic contributions of James Stuart Blackton, Winsor McCay and Émile Cohl.
  • UNIT 2. Flat and volume animation
    • Flat animation and cartoons. Technical and thematic contribution of Fleischer Studios, Walt Disney, Warner Bros. Cartoons, Hanna & Barbera, the UPA and the ONF (NFB). European authors and the Zagreb School. Osamu Tezuka, anime genres, Studio Ghibli and OVA. Current flat animation. Volume animation and articulated dolls, plasticine and silhouettes. Technical and thematic contribution of Central European authors, Aardman Animation and Laika. Handcrafted volume animation vs. three-dimensional digital animation.
  • UNIT 3. Fictional tricks and effects
    • Cinematographic trickery vs. animation trickery. Willis O’Brien, Ray Harryhausen and George Pal. Trickery, special effects, visual effects, digital effects and computer-generated imagery. VFX, DFX and CGI in contemporary fiction.
  • UNIT 4. Computer animation
    • The synthesis of representation. Ones and zeros. Images created entirely by computer. Technical and thematic contributions of James and John Whitney, George Lucas, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, Pixar Animation Studios – Walt Disney Company, Pacific Data Images – DreamWorks SKG, Blue Sky – Twentieth Century Fox, Square and Warner Bros. Infographics and video games. Multiplatforms.
  • UNIT 5. Experimental cinema and credits
    • Avant-garde movements of the 1920s, 1960s and 2000s. Abstract cinema. Norman McLaren. The credit titles. Saul Bass. Images, movement and digital typography of credit titles.
  • UNIT 6. Animated Film and Screen Studies
    • Today’s animated cinema and film & screen studies. Transformations in animated film. New productions and future essays.


For the evaluation, the participation and involvement of the students in the class sessions will be taken into account (up to 20% of the final mark). On the other hand, the bulk of the assessment will consist of the delivery of a final project which may be a traditional written essay or an animated audiovisual production (80% of the final mark).


BECK, Jerry: Animation Art: From Pencil to Pixel, the World of Cartoon, Anime and CGI. Collins Design: New York, 2004.

BENDAZZI, Giannalberto: Cartoons. 110 años de cine de animación. Ocho y medio: Madrid, 2003.

COTTE, Olivier: Il était une fois le dessin animé… et le cinema d’animation. Dreamland: París, 2001.

DURAN, Jaume: El cinema d’animació nord-americà. Editorial UOC: Barcelona, 2008.

DURAN, Jaume: Guía para ver y analizar Toy Story. Nau llibres / Octaedro: Valencia / Barcelona, 2008.

KERLOW, Isaac V.: The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects. John Wiley & Sons: New Jersey, 2004.

LORD, Peter, y SISLEY, Brian: Cracking Animation. The Aardman Book of 3-D Animation. Thames & Hudson: London, 1998.

MAESTRI, George: Creación digital de personajes animados. Anaya: Madrid, 2000.

MOINS, Philippe: Les maîtres de la pâte. Dreamland: París, 2001.

THOMAS, Frank, y JOHNSTON, Ollie: The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. Disney Editions: New York, 1981.

WEISHAR, Peter: Moving Pixels. Blockbuster Animation, Digital Art and 3D Modeling Today. Thames & Hudson: London, 2004.

WHITE, Tony: Animation from Pencils to Pixels. Classical Techniques for the Digital Animators. Focal Press: London, 2006.