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The word "animation" means, essentially, the process of bringing a non-living thing to life. Film animation has been trying to achieve that feat for more than a century. The earliest examples of film animation were created around the turn of the twentieth century. Filmmakers continued to develop new animation techniques throughout the century, ensuring that the genre remained consistently fresh and popular to the present day.

Traditional animation relies on techniques that link together a series of still images. The objects in the images change slightly from image to image. When the images are displayed in rapid succession, the objects appear to move. Stop-motion animation uses images of actual objects. The images are photographed, moved slightly, and then photographed again to produce the animation sequence. Hand-drawn animation uses a series of minutely varying drawings instead of real objects to produce the same effect. Digital animation employs computer-generated models, motion and effects. Occasionally, films combine animation with live action, overlaying live-action footage with animated elements so that animated characters can appear to interact with real actors.

Traditional hand-drawn animated films were extremely popular in the first half of the twentieth century, when Walt Disney Studios produced a number of very successful full-length animated films that featured high-quality animation and memorable musical scores. After a lull in popularity, animation had a resurgence of mainstream commercial success late in the century. 1995's Toy Story, produced by Pixar studios and distributed by Disney, ushered in the digital-animation revolution.

Although animated productions aimed at adult audiences have been successful on television, the majority of mainstream animated films produced by American studios have been targeted at younger audiences. The most commercially successful films, however, have appealed to audiences of all ages. Many Pixar films, for example, have been more able to pull in viewers from older age groups than animated films have historically been able to do.

    Luck
    Luck
    Kung Fu Panda 4
    Kung Fu Panda 4
    Wolfwalkers
    Wolfwalkers
    It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!
    It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!
    The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
    The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
    Moana
    Moana
    Cars
    Cars
    A Charlie Brown Christmas
    A Charlie Brown Christmas
    Toy Story
    Toy Story
    Shrek
    Shrek
    Monster High: 13 Wishes
    Monster High: 13 Wishes
    Trolls Band Together
    Trolls Band Together
    Inside Out
    Inside Out
    Animal Farm
    Animal Farm
    The Lion King
    The Lion King
    Encanto
    Encanto
    Trolls
    Trolls
    Minions
    Minions
    Frozen
    Frozen
    Alvin and the Chipmunks
    Alvin and the Chipmunks
    The Grinch
    The Grinch
    Hop
    Hop
    Coco
    Coco
    Migration
    Migration
    Sing 2
    Sing 2
    Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
    Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
    Finding Nemo
    Finding Nemo
    The Emoji Movie
    The Emoji Movie
    Tangled
    Tangled
    Monsters, Inc.
    Monsters, Inc.
    Rio
    Rio
    The Princess and the Frog
    The Princess and the Frog
    The Prince of Egypt
    The Prince of Egypt
    Kung Fu Panda 2
    Kung Fu Panda 2
    Ratatouille
    Ratatouille
    Zootopia
    Zootopia
    How to Train Your Dragon
    How to Train Your Dragon
    Up
    Up
    Woody Woodpecker
    Woody Woodpecker
    Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown
    Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown
    Barbie: Princess Charm School
    Barbie: Princess Charm School
    Hotel Transylvania
    Hotel Transylvania
    Turning Red
    Turning Red
    Frozen 2
    Frozen 2
    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
    Monster High: Scaris, City of Frights
    Monster High: Scaris, City of Frights
    Tom and Jerry
    Tom and Jerry
    A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
    A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
    Rango
    Rango
    Space Jam: A New Legacy
    Space Jam: A New Legacy
    The Breadwinner
    The Breadwinner
    Leap!
    Leap!
    Luca
    Luca
    The Nightmare Before Christmas
    The Nightmare Before Christmas
    Kung Fu Panda 3
    Kung Fu Panda 3
    Lilo & Stitch
    Lilo & Stitch
    Madagascar
    Madagascar
    Sing
    Sing
    The Super Mario Bros. Movie
    The Super Mario Bros. Movie
    Barbie: A Mermaid Tale
    Barbie: A Mermaid Tale
    Wish
    Wish
    Happy Feet
    Happy Feet
    Monster High: Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love
    Monster High: Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love
    Monster House
    Monster House
    Trolls World Tour
    Trolls World Tour
    Spirited Away
    Spirited Away
    Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin
    Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin
    Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
    Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
    Hulk Vs.
    Hulk Vs.
    Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
    Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
    The Book of Life
    The Book of Life
    The Croods 2
    The Croods 2
    The Polar Express
    The Polar Express
    La Leyenda de la Llorona
    La Leyenda de la Llorona
    Monster High: Friday Night Frights
    Monster High: Friday Night Frights
    Despicable Me
    Despicable Me
    Mulan
    Mulan
    Dinosaur
    Dinosaur
    Elemental
    Elemental
    Cars 2
    Cars 2
    Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
    Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
    The Incredibles
    The Incredibles
    Peter Rabbit
    Peter Rabbit
    Monster High: Freaky Fusion
    Monster High: Freaky Fusion
    The Secret Life of Pets
    The Secret Life of Pets
    It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
    It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
    Despicable Me 3
    Despicable Me 3
    Shrek 2
    Shrek 2
    101 Dalmatians
    101 Dalmatians
    Bebe's Kids
    Bebe's Kids
    Cars 3
    Cars 3
    Howl's Moving Castle
    Howl's Moving Castle
    The Chipmunk Adventure
    The Chipmunk Adventure
    Ice Age
    Ice Age
    Steven Universe
    Steven Universe
    9
    9
    Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
    Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero
    Shark Tale
    Shark Tale
    The Lego Movie
    The Lego Movie
    The Velveteen Rabbit
    The Velveteen Rabbit