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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.

    Sonic the Hedgehog 2
    Sonic the Hedgehog 2
    The Bad Guys
    The Bad Guys
    Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel
    Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel
    Sing 2
    Sing 2
    Sausage Party
    Sausage Party
    Turning Red
    Turning Red
    Minions
    Minions
    Encanto
    Encanto
    Minions: The Rise of Gru
    Minions: The Rise of Gru
    Despicable Me
    Despicable Me
    Despicable Me 3
    Despicable Me 3
    Shrek
    Shrek
    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
    How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
    Moana
    Moana
    Toy Story
    Toy Story
    Sing
    Sing
    The Lion King
    The Lion King
    Lightyear
    Lightyear
    Monster High: Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love
    Monster High: Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love
    Cars
    Cars
    The Emoji Movie
    The Emoji Movie
    Frozen
    Frozen
    PAW Patrol: The Movie
    PAW Patrol: The Movie
    Frozen 2
    Frozen 2
    How to Train Your Dragon
    How to Train Your Dragon
    Rio
    Rio
    Ratatouille
    Ratatouille
    Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs
    Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs
    Finding Nemo
    Finding Nemo
    Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked
    Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked
    Lilo & Stitch
    Lilo & Stitch
    Batman: Under the Red Hood
    Batman: Under the Red Hood
    Space Jam: A New Legacy
    Space Jam: A New Legacy
    The Princess and the Frog
    The Princess and the Frog
    Hotel Transylvania 4
    Hotel Transylvania 4
    Hotel Transylvania
    Hotel Transylvania
    Monster High: Scaris, City of Frights
    Monster High: Scaris, City of Frights
    Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
    Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
    The Prince of Egypt
    The Prince of Egypt
    The Bob's Burgers Movie
    The Bob's Burgers Movie
    Wolfwalkers
    Wolfwalkers
    Barbie: Princess Charm School
    Barbie: Princess Charm School
    Luca
    Luca
    Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie
    Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie
    Zootopia
    Zootopia
    Monster High: 13 Wishes
    Monster High: 13 Wishes
    Anastasia
    Anastasia
    Big Hero 6
    Big Hero 6
    Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers
    Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers
    The Croods 2
    The Croods 2
    The Lego Movie
    The Lego Movie
    Monsters, Inc.
    Monsters, Inc.
    The Swan Princess
    The Swan Princess
    Over the Hedge
    Over the Hedge
    Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
    Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
    Trolls World Tour
    Trolls World Tour
    Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
    Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
    Rango
    Rango
    Coco
    Coco
    Flushed Away
    Flushed Away
    Trolls
    Trolls
    The Croods
    The Croods
    The Lego Ninjago Movie
    The Lego Ninjago Movie
    Cars 2
    Cars 2
    The Addams Family 2
    The Addams Family 2
    The Angry Birds Movie 2
    The Angry Birds Movie 2
    Toy Story 4
    Toy Story 4
    Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
    Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
    Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
    Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
    Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
    Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
    Bebe's Kids
    Bebe's Kids
    Shark Tale
    Shark Tale
    Tangled
    Tangled
    The Angry Birds Movie
    The Angry Birds Movie
    Kung Fu Panda 2
    Kung Fu Panda 2
    Naruto Shippuden: Blood Prison
    Naruto Shippuden: Blood Prison
    One Piece Film: Gold
    One Piece Film: Gold
    3
    3
    Alvin and the Chipmunks
    Alvin and the Chipmunks
    The Grinch
    The Grinch
    Barnyard
    Barnyard
    Howl's Moving Castle
    Howl's Moving Castle
    Monster High: New Ghoul at School
    Monster High: New Ghoul at School
    The Little Mermaid
    The Little Mermaid
    Boruto: Naruto The Movie
    Boruto: Naruto The Movie
    Spirited Away
    Spirited Away
    Planet Hulk
    Planet Hulk
    The Boxtrolls
    The Boxtrolls
    Shrek 2
    Shrek 2
    Barbie: A Mermaid Tale
    Barbie: A Mermaid Tale
    Cars 3
    Cars 3
    Monster High: Friday Night Frights
    Monster High: Friday Night Frights
    Justice League vs. Teen Titans
    Justice League vs. Teen Titans
    The Lion King
    The Lion King
    Toy Story 3
    Toy Story 3
    Bee Movie
    Bee Movie
    Up
    Up
    Everyone's Hero
    Everyone's Hero
    The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run
    The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run
    Inside Out
    Inside Out