When you first hear the words “Early Cartoon” the first thing that may come to mind might be a fluent, black and white, slapstick, comical animation. But in the beginning, before Bugs Bunny, Merry Melodies, or even Mickey Mouse, the word “Animation” revolved around a single device, Le Théatre Optique. Devised by French inventor, and showman, Emile Reynaud, Le Théatre Optique was an update of his earlier invention, the Praxinoscope, which was an early motion animation device. Le Théatre Optique, like the Praxinoscope, had mirrors in the center, and would reflect the images of cartoon characters in a specific motion to create the illusion of movement. But instead of the images being on a wheel, like the Praxinoscope, the images were painted on spools of transparent film, which would be slid in front of the mirrors, giving the animation the ability to show a whole array of positions and movements instead of just one cycle (like the Praxinoscope could only show). At the same time there were a series of extra mirrors and Magic Lanterns (early projectors) placed throughout the device. After shining a light through the film, the image would be reflected off a series of mirrors and then be projected on to a screen. The end result would be a short, slightly choppy, motion picture. This machine was patented in 1888, and was revealed to the public in 1892, where Reynaud unveiled the first animated shorts ever to be seen by average people. The first of these motion pictures was ‘Pauvre Pierrot’, a five minute short portraying a Lady, with two lovers in competition with each other to win her heart. The motion picture was accompanied by piano music by composer Gaston Paulin, and poster artist, Jules Cheret, painted the images in the film. The presentation officially closed on March 1, 1894, and reopened in January 1, 1895 where new motion pictures were shown and thus continued to amaze the audience.
My source was http://www.victorian-cinema.net/reynaud.htm
Image was from http://www.montrealmirror.com