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CEL (sell)

A transparent sheet of celluloid that is drawn on to produce a single frame of an animated cartoon
Common clues:
Disney collectible; Animation frame; Cartoon frame; “Fantasia” frame; Toon frame; Piece of animation; Roger Rabbit frame; Dopey picture?; Toon unit
Crossword puzzle frequency: 5 times a year
Frequency in English language: 62032 / 86800
The Band Concert

Animation is different from other parts. Its language is the language of caricature. Our most difficult job was to develop the cartoon's unnatural but seemingly natural anatomy for humans and animals. ~ Walt Disney

A cel, short for celluloid, is a transparent sheet on which objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation. Celluloid was used for animation and film production up until the late 20th century, however, it burned easily and suffered from spontaneous decomposition, and was largely replaced by cellulose acetate plastics.

"The Band Concert" was released by Disney in 1935, and is noted as the first color Mickey Mouse cartoon. In it, Mickey is trying to lead a concert of the William Tell Overture, amid various distractions such as Donald Duck playing the wrong tune on his flute, a pesky bee, and a violent storm. Despite these disruptions, the band keeps playing! This original cel was sold in a private transaction in 1999 for a reported $420,000 USD.

Generally, the characters are drawn on cels and laid over a static background drawing. This reduces the number of times an image has to be redrawn and enables studios to split up the production process to different specialized teams. Using this assembly line way to animate has made it possible to produce films much more cost-effectively. The invention of the technique is generally attributed to Earl Hurd, who patented the process in 1914.

The outline of the images are drawn on the back of the cel. The colors are also painted on the back to eliminate brushstrokes. Traditionally, the outlines were hand-inked but now they are almost exclusively xerographed on. Another important breakthrough in cel animation was the development of the APT (Animation Photo Transfer) process, first seen in The Black Cauldron. Disney later stopped using cels in 1990 when CAPS replaced this element in the animation process.

Actual production cels are sometimes sold after the animation process is complete. More popular shows and movies may demand higher prices for the cels, with some selling for thousands of dollars. Some cels are not used for actual production work, but may be a "special" or "limited edition" version of the artwork. These normally fetch a high price as collector's items.

With the advent of computer assisted animation production, the use of cels has been practically abandoned in major productions.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cel".