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from the internets: J.J. Sedelmaier talks Lightboxes and Peg Bars

Last updated on January 8, 2013

Fleischer Studio disc, circa 1936

Imprint magazine has a great article by New York animator J.J. Sedelmaier that features an awesome array of animation discs and setups that are drifting into antiquity.  You young’uns won’t barely recognize most of this stuff, but it’s great to see it all laid out.  No Canadian connection mentioned in the article, but I’ll add the name of Raoul Barre (January 29, 1874 – May 21, 1932) to those listed as a pioneer of early peg systems.  Raoul was a Canadian artist who found his calling in the very early days of animation in New York City.  It was sometime around 1913, working at Edison Studios, that Raoul and a live action producer named Bill Nolan figured out how to register their drawings via pegs and holes, rather than registration marks.

Here’s the wikipedia description:

Raoul Barre
Raoul Barre

Various animators had come up with different methods to keep their drawings lined up, but none of them worked very well. Barré and Nolan’s solution was to punch two holes at the bottom of all of their sheets and pass them through two pegs glued to the animation table. This peg system is still in practice today. The system they used for animation, on the other hand, was a dead end precisely because it produced registration problems the peg system couldn’t always fix. The basis of this “slash system” was to tear away the paper being drawn on to show the change underneath. For example, if a character was to move his arm, the first drawing would consist of character and background, then the arm would be carefully torn out to reveal the next sheet down and a new arm was drawn on the new paper revealed. The slash system lasted through the 1920s at various studios before being replaced by Earl Hurd’s cell system.

Raoul worked, perhaps most famously, on the early Felix the Cat cartoons for Pat Sullivan Productions in the 1920s, where he helped to establish the production line, using variations on his peg system.


  1. Rob Rob January 7, 2013

    Ah yes, I still have my portable animation desk and my 16 field disk. I refuse to let them go. I dearly miss the days of flipping paper. There was something very visceral about slowly rolling the pages, drawing, rolling, erasing, rolling. I do miss it. That and the drawing callous on my middle finger!

  2. J.J. Sedelmaier J.J. Sedelmaier January 7, 2013

    Thanks for the mention, Mike ! And thanks for adding the Barre connection ! Feel free to add it in the comments section on the Imprint piece ! There are other animation related articles in my archive that you’ll probably find of interest as well !

    Cheers, J.J.

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