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History of Lottie

Published on December 26, 2023

Back in 2010, software developers faced a common challenge—they had to integrate animations provided by motion designers. However, this often resulted in subpar quality formats or necessitated developers to craft the animation design from scratch using their coding expertise.

This shows that the options for implementation were insufficient and the ones that were available weren’t upto the mark. This resulted in the motion designers dissatisfaction as the end result didn’t meet their expectations due to the animations being inferior.

This dilemma between motion designers and web developers went on for quite a while until Hernan Torrisi came up with a brilliant idea.

Torrisi’s Problem-Solving Idea

Five years later, in 2015, Torrisi explored the idea of shipping the representation of an animation in Adobe After Effects. Then at runtime, he’d render the animation. Torrisi utilized the scripting capacities of After Effects to maximum advantage. This enabled him to categorize an animation and later on, release Bodymovin – a plugin for After Effects. Bodymovin helped in exporting JSON format descriptions of the animation.

Hernan Torrisi was the pioneer renderer for the format with a Javascript based player for the browser.

Airbnb’s Acknowledgement & the Launch of LottieFiles

In 2017, Herman Torrisi’s problem-solving idea of JSON based animations was acknowledged by the engineers at Airbnb. Engineers Brandon Withrow, Gabriel Peal, and Leland Richardson understood its potential and collaborated with Salih Abdul-Karim, the lead animator at Airbnb to build iOS and Android libraries that could render these JSON animation files, which they have coined “Lottie”.

This collaboration often leads to questions whether LottieFiles is by Airbnb. Well, no. It isn’t. Lottiefiles is completely independent of Airbnb. However, former Airbnb developers created libraries where certain files of Lottifiles are run on.

In the same year, LottieFiles was launched. This allowed animators and developers a dynamic platform to test their animations, showcase their work and run vigorous discussions on the internet.

2018-2020: Ascension of Lottie

After 2017, things went uphill for Lottie. 

 In the following year, 2018, Microsoft and its .Net Foundation published a library for rendering Lottie on Windows. In the next year, 2019, Qt added a QML API for rendering Lottie. Hence, adding an additional support for Lottie. In the same year, Samsung published a new platform named rLottie, which is an independent C++-based renderer for Lottie. It is also an added Lottie support in Tizen.

Last year, in the baffling 2020, dotLottie was formed. dotLottie is an open-source file format. It brings together several Lottie files and their relevant documents into one single file. dotLottie is said to be the future. In the coming years, dotLottie is predicted to form the next generation of animation.

Story Behind The Name

Although we have covered the history of Lottie and how it came to be, we have not yet mentioned one important part. Its name. You may be wondering how Lottie got its name, well, wonder no more then. It was named after Charlotte ‘Lotte’ Reiniger. 

She was a German film director and the leading pioneer of silhouette animation. Her notable films are The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) and Papageno (1935). She was also known for having developed the first form of a multiplane camera. In her dynamic career, she made over 40 films by using her invention.