Definitions

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Stop motion

Stop motion (or frame-by-frame) animation is an animation technique to make a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own. The object is moved by small amounts between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames are played as a continuous sequence. Clay figures are often used in stop motion animations, known as claymation, for their ease of repositioning. Software applications such as Stop Motion Pro and the free AnimatorDV make use of this technique.

Techniques

Stop motion is central to the techniques used on popular children's shows such as Gumby and most of the films of Claymation producer Will Vinton and his associates. Clay animation can take the style of "freeform" clay animation where the shape of the clay changes radically as the animation progresses, such as in the work of Eliot Noyes Jr and Church of the Subgenius co-founder Rev. Ivan Stang's animated films, or it can be "character" clay animation where the clay maintains a recognizable character throughout a shot, as in Art Clokey's and Will Vinton's films.

One variation of clay animation is strata-cut animation in which a long bread-like loaf of clay, internally packed tight and loaded with varying imagery, is sliced into thin sheets, with the camera taking a frame of the end of the loaf for each cut, eventually revealing the movement of the internal images within. Pioneered in both clay and blocks of wax by German animator Oskar Fischinger during the 1920s and 30s, the technique was revived and highly refined in the mid-90s by David Daniels, an associate of Will Vinton, in his mind-numbing 16-minute short film Buzz Box.

A final clay animation technique is clay painting, where clay is placed on a flat surface and moved like "wet" oil paints, as on a traditional artistic canvas, to produce images of any style but with a clay look. It is a variation of the direct manipulation animation process mentioned below, and blurs the distinction between stop motion and traditional flat animation. This technique was pioneered by one-time Vinton animator Joan Gratz, in her Oscar-nominated film The Creation (1980) and her Oscar-winning Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase, filmed in 1992.

A variation of this technique is to build up clay images that rise off the plane of the flat support platform, toward the camera lens, to give the film a more 3-D stop-motion look. It was developed by another Vinton animator, Craig Bartlett, for his series of "Arnold" short films, also made during the 1990s. Gratz has also collaborated with other animators such as Joanna Priestly of Portland, Oregon, to produce films that animated 3-D objects on the flat animation table. An example is Priestly's Candy Jam film, also from the mid-1990s, which can be considered object animation (defined below).

Method and variants

Stop motion is used to produce the animated movements of any non-drawn objects, including toys, blocks and dolls. This is known as object animation.

Stop motion is also the means for producing pixilation, the animation of a living human being or animal, seen in whole or in part. Examples are the films of Mike Jittlov such as his The Wizard of Speed and Time short film (1980) and feature film of the same name (1987-9), the startling French 1989 short Gisele Kerozene by Eisa Cayo and Jan Kunen, and some of the work of Scottish pioneer animator Norman McLaren.

One unusual (and certainly an exacting and laborious) stop motion technique is called pinscreen animation, first developed in Europe in the 1920s and refined in later decades by various animators working for the National Film Board of Canada. Pinscreen animation consists of thousands (or even millions) of pins evenly placed on a screen, able to be pushed and/or pulled through the screen, from both sides of the screen. Using a system of rollers, brayers, and other tools, various pins are pushed in and/or out of the screen to varying degrees, all carefully controlled. With lights set up at 90 degree angles to the screen, the shadows of extended pins fall on the heads of more retracted pins, creating a variety of silhouetted images that are animated frame-by-frame as various pins are carefully pushed in and/or out of the screen. An example of this is the 1976 National Film Board of Canada short, Mindscape.

A variation of stop motion (and possibly more conceptually associated with traditional flat cel animation and paper drawing animation, but still technically qualifying as stop motion) is graphic animation which is the animation of photographs (in whole or in parts) and other non-drawn flat visual graphic material. Examples are Frank Mouris' 1973 Oscar-winning short film Frank Film and Charles Braverman's Braverman's Condensed Cream of Beatles (1972); Terry Gilliam's animations for the TV series Do Not Adjust Your Set and Monty Python's Flying Circus are among the more well-known works of graphic animation.

A simplified variation of graphic animation is called direct manipulation animation which involves the frame-by-frame altering (or adding to) a single graphic image, as close as the stop motion process gets to the process of simply animating a series of drawings, which most people associate with the generic "animation" term. Examples of direct-maipulation-animation are parts of J. Stuart Blackton's 1906 Humorous Phases of Funny Faces parts of Winsor McCay's films from the 1910s, sections of Max and Dave Fleischer's Out of the Inkwell series of the 1920s, the chalk animation opening sequence of Will Vinton's Dinosaur (1980), and parts of Mike Jittlov's 1977 short film, Animato, which also uses graphic animation and pixilation.

Mere pieces of paper, sometimes with images drawn upon them, can be animated with stop motion, and is called cutout animation when lit from the camera side of the artwork (or to the sides of the artwork) so as to show the details of the paper such as color, textures, etc. The most prevalent use of cutout animation has been in Eastern Europe, where it has been a popular technique since the 1940s, being used in award-winning films such as Tale of Tales. In the West, cutout animation is probably better known for having been used to produce the demo pilot for Comedy Central's South Park series (then later simulated via computer animation for the main series).

When backlighted, cutout animation becomes simplified dark (black) images and is referred to as silhouette animation. It was used by German animation pioneer Lotte Reiniger for many short films as well as The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), the oldest-surviving feature-length animated film.

Probably the most passive form of stop motion is time lapse animation in which a stop motion camera is simply clicked (manually or via an electronic intermittent control device called an intervalometer) to take a frame of film as each period of time lapses, as natural objects of nature and mankind move of their own accord, non-interfered with by the animator. The most common uses for time lapse stop-motion are moving clouds, seen daily during weather forecasts in moving satellite imagery, the speeding up of the growth of plants, and stars as they appear to "revolve" around the Earth. Although a few film makers experimented with time-lapse movie photography as far back as the silent film days, the main pioneer of the technique was Dr. John Ott, of Sarasota Florida, USA, who also developed the first automated-time-lapse systems for also moving the cameras as they photographed growing plants. Ott even broke the 'rule" of non-manipulation by changing his lights' color-temperatures with various filters and watering (or not watering) his plants to cause them to "dance" up and down in sync to a pre-recorded musical track. Ott did work for the Disney studio in the 50s before evolving into studies of the color-temperature of lights on the health of plants, then animals, and then humans. His "ott-Lights", which produce light specifically designed to stimulate better health in the user, are currently sold at select lighting stores throughout the world. Other time-lapse refiners are Ron Fricke and Geoffery Reggio in films such as Koyaanisqatsi (1983) Baraka (1992), and Chronos (1994); the Oxford Film Labs in Oxford, England, and Dan Ackerman of Portland, Oregon, USA.

All animation, including all stop motion, requires a camera, using either motion picture film or some kind of digital image capturing system, that can expose single frames. It works by shooting a single frame of an object, then moving the object slightly, then shooting another frame. When the film runs continuously in a film projector, or other video playback system, the illusion of fluid motion is created and the objects appear to move by themselves. This is similar to the animation of cartoons, but using real objects instead of drawings.

History

Stop motion animation is almost as old as film-making itself. Of the forms already mentioned, object animation is the oldest, then direct manipulation animation, followed (roughly) by sequential drawings on multiple pages, which quickly evolved into cel animation, with clay animation, pixilation, puppet animation, and time-lapse being developed concurrently next. The first instance of the stop motion technique can be credited to Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton for The Humpty Dumpty Circus (1898), in which a toy circus of acrobats and animals comes to life. In 1902, the film, Fun in a Bakery Shop used clay for a stop-motion "lightning sculpting" sequence. French trick film mistro Georges Méliès used it to produce moving title-card letters for one of his short films, but never exploited the process for any of his other films. The Haunted Hotel (1907) is another stop motion film by James Stuart Blackton, and was a resounding success when released. Segundo de Chomón (1871-1929), from Spain, released El Hotel eléctrico later that same year, and used similar techniques as the Blackton film. In 1908, A Sculptor's Welsh Rarebit Nightmare was released, as was The Sculptor's Nightmare, a film by Billy Bitzer. French animator Emil Cole impressed audiences with his object animation tour-de-force, The Automatic Moving Company in 1910.

One of the earliest clay animation films was Modelling Extraordinary, which dazzled audiences in 1912. December 1916, brought the first of Willie Hopkin's 54 episodes of "Miracles in Mud" to the big screen. Also in December 1916, the first woman animator, Helena Smith Dayton, began experimenting with clay stop motion. She would release her first film in 1917, Romeo and Juliet.

The great European stop motion pioneer was Ladyslaw Starewicz (1892-1965), who animated The Beautiful Lukanida (1910), The Battle of the Stag Beetles (1910), The Ant and the Grasshopper (1911), Voyage to the Moon (1913), On the Warsaw Highway (1916), Frogland (1922), The Magic Clock (1926), The Mascot, (aka, The Devil's Ball) (1934), In the Land of the Vampires (1935), and the feature film The Tale of the Fox (1937), to name but a few of his over fifty animated films.

Starewicz was the first filmmaker to use stop-action animation and puppets to tell consistently coherent stories. He began by producing insect documentaries which, in turn, led to experiments with the stop-action animation of insects and beetles. Initially he wired the legs to the insects' bodies, but he improved this substantially in the ensuing years by creating leather and felt-covered puppets with technically advanced ball & socket armatures. One of his innovations was the use of motion blur which he achieved, most likely, by the use of hidden wires, which, because they were moving, didn't register on film during long exposures of each frame.

His techniques took hold among the avant-garde in Eastern Europe in the 1920s and '30s, growing out of a strong cultural tradition of puppetry. One such artist was Russian/Ukrainian filmmaker Alexander Ptushko, whose first major work, The New Gulliver (Новый Гулливер, Novyy Gullivyer) (1935), was the first feature film to use 3-D stop motion animation (Lotte Reiniger's feature film The Adventures of Prince Achmed had used 2-D stop motion in 1926) and the first to combine stop-motion with live action footage. Ptushko built 1,500 separate puppets for this remarkable film. Each of the puppets had a detachable head, which made them capable of a wide range of expressions and personality.

Other notable artists include the influential Czech animator Jiří Trnka. The aesthetic tradition of the puppet film was continued by Bretislav Pojar, Kihachiro Kawamoto, Ivo Caprino, Jan Švankmajer, Jiri Barta, Stephen and Timothy Quay (Brothers Quay), the Bolex Brothers, and Galina Beda.

A notable stop motion object animator was Germany's Oskar Fischinger who animated anything he could get his hands on in a series of impressive short abstract art films during the 20s and 30s. The best example is his 1934 film, Composition in Blue. Fischinger was hired by Disney to animate the "rolling hills" footage used in the opening "Toccata & Fugue" sequence of Fantasia (1940).

The great pioneer of American stop motion was Willis O'Brien (1886-1963). In 1914, O'Brien began animating a series of short subjects set in prehistoric times. He animated his early creations by covering wooden armatures with clay, a technique he further perfected by using ball & socket armatures covered with foam, foam latex, animal hair and fur. Birth of a Flivver (1915), Morpheus Mike (1915), The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy (1916), R.F.D. 10,000 B.C.: A Mannikin Comedy (1917/18), The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1919), The Lost World (1925), King Kong (1933), The Son of Kong (1933), and, with the assistance of a young Ray Harryhausen, Mighty Joe Young (1949), yet these were but a few of the many films he animated. O'Brien's Nippy's Nightmare (1916) was first film to combine live actors with stop-motion characters. His partnership with the great Mexican-American model makers/craftsmen/special effects artists/background painters/set builders, Marcel Delgado, Victor Delgado and Mario Larrinaga, led to some of the most memorable and remarkable stop-motion moments in film history.

O'Brien's imaginative use of stop-motion, and his ambitious and inventive filmmaking, has inspired generations of film greats such as Ray Harryhausen, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Jim Danforth, Art Clokey, Pete Kleinow, Tim Burton, David Allen, Phil Tippett and Will Vinton, as well as thousands of lesser known animators, both professional and amateur. Many leading Science-Fiction and Fantasy writers also credit him as a great source of inspiration.

One of the more idiosyncratic early users of stop-motion techniques was the American comedian and cartoonist Charles Bowers who employed stop-motion techniques (which he called the "Bowers Process") in his series of silent short comedies in the 1920s and early 1930s. In his 1926 film Now You Tell One, he skillfully uses stop-motion to create such effects as a straw hat growing on a man's head, cats growing out of a plant, and a mouse firing a gun.

Puppeteer Lou Bunin created one of the first stop motion puppets using wire armatures and his own rubber formula. "Petroleum Pete," a promotion piece about the importance of oil in "modern" day life, debuted in the 1939 New York World's Fair. Another early stop-motion piece by Bunin, also in the 1930s was Bury the Axis, a short, satiric film about World War II probably commissioned for the US Government as a WPA grant. Bunin went on to produce a feature-length film version of Alice in Wonderland with a live-action Alice and stop-motion puppets portraying all the rest of the characters. Bunin was blacklisted in the 1950s, putting an effective end to his commercial career. He then turned his attention to painting and drawing, while still creating numerous TV commercials using stop motion techniques, as well as a number of children's short films.

Willis O'Brien's student Ray Harryhausen made many movies using a more elaborate version of puppet animation called model animation, first pioneered by O'Brien, mainly for his feature length films, the difference being that model animation strives to be "photo-realistic" enough to be able to be combined with live action elements to create a final fantasy sequence that allows the audience to suspend their disbelief that they are watching animation elements. Example of his model animation techniques; most famously, are the seven-skeleton sequence from Jason and the Argonauts (1963). But aside from the more "disguised" stop motion efforts of O'Brien and Harryhausen, America and Britain were slower to embrace the stop-motion film, and so its use mainly grew out of other locations and sources.

One acclaimed European puppet animation producer to break out in America was Hungarian animator George Pal, who, partially working in The Netherlands, produced a series of films in Europe during the 30s before coming to Hollywood to create more shorts in the 40s, now called Puppetoons under the Paramount banner, seven of which were nominated for Academy Awards for best animated film. In the late 40s, Pal evolved into feature film production, incorporating puppet animation into a live action setting in such films as The Great Rupert (1949), tom thumb (film) (1958), and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1963). Pal used model-animation (animated by Jim Danforth) in two other feature films, The Time Machine (1960) and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), the latter nominated for a Special Effects Oscar, and the former winning the EFX Oscar award. Pal's work is documented in two feature films by Arnold Lebovitt, released in the mid-80s, The Puppetoon Movie and The Fantastic World of George Pal which are currently available on DVD. More of Danforth's skilled model animation can be seen in Jack the Giant Killer (1962), the ending fire ladder sequence for It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), "The Zanti Misfits" and "Counterweight" episodes of the original The Outer Limits TV series (1963), and, with equally prolific model animator David Allen, in Equinox (also titled "The Beast") (1967, 1970), Flesh Gordon (1974), and the prehistoric comedy Caveman (1981).

Dominating children's TV stop-motion programming for three decades in America was Art Clokey's Gumby series, which lasted into the 70s, and spawned a feature film, Gumby I in 1995. Using both freeform and character clay animation, the series also used much object animation as Gumby and his clay pals interacted with various toys. Clokey started his adventures in clay with a 1953 freeform clay short film called Gumbasia (1953) which shortly thereafter propelled him into his more structured Gumby TV series.

The Walt Disney studio dabbled with puppet-object animation in 1959 with the release of a 21-minute experimental short, Noah's Ark, nominated for an animated film Oscar for that year. Disney didn't exploit the technique until their association with Tim Burton, starting with Burton's short film Vincent in 1982.

In November 1959 the first episode of Sandmännchen was shown on East German television, a children's show that had Cold War propaganda as its primary function. New episodes are still being produced in Germany, making it one of the longest running animated series in the world. However, the show's purpose today has changed to pure entertainment.

In the 1960s, the French animator Serge Danot created the well-known The Magic Roundabout (from 1965) which played for many years on the BBC. Another French/Polish stop-motion animated series was Colargol (Barnaby the Bear in the UK, Jeremy in Canada), by Olga Pouchine and Tadeusz Wilkosz.

A British TV-series The Clangers (1969) became popular on television. The British artists Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall (Cosgrove Hall Films) produced a full-length film The Wind in the Willows (1983) and later a multi-season TV-series The Wind in the Willows based on Kenneth Grahame's classic children's book of the same title. They also produced a documentary of their production techniques, Making Frog and Toad.

Disney once again experimented with several stop-motion techniques by hiring independent animator-director Mike Jittlov to do the first stop motion animation of Mickey Mouse toys ever produced for a short sequence called Mouse Mania, part of a TV special commemorating Mickey Mouse's 50th Anniversary called Mickey's 50th in 1978.

Jittlov again produced some impressive multi-technique stop-motion animation a year later for a 1979 Disney special promoting their release of the feature film The Black Hole. Titled Major Effects, Jittlov's work stood out as the best part of the special. Jittlov released his footage the following year to 16 mm film collectors as a short film titled The Wizard of Speed and Time, along with four of his other short multi-technique animated films, most of which eventually evolved into his own feature-length film of the same title. Effectively demonstrating almost all animation techniques, as well as how he produced them, the film was released to theaters in 1987 and to video in 1989.

Italian stop motion films include Quaq Quao (1978), by Francesco Misseri, which was stop-motion with origami, The Red and the Blue and the clay animation kitties Mio and Mao.

A stop-motion animated series of Tove Jansson's "The Moomins" (from 1979), often referred to as "The Fuzzy Felt Moomins", produced by Film Polski and Jupiter Films was also a European production, made in different countries like Poland and Austria.

In North America, Jules Bass produced a series of popular Christmas specials such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman (using 'Animagic', their trade name for their version of stop motion puppetry) (1964). The specials were animated in Japan by Japanese stop-motion pioneer Tadahito Mochinaga. Another clay-animated children's TV series Davey and Goliath, produced by Art Klokey, lasted from 1960 to 1977. Rankin/Bass also produced a puppet animation feature length film, Mad Monster Party in 1967 and combined puppet animation with live action in The Daydreamer, their feature film released in 1966.

A puppet animation feature-length film directed by Marc Paul Chinoy and based on the famous "Pogo" comic strip was produced in 1980. Titled I go Pogo, it was aired a few times on American cable channels but, sadly, was never released to video.

Although seemingly a natural marriage, stop-motion has very rarely been shot in stereoscopic 3D throughout film history. The first 3-D stop-motion short is In Tune With Tomorrow (aka Motor Rhythm) (1939) by John Norling The second stereoscopic stop-motion release is The Adventures of Sam Space (1955) by Paul Sprunck The third and latest stop-motion short in stereo 3-D is The Incredible Invasion of the 20,000 Giant Robots from Outer Space (2000) by Elmer Kaan & Alexander Lentjes This is also the first ever 3-D stereoscopic stop-motion & CGI short in the history of film. Allegedly, the very first all-stop-motion 3-D feature is scheduled for a 2008 release: Coraline by Henry Selick, being produced out of Nike shoe founder Phil Knight's new "Laika" animation studio in Portland, Oregon, formerly Will Vinton's "Claymation" studio.

Current work

Aardman also produced commercials and music videos, notably the video for Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer", which uses most of the animation techniques outlined above, including pixilation which involved Gabriel holding a pose while each frame was shot and moving between exposures, effectively becoming a human puppet. More recently Aardman used this technique on a series of short films for BBC Three entitled Angry Kid, which starred a live actor wearing a mask. The actor's pose and the mask's expression had to be altered slightly for each exposure. Aardman has also created many films, of which some have become household names. Nick Park joined Aardman after they took interest in his college project, A Grand Day Out. Since then, Nick Park has worked for Aardmans, and also made with them: The Wrong Trousers, Creature Comforts, A Close Shave, "Cracking Contraptions", and more recently, the feature film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, co-produced with DreamWorks Animation. Nick Park is currently making a new Wallace and Gromit short (30 minutes) called Trouble at' Mill, which is expected to be broadcast in late 2008.

Cuppa Coffee Studios is based in Toronto and has also pioneered many of the modern techniques associated with Stop Motion. Started in 1992 by Adam Shaheen and Bruce Alcock, the company has grown to now the single largest producer of Stop Motion for TV with over 250 employees and 38 Studios. They have produced the classic Celebrity Death Match, Rick and Steve, Starveillance, A Very Barry Christmas and JoJo's Circus.

Another more complicated variation on stop motion is go motion, co-developed by Phil Tippett and first used extensively on the film Dragonslayer (1981) and the final sequence of Howard the Duck (1986), which involves programming a computer to move parts of a model slightly during each exposure of each frame of film, combined with traditional hand manipulation of the model in between frames, to produce a more realistic motion blurring effect. Tippet also used the process extensively in his impressice short film, "Prehistoric Beast", circa 1990, and his go motion tests acted as motion models for the first photo-realistic use of computers to depict dinosaurs in Jurassic Park in 1993. A lo-tech, manual version of this blurring technique was originally pioneered by Wladyslaw Starewicz in the silent era, and was used in his feature film The Tale of the Fox (1931).

Although nowadays the almost universal use of CGI (computer generated imagery) has effectively rendered stop motion obsolete as a serious special effects tool in feature film, its low entry price, and still-unique "look" and "feel" on film means it is still used on some projects such as in children's programming (most notably on the acclaimed "Bump in the Night" series from the 1990s), as well as in commercials and comic shows such as Robot Chicken. The argument that the textures achieved with CGI cannot match the way real textures are captured by stop motion also makes it valuable for a handful of movie-makers, notably Tim Burton, whose puppet-animated film Corpse Bride was released in 2005.

Adam Jones, Grammy Award-winning guitarist/musician/visual artist for the Grammy Award-winning progressive rock band Tool, uses stop motion capturing techniques for the majority of Tool's music videos as well. The band members of Tool do not appear in their videos, but rather use a combination of clay animation and stop motion. Jones' studies began in 1983 at the Hollywood Makeup Academy by learning "straight make-up". His focus of interest shifted to film, and he began to work as a sculptor and special effects designer for such films as Jurassic Park and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It was here where he learned the stop-motion camera techniques he would later apply in Tool's music videos: "Sober" (on which he collaborated with Fred Stuhr), "Prison Sex", "Stinkfist", "Ænema", "Schism", and "Parabola".

The internet is also home to hundreds, and possibly thousands, of short digital films known as Brickfilms. Brickfilms films are, for the most part, object animation stop motion films featuring LEGO minifigures as a vital component. The limited flexibility of Lego minifigs make for both ease of use and less than realistic action, which might be said to constitute a vital part of their appeal.

Another craze on the internet are youths purely animating with clay figures on public video sites such as Google video. They are often extremely simple, bordering on "freeform", but effective. Some barely have a face, but the comedic or violence proportions exceeding those of conventional clay puppets, with grisly crime scenes riddled by clay gunfire and hapless victims falling in a sniper's cross hairs. The comedy helps the viewer enjoy the animation without noticing the simpleness of the clay puppet. Many younger people begin their experiments in movie making with stop motion. Many new stop motion shorts combine brickfilming and clay animation into a new form.

In the 60s and 70s, independent clay animator Eliot Noyes Jr. refined the technique of "free-form" clay animation with his Oscar-nominated 1965 film Clay or the Origin of Species and He Man and She Bar (1972). Noyes also used stop motion to animate sand laying on glass for his musical animated film Sandman (1975). Sand-coated puppet animation was used in the Oscar-winning 1977 film The Sand Castle, produced by Dutch-Canadian animator Co Hoedeman.

Hoedeman was one of dozens of animators sheltered by the National Film Board of Canada, a Canadian government film arts agency that had supported animators for decades. A pioneer of refined multiple stop-motion films under the NFB banner was Norman McLaren who brought in many other animators to create their own creatively-controlled films. Notable among these are the pinscreen-animation films of Jacques Drouin, Alexeiff Parker, and Gaston Sarault such as Mindscape (1976).

Corky Quakenbush created three dozen stop motion animated films for Fox network's Mad TV in the late 1990s that helped fuel a movement of comic stop-motion for adults. Parodying famous feature movies and TV shows, the shorts drew their humor from the mixing of the innocence of puppets and the profanity of violence in mainstream contemporary situations. One example is Raging Rudolph, written by Spencer Green and Mary Vilano, a re-telling of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" as if directed by Martin Scorsese. Quakenbush also created "reality animation" to mimic handheld documentary newsgathering for Clops, written by Blaine Capatch, a parody of the groundbreaking reality show, Cops in which puppet policement bust famous stop-motion characters. Other parodies followed, such as Furious George, a spoof of the innocent Curious George children's book series.

Tim Burton is very active in the field of stop motion animation. One of Burton's first films, Vincent, is a six minute stop motion animation about a young boy who wants to be Vincent Price. In 1993, Burton produced the all-stop motion animation The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film was in production for three years due to the length of time it takes to shoot stop motion. The main characters in the film were puppets that in order to create realism in the film were structured hundreds of face models with different expressions. The film is based on a poem Burton wrote inspired by "T'was the Night Before Christmas" it was then directed by Henry Selick. Selick later directed the adaptation of James and the Giant Peach, a blend between stop motion animation and live action film. In 2005 Corpse Bride was released, another stop motion piece from Burton. Burton is a major director when it comes to stop motion, due to the scale of the films he produces. Computer animation of the aliens for his 1996 science fiction comedy, Mars Attacks was deliberately made to look like stop motion when the film's budget did not allow for the use of the actual stop motion process, blurring the line between the two forms of animation.

In the 1970s and 80s, Industrial Light & Magic often used stop motion model animation for the Original trilogy of Star Wars. The chess sequence in Episode 4 A New Hope, the Tauntauns and machine walkers in Episode 5 The Empire Strikes Back and various Imperial machines in episode 6 Return of the Jedi are all stop motion animation, some of it using the Go Motion process. The out-of-control machines in the first two "Robocop" feature films use Phil Tippett's Go Motion version of stop motion also. Stop motion was also used for some shots of the final sequence of the first "Terminator" movie, as they were for the scenes of the small alien ships in Spielberg's Batteries Not Included in 1987, animated by David Allen.

Allen's stop motion work can also be seen in such feature films as The Crater Lake Monster (1977), Q - The Winged Serpent (1982), The Gate (1986) and Freaked (1993). Allen's King-Kong Volkswagen commercial from the 1970s is now legendary among model animation enthusiasts.

In the 1990s Trey Parker and Matt Stone made two original shorts and the pilot of South Park almost entirely out of construction paper.

The animated series Robot Chicken continues to primarily utilize stop-motion animation, using custom made action figures and other toys as principal characters. Other action figures, called Stikfas, are very popular stop motion figures and are not extremely expensive.

Internet celebrity Robert Benfer produced the longest clay animated film and third longest stop-motion animated film ever released, Klay World: Off the Table, a feature length film based on his popular internet series from Newgrounds.com.

See also

References

  • Tayler, Richard. The Encyclopedia of Animation Techniques. Running Press, Philadelphia, 1996. ISBN 1-56138-531-X
  • Lord, Peter and Brian Sibley. Creating 3-D Animation. Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1998. ISBN 0-8109-1996-6
  • Sibley, Brian. Chicken Run: Hatching the Movie. Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2000. ISBN 0-8109-4124-4
  • Smith, Dave. Disney A to Z. Hyperion Books, New York, 1998. ISBN 0-7868-6391-9
  • Maltin, Leonard Movie and Video Guide. Signet Reference Paperbacks, New American Library, Penguin Putnam, New York, 2006.

External links

  • O/She Stop Motion Film*
  • BBC Blast Film Get advice on stop motion animation
  • BBC Blast Film See stop motion films created by 13 to 19 years olds. Rate and comment or upload your own.

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