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Stop motion animation techniques

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Stop motion animation techniques

  1. 1. Stop Motion Animation Techniques By William Brighouse
  2. 2. What is Stop Motion? Stop Motion describes the process of making a sequence of pictures play in order at a speed which creates the illusion of movement. This is generally achievable by taking many photos of an object, though moving it slightly between each photo, creating an animation. A well known example of Stop Motion would be the famous ‘Wallace and Gromit’ animations. All the characters in said animation are made out of plasticine, and are therefore endlessly pose able. For every photo taken, parts of the characters are moved slightly. These individual photos are known as ‘Stop- Frames’. After the shooting, these Stop-Frames are all played quickly to create the illusion of real movement, much like the different frames that make up an animated cartoon. Wallace and Gromit
  3. 3. How quickly do the Stop-Frames change? This partially comes down to personal preference. Ideally, a stop motion animation would hold 24 Stop-Frames within each second, though some may wish to attempt higher for smoother playback, or less with the price of more jagged animation. The frame rate may also need to be adjusted in some cases to suit the amount of motion present in the pictures. For example, if a lot of motion takes place between only a few Stop-Frames, using a higher frame rate may cause too much movement for the viewer to properly comprehend. The best way to create fluid animation is to use a high framerate with very little movement between each frame. If done correctly, it can breathe life into the characters. The plasticine characters are being posed for the next Stop-Frame
  4. 4. Persistence of Vision Stop Motion also takes advantage of human senses. If an object moves quickly, the human eye will not process straightaway, leaving a slight after image for roughly one twenty-fifth of a second. Try moving your hand quickly right now. If you watch carefully, your hand will still remain in it’s original position for a split second; this is known as ‘Persistence of Vision’. Naturally, this comes into play when working with stop motion. By applying the correct framerate and motion between Stop-Frames, persistence of vision can be used to the editors advantages, as it will appear that the frames moves more smoothly than intended. This does not necessarily mean that using many stop-frames is a fruitless effort. The effect still persists at lower frame rates, though it appears almost lifelike when backed up by a higher frame rate. A very early, yet good example would be Edward Muybridge’s ‘Running Horse’ animation, which we will be looking at in more in depth shortly.
  5. 5. What must be used in Stop Motion? What MUSN’T be used? Stop Motion is limited by no means whatsoever. In terms of objects that can be animated. Though plasticine is used in most professional productions due to it’s endless artistic potential and pose-ability, many other objects, even real people, can be animated using the same method. Stop Motion is a very flexible form of animation, and plasticine can be difficult for beginners (the figures could break, be squashed, etc). Stop motion in general is good for beginners, as it is simple to understand (though not always easy to create), though plasticine is very easy to mess up, and often not easy to fix, so more simple, less poseable objects are ideal for starting out, particularly Lego as they can easily be snapped into place. Lego Stop Motion
  6. 6. The Pioneers of 3D Stop Motion The conception of Stop Motion can be credited to quite a few notable names, some of which were known primarily for other feats in life. Thomas Edison, for example, is known for inventing the light bulb, yet he is also known for presenting one of the earliest stop motion productions in history, ‘Fun in a Bakery Shop’. The conception of Stop Motion can be tracked as far back as the 1800s, when film itself was beginning to see the light of day. We shall be looking at the various pioneers from past to present who played and continue to play a large role in the industry.
  7. 7. Edward J. Muybridge Muybridge’s ‘horse’ animation. Arguably one of the most important pioneers of 3D stop motion, Edward Muybridge was an English photographer of the 1800s; best known in the stop motion industry for his ‘running horse’ animation. Muybridge’s initial goal was to prove the theory that a horse is airborne at least briefly during a gallop, which he accomplished in 1877 after successfully photographing such a point in the horse’s motion. Muybridge further proved this theory by taking several pictures of a horse running, placing them one after the other to create a moving image of a horse’s gallop. This animation demonstrated exactly which point of the gallop the horse is airborne, though this is the least of the industry’s interests; Muybridge had created an animation of a running horse by simply using photographs,and arguably one of the earliest forms of animation; an effort which can still be appreciated by today’s standards. However, it is worth noting that this animation was not neccesarily ‘animated’ at the time of it’s creation, but rather each frame of the animation was created. It’s thanks to another pioneer of the 1800s that such motion could be created…
  8. 8. William George Horner A ‘Zoetrope’ or ‘Daedalum’. William George Horner was a mathematician of his time, known to have published several books related to this as well as other basic subjects such as English Language and History. Horner is erhaps best known for his conception of the ‘Daedalum’, a modern reimagining of an old device, originally created in China, known as the ‘Zoetrope’. The Daedalum generally consists of a cylinder with a series of images on the inside and holes on the outside. When spun, the pictures appear to move in succession if one looks through the holes on the side. This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest animation tool used in history, and it’s conception not only inspired ideas for the creation of more practical animation tools, but most likely inspired many to try their own hand at animating. Whilst actual stop motion was not a virtue of William George Horner, his Daedalum opened up endless possibilities for others to take advantage of, eventually leading to animations such as the 1897 short ‘The Humpty Dumpty Circus’, the world’s first professional stop motion production, in which several toys come to life at the absence of humans and display a circus performance. (Sadly, this animation has been officially labeled as ‘lost’, and very little is known of it to this day).
  9. 9. Edwin Stanton Porter Edwin Stanton porter is known in the Stop Motion industry mostly for his early short film ‘Fun in a Bakery Shop’, the second oldest application of Stop Motion animation (though considered the oldest by some due to the lack of information on ‘The Humpty Dumpty Circus’. ‘Fun in a Bakery Shop’ was created by Edwin S. Porter and released in 1902 by Thomas Edison; this could suggest that it was presented as a ‘tech-demo’ demonstrating the genre’s capabilities, as Thomas Edison was known forconceiving many forms of revolutionary technology. ‘Fun in a Bakery Shop’ depicts a baker as he procrastinates in his workplace, using dough to create the faces of celebrities using dough that ‘shape shifts’ before the viewers eyes. As very few have seen ‘The Humpty Dumpy Circus’, this animation received significantly more media attention and is still frequently referenced as a revolutionary inspiration for countless stop motion ventures today, as a film that blended live action with stop motion, much like the film adaption of Roal Dahl’s childrens story ‘James and the Giant Peach, and MTV’s most played music video as of 2011, ‘Sledgehammer’, also known as one of the first proffesional productions that contemporary animator ‘Nick Park’ worked on…
  10. 10. Nick Park Known to some as the end-all master of stop motion, Nick Park has created many familiar titles such as Creature Comforts, Chicken Run and the beloved Wallace and Gromit. Park’s early career consisted of animation for several television advertisements, as well as the aforementioned ‘Sledgehammer’ music video. His Wallace and Gromit animation ‘A Grand Day Out’ was released in 1989 after nearly twenty years of production, and won the BAFTA Best Animated Film Award a year later. Nick Park also won his first Oscar with another short animated film, ‘Creature Comforts’, which consisted of human voices from real interviews being placed over a plasticine animal speaking in synch with said human’s voice. All these animations are part of Aardman Animations, a proffesional animating company known almost exclusively for their clay animations.
  11. 11. The Modern Stop Motion Industry Whilst most animated films are now CGI, 3D Stop Motion is far from out of the picture. Aardman Animations are still producing the children’s television series ‘Shaun the Sheep’, and a feature film is currently under development. Though Aardman Animations are well known in the stop motion industry, esteemed Director ‘Tim Burton’ has also created two animated 3D stop motion feature films, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘The Corpse Bride’, the former of which is frequently looked back upon as a masterpiece in animation, and holds a vast cult following for it’s unique style and memorable characters. ‘Laika’ is also known to have produced the feature length film ‘Coraline’, with several key production members from Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, and currently have another stop-motion in the pipeline titled ‘Paranorman’. Despite being somewhat overshadowed by CG-I animation, the stop motion industry is still thriving and likely will continue to do so for many years to come.
  12. 12. And that concludes this analysis of the techniques and History of Stop Motion Thank you for taking the time to view this presentation! ~William Brighouse

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