Introduction to stop-motion animation

Chris Gavin
12-14 Dicembre 2012 

“Stop Motion” or “Stop Frame” refers to the technique of moving individual objects sequentially and recording the results frame by frame to create an animated movie. With just a digital camera, a PC and some dedicated stop-motion software, it's relatively easy to get started and this is an enjoyable medium that really encourages spontaneity and experimentation.

Commercial Stop Motion production however,often becomes a very laborious business. High-end feature films such as the Wallace & Gromit films, Coraline or Frankenweenie require a huge crew; industrial studio facilities and a production schedule spanning several years. Typically, these lavishly-produced Stop Motion films strive to create visually convincing worlds: the characters are constructed as highly engineered puppets containing sophisticated mechanical armatures; the sets are painstakingly-constructed models with every item hand-built to the most minute detail. Then the frame by frame shooting begins. Some scenes can take days or weeks to shoot, so for efficiency’s sake, multiple production crews work in parallel with filming taking place across several sets simultaneously.

But the stop motion technique does not necessarily dictate representational content bound-up in detail and technical complexity. We could also use this technique to produce fresh and immediate work; perhaps work which uses symbolic and graphical imagery rather than meticulously detailed sets and fiendishly complex models.

There is a long history of stop-motion animators using readily available or 'found' objects to make films. Many of Jan Svankmajer's animated films used everyday things to create new characters and worlds. The work of Pes often creates new and subversive meanings by re-purposing familiar household items. Sometimes it can be fun to use familiar objects; using the things already around us is certainly a good way to get started.