What is Stop Motion Animation – A Beginner’s Guide
Ever wonder how movies like Jurassic Park, King Kong, Toy Story, etc., feel and look so real? Well, it is all thanks to stop motion animation.
Are you looking to learn about stop motion animation? Then you have come to the right place. In this article, we are going to talk about stop motion animation, its techniques and its origins.
So without further ado, let’s get into it.
What is Stop Motion Animation?
The technique of bringing static on-screen animated objects to life is called Stop Motion Animation. This highly detailed technique is possible by moving an object in increments when filming a specific frame.
For stop motion animation, an artist places objects that are to be animated in their initial positions. A picture of the objects in that particular position is captured on a memory card or film. The artist then moves on to hustle the objects in slightly varying positions, capturing another image. This entire process is repeated hundreds and thousands of times to shoot a single scene. Once all the frames are completed and played in sequence, the stop motion animation after effects give an illusion of the movement of the animated objects.
Some of the most popular objects used in stop motion animation are paper cut-outs, puppets, clay figurines and miniatures. These objects are used because they are convenient and easy to manage and reposition.
An easy way to understand stop motion animations is to think of them as an elongated serious of still images and photographs. The objects included are moved, fixed and filmed on a frame by frame basis to simulate movement.
An extremely popular movie that made heavy use of stop motion animation using puppets and other miniatures was the uber-famous Star Wars. Using the great technique, this movie successfully brought objects that cannot move by themselves to life.
The introduction of computer-generated graphics, images and videos has dimmed the light of stop motion animation. However, due to its unique impact and realistic texture, you can’t expect this great technique to die out anytime soon. Many stop motion animation studios are still popularly using these animations in TV advertisements, short films and even artistic films.
Stop-Motion Animation Techniques
Various techniques are used to create stop motion animation. Some techniques include clay, cut-out, puppet and object animations. The main difference amongst all these techniques is the kind of object that is used in the creation of an animation.
An extremely popular and widely used stop motion technique is object animation. This animation type entails the use of simple objects, such as children’s toys and dolls, to create an animation.
Animations that use more detailed and complex movable objects are referred to as puppet animations. Cut-out animations, as the name suggests, uses paper and cardboard cut-outs of objects and characters. An artist then adds life to these cut-outs using their artistic and creative skills. Stop action animations are also popularly used in various movies and films.
Benefits of Stop Motion Animation
Here are a few advantages of stop motion animations.
One of the biggest advantages of using stop motion animations is innovation. The modern revival of this kind of animation entails using some super-creative and fantastic props and methods for filming. Artists are now using plasticine models, moving them only few millimetres to deliver a more intense and realistic effect. This highly effective method enables animators to animate any object that can’t move by itself. All in all, stop motion offers an endless number of possibilities!
Stop motion videos are becoming more creative and imaginative. Its effective techniques are being used to create all forms of content, ranging from informational videos to uber-cute advertisements. Today, marketers are using stop motion animation due to its high versatility. If you want to deliver a message in a truly unique and creative way, incorporating stop motion animations in informational videos or your ads is the way to go!
The intricate techniques and detailing used in these animations engage your audience and ensure that they watch the entire video.
Enhances Brand Image
The use of stop motion animations in advertisements and commercials is trending these days. The creativity of these videos makes it easy for the audience to retain your brand message, helping you build a positive brand image while encouraging brand recall.
A great attribute of stop motion animations is that it is inspiring and thought-provoking. It helps create quality content that individuals not only remember for an extended period of time but are also motivated to share with those they know.
A wide number of businesses belonging to different industries are gradually recognizing the true potential of stop motion graphics. This has motivated them to incorporate these animations into their digital marketing content, which is then posted on social media and other video-sharing websites.
Highly Versatile Tool
The use of stop motion animations is not only limited to the filming or advertising industry. This highly versatile tool is very useful in education and business. Stop motion animation is an incredibly fun way of delivering information and boring concepts. It helps make topics more interesting, motivating and encouraging students and other individuals to engage more. Stop motion also helps explain topics in a slow yet more effective manner.
Used in Demonstrations
Stop motion animations are an effective tool that can be used for product and other demonstrations. You can arrange and set the time frames according to your liking to speed up the demonstration. Stop motion animations can also be incorporated in explainer videos to communicate pivotal messages in an engaging manner. Since these videos are extremely creative and unique, they help retain the audience’s attention for a longer period of time and ensure that your customers understand the message effectively.
Due to their versatility, stop motion animations can also be incorporated in music videos to make them more creative and imaginative. There are no limitations on what you can achieve using different props to convey a message in an innovative way. You can use these creative animations to deliver different emotions and inspire people along the way.
History of Stop Motion Animation
Released in the year 1898, “The Humpty Dumpty Circus” is considered to be the first documented movie that used stop motion animations. Directed by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton, this classic movie brought wooden toys to life.
A few years later, in 1907, another film by the name “The Haunted Hotel” used stop animation. Produced by J. Stuart Blackton, this movie was applauded for demonstrating moving furniture using object animation, a popular stop motion technique. The Haunted Hotel went on to become one of the biggest hits of its time due to its incredible effects.
By this point in time, many filmmakers were adopting the use of different stop motion techniques to tell their story. Wladyslaw Starewicz is considered as one of the global pioneers of stop motion animations. He was a renowned genius when it came to storytelling through the art of stop motion. The most common type of object that he used in his stop motion animated films was puppets. Two of his classic works included “Tale of the Fox” and “Along With the Mascot”.
Another milestone in the stop motion animation industry was when famous animator Willis O’Brien made his entry into the mainstream movie industry through his work “The Lost World” in 1925. This major hit entailed the use of dinosaur animations alongside live actors. Another great hit by Willis O’Brien was the popular King Kong movie in 1933. This brilliant film took stop motion animation to the next level.
“King Kong” turned out to be a massive hit as O’Brien perfected the 2d stop motion animal techniques that he had used in “The Lost World”. He incorporated more smooth motions and realistic expressions in the film, delivering an incredibly realistic experience to the audience. Because of this masterpiece, Willis O’Brien earned the title “Father of Modern Stop Motion Animation.”
O’Brien also volunteered to supervise the stop motion special effects of the 1949 popular movie, Mighty Joe Young. In 1950, this movie won him an Oscar for best visual effects.
Stop motion animations were taken to another level by O’Brien’s protégé, Harryhausen. He made various films from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, making use of new techniques in stop motion animation.
How is Stop Motion Better than CGI Animation?
Only a few decades ago, a vast majority of animations were being created using the popular stop motion technique. However, the technological revolution offered the world a faster and much less technical technique to deliver animated effects, known as the Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).
This gave birth to one of the most popular debates—the Stop Motion vs. CGI debate.
Here are a few reasons why stop motion animations are better than CGI animations.
Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) can’t compete with the rich history of stop motion animations. Stop motion was used to deliver realistic experiences to the audience way before the first computer was even introduced to the world. Stop motion helped create live action filmmaking in a creative and innovative manner in the pre-1900 era. It encouraged filmmakers and artists to display their creativity and show their out-of-the-box thinking through animations.
Stop motion animations paved the way for many CGI effects that are seen in movies today. It gave birth to special effects to deliver an incredible cinematic experience. It’s important to acknowledge that even the epic Star Wars Trilogy was brought to life using special stop motion animations and effects. Hence, it has a rich heritage that cannot be underappreciated at any cost.
Contrary to popular opinion, stop motion is a high quality medium, just like CGI. There are various films with incredible effects that never fail to make an impression on its audience. Moreover, CGI can be of low quality depending on the budget, which ultimately delivers a disappointing experience to the audience. Stop motion, on the other hand, never compromises on quality.
A popular myth in the animation industry is that stop motion animations are way more costly than CGI. However, like we mentioned, it’s nothing but a myth. Like other animation techniques, the cost of a stop motion project depends on the time required to create the extensive artwork. Since you are paying for the precious time and experience of the animators, you will have to compensate likewise.
Similarly, high quality CGI can be super-expensive to create. Even though you can opt for cheaper CGI, at the end of the day, it will not be able to deliver the same impact and experience as high quality CGI.
Stop motion animations can be created according to varying budgets without compromising on the quality, even though it requires more effort.
Stop motion animations stand out from CGI; they hold a unique charm that can’t possibly be replicated using computer-generated techniques. Beautifully handcrafted with minute details, stop motion delivers a whole new experience to the audience. Moreover, stop motion just seems like a more personalized technique that gives a sense of warmth to the audience as compared to computer manufacture images.
After an animated film or video is created, it often has to be rendered into a particular video file. The rendering process is extremely time-consuming, adding to the turnaround time considerably. Even if you add the best textures, effects and lighting for an incredible experience, this can easily be dimmed down if you don’t have a great render system. CGI requires a considerably long time to render as compared to stop animation, which requires only a few basic touches and edits.
All in all, stop motion animation will forever remain an incredible technique that offers a great experience to the audience.