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What Is Stop-Motion Animation? History, Definition, and Techniques

stop motion animation technique

What Is Stop-Motion Animation? History, Definition, and Techniques

The stop motion dates back to 1900 and is considered the oldest animation technique, but today it is widely used in advertising, series, video clips and movies. We are sure you’ve seen it but you don’t know how to identify it because this stop motion animation technique is about play-acting to move objects. Do you want to know what it is?

 What is stop motion animation?

The stop motion is a succession of still images, a photo-to-photo animation, so it does not fall into the category of cartoons or computer animation. You can make a stop motion animation video yourself simply by having a photo camera and a video editing program. Any material, malleable (modeling clay), solid objects or even human beings can be used for animation. We must bear in mind that in each photo we take, there must be a small modification to move, the smaller that modification is, the more realistic our animation will be. Of course, you have to be very careful, since being a progressive filming technique, it does not allow you to reverse.

You have already realized that stop motion is a lot of manual work, an artistic procedure that requires a lot of patience and time. The lighting, the placement of cameras and the great dedication of each of the people who form the animation team must be taken into account.

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Historical evolution

The history of Stop Motion focuses on cinematography, one of the people recognized in using this technique was Georges Melies for the movie “The Journey to the Moon”. Here he makes a shot in which for the recording of the moon and in the following sequence insert a rocket, this is called the trick of substitution. Subsequently, animation with chalk was done on a cartoon character board in a movie called “Humorous phases of funny faces”. This technique was developed by cartoonist Stuart Blackton.

The evolution of the stop motion technique was through the film called “The Haunted Hotel”. Thanks to an adaptation of the Vitagraph film cameras that allowed to capture images. This technique was developed initially by Emille Cohl who is also considered the father of cartoons and especially by a Russian animator named Wladyslaw Starewicz.

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 Then the first animated sequences appeared with clay, in the Dave Fleischer film “Outside the Inkwell”. Here a character whose nose magically came to life was modeled. It was one of the first films in which the invented Rotoscopy technique appears by the Fleischer brothers. The scenographies were simple and used everyday objects. 

Types of Stop Motion:

Stop motion animation video requires a video camera, film or photography camera, in addition to great patience. It is a process that generally must be carried out in a studio or enclosed space and nothing should be moved unless the animator wishes, including cameras, lights, and scenery.

Volume Animation

It consists of pretending the movement of static and immovable objects placed in front of a camera. The movement is captured by capturing with a camera frames, in each frame the object has moved slightly, keeping as much as possible, and the greatest logical continuity that you want to imitate. When you reproduce the frames, one after the other, the projection on the screen creates the optical illusion that the object moves by itself.

Claymation

Claymation is the term that receives the audiovisual animation of an image stop in which plasticine, clay, or some other completely malleable material is used.

Cut out

If the animation is made with paper clippings it is called Cut out. It is a very appropriate technique for the classroom because of its simplicity and because it allows us to use the productions of our students.

Pixilation

Pixilation follows the footsteps of stop motion, but they are actors who play the role of puppets. 

Transformation

This technique is based on three-dimensional figures made with modeling clay, which do not require structure since they are usually small and transformed. 

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Differences between Stop motion and traditional animation:

  • In stop motion animation technique, there are no extremes or intermediates when the animator faces the character or the situation to animate as an initial position. But you never know where exactly the next position will be, giving rise to continuous experimentation.
  • There is no line test. The closest are fixed frames or a real image recording as a reference.
  • Shooting is similar to the real image and light is essential.
  • It is a much more individual work than that of cartoons.
  • Modifications are much more complicated than the case of cartoons.