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Stop motion

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About stop motion

Stop Motion animation has a unique quality that continues to attract filmmakers despite the intense labour involved.

Stop motion is created by moving and photographing inanimate objects, such as plasticine figures, one frame at a time, to produce the illusion of life and movement. According to Tim Burton, “there is an energy with stop-motion that you can’t even describe.  It’s got to do with giving things life, and I guess that’s why I wanted to get into animation originally.” Burton has directed three stop motion features, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Corpse Bride (2005) and Frankenweenie (2012).

Stop motion is one of the earliest forms of animation. Pioneering French filmmaker George Méliès experimented with frame by frame movement to create special effects – such as people magically disappearing – as early as the 1890s. Before the development of computer generated effects, stop motion was used to create monsters and mythical figures in live action films such as King Kong (1933) and Jason and the Argonauts (1954) which featured a battle between skeletons and humans, animated by the legendary Ray Harryhausen.

Part of the appeal of stop motion is the tactility of the materials used: the soft plasticine favoured by Aardman or Adam Elliot, the fur and fabric of Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox (2009) or the rich mix of clay, puppets and real life objects found in the work of Czech master Jan Svankmajer. Despite the many hours of work it takes to produce just one or two seconds of footage, stop motion continues to appeal to filmmakers – and audiences - as it taps into a deep well of childhood memories of imaginative play.

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