Stop Motion also know as Clay-mation has been around since early cinema. It was a way for film makers to make the impossible possible. It pretty much served the purpose that CGI serves today. Stop motion is when you have a clay figure or doll (Like shown above) and you move them ever so slightly frame to frame to eventually you put all those frames (or photos) and get the appearance that the figure is moving by itself, think of it like a flip book. It’s a very time consuming process (I know from personal experience) and with the slightest error you’ll have to start all over again. When Stop Motion first made its appearance on the silver screen it amazed all and brought these ideas and illustrations to life.
That was a trailer for “The Lost World”, A film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel. As you can see they used this Stop Motion in a live action film, cutting between the clay figures and the live footage. This movie will be one of the first in a long line of movies to utilize stop motion to better enhance the story telling.
Fast forward some 38 odd years and we see the same technique used. However unlike the old days technology has improved to the point that now we can make it appear as if the figures are actully interacting with the actors in the same frame / cut not just from cut to cut like in “The Lost World”
As you can see the integration of Stop Motion with live action has come a long way. Not only does there appear to be physical connection between the two but shadows are also apparent breathing life and a convincing reality into the film. Stop Motion would continue to make more life like appearances in films such as Terminator and Star Wars.
As you can see from that clip from “Star Wars” that little toy from the the picture looks alive! One only wounder where Stop Motion intonations would would have went from there. However with the increasingly realistic features of CGI Stop Motion in film became a thing of the past.
However Stop Motion would live on in completely animated features like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and shorts like “Wallace and Gromit”
As you just saw Stop Motion has taken a couple of steps back with realistic features in order to take on a more cartoony look but the animation is a lot less smoother then the choppy movements of the dinosaurs from the 1920’s.
Despite the cartoony and sometimes down right cheesy appearance of Stop Motion some have really profited off it. One such group is the TV program “Robot Chicken”. This show takes pop culture references and paradies then using Stop Motion. Here is a clip from there show.
As you can see the content is intended for a more mature audience unlike “Wallace and Gromit” But is still funny! You may be asking what exactly does it take in order to pull off a short Stop Motion clip. Well I could tell you but lets have the Pros at “Robot Chicken” show you how its all done.
As you have just learned despite the relaxed demeanor and look of animation, cast and crew some seriously hard work is done. Due to the Success of the show some truly great innovations have been made to the world of Stop Motion which catches the attention of some pretty high up people. For example George Lucas the creator of “Star Wars” which led to “Robot Chicken’s” Star Wars feature and even more buzz in the Stop Motion world.
Well I hope you all enjoyed your brief trip in the world of Stop Motion. I will leave you with one last clip and one of my favorites.