Stop motion is an animation technique in which a physically manipulated object appears to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence.

Classic stop motion techniques include puppets, clay, pixilation (humans) and paper cut-outs, but the possibilities of material are as wide as the animators’ imagination.

The animation in “Kubo and the Two Strings” was created by meticulously altering the position of puppets frame-by-frame.

“Credited As: Stop Motion Animator” – Video by Academy Originals [ Click to watch]

The puppets used in claymation also have an armature, but the malleable nature of clay gives this type of animation a unique quality. Aardman Studio has perfected the art of claymation with iconic works such as “Wallace & Gromit” and “Creatures Comfort”, but “Adam” – one of their very first shorts – already shows their deep understanding of clay’s potential.

“Adam” by Aardman Animations, 1992 [Click to watch]

Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” was the first animated long-feature film (over 10 years before Disney’s “Snow White”). She single-handedly created over 40 films with minutely detailed and back-lit paper cut-outs.

“Cinderella”, 1922 by Lotte Reiniger [Click to watch]

Pixilation is a stop motion technique where live actors are used as a frame-by-frame subject by repeatedly posing while one frame is taken and changing pose slightly before the next frame. Norman McLaren’s famous Acadamy Award winning “Neighbors” uses this technique to great comic effect.

“Neighbours”, 1952 by Norman McLaren [Click to watch]

Almost any material can be re-imagined as a subject for stop motion animation. “Bottle” and “Fresh Guacamole” are two recent and interesting examples.

“Bottle”, 2009 by Kirsten Lepore [Click to watch]
“Fresh Guacamole”, 2012 by Pes [Click to watch]

– Anna Pinkas