Essay       Stop motion is an animation technique which makes a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own. The objects are moved in small increments between individual photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the frames are played back. When played back at the correct FPS, creates the illusion of smooth movement. The FPS is a very significant feature as it determines and affects the speed of the animation, resulting is a smooth or jumpy finish. FPS is the speed the animation plays at, with films being of 24 FPS. It is also related to the amount of pictures taken of the objects which also determines the FPS speed, for example, the more pictures you take, the faster the FPS can be. There are  three main types of stop-motion animation: Cut Out animation, which consists of photos or drawn pictures, 3D Stop Motion or claymation, which is produced with clay model objects and Pixilation where live actors are used as frame-by-frame subjects.

 For example, Wladyslaw Starewicz’s “The Cameraman’s Revenge” is depicted using the stop motion animation process. The protagonists, who are insects in this case, are used to tell the story of a complacent married ‘beetle’ couple, where the male enjoys the get away to the city once in a while; however both partake in infidelity resulting in the conclusion of ending up in jail. Due to being such an old production, the film somewhat flickers. This is due to the type of projector that was available in the 1900’s. Although, despite being in black and white, Willis O’Brein’s ‘King Kong’ shows a significant difference in animation compared to Cameraman’s Revenge’ with the simple fact that, the characters are significantly obvious to be objects which could have been made of plasticine revenge was an animation but the movements are still quite static, showing the transitions of movement were not smooth at this time. Another great example of stop motion would be, George Pal “The Time Machine” 1960, won an Oscar for special effects, which are mainly shown in the time travel scenes. The stop motion shows great use of claymation, like the melting candle or the growing of the apples nearer the ending.

The movement and tone of these motions are easier for the audience to empathise to as they have a sense of realism to them, unlike the ‘Huth’ fight sequence in Empire Strikes Back’. The seamless blending of live action’ and ‘stop motion’ creates a somewhat robotic and mechanical world of movement and sound with an obvious less realistic narrative.           Stop motion animation has a long history in film and was first introduced in the 1800’s. It was often used to show objects moving as if by ‘magic’. The first instance of the stop motion technique can be credited to Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton for ‘The Humpty Dumpty Circus’ , in which a toy circus of acrobats and animals comes to life.

In 1902, the film ‘Fun in a Bakery Shop’ used the stop trick technique in the “lightning sculpting” sequence. French trick film maestro George Melies used true stop motion to produce moving title-card letters for one of his short films. The Haunted Hotel’ is another stop motion film by J. Stuart Blackton, and was a resounding success when released.

One of the earliest clay animation films was ‘Modeling Extraordinary’, which dazzled audiences in 1912. December 1916 brought the first of Willie Hopkins’ 54 episodes of “Miracles in Mud” to the big screen. Also in December 1916, the first woman animator, Helena Smith Drayton, began experimenting with clay stop motion. She would release her first film in 1917, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’.         Alternative Stoo Motion Techniaues  are mostly related to Lotte Reiniger’s “The Adventures of Prince Achmed”, the differences are quite significant with the production of this animation being that of a cut-out animation.

The cut-outs are black silhouettes and the backgrounds consist of different colours ranging from blues to oranges and greens to yellows, emphasising the characters and the action taking place. This seems more like a cartoon stop motion, compared to ‘The Time Machine’ which mixes both real footage and Claymation. Reiniger’s piece has more of a solemn tone to it, contrasting to The Cameraman’s Revenge” which is more comic. The dark, warm colours somewhat compliment this emphasising the tone of the piece.

The black silhouette shapes are no only easy to see on the colourful backdrop, but due to the colour choice black it also suggest this ‘solemn’ tone. Another stop motion technique is Pixilation. This is shown in Norman Mclaren’s ‘Neighbours’ with a complimentary soundtrack which emphasises the somewhat ‘robotic’ theme of the piece. The colour seems quite washed out, maybe due to the contrast and brightness of the picture being high. This emphasises the ‘summer’ feeling in the stop motion. There are various camera shots and angles, contributing to the ‘robotic’ quick atmosphere of the motion picture. The soundtrack used compliments the Tree’, ‘chaotic’ feeling of the motion picture. It depicts two men who are trying to out do each other, so the music works well.

In modem motion pictures, you can see the vast improvement in technology. This may be due to the time management and the budget for the animation. In the olden days, the previously stated animations would be shown in cinema/theatre shows, as this was great, brand new entertainment for the locals.

However, in a modern world, due to society having such an impact on what we do, this probably wouldn’t be shown in a mainstream setup, as it does not fit the correct criteria for what a mainstream audience would want to see. One of the only mainstream stop motion animations is adult cartoon ‘South Park’ which was created in 1997. This shows cut out animation qualities and has been a great success in the mainstream era. I think south park is ‘welcomed with both arms’ because its such a simple idea, its almost genius, and there isn’t an animation like it anywhere else.

         Therefore, we can see the important influence stop motion has had on the invention of cinema. It is safe to argue that film in many aspects, is just stop motion imagery (it consists of a series of stills which appear to move due to the consistent frame rate speed it is played at). However, since the development of CGI, stop motion is rarely used in mainstream films, however you can still see it used in many Aardman Animations films such as ‘Wallace and Gromit’ or ‘Chicken Run’. Stop motion is however still used in advertising and music videos, whether it is extreme or sparse, for example, B.O.B — ‘Nothing on You’ video demonstrates a pixilation/cut out style narration of a love story; and this was a mainstream music video. Although stop motion pictures are appealing on the eye, they are sometimes very basic and do not cost a lot to make but they are very time consuming to produce, so you would think it would cost a great amount to create.



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