Today we are going to talk about an advanced filmmaking technique that is only for THE MOST patient of filmmakers: Stop-motion animation! Parts of “Margarita” were made this way, but I think the most famous example of stop-motion is the British cartoon “Wallace and Gromit.” This show was released in three 20 minute episodes, but each episode took months upon months to make. That is because the technique used is far outside of the reach of most filmmakers; but we’re going to talk about that technique today!

Stop-motion animation does not use computers to create the animation; that is the main difference between traditional CGI animation and stop-motion animation. It involves slowly moving a physical object while shooting with a camera 1 frame at a time. For example, a small clay figure (common in stop-motion) needs to walk from one end of the room to another. Each tiny motion has to be physically MOVED in the clay figure, one tiny step at a time. That way, the camera doesn’t interpret the movement as jerky or odd-looking; often if one step is messed up on the process you have to do the movement all over again. Hopefully you can see now why it takes so long to make this sort of tv show or movie; it is a very inefficient way of making movies.

For those of you that are graphic design nuts like me, you will notice that this is a lot like the way that early Disney movies were animated; you drew great pictures and changed one tiny thing about them at a time, like a giant flipbook. You might ask yourself “why bother with these types of animation when you could just do it all in a computer?

Well, that’s a great question, and it really depends on what you want out of your animation. Stop-motion animation is almost impossible to replicate by any other means; if you animate with your computer, it just won’t look the same. The other advantage to stop-motion is that it looks more realistic than other types of animation. For example, if you animated an air rifle on a computer using CGI methods, it would look less real than a stop-motion air rifle would, assuming that you have a great graphic artist.

At the end of the day I think I like stop-motion because it combines two things that I love: filmmaking AND sculpture. You have to put thought and detail into every set that you build; I get far more satisfaction from building a small set for a stop-motion film than I do from creating a virtual environment on a computer. It requires laser focus, like looking through this scope from Stop-motion animation adds a human element to a filmmaking industry that is becoming less and less humanized. Go out and give “Wallace and Gromit” or “Shaun the Sheep” a watch… The humor and excellent, and the animation style really adds to the atmosphere of the show.