You may have noticed that I’ve been MIA (Missing In Active) blogging for while. That’s because I’ve been heads down in a twelve-week course in Stop Motion Animation. It was new, it was novel and it was intense.
What is Stop Motion Animation?
Stop motion is the art of animating movement, one picture at a time. It predates movies made with film, when sequences of hand drawn pictures were moved rapidly to give the illusion of movement.
In the early 1800’s, thaumatropes were one of the earliest devices used for stop motion.
It, along with other officiously called pedemascopes, phenakistiscopes, fantascopes and stroboscopische scheibens, were optical toys used to entertain adults and children.
Click here to see a gif of this original 1825 thaumatrope at work.
In modern day, stop motion is famously used in movies like Wallace & Gromit, The Nightmare before Christmas and Kubo and the Two Strings. Movies like these are made with large-scale cinematic sets, puppetry, advanced animation tech and huge production teams.
Normally, I wouldn’t dream of giving animation a try. However, a few months ago I had the opportunity to sign- up for a twelve week introductory course. This year I’d started experimenting with videography and vlogs. Learning the basics of animation and film-making seemed like a natural progression.
The course was an eye-opener. When complete, animations look easy. With their simple, often childish themes, no one could guess the massive effort required to create them.
To give an idea … the frame rate for a typical film is 24 fps or frames per second. A frame refers to a single picture. 24 fps means taking twenty-four pictures for every second of movement.
If this is a hand-drawn animation, it means drawing twenty-four pictures for every second. If it’s a paper cut animation, it means manipulating paper shapes twenty-four times. My final assignment was to make a one minute film. That’s 86,400 frames!
Just thinking about it, my hair went one shade whiter. In future posts, I’ll talk more about my experience making the film. In the meantime, I want to share one of the films that kept me aspiring to learn more.
In this week’s Lens Artists Challenge #174, Patti tells us to feature Patterns and Designs. In a very loose interpretation of the challenge, I’m offering a stop motion film that features monochromatic shapes and designs, set to the music of Japanese producer, Babuchan.
Remarkably, this film was student artist Heyao H’s first attempt at making paper-cut animation. It is a great example of animation as a visual art form, very different from a typical Saturday morning cartoon.
This film is a favorite of mine. I find it inspiring in its creative use of materials, shapes, pacing and music. I watch and re-watch it, all the time.