From the workbench of master craftsman Ray Harryhausen to the absurdity of Robot Chicken, stop-motion will always have a special place in all of cinema. Stop motion, or stop frame animation, is a classic cinematographic technique that, much like traditional hand-drawn animation, is captured one frame at a time with physical objects instead of drawn ones.
To achieve this, each frame is meticulously crafted. A photograph is then taken, then the objects are moved slightly, and then another image is captured. When the images are played back rapidly, creating the illusion of movement.
The frame rate is chosen at the discretion of animator, and with short films like Wallace and Gromit are captured at 15-20 fps, while more modern stop-motion films like Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings are captured at 60 fps.
This old-school animation technique can be difficult and time-consuming to produce. High-quality stop-motion videos, depending on the complexity involved, can take 8-12 hours to only capture seconds worth of footage. Their uniqueness helps business and individuals stand out.
One of these individuals is the Academy Nominated animator PES. PES is the creative responsible for the short films such as a Fresh Guacamole, Western Spaghetti, and Submarine Sandwich, where everyday objects are used in extraordinary ways. In his recent animation, he toys with the idea of what would happen when if you were to ‘smash’ a camera lens.
Pes had this to say about his videos, “People say crazy. I put all my time and energy into these 90-second films. I believe rewatchable things have the power to move us. When I can make that happen, that’s magic! That is what my art is about.”
There has been a modern revival of an old-fashioned style to a film. The use of modern technology such as 3D printing and other props has propelled the craft and inspired a new generation of animators.
Watching a stop-motion animation you can’t help but be impressed by the craft, the technique, the dedication, and the patience that the artist has poured into a process. It acts as sort of an ode to animation’s humble beginnings.