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Stop Motion/Claymation

Stop motion is one of the oldest animation techniques in cinema. Unlike live action, stop motion links individually exposed frames in order to manipulate objects in the frame. Puppet animation, claymation, pixilation, and time lapse are all under the stop motion umbrella.

While traditional cell and computer 3D animation are the most widely used forms of animation, many feature films used puppet animation in their films. One of the most famous and historic of these films, was King Kong which used a puppet for King Kong in many scenes. One of these scenes is included here.

The puppet was created using a metal armature as it's base. The armature provided a strong skeleton so that the puppets limbs could move more realistically. Over the armature, the fabrics and fur for King Kong's final look were applied. Once the puppet was ready to be filmed, it obviously could not act along with the human actors in the film. Therefore, the live-action and stop motion segments of the film were created separately, and then re-built together

Henry Selick's Nightmare Before Christmas, used similar techniques for creating the stop motion puppets, however there was absolutely no live action within this film. Each character and set was built by hand and every image was filmed frame by frame.

Claymation is another very popular way to use stop motion. Similarly to puppet animation, at the base of the clay is an armature, or "skeleton." With clay, typically the armature is not made out of stiff metal, but out of steel wire. The wire allows for much more freedom and flexibility when manipulating the model. The clay is molded on top of this wire armature, and because clay is naturally very flexible, one can manipulate the model with relative ease.

One of the most popular figures in the world of claymation is Nick Park, who is perhaps most well known for his Wallace and Gromit characters. These Oscar-winning shorts feature Park's unmistakeable style, which he also used in his feature film, Chicken Run. Though Chicken Run is not Park's most well-known film, it is very important because it was the first stop motion film in Europe to use the "Digital Intermediate" process. Within this process, the film is converted to digital bits, and then converted back to film. The result is high resolution, processed, color-corrected image.

All of these forms of stopmotion animation have proven useful in creating new looks for animation, or for combining live action and puppetry in order to give the illusion that the impossible is possible. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at
Wallace and Gromit - A Matter of Loaf and Death.

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