The Evolution of Stop Motion Cinema
By Shea Huffman for allday.com
Stop-motion is an animation technique that makes an object or model appear to move on its own by using incremental movements photographed individually and played in a continuous sequence.
There is a very tactile, hands-on quality to stop-motion animation which lends it a certain charm. From older films that pioneered the technique to modern movies that push it to the limit, it is a method that requires an expert hand. Here's a look at how stop-motion has evolved over the decades.
Stop-motion has been used in film since the earliest days of the medium, usually to make real life objects appear as if they were moving by magic. Movie makers would strategically pose objects and take a series of photographs in order to make the object appear to move by itself. Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton are credited for the first use of the technique in their silent film by Vitagraph Studios production, "The Humpy Dumpty Circus" in 1987. Other silent film pioneers developed the technique, such as Segundo de Chomón in "El hotel eléctrico."
Willis H. O'Brien was the American special effects and stop-motion pioneer responsible for clay animation. He is famous for using clay models in the 1925 film "The Lost World." He is better known for his work on "King Kong," which is considered a milestone for stop-motion film animation. "King Kong" featured highly detailed clay models which employed complicated mechanics to simulate living creatures, and interspersed the animation with live action.
"Jason And The Argonauts"
Ray Harryhausen worked under O'Brien and was eventually his successor. He created the stop-motion effects for a number of films that combined animation and live action. His repertoire of films include, "It Came From Beneath The Sea," "Jason and the Argonauts," "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad," and "Clash Of The Titans."
Will Vinton coined the term "claymation" to differentiate his method of animation using clay from other animators. His animation style demonstrated the potential of abstract clay animation, and his short film, "Closed Mondays," was the first stop-motion film to win an Academy Award in 1975.
"Star Wars" And ILM
"Robocop" And Phil Tippett
"Wallace And Gromit"
"The Nightmare Before Christmas"
"Coraline" And Laika
Laika was created from the acquisition of the financially struggling Will Vinton Studios, and was joined by Henry Selick for their feature-length debut, "Coraline." The adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name introduced Laika's extremely detailed models and smooth animation style, for which the film received an Oscar nomination. The film was also notable for its use of early 3D printers to create facial expressions for character models. Selick left Laika after directing "Coraline," and went on to work with Wes Anderson on his first animated feature, "Fantastic Mr. Fox."