Thursday, 1 October 2015

The History and Development of Stop Motion Animation

Part 1: Pioneers and Technology

Persistence of Vision: 

I created a Prezi to show my findings of the history and creation on the idea of the Persistence of Vision.

Thaumatrope :

The name of the thaumatrope can be referred to the 'turning marvel' or 'wonder turner'. The astronomer Sir John Herschel has been known to have had a hand in the creation of the thaumatrope, however it's well-known creator was Dr. John A. Paris, a London Physicist, who in 1824 presented the thaumatrope at the Royal College of Physicians to demonstrate the persistence of vision. It was one of the first optical toys used to create entertainment and eventually leading into the development of modern day cinema.

Here is an example of a thaumatrope in action:

How it works:
A thuaumatrope is a paper/cardboard disc that is held on opposite sides of it's circumference with pieces of string. You draw an image on each side of the disc and placed in a certain way so that when the disc is spun by the string the images appear to be merged which creates the animation-like motion. You twist the strings tight and let the thaumatrope rotate, the faster the disc rotates the clearer the illusion becomes. Like other optical illusion toys it relies on the persistence of vision it is usually best to use simple images that would fit together effectively, for example I created a thaumatrope and here is my example:

One side of the Thaumatrope shown with a simple image.

Second side to show my Thaumatrope was a stick man getting run over by a train, something simple so that the persistence of vision was successfully shown. 


Joseph Plateau
The phenakistoscope was originally a theory awknowledged by Issac Newton and Euclid of Alexandria, however it was not until 1829 when Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau and his sons introduced the phenakistoscope also referred to as the 'spindle viewer'. Plateau's inspiration came from another mans work called Michael Faraday who invented an optical toy called 'Michael Faradays Wheel'. Where there were two disc's that spun in opposite directions and using the persistence of vision looked as if they were merged into one motion picture. Some may argue that the true founder was Issac Newton and Euclid, it was Joseph Plateau who offcially introduced it's principle. It was also known through other names the Phantasmascope and Fantoscope, it was successful until the creation of the zoetrope which offered more uses, more people could use it at a time and it also didn't need a mirror, which is why it pushed the phenakistoscope down the market as new optical toys began to surface.

How it works:
The phenakistoscope uses the persistence of vision and motion to create it's optical illusion, it consists of two disc's planted on the same axis, the first disc has slits around the edges and the second disc displays the image of the action that has been draw around the circular disc. The disc's spin together in the same direction and then when seen through a mirror the slits in the first disc will make the second disc's action appear to be in motion and moving pictures.

Phenakistoscope, as you can see the different moving images and the slots where you can look through to see the moving pictures in motion.

 Zoetrope :


The Zoetrope is a 19th century optical toy, it was originally created in 100 BC by the Chinese inventor Ding Huan. The drum that is used in the zoetrope was created in 1833 by the British mathematician William George Horner. The zoetrope made it's first appearance in England in 1834 and then in France 1860 and eventually in 1867 arrived in the United States. It was originally called the 'Daedtelum' and later was renamed the 'zoetrope' by Pierre Desvignes a French Inventor.

How it works:

Horner's idea was to take a similar shape of a drum with an open top, where you can place pictures on the inside of the drum around the edge, on a strip of paper. You view the animation through the slots around the edges of the drum, you look through at eye level and expose your eye to it close up so that it is all you see and the effect of the motion will be stronger. Using the persistence of vision to trick your mind and create a successful illusion.

Here is my attempt at making a zoetrope and it worked well because I used simple images, they tend to work and be more effective when the images are clear and bold to see. 

Here is an example below.



The praxinoscope is another optical toy created in 1877 by a Frenchman named Emile Reynaud. It was an adaptation of Horner's Zoetrope. These were extreamly popular at the time because they created a new side to entertainment and illusion, these devices eventually led on to the success of modern day cinema we see today. Reynaud presented the Praxinoscope to the public through performances using different slides in the device each time.

How it works:

Like the Zoetrope the praxinoscope has a rotating drum, and you place the strip of card around the circular edges. However instead of viewing it through a slot, you look into the middle where there is a mirror reflecting outwards towards the sides of the rotating drum. When you look in the mirror it reflects the images and using the persistence of vision creates an illusion which makes the images on the strip look as if they are in motion and animated.
Here is what a praxinoscope model looks like, as you can see the mirrors are centred and facing the drawings on the outside, to create the illusion that the images are in motion when the praxinoscope is spun.

Here is an example of my Praxinoscope, I created a simple image of a baby smiling with it's hair moving, it turned out well, however to make the animation more effective, I could have used an image that told more of a story, or was more clearer:

Below- here is a video to show how exactly a praxinoscope works when in motion. As you can see the images flow nicely with a fast push and the slower the spin gets the less animated the images looks.

Kinetoscope :

Edison himself looking into the kinetoscope

The optical device the kinetoscope was designed by Thomas Edison and his assistant William Dickson 1891. Some may agree the inspiration came from the breakthrough of with the launch of photographic quality celluliod by John Carbutt and in june 1889 Edison began to develop his findings to eventually create the kinetoscope. Edision had withness flexible film used by Dickison, and in may of 1891 a prototype of the kinetoscope was revealed using flexible film, this change entailed the film process from a horizontal spool to a verticle spool and it wasn't until 1892 that the final developed kinetoscope had been made and eventually took the markets in 1893.

How it works:

The kinetoscope was driven by an electric motor, it included an upright wooden cabinet and a 4ft high eye hole at the top of it, which had a magnifying lense to that the images were of larger quality. A continuous band filled with the images are arranged around a series of spools, the band was spun around by an electric motor and then the film was eluminated by an eletric lamp so each of the images were clear to see through the peep hole and made to look as if they are in motion.
Here is a visual example of a Kinetoscope:

Sources for part 1:

Part 2: The Developers

George Pal 

George pal was born in 1908, he was a Hungarian animator and film producer. He was famous for his use of wooden puppets, using stop-motion animation, creating the series 'Puppetoons'. From 1941 to 1947 he created more then 40 puppetoon films, receiving a nomination for an academy award in the category Best Short Subjects, Cartoon. Later in 1948 to 1949 he started work on his first full length motion picture. He went on to win academy awards for all 6 of his films, Pal also received an honorary award in 1944. After the Nazi party came to power in 1933 he left Germany and lived in several European cities before eventually moving to the United States in 1939, the following year he signed a contract with Paramount.

Below is an example of one of the episodes of Puppetoon.

Willis O'Brien

Often known as the 'father' of stop-motion animation, Willis O'Brien (1886 - 1962) was a Hollywood special effects innovator, famously known for his work in the making of the gorilla in King Kong. Although he was most famous for his animation using wooden puppets, winning the 1950's Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. His career sprung from an interest at a young age of dinosaurs, which lead on to him developing the animated shots in the original dinosaur movie The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Phrehistoric Tragedy (1915) . Willis O'Brien was then hired by the Thomas Edison Company after the release of Dinosaur and the missing link, to further create more short films with a pre-historic theme. Outside the Edison company he created many more short films until he created The Lost World and King Kong which were his most successful films, still keeping to the pre-historic theme. These animated films brought a wider range of audience to stop-animation and influenced others working in the business to use this style.

Below is The Dinosaur and the Missing Link:

Ray Harryhausen 

Ray Harryhausen was born in 1920 in LA, California. Whilst he was attending grammar school he learnt how to make a miniature model set, following onto making three dimensional figures and then eventually creating his own sculptures. Following from the inspiration of Willis O'Brien's King Kong, Ray began to re-create the characters using marionettes or string puppets. In 1983 Ray began a project called Evolution of the World where he envisioned the dawn of the planet, the age of dinosaurs. However Ray's ambitions were far too high when he was a new project from Walt Disney, the 1940 film Fantasia. Ray had the opportunity to meet with Willis O'Brien and take a look at his work, finally plucking up the courage to show his own work, Willis gave him criticisms that started a turning point in his career that made him develop skills to be different and successful in the industry. One of his most successful animated films was Jason and the Argonauts (1963) Where there was 4 incredible stop-motion animated monsters that he had created. Ray Harryhausen is most famous for the use clay to create animation,, also known as clay-mation, as seen as in Jason and The Argonauts.

Ray had an idea for many years that would allow live action to be split, so that the model could be seen to interact with an actor, this can be seen in Jason and the Argonauts. 

The most enticing animated monster was Hydra, the 6 headed snake, each head had to be animated differently, that makes them have character. Here is the scene from Jason and the Argonauts to show just how successful this stop-motion animated film was.

Phil Tippett 

Born in 1951 in Berkeley, California, Phil Tippetts career in visual effects lasted for more than 30 years winning two academy awards and a BAFTA award. Inspired by Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion classics, and Willis O'Brien's King Kong Model, Tippett began to model and create sculptures as a young student, graduating with a Fine Arts Degree, following onto his career as an animator beginning at the commercial house, Cascade Pictures in Los Angeles. A turning point came in 1975 when George Lucas hired Tippett to create a stop-motion miniature chess scene for Star Wars. He also helped in many other parts of the Star Wars films. In 1978 Phil lead the animating team at Industrial Light and Magic that would debut his career bringing life to the alien hybrid Tauntaun for The Empire Strikes Back. Fast forwarding to 1991 when Steven Spielberg selected Phil after witnessing his expertise in dinosaur movement and behavior, to supervise the dinosaur animation for Jurassic Park (1993). However Tippett was shocked to find that stop-motion animation was not in this, but computer generate dinosaurs, this was the point where Tippett Studio's took the transition from stop-motion to computer generated animation. Tippett began his career on a stop motion animation basis, famous for his sculpting in Star Wars, however he then became known for his visual, computer generate effects.

Below is Phil Tippett in a documentary showing how he creates these sculptures and how he puts them into play using stop-motion animation.

Otmar Gutmann 

This is my presentation on Otmar Gutmann that conclude all my findings of himself and his work.

Tim Burton and Henry Selick

Born in 1958 Tim Burton was talented as a child, his drawings were unbelievably successful even the California Institute of the Arts was taken notice, he followed on to create connections with Disney from studying animation, who he then went on to work with. Tim went on to be a director, writer, producer and an animator, most famously known for his work on The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)   and Corpse Bride (2005) . Using puppetry and detailed models, along with his assistant Henry Selick, created the unique styling we see in his films. Henry Selick born in 1952 was very good friends with Tim Burton and each animated film he produces he asks Henry's assistance, Henry Selick is an American stop-motion director, best known for his work on Coraline (2009) and assisting with the work on The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Tim Burton is most famous for his directing and producing of films, when it comes to animation he is most known for his use of stop-motion animation, using hand crafted models which are brought to life through hours of pre production, using paint and various other materials to sculpt the characters accurately. Even though stop-motion can argued as an 'old' way of using animation, he still manages to make it modern and current within the animation world.

Tim Burton and Henry Selick working on The Nightmare Before Christmas !993

Below is a scene from the animated feature film Corpse Bride 2005, here you can see the unique models that they hand crafted to create an effective animation.

Below shows behind the scenes on one of Tim Burton's Films Frankenweenie (2012) It shows you how the characters work and how they are modeled and then placed into action to be seen to be in motion.

Adam Shaheen

Adam Shaheen was born in 1964 in London, he is a British animator, screenwriter and television producer, He is the founder of Cuppa Coffee Studios where he develops and creates all original programming. Adam Shaheen made this comment 'When I started this company my goal was to not only produce quality animated television, but to also create an environment that would nurture creativity and encourage excellence in all areas of production.' Cuppa Coffee Studios is now the largest stop-motion facility in the world, wining over 150 awards for his contribution to Canadian Animation and also the Prix Jeunesse. 

In his early animating days JoJo's Circus was one show of many that he produced using stop-motion interactive animation. First airing was on Disney channel which would have brought great acknowledgement of his talent and given Adam Shaheen a chance to further develop his skills, in which he became most famous for his use of Claymation in relation to JoJo's Circus.

Here again is another episode of his success in animation, Celebrity Deathmatch
which was a claymation, it lasted 75-episodes and 6 seasons.

The Brothers Quay 

Stephen and Timothy Quay were born in 1947 in American, they are identical twins famously known as the Brothers Quay or the Quay Brothers. They are both film directors and animators, they attended art school together at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in the USA and then further onto the Royal College of Art in London UK. Most famous for their use of feature puppets, made from doll parts and other organic and inorganic materials.
 They have their own studio where they would create films that critics would often call surreal and unique, these films usually included inanimate objects coming to life, the Quay Brothers have also worked in advertising for big names like Coca-Cola and Nikon. Creating many films like The Phantom Museum: Random Forays Into  The Valults of Sir Henry Wellcome's Medical Collection(2003)  and In Absentia (2000).

These are the strange models and objects they used to create which made their films quite dark themed and thriller-like.

Here are the quay brothers talking in 2006 about their work, film and animation process, describing how they use the computer graphics and the relationship they have towards objects that helps them picture the animation that they are going to create.

Nick Park

Nick Park born in 1958, is an English director, animator and writer, he has worked on various amounts of projects for the Ardman Company. At just the age of 13 hr finished his first short stop-motion animation film, Walter the Rat, he entered the BBC's Young Animator's Film Competition, even though Park did not win his was aired on BBC2. Park moved onto the National Film and Television School, where he began work on his first 35 millimeter Claymation film, called 'A Grand Day Out' including a male main character Wallace and his dog Gromit. Claymation was what he became most known for. This is where it began and caught the attention on Aardman Animations Ltd. Park was hired in 1985 by founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton. Reciving an Academy Award in 1991 for best animated short film with creature comforts claming the prize, Park followed with two more Wallace and Gromit shorts, The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995).

Below is a clip from the short film A Close Shave to show how well animated this Claymation was made.

Sources for part 2

Part 3: Audience and Stop -Motion Animation

TV Programmes

A stop-motion animated TV Programme that has an audience of children is Bill and Ben The Flowerpot Men (1952). Using string puppets for the stop-motion animated effect, Bill and Ben began in 1952 and continued to be repeatedly aired for the next 20 years, the show's synopsis includes two Flower Pot Men who live at the end of an ordinary suburban garden. The characters themselves came out of a brainstorm between Freda Lingstrom and Maria Bird, Freda Lingstrom had also been involved in the creation and production of Andy Pandy (1970), both are stop-motion animated TV programmes aimed at a children audience. They have a child aimed audience due to the content/story line, something as simple as flowerpot create string puppets can be vastly effective in the children entertainment sector.

These are the string puppets used from Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men.

Below is an example of the stop-motion animated TV programme.

A stop-motion animated TV programme aimed at an adult would be Angry Kid (1999) it is labelled as an adult comedy, due the explicit language content and adult references. Directed, written and designed by Darren Walsh, however the show was produced by Aardman Animations the company that is also behind the production of the Shaun the Sheep movie a stop-motion animated feature film.
To the left is an example of the character used to play Angry Kid, even though some may think it was a clay animated creation, it wasn't, it was actually made from a combination of pixilation using masks for the facial expressions and stop-motion puppetry.


An example of a stop-motion animated film for a children based audience is Coraline (2009) directed by Henry Selick. It is aimed at children due to the content of humorous and child oriented characters, the characters voices were also made to sound understandable and in relation to a child voice. The film made from 3D printing for the objects in development and then to the production of the film using stop-motion animation, additionally puppets were used the heads of these puppets were separate from the bodies to change facial expressions for the character to come to life. The character Coraline could produce over 208,000 facial expressions and some of the animation was the general computer drawings, they used dry ice to create the fog and create suspension.

Here are the examples of the models used to produce the character Coraline and to portray her personality in all of them.

Below is a clip from the film to show how effective the stop motion animation is.

An example of a stop-motion animated film for adults would be King Kong (1933) even though it was rated as 14+ back then, if it was to come out today it could possibly be given the title of more of an adult film than a children film, due to the violence and exposure of emotion. The model of Kong was actually created  with materials like copper, aluminum, rubber (for mainly round the facial area due to the realistic look that was to be produced) , latex and rabbit fur. To make the facial expressions come to life an air compressor was operated to make the mouth and eyes move around. The stop-motion animated film was created by an Ernest B. Schoedsack who was an American motion picture cinematographer.

This is the model creation that was used in the film King Kong, to create all different models to show different facial expressions. 

possibly one of the most known images of the film King Kong 1933, here we can see this is where stop-animation took a new turn, how to create personalities for these creatures that can be created through either clay, 3D printing, puppets. 
Below is a clip from the film, and you can see the way they made the character Kong move, the actions he shows exposes the aggression the character feels, and that is effectively portrayed to the audience through the facial expressions and the stop- motion production.


The Cravendale milk advert was a stop-motion animated piece, it gained a lot of exposure due to the difference and entertainment factor that the stop-motion created, it gives these hand crafted models a character/personality that is humorous to the audience. This advert could be predominately aimed at adults as an adult is the main consumer of this product they are trying to market, additionally the relation to the scene of being awoken by an alarm clock, however it could also be seen to be catch children attention due to the humor and use of a child game. It could also be suggested to be aimed at adults due to the models created, they tend to look like old-styled dolls that would have been used by the adults when they were younger and therefore nostalgia could relate these audience members back to it.
The hand crafted models used in the advert.
Below is the advert.

Cadbury Fingers 'The Good Times' Advert is a feature of stop-motion animation, in the advert they use puppetry to make the character puppets move. We can assume the audience is aimed at children due to the content, the advert involves the character chocolate fingers coming to life which is use of imagination and rather childmindish. Aditionally the chocolate fingers are pursuing 'good times' which is to get the message across that Cadbury's fingers can be shared for the good times, for example there is the moon landing, ice skating championships, rock star concert, which could also be career prospects for the children to develop an idea of what they want to be.

Below is the advert for Cadbury's Fingers 'Good Times'

Music Videos 

A music video primarily aimed at adults due to the emotional side of it, however child can also enjoy this as the stop-motion animation is used from a tape recorder and creates patterns to simplify and explain the music video, therefore children could also be part of the target market, to enjoy and appericiate the animation used. This is a mixture of live action and stop-motion animation through the animation Bruno Mars is trying to explain and show this girl how beautiful she is, through the tape in a caset player. Effectivly syncronizing the music in the background with the live actors movements and the animation is what makes this music video so interesting. This was released in 2010 which could reinforce the idea that stop-motion animation is not outdated and will continue to be effective as this video was a huge success.

Here is an example of the stop-motion animation being created through the use of reel within a caset tape. Here is a visualization of bruno mars himself playing the piano.

Below is the music video.

Michael Jackson's Speed Demon music video incorporates live actions and stop motion animation, it tells to story of Michael running away from the paperatzi and his fans because of the overwelming demand for his recognition. This could be aimed at adults or children due to the animations being humourous and fairly childish looking, additionally the love for the start Michael Jackson himself could come from a wide range of audiences as his music appealed to a vast range of people from all ages and backgrounds. At one point in the music video Michael Jackson turns into an animated rabbit himself and effectivly the stop-motion animatied effect captures his movements as if the animated model is actually Michael himself. Overall a very successful stop-motion animatied/ live action music video.
Michael Jackson and the animated rabbit in a shot together. 

Channel Idents 
In 2007 the Channel E4 produced a stop-motion ident for their channel. Ident's aim to remind the audience what channel they are watching so that any shows they enjoy they make a memorable ident that the audience can refer back to. In this case the ident is based in a living room, so those that can relate to possibly having their own living room or spending most of the time in the living room, to watch TV. It begins with a basic living room and then E4 appears on the TV and suddenly the stop-motion animation begins with the different colors and E4's signature color of purple taking over the walls, with inanimate objects coming to life which could possibly be aimed at a younger audience because it the imagination factor. Furthermore the vinyls on the shelf come to life, this implies a more mature audience who may have experienced the use of vinyls before CD's were available, at the end the audience can see what the whole room looks like, which is bright and colorful and a mixed selection of items, this could be used to reflect what audience they are targeting, a wide selection.

Below is a stop-motion ident to introduce the Woman's World Cup around the world, sponsored by the brand STABILO, some may argue this could be seen as an advert. By recreating all the goals of the World Cup so far, this stop-motion animation could be seen to have a primary audience of woman, due the content of females playing football, possibly to inspire other females to get involved by showing the success of the goals so far in the world cup. However it could also be aimed at a general audience of males and females whomever enjoys the sport football, would be possibly interested in this stop motion. The recent uses for stop motion animation indicates that there is a future for stop-motion animation, and some may suggest it is more entertaining to watch because of the block movements that show it was created by hand.

Sources for part 3

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