In one of my previous posts I talked about a summer camp I went to for art. One of the activitieswe ended up doing was a stop-motion animation video with tape sculptures we had made. It was of a mermaid sitting on a rock and waving, then a fish jumped out of the water. I, along with my group of three other people, worked on it for eight hours. By the end of the filming we were so annoyed with the whole thing that we decided to kill the mermaid. A cloud came in and struck her with lightening. Since we started the filming early in the morning, the effect of the sun changing positions actually went well with the storm we depicted in the video.
Besides us there was three other groups filming and three out of the four killed their main character. One of the groups made a video about two guys fighting, and in the end there was body parts everywhere. It seems gruesome, but it was actually funny with all the noises added into the video. Another video was of a space shuttle landing on a new planet and then setting on fire with the person controlling the shuttle still in it. The only video where the main character wasn’t killed is surprisingly the only one’s who’s storyline I don’t remember. I do know that there was a centaur and a fairy in it. Our instructor was going to make CDs with all the videos on it, but when I took mine home it didn’t work. Ugh, seriously, I would never be able to see the video I made again. Tear, Tear, it took so long. I guess I shouldn’t be so disappointed, the video was only like thirty five seconds long.
After this experience I started wondering when and who came up with the stop-motion technique. I’m pretty sure most people know what it is, but I’m going to explain it anyway. Stop-motion is when an inanimate object is moved bit by bit, every time a photo is taken. After that the photos are put together to give it the appearance of movement. Most of the times clay figures are used since they are easy to reposition. This is called clay animation or simply clay-mation.
At first stop-motion was used in film to depict objects moving as if it were magic. The very first use of it was in the movie The Humpty Dumpty Circus in 1897 by Albert E. Smiths and J. Stuart Blackton. In the film a toy circus of animals and acrobats comes to life. In 1912 the first clay animation movie was released which received great critical acclaim. In 1916 the first stop-motion movie by a woman, Helena Smith Dayton, was released titled Modeling Extraordinary.
Stop-motion is hardly used now, the introduction of 3D animation has made it easier and faster to make unreal characters seem real. It is usually used in kids shows, like Gumpy, commercials and comic shows such as Robot Chicken. Henry Selick, Tim Burton, and Nick Park are some of the people still keeping stop-motion alive in the 20 and 21st centuries. Some of there movies include Caroline, The Corpse Bride (which gave me nightmares and made me think about death at a younger age than I should have), Wallace and Gromit:The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and the one of the most widely released stop-motion films, the Nightmare Before Christmas. Like I said before, stop motion is a tedious job. The work that goes into making these type of movies is very underappreciated. For example, in The Nightmare before Christmas one second was done by using 24 frames. So one with minute of the movie required a weeks worth of work, the movie is 76 minutes long. Check out some of the other crazy things that went into the making of this film here. I would never have the patience to do something like this and after trying it out for myself K know that it is defiantly not for me. However I have gained a lot of respect for this form of creatively, as I now understand all the hard work and dedication the people involved put into it.
If your interested go check out Tiny Circus, an organization that makes stop motion videos and hosts workshops. Here is one of their videos.