LEARN STOP-MOTION ANIMATION - TIPS, GUIDES & ADVICE
A free resource for beginners, pros and everyone in between.
Here's a unique page dedicated to help everyone learn the beautiful art of stop motion animation. Essentially it's a resource to help spread knowledge and provide an opportunity for everyone interested in the technique to improve their skills and understanding. It's designed for beginners but will have any elements that are relevant to professional stop-frame animators.
NOTE - Kerrupt has been gathering unique nuggets of stop-motion knowledge for many years, however, we're only a small part of an amazing pool of talent that stretches across the world. We're keen that the page is a collaboration with others and welcome contributions from amateur and professional stop-motion animators who might want to add to the collective knowledge of the page. All contributors will be credited and we'll include links to their work / page. If you'd like to contribute your thoughts opposite. You'll also find additional info and links on our blog page.
We didn't realize just how much info we would need to include when we started it (...doh!) so we've broken the page down into a number of sections for ease of navigation. If you would like us to include info on any other topics not found below please message us and we'll keep adding!
Like the other forms of animation, stop-motion can be broken down into a wide range of highly specialised skills and techniques. Even the phrase 'stop-motion' has variations such as 'stop-frame animation' (a term sometimes used mainly in the USA), 'stop-go animation' or 'puppet animation'. Some people use a general reference of 'claymation' to encapsulate all types of stop-motion. Whatever the term used, look through the credits of any stop-motion production and you'll see a host of specialist skills such as Key animator, assistant animator, model production designer, model maker, foam department supervisor, puppet co-ordinator and set dresser – the list is endless.
Then there are the various (and endless) techniques that often overlap. Here are some of the main techniques within the sphere of stop-motion animation production:
STOP FRAME / PUPPET ANIMATION
The bread and butter stuff – what most animators consider true stop motion animation. Essentially you are animating fabricated puppets with sophisticated sets and props. As examples At the highest end of the scale you might use Kubo and the Two Strings as an example and at the more basic end you might use The Magic Roundabout or the original Morph episodes. The puppets are anything from simple wire frame armatures or complex ball and socket armatures animated by highly skilled stop frame animators. Sets might be bits of cardboard or carefully designed and constructed sets made by a wide variety of skilled professionals.
this involves animating real people – essentially, getting actors to move frame by frame to build up a moving image. It's a great technique to help beginner stop frame animators learn the fundamentals – what better way to learn how a puppet or claymation character should move than to stand in front of a camera and film yourself! A great example is this music video by Oren Lavie:
...is exactly what the title suggests – manipulating clay to give the illusion of movement across the frames in a sequence. This tends to be what most people think of when they hear the term 'stop-motion animation'. It's great because it can help improve sculpting skills and the most important thing any stop frame animator needs – patience! It's also cheap to make so is accessible to everyone. Examples include Aardman's 'Curse of the Were Rabbit' and Shaun the Sheop films. A personal favourite of ours is claymation animator Guldies – he's an absolute master! See his animation 'Distortion' here:
...yes, sand. This just goes to show you can animate with pretty much anything! Sand is can either be used in it;s traditional form or there's magnetic sand / kinetic sand. Naturally, it's easy to get hold of any unless you're using magnetic sand you'll need to work on a multiplane rostrum (more about them later – see equipment). Here's a fantastic example that using sand and salt...
LEGO STOP-FRAME ANIMATION
no prizes for guessing what this is about! Lego a fantastic stop-motion method of beginners who just want to just straight into filming – no messing around learning how to build wire armatures, props or sets – just buy a pack and away you go! With the lego themed packs you even have a narrative written into your production! Sometimes referred to as 'Brick animtion' or 'Brick films', the downside is that if you want to do anything on a large scale you'll obviously
need A LOT of lego – and lego can be REALLY expensive! There are loads of examples of on Youtube but here is one of our personal favourites by Alexander Studios – a fun story and a great example of how sound FX can really add to a production...
So, we can summarize from above that you can pretty much use anything and everything to create stop-motion animation. It really is endless – but don't get overwhelmed. If you're just starting out we'd recommend lego or pixelation (so you can just jump straight into filming), then move onto claymation or puppet animation to learn skills such as wire armature construction, prop building and sculpting. Now go animate! …
HISTORY of STOP-MOTION ANIMATION
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TIPS & TRICKS
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The following is a list of stop-motion university courses for the UK. It's worth noting that most courses don't specifically specialize in the study of stop-motion animation but offer a general course in animation with the ability to focus on stop-motion as part of your studies. There are also links to online courses when you can achieve a certificate as a qualified stop-frame animator.
NOTE - the list of courses is for the UK and is by no means exhaustive. If you know of other Universities offering courses in stop-motion please let us know and we will happily add them to the list below.
SHEFFIELD HALLAM UNIVERSITY
A full time course offering learning across all animation disiplines. Kerrupt has worked with SHU over many years and we can highly recommend their animation course. The facilities and teaching is excellent with a great opportunity for detailed learning across 2D, 3D and stop-motion. It's a big thumbs up from Kerrupt Animation !
Ranked 15th in the world in the Animation Career Review International Animation School Rankings 2021. Combines learning in 2D with stop-motion and teaches knowledge of the production pipelineand an option of a 1 year work placement.
UNIVERSITY of SOUTH WALES
Similar to Teeside, this course combines 2D skills with learning stop-motion. There's an emphasis on teamwork (a key aspect of any stop-motion studio) and it's worth noting South Wales is alongside Bristol and Manchester as a hotbed of stop-motion production!
UWE Bristol offers a wide range of learning across all disiplines and has brand new animation studio space. It also includes modules on 'The Animation Business' and 'Animation Enterprise' ...which sounds very handy!
Staffordshire University focuses on employability (...seems sensible). Has a fully equipped stop-motion studio using DragonFrame and set / fabrication space.
LEEDS ARTS UNIVERSITY
Features teaching across 3D, 2D and Stop-Motion and with a dedicated space for the production of stop-motion animation. Like many courses it excourages collaboration across disiplines.
YORK ST.JOHNS UNIVERSTY
We have experience of York St. Johns and can highly recommend this course! It is a relatively new course and has close links with the computer games department and great lecturers. The graduates are excellent and highly rated.
UNIVERSITY of SALFORD (Manchester)
A course focusing on teaching the process of production - from scriptwriting through to completion of a final project followed by industry engagement.
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ESSENTIAL READING / VIDEOS
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