Animation Essay Stop motion also known as stop frame animation is a technique, which makes physically manipulated or inanimate objects appear to move. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, which create an illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence. Persistence of vision is what some people think is the illusion, that your eyes create, that helps animation work. Your eye supposedly keeps a very brief (1/25th of a second) image, on its retina, of the last thing you looked at. However it has been disproved for over a 100 years - and ‘Beta Movement’ & the ‘Phi Phenomenon’ have since been proven to be more realistic explanations of how, and why, we appear to see movement. Essentially rather than the eye ‘keeping’ the previous image it saw, Beta & Phi both argue that it is simply that, our minds/ brains & eyes together, are not quick enough in sending and perceiving information to realize that movement is not actually happening. So it is not your eyes ‘keeping’ an image – but your mind ‘imagining’ or ‘remembering’ it. Frame rate also plays a key part in animation. This is how film is made, from a series of ‘stills’ or ‘frames’ which when played back at a certain speed – 16 FPS or 24 FPS or faster – creates the illusion of smooth movement. Frames per seconds or FPS affect the speed of animation and the quality that it is played back at. A smaller frame rate means that the animation is likey to be more jumpy and less smooth. This is also liked to the about of photographs you take for a stop motion. The more you take the faster your frame rate can be and therefore the smoother your animation will look. There are four main pioneers that founded and developed animation: William George Horner who was a British mathematician and schoolmaster, he invention of zoetrope, in 1834. A zoetrope is a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures. It consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. Beneath the slits on the inner surface of the cylinder is a band, which has either individual frames from a video/film or images from a set of sequenced drawings of photographs. As the cylinder spins the user looks through the slits at the pictures on the opposite side of the cylinder's interior. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together so that the user sees a rapid succession of images producing the illusion of motion, the equivalent of a motion picture. Cylindrical zoetrope’s have the property of causing the images to appear thinner than their actual sizes when viewed in motion through the slits. The Lumiere Brothers were born in Besancon, France in 1862. They soon moved to Lyon in 1870 so they could attend La Martiniere, which was the largest technical school in Lyon. Their Father Claude-Antoine Lumiere ran a photographic firm where both brothers worked for him. Louis had made some improvement to the still photographic process, the most notable change being the dry-plate process, which was a major step towards moving images. It was not until their father retired in 1892 that the two brothers began to make moving images. They patented a number of significant processes leading up to their film camera, most notably film perforations – which are the holes that allow film to be wound on using sprockets and claws. This was away of advancing film through the camera and projector. The Cinematographe itself was patented on 13 February 1895 and the first ever footage to be
recorded was a film showing workers leaving the Lumiere factory on 19th March, 1895. The brothers went on to make history by screening 10 short films including the one of workers leaving their factory. The films were roughly 17 metres in length and had to be hand cranked through the projector, which converted the images in to a projected movie. Each short film lasted about 50 seconds.
Thaumatrope was a popular toy in victorian times. It was created by a chap called Peter Mark Roget in 1969. It is among the simplest 'Persistence of Vision' invention toy, invented in the early 19th century. Infacts Peter Mark Roget came up with the whole concept of Persistence for vision. The Thaumatrope were one of a number of simple toys. It is a piece of card with a picture on each side. It is then attached to 2 pieces of string - and twirled to make a moving image. It is often thought that they had a huge contribution to cinematography and animation. This is probably because moving image at this time was something completely new and no one had seen anything like it before. Animation helped massively with the development of film, film is actually a form of animation and from editing video/film I know that every second is made of 25FPS for video and 24FPS. A very early example of stop motion animation is The Cameraman’s Revenge by Wladyslaw Starewicz. It was made in 1912 and for the time it was made is very state of the art and well developed. It is also quite smooth compared to other animations of that same time. The audience for the animation would have been Wealthy people who could afford to go to the cinema. Cinema was a new invention that poorer families wouldn’t have been able to go to. The camera used in the animation is static thought out the animation, but different background have been used to create different scenes. The FPS in the animation is roughly around 7-12. This gives an indication to why the animation might appear jumpy at times. However this is expected for such an early creation. The lighting in the animation is quite low key and dim and changes colours a huge amount. This is likely down to the film roll they used in the camera becoming expired. The Cameramans Revenge compares nicely with King Kong which is a much more developed animation and was released 21 years later. Technology had also developed and the animators knew more about special effects, lighting and framing. The feature film also had a large budget of £412,000. This is likely to of had a big impact on the animation as the production company making the film could invest in better camera equipment, lighting and props to make it more realistic. Unlike Cameramans revenge which is very basic and uses very limited amount of scenes and props. The reason the animation appears to be so different is because they used a technique called back projection. They did this by creating a stop motion ‘King Kong’ made from clay and projecting large on to a screen behind the actors. They then acted in front of this screen and filmed. They call this kind of animation Claymation. However due to it being quite old they hadn’t quite perfected the Claymation technique and therefore you could see joins unlike a modern day Claymation such as Wallace and Gromit. The sound is also a significant difference between the camera mans revenge and King Kong. They used sound synchronization with the film which overall impacts how the audience view the film. This makes it more realistic and gives us a better understanding of
characters. Whereas Cameraman’s revenge would be accompanied by live music, usually from a piano. 30 years later we have Jason and Argonauts created by Ray Harry Hausen. This movie is also made by back screen projection but not in the same way as King Kong. Unlike King Kong were the actors acted in front of the screen. However in Jason and the Argonauts they would film the actors fighting in front of nothing and later on (in post production) create the clay monsters and put them over the footage. The impact this creates is that the actors look flat due to being a projection wheras the animated skeletons look more 3D and realistic. However the budget for this film was again bigger at £645,000. This and the development in technology is one of the main reasons why this is better then King Kong. And the skill of animators (again) has improved and they know more. The next big hit in terms of animation was StarWars Empire Strikes Back. The budget on this one was significantly bigger at £11,620,800. Over 10 times the amount of Jason and the Argonauts. This meant that they could invest in the best cameras and technology out at the time and is clearly shown by having robots and action in the same place which left film critics confused as this was done seamlessly. However after this film CGI started to take over animation as the main special effect technique. In both scenes the FPS hasn’t changed much. Despite the budget the animation still appeared to be slightly jumpy but they cleverly got away with this as the characters where robots. The movie was aimed at Sci-Fi fans or the ‘Geek’ but because of it’s huge success and being so successful interest from almost everyone. As a result the film grossed a massive £348,167,156. Another stop motion that many children from 1970’s to early 90’s will remember is bagpuss which is a children’s animation from the 1970’s. Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate created it through their company small-films. There were only 13 episodes of Bagpuss that were made however it still seems to be one of the most remembered animations of all times. And often repeated in the UK. However technology has developed and looking back at Bagpuss it now seems amateur compare to animations such as Wallace and Gromit, which is a multimillion pond production winning multiple awards.In Bagpuss we see Characters where the character lips rarely move and when they do they’re not in sync with the voice over. This might be because the frame rate for Bagpuss was quite small at 4 frames per second. This is drastically compared to Wallace and Gromit where we see the characters lips in almost perfect synchronisation with the voice-overs. This is the same for facial expressions and movement. However this would have been shot at 24 Frames (double frames) per Second. Double frame is a technique where 2 pictures are taken per frame. Compared to Bagpuss the advance in quality is clearly evident especially the increase in frame rate, which makes the animation, appears smoother and more accurate. Another significant different is the audience of the animation. Bagpuss was created for a young TV audience and it’s one of the first TV programs which involved animation with animals this differs from Wallace and Gromit which is made to be shown in cinema. This is also targeted at a mainstream audience. The sets for both animations differ too. Bagpuss was made in Peter Firmins back garden. However Wallace and Gromit was created in a massive studio with a huge set. With Bagpuss being shot a limited and tight budget they decided to use the same voiceover, unlike Gromit where they have multiple voiceovers for different characters.
Wallace and Gromit is quite different to Bagpuss, with the most noticeable difference being in the quality of the animation. Bagpuss seems quite jumpy which is fine compared to Wallace and Gromit . This is most probably down to the budget. Smallfilms which created bagpuss had a budget of £2,000 for a series of 13 episodes compaired to Walace and Grommit who had a budget of £20,000,00. Another thing that effects the overall quality is the audience for Bagpuss is for school children aged between 3-7 and would be watched on small tv sets. Whereas Wallace and Gromit is aimed at a wider more mainstream audience children aged 5 to adults aged 40 and would be viewed in the cinema. There are also alternative forms of stop motion namely Cut out animation and Pixilation. An example cut out animation would be ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ by Lottie Reiniger from 1926. This animation is one of the earliest surviving animated feature film using silhouette cut out animation. the animation involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. The technique she used for the camera is similar to shadow puppets. Although Reinigers ones were animated frame by frame not in live action. South Park is another great but more recent and contemporary form of Cut Out animation. The animation is created by bodies being cut out and moved up and down. The body movements and facial expressions are quite limited. However this fits the attitude of South Park which is aimed and old teenagers who are perhaps lazy. The show is quite laid back and again this reflects the target audience. The shows background doesn’t move during the animation it’s simply there just for a colourful interesting background. The action all happens within the animated faces and characters. The sound within the animation is mainly from voiceover which are slightly synced but not too well. Another alternative form of animation is Neighbors which is a pixilation animation created in 1952. The movement for this animation is quite smooth and would be around 13-16 FPS. The camera is static throughout the whole animation and the only change is when they go to a different shot. The set is very minimalistic with only two flat cardboard backgrounds. The sound in the animation is distorted sound which creates the mood for the animation . The second pixilation is peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer. A music video where the movement of the video is speeded up quite a bit and because of that I presume the Frames Per Second is at about 27FPS. The camera use is static apart from when the shot changes. The animation looks like it was filmed against a plain background and then replaced with animated video. These days this would be done by using green screen. They used a lot of objects and models in the animation most of which are clay. And this therefore makes the animation a mix of all the animations. Because it’s a music video the sound in the animation is synced as the song he is singing. Stop motion has played a really important role in the development of film and invention of cinema. Film is basically stop motion imagery as it is a series of stills which appear to move with a quick frame rate (or quick speed) as it is played. However since the development of CGI, stop motion is very rarely used in mainstream films except for Aardman’s and Wallace & Gromit. Stop motion animation is however still used in
adverts and music videos and some short experimental films. For example The White Stripes ‘fell in love with a girl’ & ‘hardest button to button’, Doritos adverts and Kettle Chips adverts. These adverts are sometimes pretty basic, other times they are quite complex and have taken a long time to make. Stop motions are generally cheap and ‘easy’ although they take a long time to make which is why lots of people now opt for CGI and video. Despite this many people like the ‘Anolougue’ qualities of animatinon and this is a trend amongst many youngsters who are reliving the past. This is evident in the recent Stop Motion Music video by indie/pop band Rizzle Kicks. Their video is created by placing a series of still photographs and light drawings in a timeline.
Published on Jul 11, 2012