Digital Media Design


Stop Frame Animation – Animation Research

  • Access to HE. Media Studies. CJC3FH001A
  • Unit Title: Stop Frame Animation Unit Code: KJ2/3/SO/006
  • Course Tutor: Dan Gray

Stop Frame Animation – Research

Stop Frame Animation (Stop Action) is a process where a series of pictures taken either with a stills camera or video camera, usually of inanimate objects one frame at a time and then the object is painstakingly moved in small increments so that when these individual shot frames are viewed sequentially a simulation of continuous movement is observed. The more pictures (Frames) per second the smoother the action.

From Clay models to people, Stop Frame Animation can bring movement to a usually stationary or an inanimate object or makes what seems to be an impossible movement on film possible.

Looking at the different types of animation we can see that there are advantages and disadvantages to each of the forms of animation and to the material chosen or indeed everyday object, which we have decided to animate.


Animation using clay models (or Claymation) is very popular.

There are many advantages to using clay models for instance they can be made to scale for example a small clay model can be used where filming space is limited for example a cityscape set where tall buildings can be just a meter high.

Clay models are relatively easy to make and most importantly easy to move into position. They can be made to represent any object or person. Instead of using clay you could use a Figurine examples being a wooden artists mannequin or say an old action man. All you would need to do is replace the head and hands with clay as this will be easier to animate. These would work very well if the model needed to be clothed.

They do have some disadvantages; the most obvious is that they will look like clay models. Fine movement is not easy unless the model is made with ball joints. They also take a relatively long time to make and require maintenance as the heat/lighting dries them out.

Defining an audience for clay models in general is not possible but they do tend to target a younger age group but there are many examples of adult animations using clay. Clay animation also does not generally seem to be gender specific or target a specific ethnicity or demographic it is the subject matter which will set which audience the animation will be most suitable for.

The following example was found on the excellent video source Youtube and shows the highly recognisable Morph character, definitely one for the younger age group but still interesting for adults as its subject in this film is cheating at cards.

Animation using drawings seems to offer unlimited possibilities; if you can draw it you can animate it. An excellent example of this type of animation is the Simon’s Cat series of animations by Simon Tofield.

There are many advantages to the drawing form of animation; it’s relatively simple to do requires’ few resources and space to produce. You can draw on paper then cut around for example a figure and animate the cut out itself.

Some of the disadvantages would be you probably need to be able to draw and it’s 2 Dimensional only. Also you would need to do a lot of drawings a quick calculation based on a 5 frames per second frame rate means you would need 300 drawings. You could cut this down by photocopying the background first but it is still a large number of drawings.


Again hard to put all forms of this animation type into a given age range or demographic as the subject can be anything and it would be this that determines the audience that it would appeal to. The example chosen however appeals to all age ranges particularly if they are cat owners.

Using Lego for animation is very popular it even has its own name Brickfilming and is termed for animation done with Lego or other brick like objects. Examples can be found at ( .

There is a huge range of Lego products which include figurines’, vehicles and architecture. All of these can be combined to build models and sets for animation films which is a major advantage.

The example animation chosen from Youtube demonstrates the use of Lego in animation but it also shows how to animate in general and includes examples of the differences between frame rates that are the number of pictures taken per second of film.

Huge range of Lego products offers all kinds of possibilities for animation there are even specific products based on Films or TV series’ for example Thomas the Tank Engine, Pirates, Space etc. Lego can also be used to build the set.

Of course one of the obvious disadvantages is that the finished animation will look like Lego. Due to it’s square, sharp edge design it would be difficult to achieve a natural movement for example the movement of a tree in the wind.

The audience would tend to be younger and really most probably for younger children who actually still play with Lego but there will almost certainly be exceptions to this. For example the animation right whose subject matter is about drinking Beer.

Using people in animation could be seen to be an easy option as all actors would have to do is hold position while the shot is taken and move position themselves for the next shot following direction and so on for each subsequent shot.

Using people as animation subjects mean that they can do their own movements following the requirements of the films director. The animation will be more lifelike and can tackle real issues and stories.

It’s hard to keep people still and so continuity could be an issue but this could also add to the overall effect and therefore not be a disadvantage. Another disadvantage could be that it may be difficult to have exclusive access to an external location and so other people may get in the shot although this could also add to the effect so it maybe an advantage for some animations.

This type of animation more easily lends itself to an adult audience and reach across the whole demographic depending on subject.
Cutout Animation
Similar to Drawing but the pictures are then cut out and it is these cut outs which are then animated. Examples would be Captain Pugwash and of course the title sequences for Monty Pythons Flying Circus.

Captain Pugwash

Monty Python

Compared to say drawing animation one of the big advantages is that you draw the cutout once and then move the cutout to get the animation, you can also add movable parts to give more flexibility for instance Captain Pugwash animations had moving arms which pivoted up and down.

You still need to be able to draw and the movement is less fluid than for some types of animation.

Like drawing it’s across the board the examples chosen indicate some of the range of appeal. Captain Pugwash for instance is definitely one for the children and Monty Pythons Flying Circus is one for the Adults.

Animation appears to be one of the few Art forms that have an appeal which reaches across the board; all age groups, gender and ethnicity are all covered. It seems to be the subject matter which determines the audience more than the type of animation used be it Clay, Drawings, Lego or animating people or indeed any object. An animator will have a personal choice of which medium suites them best and this can be worked to be able to target a particular audience by choice of subject matter, style, narration and music chosen.

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