What is Stop Motion Animation ?

 

Stop motion (or Stop-frame  Animation) is a 2D or  3D animation technique to make any object appear to move on its own. The 3D or 2D object in question be it a ball, an apple or a clay character or a flat image or paper cutout is moved by small increments between individual photographs or  frames, giving the illusion of movement when the sequence of photographs or frames are played back to the observer.
 
3D refers to real 3 dimensional objects as mentioned before which is  any object that has a width, depth and a height can be animated using stop motion animation techniques. 2D refers normally to drawn images or paper or card cut out objects.


(  Here is an example Claymation made by 11 to 13 year olds )


However the most popular form of 3D stop motion animation is claymation. Modern examples of this can be seen in Will Vintons Gumby and Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit. Both of these styles use clay characterizations.
  

There are a number of other styles of stop motion animation both 3D and 2D.
  

Free form clay animation; animates in 3D clay in morphing type changes. Where a clay ball may start a sequence of frames, the 3D image can change into a multisided asymmetric abstract figure and so forth. 

Object Animation is where stop motion is used to produce the animated movements of any non-drawn objects, including toys, blocks and dolls.
 
Direct Manipulation Animation – This is a form of 2D stop motion animation. A simple example is the drawing of a stick man piece by piece on a piece of paper or on a chalk board where a frame or snapshot is taken at each stage of the drawing. The animation draws the body first for example and a snapshot is taken then the limbs are added with a frame or snapshot taken of each limb as it is added. The playback gives the impression of direct manipulation animation. Movement of the limbs then can simply be done by rubbing out or erasing the limb and redrawing it in a different position.
 
Cutout Animation involves moving cut out images in 2D on a drawing board or any flat surface.
  
Silhouette animation is cutout animation where the surface is backlit and the cutouts are dark images showing a silhouette.
 
Time Lapse is probably the most passive form of stop motion animation in which a camera is simply clicked (manually or via an electronic intermittent control device called an intervalometer) to take a snapsot as a period of time lapses. Examples of this can be seen in nature documentaries showing a flower growing before our eyes from the ground up. 
Like all animation, including all stop motion, you will need a camera  that that can expose single frames that is to say take single snaphots.  It involves taking a snaphot or a single frame of an object, then moving the object by a small amount , then taking another frame. When the film runs continuously in a film projector, or other video playback system, the illusion of fluid motion is created and the objects appear to move by themselves. This is similar to the animation of cartoons, but using real 3d or 2D objects instead of sketches.
 
Brickfilms or Legomations
So what are Brickfilms or LegoMation.? In essence it is stop motion animation of LEGO® characters (Minifigs or Minifigures ) / bricks or Mega Bloks to create short films ..sometimes called Brickfilms or Legomation movies.
Making Brickfilms or Legomation movies is an  easy way to get startred with stop motion animation. Your characters are ready made, stable and easy to move without worrying about them breaking or smudging (like with clay). You also have the makings for your sets with the right scale etc. The minifigures stay in position thanks to the use of a plug board surface so you don't need magnets or wires to hold them in the various positions for animation. There are drawbacks of course but they are few for those new to animation. So if you are new to stop motion then check out the Brickfilm tutorials in the column to the left of this article.
With the emergence of video broadcast sites such as YouTube have breathed new life in to stop motion animation. Young amateur animators have flooded these sites with Brickfilms ( legomation or LEGO® Animation) and Claymation (clay animation ) movies.