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In these next couple of articles, we’re going to talk about an animated filmmaking technique called stop motion. Perhaps you remember Tim Burton’s Coraline? Or the recent Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio? These are just two examples of some gorgeous stop motion films.

Stop motion is an animating technique using physical objects, moved in tiny increments between a series of photographs to create an illusion of motion. When the photographs are played back, the object seems to move on its own.

A Short History

In America, The Humpty Dumpty Circus (1908) is considered to be the first stop motion picture. This short, silent movie featured an animated show of circus toys and figurines. It was created by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton of Vitagraph Studios.

Then Willis O’Brien, the American-pioneered lifelike creatures for adventure films, and became known for The Lost World (1925) and King Kong (1933). His techniques are groundbreaking for the field, and has been widely used ever since.


Stop motion can be done with puppets, clay items, Lego, paper, rice, sugar, flour, and even light and shadow. Many young people or newcomers into like to start out with paper, as it’s generally pretty low-cost.

The Appeal of Stop Motion

There’s no denying, when you watch a stop motion, you feel like it’s something special. Even if you don’t know the behind process, people can sense the beauty of the craftsmanship that goes into a well made stop motion animation. From tiny eyes and hands to tiny costumes, all the way to miniature sets that are just as complex as massive Hollywood sets, everything is prepared with care and attention to detail. For entry level film makers, stop motion is also one of the easiest types of animation to try. All you really need to start out is a camera that can take still images and a figure.

Nowadays there are many other more efficient and practical animation techniques. However, there is definitely still a place (and following) for the physical realism and beauty of stop motion films.