Stop Motion Animation is Back with a Vengeance!

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What a great month for the animated movie! Both Corpse Bride, and Wallace & Gromit, two new feature-length animated movies hit the screens this past month. And critics thought that only 3D computer animated movies would be made from now on! Feh!

I admit that when I heard that Disney would no longer make any hand-drawn animated feature films, I was very sad. As much as I love 3D computer animation, I adore Disney’s hand drawn masterpieces, like Beauty and t he Beast, Aladdin, Bambi, etc. And I’m sad to see it end. Who really thinks that 3D will make their stories better? 3D does NOT guarantee a hit! Just because Pixar is 7 for 7 with 3D doesn’t mean that anyone who does 3D is going to be great at it.

Case in point – Corpse Bride and Wallace & Gromit. Both of these films would have been hits no matter what medium they were created in, they are great stories with great characters. If they were 3D computer animations, or 2D hand drawn animation, they would have been just as touching as they are as Stop Motion animations. That being said, I’m thrilled that these two feature films were made in Stop Motion. That medium seems harder and harder to find. Stop Motion animation is both tedious and costly.

For those who aren’t familiar with how Stop Motion animation in made, here is a quick breakdown: Moving pictures are made of still images shown at high speeds. For Movies, that rate is 24 frames (still images) per second. Per SECOND! So, for the Stop Motion animator, he/she has to move the puppet, take a picture, move the puppet, take a picture – etc… 24x just for 1 second of film. Now imagine doing that for a 90 minute film. Crazy huh? Makes you wonder why anyone would go through that torture! Consider spending a week of your time working with puppets and at the end of the week you’ve only made 2 minutes of finished film. Yikes.

But, what keeps the animators working is the finished product. Both Corpse Bride and Wallace & Gromit look amazing. There is something magical about puppets and miniature sets. While watching Wallace & Gromit’s movie, if you look closely enough you can see the clay shape change on the puppets as the character moves. I even noticed fingerprints. And the sets! What detail. I remember going to the Museum of Science & Institute in Chicago years ago when they had an exhibit of the worlds largest and most detailed dollhouse. My wife and her mom wanted to see the exhibit, among others and I wasn’t really interested. Once we got there, however, it was amazing to see the detail in such a miniature size. It was quite extraordinary. That’s the same way with the sets in these two films. Everything was created from scratch. Live action has the benefit of using the everyday world as its set, but Stop Motion animation needs its sets created from the ground up. That’s one of the reasons why its so engrossing to watch.

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, during some of the previews, was actually thought to be 3D computer animated! Isn’t that just the best compliment? The animation was so smooth, the puppets so well made and so effortlessly animated that people didn’t believe that they were Stop Motion animations.
If you haven’t seen either, they are worth seeing. Wallace & gromit are more humorous, while Corpse Bride has a more romantic feel. See both!

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