What Is Stop Motion Animation?

Learn what stop motion animation is from Joe Vena of the Children's Museum of the Arts in this Howcast video.

What is stop motion animation? Stop motion animation is basically when you take a photograph of something and you change that subject you’re photographing in a very small way and you take another picture and you change it and you take another picture and you manually change it. Take another picture and you change it. Each time you’re taking a picture, you’re making sure to take your hand that is manipulating your subject out of the picture.

Change the subject. Take another picture. Change it. Picture, change it. Picture, change it. Picture. When you play back through those pictures, flip back through them like a flipbook. You would see your subject move. Naturally, the subject’s never really moving. You’re moving it with your hand, but if you play back through the pictures, no hand is there. The subject seems to take on a life of its own.

To be a bit more specific here, let’s imagine that we have a camera trained right on this plastic rhinoceros here and we take a few picture of the rhinoceros like this and we go in and we move the rhinocerous a little bit and we take a picture. Move him, picture. Move him, picture. Move him, picture. Every time you’re taking your hand out of the way before you take the picture. Move the rhinoceros. Take a picture. Move the rhino, picture.

Were you to play back through all of those frames, all of those pictures, you’d see the rhinoceros move. You can apply stop motion animation to so many different things. You can move sound objects like this rhinoceros, but you can animate with paint, with cut out paper, with clay, of course. You can animate even with live people. That’s called pixilation. You can do this at home with a variety of cameras and computers.

I definitely encourage you to look further into stop motion animation. Stop motion is a fantastic art form. It’s been around a long time and those are the basics. That’s what you need to know.