Claymation Basics

Learn the basics of claymation from Joe Vena of the Children's Museum of the Arts in this stop motion animation tutorial from Howcast.

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Aspiring filmmaker? Learn stop motion animation with these easy-to-follow tutorials. You'll learn about claymation, puppet animation, creating storyboards, and much more. Soon you'll be ready to animate anything -- even an explosion!

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So you can create stop motion animated films with so many different types of materials. I think one of the most effective materials to use, of course, would be clay. And clay is a great great material for stop motion animation because it's so easy to change the form of clay. When animating with clay, you would apply the same rules you apply when you are animating with found objects. You would do things in small increments. So we have a ball of green clay here, set up with our camera pointing down to it. We're lighting with this little clip light. We have our computer, with which we'll take pictures of the clay by hitting the space bar. And we'll move our clay a little bit. We could also, not just move it, we can change it. I'm moving the clay a little and I'm taking my thumbs and pressing it a little bit flat. Taking a picture. Move it. Flatten it. Take a picture. It's great to take your time with your animation. Don't rush through. There's that sound. I'm going to flatten it out a bit more. Take a picture. Maybe we'll start to flatten it and split it as well. We're going to go in here. I'm just using my fingers to press into the clay and make these changes. I'm going to go ahead and start to really separate it. Take a picture. This is something that you want to happen gradually, in small increments, not necessarily all at once. A little more. Picture. Move it a little more. I'm pinching and breaking the clay in the middle just a bit. And there's a moment right before it's going to snap. And now these separate pieces will fly out of the frame. Something you will notice is that the clay will leave behind a little bit of clay sometimes, or a little bit of oil. And that's OK. If you prefer not to have that oil left behind, you can animate on a wipeable surface, a dry erase board, a piece of plexiglass. In this case, you will see a little of that oil because we are animating on paper. Now that those pieces have gone completely out of the frame, I'll take a few more pictures, and we'll play our film. And that's just a very very basic approach to animating with clay. There's a lot you can do with the clay. That's just a start.

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  • Children's Museum of Arts

    The mission of the Children's Museum of the Arts is to extend the benefits of the arts to all children and their communities and to secure the future of the arts by inspiring and championing the next generation of artists and art lovers. We provide hands-on art experiences in our art-filled interactive museum, in the community, and by collecting and exhibiting children's art. Founded in October 1988 by Kathleen Schneider, the CMA is located in the Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo.