Does Stop Motion Animation Have A Future In The Multimedia Era?

5569 words (22 pages) Essay in Film Studies

02/05/17 Film Studies Reference this

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This multimedia project will be to get an answer to this question ‘does stop motion animation has a future in our new multimedia era?” the aim of this dissertation is to determine whether traditional stop motion is going to be replaced by digital stop motion and if digital stop motion animation will be replaced by other means of digital animation techniques for example CGI (Computer Generated Images). The reason for choosing this topic as my research basis is because there was always a determination and attraction within myself for learning new thing and techniques about animation so the decision was set to one of the earliest animation forms and the one I admire the most.

Application

With the help of these case analyses as reference when necessary, I will move to the core part of me of my dissertation. I will put forward the research I made to determine whether stop motion animation has a future in our new multimedia era. Examples of newer technologies, techniques that are currently being used will be put forward and investigate why they seem to be overtaking or changing traditional stop motion. These will be supported by my research work. Discussion between older and newer techniques in the making and production of a film will also be made. A questioner will also be done in order to get a better view of how much people know about stop motion and there actual knowledge of it if they do have one. These will perhaps lead me to answer the question’ does stop motion animation has a future in our new multimedia era’? I will support my argument and say why traditional stop motion is so nice to see almost magical and make everyone fill with joy while watching it, and also as an animator why it is so amazing while creating it actually. Then all descriptions , steps , minutes of discussion and every information that will be necessary will be set forward concerning the post production and production of the short stop motion animation that I will do from all the knowledge and piece of information that I will go through this dissertation.

Post production chapter 1

FROM HUMAN HAND TO COMPUTER MOUSE, THE JOURNEY

History of animation 1

In this section, a brief history of animation will be elaborated. Important dates will be included within the timeline of animation, leading to when stop motion was first created meaning the very first form of it and also the different techniques that was used. Some facts also will be presented, things that have been longer questioned before, like, the equipment used and why 24 frames per second are being used.

Paul wells a Canadian journalist and pundit [Wikipedia Paul wells] later nominated as the director of animation, within the academicals institution [Southborough University school of Art and Design. 2010] talks about some early involvements in animations. He also discussed some equipments used how animation was discovered while experimenting for the cinematic moving image. He also told how since 1798 people have been inventing equipments than can project some drawn moving images. [Wells: A. 2004:88]

The Phenakistoscope 1.1

The famous Phenakistoscope was one of Joseph Plateau revolutionary invention that will make a real change in the world of animation, created in 1832 the journey begins here even if this principal was first recognized by the Greek mathematician nuclide and was later experimented by Newton Joseph plateau was the one who further pushed this experiment and developed it. This device was an early form of optical toy that allowed one to see houses or acrobats moves. Luc Sanders, a freelance writer, animator and also a graphic designer with a background in computerized design and animation. He wrote on a website, how the device was made and how using wheel this device was able to create animation. The animation was done by a series of sequence image that was around the circumference of the wheel.

This will be translated in nowadays terms as each individual frame used to create a film. Slits are made in the wheel and when this is placed in front a mirror, the device is spun and the animation occurs the picture starts to move. [Picture showman. 2004]Phenakistoscope_3g07690u.jpg

The phenakistoscope also known as the phenakistiscope was famous for about only two years as due to this creation this gave great ideas to other invents that will be the future of animation at this time.[Wikipedia 2010]

Zoetrope 1.2

Later a derivative of phenakistoscope was the zoetrope. Created around 130 AD by a Chinese inventor ting human and later developed by William George Horner around 1800, who almost received all the credit.

zoetrope.jpg It was also called the daedal (“ingenious wheel”).

It only became popular decades later when the French and American marketed it as a toy. Then the American developer, William Lincoln re-named the zoetrope (“life turner”). Working on the same principals as the fantascope, just that the pictures were drawn on a strip are set around the bottom third of a metal drum, the latter was mounted on a spindle so that it could be spun, and when viewers looked though the slits they could see cartoon strip from a single moving image. [Companion for the apprentice wizard by Oberon Zell- raven heart]

Critics of a writer 1.3

Maureen Ruth Furness of president of the society for animation is a writer, animation historian, critic, animation theorist, professor and president of the society for animation studies. [Wikipedia. 2010]. In ‘animation bible’ she made some analysis about the techniques of stop motion stating that the technique is to be achieved by manipulating objects in from of the camera. Frame by frame.[Furniss:A.2008:232] this book is really a pleasure to read I have received great knowledge from this book as Maureen furnish has been through great detail about the processes, techniques in the creation of animation, and also great examples are also given.

The father of animation cartoon 1.4

From the reference to the website, pitureshowman, James Stuart blacktop is known as the father of animated cartoon and born in England Sheffield in 1875.

4064t.gif In 1906 he created the first animated film known as ‘Humorous phases of funny faces’, the very first cartoon ever made. The technique he used was stop motion; he drew the faces on a blackboard and filmed it. He then paused the filming and changed the faces and continue his filming repeating the same process to create a moving image. [Mosley. 2010]

This technique set a revolution in the 1914th, Windsor McKay a prolific artist, pioneering early animated films far outshone the work of his contemporaries, and also set a standard followed by Walt Disney and others in later decades. By (1867-1934) he invented ‘Gertie the dinosaur ‘one of his best creation ever. [Absolute astronomy. 2010]

Van Eaton’s website discuss how’ gentile the dinosaur’ was a little different to ‘humors phases of funny faces’, there was a certain interaction between the characters and the animator. For example gentile was instructed to do some tricks like bowing to audience. [Eaton. 2010]gertie_on_tour.gif

Furniss’ theory 1.5

Being inspired by McKay, this technique was further developed and animators experimented with different materials to create 2d stop motion animation.furniss talked about the different types of 2d animation in ‘animation bible’ [Furniss. 2004] explaining how 2d stop motion animation has many different forms how each technique used is unique. For example to create shadows, sand, salt, pins and cut out bits of paper and many more Medias. From Kuban levier’s website, he made a web site on a famous scripter, artist, film director and animator Alexandra korejwo. Graduated from the academy if fine arts in Poznan (Poland), she has been the owner of many distinguished titles and awards. She made animation films in her very own style with the use of colored salt as media.aboutolaglowna.jpgShe then created an animation called ‘Carmen habanera’ from the same technique and media. She made use of gouache watercolors to change the sand’s color and the allowed it to dry before to a black colored canvas and use feathers to manipulate it. [Korejwo-art. 2010]

3D stop motion animation 1.6

Later all these inspiration drew animators to make use of 3d objects to create stop motion animations. From the same book mentioned in the above paragraph, furnish spoke also about 3d stop motion , her description was how 3d stop motion has get quite an advantage in field comparing to 2d stop motion as they were the result of animation such as morph , Wallace and grommet, which were both very popular and famous. In both animations the media use was clay and with the help of this media they made the characters and surroundings as well.

makingof.jpg As an example of 3d animation, we can refer to the famous LEGO bricks; this technique is also called the brick film. The animators made use of the bricks of Lego to design an animate a magical world. Later on in 1989, an Australian animator called Lindsay flea that created an animation made from bricks of Lego this film was called ‘the magic portal’. This film was sixteen minutes long and took four and a half year complete it .[furniss:A:2008:243,244]

More in deep on animation procedures 1.7

According to this book ‘computer graphics multimedia and animation by pakhira, it says there are different types of animation possible, depending on the technique used for depicting animated frame sequences. For example:

Cell animation: the most simple and widely used ones. This made use of the onion skinning process, that is animated objects are drawn manually and positioned by using an onionskin- like translucent sheet called a cell. The background is drawn only once and only the moving object is redrawn frame by frame. This concept is implemented as layers on the background. The principal is simple the background is kept fixed and the animated frames (cells) keep changing in between frames. Thus using a different layer for each different object.

We also have key frame animation. Key frames are image frames that are designed to identify key positions of the object and mark significant changes and path in the animation sequence. In brief the beginning and ending frames are marked as key frames. This can vary for more complicated film there may be more key frames involved for example in between to introduce an important scene. These help to smoothen the movements of objects over complex trajectory. For linear motion, the frames in between are make using linear interpolation that is also called lerp over the time scale. Now for curvilinear trajectories the technique called spin interpolation is being used. This can be one by the b -spine interpolation, Bezier interpolation or LaGrange interpolation. [Pakhira. 2008:255]

The rostrum camera secrets 1.8

Also Jeff golden make reference to the most recognized piece of equipment in the creation of 2d stop motion in his blog. He was talking about the rostrum camera. The rostrum camera is a camera which is pointed downwards, and is parallel to a board (that will be like a stage for the animation). The frames are shots individually while the objects are being manipulated under the camera. A bit similar to when James Stuart blacktop created the famous ‘humorous phases of funny faces’. The 3d stop motion process is not different from this one, the same principals are being apply here, however to demonstrate 3d effects and depth of the scene, the camera is positioned to the side of the object. [Golden. 2008]

With the fast improvements and evolution of technologies, creating these same effects is now much easier with the help of computers. It gives the same feel like it has been crafted by hand. But does the fact that knowing it has been processed by computers decrease the feel and scenes of magic? Kit laybourne the chief creative officer for the whistle, (a cross media platform concentrating on kids and sports). [wikipedia.2010] says how digital animation uses the same processes as the traditional way but only the tools had changed. He also says how with the help of these new tools the work has become easier to produce. [Laybourne. 1998:65]

Why 24 frames per second? 1.9

There one thing that is very important to know while creating an animation, that is the speed that is going to be used, also known as the frames per second. Very often I wondered why 24 frames per second were more commonly to be used by animators. John wyvern had discussed this in a very scientific manner; he said the reason for having 24 frames per second is simply so because the human brains read the images continuously thus giving a feeling that is was only one image that was continuously moving. He also stipulates:

‘Ever since sir Isaac Newton, (1642-1727) scientists had discovered the common effects by the reaction that when the eyes stares a light and then looks away. With this little experiment, the deduction was that the retina retains a bright after-image, which quickly fades out. This is usually known as ‘persistence of vision’, this effects or reaction has been use by lots of historians to explain how the eye and brain tend to connect the strings of static images which are projected as a film, that also mentally create the feeling and impression of smooth movement. This information about these changes that are being done in the images are automatically being understood and recognized in a specific area of the brain that is separated from the principal acts of perception. So the result is as long as these images are being played at a speed below the perceptual threshold (film with 24 frames per second) they will be read as continuous by the brain’. [Wyvern. 1989:10, 11]

The persistence of vision the debate continues. 1.10

This argument and idea of persistence of vision was further explored on the media college website , they agreed with wyvern’s argument , there was a little controversy saying that these scientist’s ideas were accused of being false arguments in 1912,as there are no pertaining proof or evidence that this is the way our brain works. This website continues by informing that ‘…it is thought that the illusion of continuous motion is caused by unrelated phenomena such as beta movement (the brain assuming movement between two static images when shown in quick succession).’ [Wavelength Media. 2010] the use of 24 frames per second is also known as,’ full animation’, where each frame is different and is commonly used once, due to accuracy. This is also discussed by furnish in her book called ‘art of motion animation aesthetics’. She’s also explored what is called ‘limited animation’ to get a comparison with full animation. The difference is that it uses less frames and play lot on camera movements to cover the gap in between the scenes (continuous frames) to form the animation. Furness explains that ‘planning over the art work to create a good flow and sconce of motion if we are reducing the number of drawings.’ [Furniss: B. 2007:133,134] this would result in less production time also.

Two great milestones 1.11

The latter also suggested comparing two different animations to help explain her thesis. She suggested watching ‘Mickey mouse clock cleaners’ (1937)images.jpg

And ‘the birth of astro boy’ (1963)Astro Boy The Beginning DVD.jpg. The answer was clear after watching these two movies, one could feel as if there were missing parts(frames) in the first film but hereby one could understand the story though and it gives a feeling of heavy busy action that is the scene was too loaded and fast.jules angles, the one who is noted internationally for his great contributions to abstract animation and film,[Tobey cross. 2001] disagrees clearly with furnish thesis saying that there is ‘no such thing as limited animation, only limited talent.. Each style of graphic and each kind of gesture has its own requirements for motion’. [Furnish: 2007:136] to conclude both had their own reasons for their thesis.

Production chapter 2

Literature review .2

Case analysis of Adam Elliot, “cousin” 2.1

Adam Elliot also qualified as an independent stop motion animation writer, Clamatorial and director. Born on the 2 of January 1972 in Berwick, with only five films he already participated in about six hundred film festivals and received about one hundred awards. [Wikipedia 2010]

His entire great master piece was based on his family member for example, uncle (1996), cousin (1998) and brother (1999) accordingly.

This little summary was on a website called Ezine articles. I will concentrate more on cousin, cousin as stated earlier is about Adam’s cousin, and his childhood friend who had suffered from a cerebral palsy. This tragedy is cruelly ended by some epic scene like liquorices smelling, toe-nail collects, one -armed cricket playing, super -hero costume wearing, and also cake baking and so on… This continues when cousin’s parent was killed in a car crash and he is force to live in a group home [i] . [Ezine articles]

According to a blog I found, [the animation blog] it says that’ this film was originally shot in a small storage unit in the outer suburb of moorabin in Melbourne at a facility owned by his father’. For this time, Elliot made use of digital equipment called AVID in order to edit the film footage that was shooting on a 16mm film band. The result of his effort made him win his second AFI award for the best Australian animation. . In a biography by Melodrama Pictures, it is stated that, ‘Adam’s films have connected with audiences through focusing on loneliness and difference with compassion, humor and pathos.’ [Melodrama Picture: A. 2007].

To define this film, the characters were basically made from from clay, manipulated by hand to produce a different result motion in each frame. This was originally a mute film and people had to rely only by the characters expressions and narration from William McInnis. This was indeed a good decision to allow McInnis to narrate that eventually helped a lot to understand the feeling of the history and the sadness moments as well as funny ones.

The color of the film was perfect for this period of animation revolution if i can say, and with so bringing a good feel of the film. The of the color grey as primary and dominant color was excellently chosen as it’s a tragedy after all. Scott Iains stated concerning this thesis about color used and the narration ‘perfectly matches the sad tales and the beautiful melancholia of William Mc Innes’s outstanding narration’. [scott.2008] I do believe that this classic is the best in its traditional stop motion way. I am sure if this was done using CGI techniques; the feeling of sadness the mood and the traditional magic that non CGI can replace would be gone. I will also add to this, that this film should not be presented as a cartoon as it has a high degree of mature humor and tragedy.

Case analysis of Pixar’s ‘Monsters Inc’ 2.2

In this part of my dissertation, I will comment on a famous animation created by the use of CGI techniques, this film is known as ‘Monsters Inc’. I will also talk about the great Pixar animation studio that eventually created this film. The aim through this comment and analysis section is to be able to critically analyze this work to be able to give an answer to a specific question. That is there a future for stop motion animation? With the arrival of CGI technologies, this will just keep on lowering my cause. Nevertheless let’s not get too shacked away. A brief description of this film will also be given.

Peter Wisher, professor and also dean at the school of film and digital media, [Amazon.2004] had also written a book titled ‘moving pixels: blockbuster animation, digital art and 3d modeling today’. He says that Pixar studio of animation first started in 1986 and they first begin their career by first creating television advertisements. Also some of the most sophisticated software concerning CGI techniques were designs by Pixar, for example CAPS and Render Man. The revolution continues with the help of Pixar for doing the first fully CGI animated film in 1995 called ‘Toy story’. Later on this was continued and many CGI films were made including ‘Monsters Inc’ which was realized in 2001. [Weisher.p 2004:112]

‘Monsters Inc’ as guessed is based on monsters that have been fooled in to believe that children are dangerous and that in scaring them this may generate electricity out of their screams. There is a scream business that actually goes out in the film; the story main character sullies (Sullivan) and his one eyed friend Mick. They accidentally let a child came in their town, and soon after, they realized that boo (the child) was not dangerous at all. And those children in fact are not dangerous and that in fact laughter generates more electricity than screaming.

This film is completely CGI generated. The reason why these characters look so realistic and are detailed. I could see each of their hair on the characters and more realistic when light reflects in the eyes of the characters. As said , ‘there are 2,320,413 computer animated hairs on Sullivan, and Pixar’s technical team will tell you that animating all that hair and making it look real was no easy task'[ Pixar . 2010]

Unlike in ‘cousin’ it was not a numb film narrated by an author. But this one each character had their own line to say and in their own voice that give and advantage in realism compared to cousin. In doing so, this has allowed small children to understand the story and to enjoy it as well and elders. The excellent artistic job made in Monsters Inc is flawless. The colors, the background, the lightening and the frame work also the character design was done with perfection. Compared to cousin this can be called a movie for children and this will at the same time make the children less afraid of monsters. A very nice film though.

Trial and error analysis 2.3

Stop motion test one 2.3.1

This was my very first stop motion realized after the end of my research work. To give a brief, the work is a white board stop motion. This is basically a numb animation with no voice sound etc… This was an 11 photo work. A very short work indeed but that made me realizes lots of thing and mistake.

Story line.

The story is a little story that is a stick figure trying to go through a rail and puts all his effort in .

Comments

My comment about this work would be that this was a tough work, why, because to animate frame by frame and to draw it with the same lengths and characteristics with all the detail that was merely impossible for me. I was not even being able to create the effect of motion for this little film. The character was drawn the only part that was moving was the shaft that should be used to pull out the platform on which the animation stick figure was to be pulled on. It was really difficult for me to move more than one part in the work. The animation sticked to only one part of the stick figure to move. As to be able to draw the stick figure with his accessories was difficult as if I did so I would be drawing 50 t0 60 stick figure and there accessories. For this trial a normal camera was taken to shoot the small film. And a professional tripod was also used that why the image do not tremble while playing.

White board as media.

Working with white board as frame work and also media was very very difficult to manage. This media is so tangible it’s very flexible and though difficult to get straight lines and therefore accuracy in the drawing is very difficult. I had to erase and re do lots of parts many many times thus this was very time consuming. After late trials, I was very irritated and my sense of creativity has all went away. I was not able to draw and create or imagine anything. So I stopped here and animated it just to see the result.

Movie maker as software.

Windows movie maker is a very interesting software very simple to use and understandable. I firstly imported the photos and drag them to the story board. Then I selected all the photos and add and effect called ‘speed up double ‘. This made the frames become smaller and then the frames were viewed more rapidly. This is how we can achieve the famous concept of ’24 frames per second’. Unfortunately as i was not able to work with the media too much i only took 11 photos so it’s difficult to make an animation of 24 frames per second when we have only 11 frames (photo). Thus the animation was very dull and un-lively. There was less feeling of movement and also less graphic.

Second stop motion trial 2.3.2

For my second stop motion trial, I will explore the effects of real stop motion. That is to make a person or living thing to be the subject and character of my stop motion film. This is a little trial movie done that is not very professional without even taking into account light , position, distance, proportion nor frames the work properly. Without using a tripod the work was shooting as far as possible. My main emphasis while doing this trial was to be able to make the person go from one place to another with stop motion technique and without any movement with the legs.

Story line.

The story or rather path, is to succeed in making my character move from 1 place to another and vice versa without any effort seen in the legs and be able to like slide to the other places, that is without giving the viewer any feeling that the person could had walk to go to this place.

Comment.

This work was executed more rapidly and smoothly than the first trial. Being a trial more emphasis were made on the main theme of creating movement. But the magic only occurs in a second when you mount everything on the software and you press play its then that those 24 frames per second look totally magical. It was a nice trial for me and gives me lots of practice and experience to do my third trial that will be an improvement of the first trial media and the second trial experience and tactics. To return with this trial, I as the cameraman had pretty much difficulty to shoot and maintain a specific frame work. This is surely shown in the film it trembles a lot. This was done purposely so as to see the difference and difficulties while doing that without the tripod. The animation as implemented on the same software ‘windows movie maker’.

Final project description 2.3.3

Through this dissertation I will at the end design and mount a stop motion animation. The main reason behind is to actually get to know how much I have been reading and understanding the key fundamentals of stop motion animation. And this project will give support to my dissertation.

Story.

The story is mainly about a fancy world where the characters here are games, billiard balls and normal playing cards. These characters will do series of movement at the same time giving the audience a scene of magic movement. And will follow a specific track to end the video.

Software.

As my early trials the only software used through the whole project was windows movie maker. This is great software indeed.

Difficulties.

The difficulties I’ve been through were mainly that the software always had bugs and was very slow to respond. For example after I have imported the pictures, I could wait 10 minutes before the program does any effects to the work.

Advantages.

The software is very easy to use to search commands. Its work space is very large giving much emphasis on the production rather than unnecessary literature. Anyone can after couples of trials generate a video out of images. Also we have been covering this software through our multimedia program at university o f Mauritius.

Process.

First of all I started with a great disadvantage. I didn’t know that we were not able to take the tripod out of the faculty. So I had to shoot the whole final scene without a tripod and with the use my imagination as far as possible I tried to fix the camera on a ‘cue’ (this a playing stick made of wood used to play pool and billiard) with great difficulty i started the work. Then I situated all my four main shooting frame position and marked them.

After that, the background was the pool table itself with green color. And I started by first positioning the balls in the traditional way for playing pool. Then I manage to move little by little the objects that according to the story board needed to move. After what I changed frame position and introduce my second character the playing card deck. From them following his pattern it moved along the pool table and made couple of movements to finally join the billiard balls. After the entire photo was taken I can now move to the final phase that is the mounting phase.

Mounting phase.

With the help of windows movie maker, I mounted the work. First of all I imported all the photos I have taken about 250 photos was taken. I then reviewed one by one and erase those that was not ok and were out of frame after assuring that everything is ok I click on import pictures. And then after waiting a couple of minutes for the software to load all these photos, I adjusted the time space of each frames (photo) and also the time of transition. After I added the effect speed double that increased the video display allowing each frame supporting this effect move faster. After all these above steps, the title and the end screen were made. Then the video was saved. After I have viewed the small clip.

Past production chapter 3

Chart .3

This is the result of my questionnaire presented bellow. The result is clear and straight forward. As you can see there are many people who don’t know about ‘stop motion animation’, and if they do know they wrongly associate stop motion with other design animation.

CONCLUSION 3.1

In this section I will put all the pieces of the puzzle together (research work case analysis) and try to give and answer to the question set in my introduction,’ does stop motion animation has a future in our new multimedia era’? I will start by a personal feeling of this then I will use the research I have found to support my arguments.

Personally, I will say that traditional stop motion will never die and there will always a crazy, ambitious animator designer that will surely make an animation that everyone will keep watching. The simple fact that we as mere human with the means of a camera can make a non living object move and do lots of incredible thing, make a clay get a character and convey a message to an audience, that whets the main talents and animator need to have and let me remind all this is done without any digital equipment like CGI. To support my thesis, Adam Elliot stated, ”…audiences love seeing things on the big screen they know are not computer generated. When they see the fingerprints on the plasticize, they know that it hasn’t been generated by a computer, and there’s something magical about that. That’s why I think the art form is here to stay, and will never go away’ [Elliot. A 2009]. With the research work I have done for this dissertation, I would say that as man saw this extraordinary means to ‘control people’ in certain means. Every ambitious person was after some new amendments and invention to try to bring as much audience as possible for their films and inventions. A great example would be ‘toy story’ created in 1995 which was only sixteen years ago. But the fact is what will happen in the next sixteen

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