Countdown to the 2013 Academy Awards: Stop Motion Dominates Animation

When I was a kid I found myself fascinated with the monsters in the movies by special effect legend Ray Harryhausen.  I later found out that these monsters were brought to life by a process known as stop motion animation.

There are lots of cool elements to this type of animation.  Stop motion is made up of actual three dimensional figures that move by being physically posed for each frame of animation.  Because the figure and its surroundings have to be miniaturized to be workable, there is a stylized quality to this that is different than any other type of animation.

You can check out some impressive stop motion effects/animation in the original  King Kong (1933) and Harryhausen's stop motion effects masterpiece, Jason and the Argonauts.

The video below shows what a painstaking process this can be for a full length animated film.  Artists are constructing a whole world for these animated characters to live in.  These types of films are incredibly work intensive and rare, which makes me really appreciate the artistry of stop motion animated films like Nightmare Before Christmas, the Wallace and Gromit films and Coraline.

However, despite how rare these types of films are, three of the five movies nominated this year for Best Animated Feature are made using the stop motion process.  You can check out all three at a SCCLD library.

Frankenweenie Frankenweenie Tim Burton's animated and full length remake of his early live action short film, has a gorgeous look and tons of great visual jokes that adults and children will enjoy. 
ParaNorman ParaNorman comes from Laika film studio which produced the incredible Coraline.  This movie, like Frankenweenie, references old horror movies as it makes its way to a surprising and heartfelt conclusion. 
The Pirates! The Pirates! comes from Aardman studios which produced the wonderful Wallace and Gromit movies.  This film has a similar eccentric sense of humor as it follows around a bunch of misfit pirates looking for a little respect.

Be sure to check out these and other Oscar nominees in our library collection as Oscar night approaches Sunday, February 24th!

Photograph from Spectacular Optical


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