FIVE REASONS TO USE STOP-MOTION ANIMATION

Why would anyone want to use stop-motion for animation when computers are so easy? And hey, everyone is doing computer graphics, right? Besides, stop-motion must cost a fortune.

OKAY, HOLD ON AND LET'S CHECK SOME OF THOSE ASSUMPTIONS

Computer, cel and stop-motion animation all have their place. In this short article hope that we can help clarify a few of the misconceptions about the stop-motion process so that you can make an more informed decision about whether stop-motion animation might be worth looking into for your next project.

STOP-MOTION IS EXPENSIVE, RIGHT?

Stopmotion animation is actually no more expensive than good computer animation (CGI). Budgets are very flexible and depend entirely on what and how you will shoot your stop-motion. At the lower end there is Claymation, action-figures and object animation. At the higher end are specially constructed puppets with lifelike miniature sets. The primary benefits that computer graphics have over the stop-motion is in reshoots, object replication or shoots with very large sets. In CG scenes can be reset and then rerendered over and over. In stop-motion it requires a reshoot, which can be expensive if the sets have already been taken down. If you know what you want up front, however, stop-motion animation can actually be less expensive than computer graphics. This is especially true when using existing real-world objects (see CG is easier below).
Stop-motion underwater puppet
Stop-motion behind the scenes

ISN'T STOP-MOTION JUST CLAYMATION?

Well, yes... and no. Stopmotion can be claymation, but it can also be many other things. Stop-motion is simply the process of taking inanimate objects, moving them a small amount and taking a picture. Do this over and over to shoot 24 frames for every second of animation. It is very similar to cel-based animation but it takes place in the physical, 3 dimensional world. You can do stop-motion animation with puppets and miniatures, objects like garden tools or chairs, or even people.

COMPUTER GRAPHICS SEEM SO MUCH EASIER

We cheated; this is actually a lot like question 1. The fact is CG can sometimes be easier, but not always. Confused yet? Okay, so think about creating a photo realistic potato chip in computer graphics. Designing, texturing and lighting that chip would take days. How long does it take to get a real potato chip? Open a bag. The point is it depends on what you're shooting. If you want to do a quick animation of some tools moving around and forming a word stop-motion is much faster and less expensive. Want to do an environment with a lot of buildings and huge outdoor landscapes? CG might be your least expensive bet.

DOESN'T CG LOOK BETTER?

Okay, let's talk about look. Stop-motion is physical, it's real. That handmade look comes through on camera. CG artists strive to capture that look (at great expense). The Lego Movie mapped fingerprints onto the Lego blocks used in the movie to try and recreate that look as much as possible. Every toothpaste or insurance commercial, kids cartoon and (yes) blockbuster film uses CG. It's now become a pretty common look. It's expected. So, if you really want to stand out you should probably do something different than everyone else, right? Stop-motion is definitely different.
Lighting a scene

BUT OUR CLIENTS LIKE COMPUTER GRAPHICS

Perhaps, but if you really want to impress your client bring them to an actual set. Okay, it may be a really small set, but it still feels like Hollywood. Want to bore the snot out of them? Have them stand behind the desk of someone doing computer graphics for a few hours. There is no animation process that involves creativity and teamwork more than stop-motion. Cinematographers, lighting, riggers, set designers, animators and a director all working together at the same time to deliver on a vision. It's exhilarating!!! Sorry, got a little excited there...
We hope this list helps you as you decide whether stop-motion is the right medium to help tell your story. If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us at info@athenastudios.com. We would be happy to answer any questions about how stop-motion animation can build your brand.