Our hosts are joined by guest, Seamus Walsh from Screen Novelties, to chat stop motion history 📚⁠

Seamus is a talented stop motion animator, director, and studio owner with a deep respect for the history of animation. Our hosts could not have asked for a better guest to help guide us and our listeners through this important and dense topic. Thanks for joining us, Seamus! ⁠
Stop Motion History Resources + Mentions
The Stop-Motion Filmography: A Critical Gide to 297 Features Using Puppet Animation. Neil Pettigrew. 
The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation. Ken A. Priebe. Chapter 1. 
Cracking Animation: The Aardman Book of 3-D Animation. Peter Lord & Brian Sibley. Chapter: The Medium.
Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema. Vanessa Harryhausen. 
Stop Motion Marvels's DVD by Thunderbean Animation/Steve Stanchfield
Cartoons - 100 Years of Cinema Animation by G. Bendazzi​​​​​​​
Technology / Innovations
Silent Film: Stop Action / Stop Trick (Early 1900's)
Pioneered by French filmmaker Georges Méliès, stop trick is a cinematic special effect using film splicing or starting and stopping the camera to achieve a surprising appearance, disappearance, or transformation (like a magic trick). 

Multiplane/Downshooter (1920's / Disney late 1930's)
A technique notably used by Lotte Reiniger in the 1920's in the form of silhouette animation. 
Multiplane typically references Disney’s multiplane camera technique developed for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). In stop motion, multiplane typically refers to a technique where the elements captured by the camera are positioned on layers of glass at various distances from the lens to create a sense of depth. This is often achieved through a “downshooter” setup where the camera is shooting down toward the ground. The glass layers are suspended parallel to the floor (like a shelf), so gravity will support the animated elements. 

Replacement Animation 1930's +
A technique notably used in George Pal's Puppetoons isn the 1930's/40's.
Instead of adjusting the clay in a claymation puppet, replacement animation swaps or “replaces” something in the shot instead of a manual frame to frame adjustment. This technique is often used in modern puppets for facial animation for swapping mouth shapes. 

Stop Motion as a Special Effect / Rear Projection (Background Projection), 1930's+
An in-camera effect where the background is pre filmed and then projected on a screen placed behind a foreground performance which is shot live. This is both a live-action and stop motion technique. 
CG (Early Pixar team late-'70s/early-'80's. Impacted stop motion early 1990's)
Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was part of a breakthrough era in CGI filmmaking. The use of computer animation animation in Jurassic Park was an idea instigated by a group of renegades at ILM, who had initially been hired to add motion blur to the stop motion animation that was being created by Phil Tippett. (Cartoon Brew). Documentary Clip: Moments that Changed Movies: Jurassic Park

Go Motion (A technique noted as early as the 1920's, but refined in the 1980's)
“Is a variation of stop motion animation which incorporates motion blur into each frame involving motion. It was co-developed by Industrial Light & Magic and Phil Tippett. Stop motion animation can create a disorienting, and distinctive staccato effect, because the animated object is perfectly sharp in every frame, since each frame of the animation was actually shot when the object was perfectly still. Real moving objects in similar scenes of the same movie will have motion blur, because they moved while the shutter of the camera was open. Filmmakers use a variety of techniques to simulate motion blur, such as moving the model slightly during the exposure of each film frame or using a glass plate smeared with petroleum jelly in front of the camera lens to blur the moving areas.” (Wikipedia)

Digital Cinematography (late 1980's/1990's)
The transition from shooting on film to shooting digitally. 

Digital Frame Playback 
“The basic functionality of FrameThief is that of a video frame grabber, but the program builds upon this functionality to provide tools specific to animation. All you need to start animating with FrameThief is a video camera and a PowerPC Macintosh.” (FrameThief Website)

Video LunchBox (Late 1990's)
An animation playback tool from the late 1990’s that could store and playback 256 of animation (depending on the quality/resolution). The ability to easily review animation and get real-time feedback was a game-changer, and quickly sped up the evolution of the stop motion medium. 

Dragonframe Software (2008+ )
The current industry standard digital image capture software. The software offers live view and playback of high resolution animation frames in real time, a cinematography workspace to compose and light with camera controls, an audio workspace, programmable lighting, and a motion control interface.  Dragonframe continues to evolve it features to meet the needs of the most advanced stop motion techniques.   

Phone Camera Compatibility & Apps. 2017 *ish+
Episode 8: Stop Motion History <1930's
J Stuart Blackton - Stop Action/Stop Trick. British-American
Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, 1906 (chalkboard/cutouts), Speed caricature facial sculptures in clay and pop between expressions

Władysław Starewicz / Ladislas Starevich -  Puppet Animation. Polish-Russian 
Entomologist. Insects couldn’t be filmed alive so dead insects were modified to show their flight/movement for educational purposes, which lead to making full on puppets using wire and hobbyist puppet technical skills for animation purposes
The Cameraman’s Revenge, 1912. Polish-Russian (taxidermy animation)

Helena Smith Dayton - Clay Character Animation. American
“Believed to be the first American woman animator” - and one of the earliest inventors of “Clay cartoons” - Source: “Ink & Paint The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation”

Lotte Reiniger  - Silhouette Animation. Berlin, Germany
The Adventures of Prince Achmed, from 1926, oldest surviving animated feature film
Used a Multiplane (Downshooter) set up.
Expanded on silhouette/cutout animation later in the century - Michel Ocelot, Evelyn Lambart

George Pal - Replacement Animation. Hungarian-American. 1932+
Puppetoons wooden doll replacement animation. Hungarian-American (^National Museum of American History has puppet artifacts and more information linked)
Puppetoon Movie Trailer - Compiled his shorts in 1987 into a feature film hosted by Gumby, Pokey & Arnie the Dinosaur.
2D previs to stop motion process

Willis O’Brien, Animated Special Effects. American
The Lost World, 1925 - First Special FX
King Kong, 1933  - Big early milestone for all of the Special FX innovation

Herbert M. Dawley - Puppet Animation / Special Effects. American 
Collaborated / clashed with Willis O'Brien. 

Max Fleischer / Fleischer Studios - Mixed Media, Model Sets. American
Miniature backgrounds shot in stop motion for camera moves  - likely developed because of Disney Multiplane technique patent
Somewhere in Dreamland, 1936. Showcases the model sets
Christmas Comes But Once A Year, 1936. Influenced the umbrella Christmas tree in “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas”
Episode 9: Stop Motion History, Mid-1900's
Karel Zeman  - Czech

Jiří Trnka - Czech
The Hand, 1965

Ferda Mravenec ("Fernando the Ant"), 1944

Kihachirō Kawamoto - Japanese
The Demon - 1972

Quay Brothers - American

Jiří Barta - Czech

Ray Harryhausen - Practical FX, American

Art Clokey - American
Gumby - Claymation, 1955-1989
Gumbasia - abstract like Oscar Fishinger Jazz soundtrack, 1953

Rankin/Bass - American
ALL Production (built/shot) happened in Japan. Kihachirō Kawamoto worked on it!
Episode 10: Stop Motion History, Late 1900's + 
Jim Danforth

David W. Allen

ILM / Phil Tippett - Go Motion - 1975-1985
Go Motion - developed with Dennis Muren - Pioneered on “Dragon Slayer” - 1980-81
Jurassic Park - advisor (cross over from stop motion / CG)

Dennis Muren

Sesame Street 
Teeny Little Super Guy - 1982 - 2D animated character who lives attached to a clear plastic cup (Paul Fierlinger) 

Eureka’s Castle 1989-1991 
Magellan's pet worm hybrids - Slurms (a combo of slugs and worms) – They were animated using clay animation.

Interstitials on Saturday morning cartoons 

“Paddington” (Bear) - FilmFair London - 1976-1980

Wind and the Willows - Cosgrove Hall

Aardman - Claymation, England. 1972-present
Morph - Peter Lord & David Sproxton - 1977 +
Wallace & Gromit - Nick Park - 1989 +

Will Vinton - Claymation, US. '70s-'90s 
Later known as Laika, once the ownership changed. Laika House was Laika's commercial/short form arm, before becoming House Special
“Vinton trademarked the term “Claymation” for the painstaking, stop-motion clay animation that gave the studio’s work its distinctive look.” (
The PJs (Eddie Murphy) - 1999 - Big budget stop mo TV show

Coraline - 2009
Paranorman - 2012
Boxtrolls - 2014

Chiodo Brothers - Los Angeles, US. 1990s+

MTV - NYC, US. 1998

Henry Selick / Tim Burton
Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney production) - 1993
Coraline - 2009

Colossal Pictures - San Francisco, US. 1976-1999

ILM - San Francisco, US. 1975+

Stoopid Buddy Stoodios - Los Angeles, US. 2011+
Robot Chicken - can see animation skill evolution from Season 1 to present
Silhouette Puppet Theater
Also known as shadow play or shadow puppetry, it uses flat articulated cut-out figures (shadow puppets), which are held between a source of light and a translucent screen or scrim.

Silhouette Animation
An animation technique inspired by shadow play puppet theater, where the animation subject is only visible as a black and white silhouette. This is usually accomplished by backlighting articulated cut-outs. 

Squash & Stretch
One of the 12 principles of animation presented in the Illusion of Life book. Squash and Stretch is the principle of applying a contrasting change of shape—from a squash pose to a stretch pose or vice versa—to give a feeling of fleshiness, flexibility, and life in animation. —Animation Mentor

Split Screen
Split screen is the combination of two or more scenes filmed separately that appear in the same frame (typically, the camera is in the same place and not moved at all). When used as a special effect, the split is intended to be invisible. 

In animation, smear frames are animation frames that create the illusion of motion blur. Smear frames are used in between key frames. This animation technique has been used since the 1940s.

“Stop motion animators learned how to use surface gages to keep track of where puppet parts were in a 3-D space before the time when Stop Motion Pro or other capture devices were invented.” (

Created by Jamie and Dyami Caliri - Dragonframe is the industry standard stop motion animation software.
“We’re animators, directors of photography, and artists, and we designed Dragonframe to be the software we’ve been waiting for. The software that allows us to do feature-level, performance-based animation in any format. We focus on capturing high-quality digital stills or video and allowing you to work directly with those files. Dragonframe organizes your images simply and gives you access to them in high resolution.” (Dragonframe Website)

Bunraku (文楽) is the traditional puppet theater of Japan. It started off as popular entertainment for the commoners during the Edo Period in Osaka and evolved into artistic theater during the late 17th century. Along with noh and kabuki, it is recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. (
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