The secrets of Gromit's world

Stop Motion
July 2, 2004

"Move it a little... hmm. OK. Click. Move it a little more. Good. Click."

The painstaking art of pixellated performance has experienced an upsurge of interest, particularly among children, inspired by the international success of Aardman Animations. Hitherto it has been hard to find books on this subject. General books on animation often include one short chapter on stop motion - insufficient to do the subject justice.

This book is a mine of information from an author, Susannah Shaw, who has previously worked for Aardman. It aims to be a practical guide to the craft of model animation and is suitable for animation students or indeed anyone who is interested in a window on this specialist world. The final chapter is dedicated to finding a job in the industry and an appendix includes valuable resources such as information about suppliers, courses, festivals and deadlines.

Full of practical tips and techniques, the book features illustrations from the cream of British model animation talent. As well as information aimed at this specialist area, from making armatures and articulated characters to handy hints for creating and lighting miniature sets and special effects, the book also covers all the key areas of animation theory: film language, storyboarding, lip synching, weight, timing and full-body acting.

Step-by-step instructions for making a robust model at home are included, alongside more detailed specialist techniques. However, the examples, although clearly explained and illustrated, used mainly specialist materials. It would have been good to see a more low-tech, entry-level production process for making models - along the lines of do it yourself at home with pipe cleaners, Oasis and some tin foil.

Despite the popularity of computer animation, stop motion continues to fascinate a new generation. This book gives an unrivalled detailed technical overview of the subject.

Birgitta Hosea is course director for the postgraduate diploma in character animation, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation

Author - Susannah Shaw
Publisher - Focal Press
Pages - 206
Price - £22.99
ISBN - 0 240 51659 1

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