Stop-motion films and two-dimensional animations have a lot in common. Both build the illusion of movement one frame at a time. But there the similarities end, says David Sproxton, co-founder of Aardman Animations. Aardman produces the very successful Wallace & Gromit films.
In hand-drawn or computer-drawn animation, the animator begins by drawing "keys." The keys are the beginning and ending positions of a movement sequence. The keys are given to other artists, who draw the "in-betweeners," the images in-between.
You can't do that in stop-motion work, Mr. Sproxton says. "You have to mentally think about what the next position is" for the three-dimensional figure, and "animate toward that." It's called "shooting straight ahead."
To do this well requires stop-motion animators to have a feel for performance, as on-stage actors do.
Stop-motion animators may move a clay figure 12 times to film one second of film (once every two frames). If a character is speaking, though, the position of its mouth may be changed every frame (24 frames per second) to achieve the smoothest possible coordination of mouth movement and spoken lines.
Wallace & Gromit films use real objects and materials - real wood, paint, and light. "It's all very accessible," Sproxton says. And it can inspire young fans to build their own sets and shoot their own movies.
See Aardman Animations' Web site at: www.aardman.com