The Art of Clay Animation By Instructors Mr. and Mrs. O’Loughlin Oshkosh Area School District
The Art of Clay Animation Select one of the chapters below by clicking on the appropriate box What is Claymation? Brainstorming Ideas Making a Storyboard Creating your Characters Sets/Backgrounds Animation and Technology
This animation moves at 10 frames per second. The bouncing ball animation (to the right) consists of these 6 frames. What is Animation? • Animation is the rapid display of a series of images in order to create an illusion of movement. • Animation is an optical illusion of motion. =
What is Stop Motion Animation? • Stop-motion (or frame-by-frame) is an animation technique where the artist maneuvers real-world objects and photographs them one at a time.
This animation moves at 10 frames per second. The bouncing ball animation (to the right) consists of these 6 frames. What is Stop Motion Animation? • When the photos are combined in a series the illusion of movement is created. Just like the bouncing ball animation we saw earlier. • In professional claymation films, each frame or picture, is played back at a frame rate greater than 10–12 frames per second.
What is Claymation? • Clay figures are often used in stop motion animations because they are easy to move and position. • Stop motion animation that uses clay is known as claymation.
History of Claymation • Clay animation began a short time after the invention of a clay-like substance called plasticine in 1897.
History of Claymation • One of the first claymation films was made in 1908. • This film was called A Sculptor's Welsh Rarebit Nightmare. • During that time period, claymation wasn't a very popular technique and for almost 70 years, it remained that way.
Gumby • It wasn't until the mid to late 1980's that claymation became popular. • One most memorable clay animations was Art Pokey's Gumby.
Will Vinton • Another man named Will Vinton is a big part of clay animation's history. In 1987, Will Vinton made a documentary explaining the process of clay animation. It was titled Claymation. • Will Vinton also established many of the techniques used by clay animators today. • You may know him by what might be his most popular creations, the California Raisins. http://willvinton.net/
Will Vinton Said… • According to the Will, "any one can do claymation and have wonderful results." Well . . . almost. You see, to obtain that raisin-quality status, the animators at the studio may reshape a character up to 1,440 times in only one minute. That's right, math fans. Each second of film consists of 24 different frames of film. Three seconds of animation for most is considered a 'good day.' http://willvinton.net/
Other Famous Claymation Films • Wallace and Gromit created by Nick Park
Other Famous Claymation Films • Chicken Run by Aardman Animations studios
Other Famous Claymation Films • Corpse Bride,The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Caroline By Henry Selick
Other Famous Claymation Shows • Bob the Builder created by Keith Chapman
Professional Claymation Movies • Producing a claymation movie is extremely laborious. Normal claymation films run at 12 frames or pictures per second. • For a 30-minute movie, there would be approximately 21,600 stops to change the figures for the frames. • For a full-length (90-minute) movie, there would be approximately 64,800 stops. • Great care must be taken to ensure that the object is not altered by accident, by even slight smudges, dirt, hair, or dust.
Brainstorming Group Worksheet
Brainstorming Group Worksheet
What is a storyboard? • A storyboard visually tells the story of an animation panel by panel, kind of like a comic book.
What is a storyboard? Storyboard From the movie Chicken Little
It is important to make a storyboard for several reasons… • Creating a storyboard will help you plan your animation out shot by shot. You can make changes to your storyboard before you start animating, instead of changing your mind later. • You can save countless hours of unnecessary editing by doing a storyboard. It is especially important in animation. Unlike live-action filming where the filmmaker shoots tons of footage and then edits it later, an animator wants to throwaway as little of his/her work as possible because it is more work to animate a scene than it is to film it in live action. If you plan it all out in advance you don't have to worry about wasting time animating scenes that you'll never use. • Another reason why a storyboard is important is because it is a way to uncover problems and to fix them while they are still easy to fix. • In a storyboard you're not only describing the plot but all information that's important to your scene such as the mood, the setting and anything else that you think will help the audience understand your story. • To create a storyboard, you should follow three basic steps. First is analysis which is breaking down your story into its component parts. Second is evaluation which is judging and choosing what shots angles and frame sizes you will put in your project, and third is synthesis which is the process of actually developing and putting your project together.
Storyboards • Your storyboard should convey some of the following information: • What characters are in the frame and how are they moving? • What are the characters saying to each other, if anything? • How much time has passed between the last frame of the storyboard and the current one? • Where is the "camera" is in the scene? Close or far away?
How to Create your Characters • In clay animation, one of the many forms of stop-motion animation, each object is sculpted in clay or a similarly pliable material such as Plasticine, usually around a wire skeleton called an armature.
As in other forms of object animation, the object is arranged on the set (background), a film frame is exposed, and the object or character is then moved slightly by hand. Another frame is taken, and the object is moved slightly again. This cycle is repeated until the animator has achieved the desired amount of film. The human mind processes the series of slightly changing, rapidly playing images as motion, hence making it appear that the object is moving by itself. To achieve the best results, a consistent shooting environment is needed to maintain the illusion of continuity. This means paying special attention to maintaining consistent lighting and object placement and working in a calm environment
figures and props are molded from clay and are then used to tell a story. Using stop motion photography, a series of still pictures taken with a digital camera, the frames are then run together to produce an animation.
First off we should look at what animation is and some common terms that are used: • CEL • A broad term that encompasses most types of animation art. In its strictest interpretation, a cel is the plastic sheet, either cellulose acetate or cellulose nitrate, that animated characters are painted on. In practice, the term cel has come to mean that plastic sheet in combination with the outline and coloring of a character, object, and/or special effect. Outlines can be either hand-inked or Xerographically transferred to the sheet of plastic. Those outlines are then filled with color, either by hand-painting or a serigraphic process, to complete the cel. • 12 or 16 Field • These terms are used to describe the size of a particular cel. They come from the size of the "field" of view of the camera photographing the artwork. For rough use, consider a twelve-field cel roughly 10"x12", and a sixteen-field cel approximately 14"x16". The actual framed size may differ. • ORIGINAL PRODUCTION CEL • These are the cels actually used in the production of a cartoon. They can have either Xerographed or hand-inked outlines, and are hand-painted at the studio. These cels are one-of-a-kind pieces of art, and their rarity makes them highly sought after by collectors. Because these cels were created to make an actual cartoon, each cel is a component part of a larger movement. Different cels from the same scene may be more or less desirable depending on a variety of factors: size, profile and expression of the character, any damage to inking or paint, and overall visual appeal. • LIMITED EDITION CEL • As with production cels, limiteds can have either hand-inked or xerographic outlines, and are also hand-painted. The major difference, as its name implies, is that the limited editions are created in limited quantities, generally in runs of 250 to 500 cels. Because of these small edition sizes, limiteds can also be very collectible. Some limiteds are exact reproductions of the frames of the film they represent. Others are based on contemporary interpretations of classic characters or scenes by their animators- Chuck Jones limiteds, for instance. Limited editions are always hand-numbered on the cel, and many are signed by the artists. • SERICELS • Sometimes called serigraph cels. The serigraphy process involves silk-screening each individual color to the cel, one at a time. Every distinct shade is a separate screen, and a separate pass in the procedure. As a result of this fine art operation, each color is flawlessly reproduced. Sericels are also created in limited quantities, typically 2500 to 5000 pieces. Because of their larger edition size, sericels are the most affordable type of animation art, ideal for the beginning collector. • If you would like to learn more about how sericels are made, we invite you to drop by our online Creating a Limited Edition Sericel presentation. • PUBLICITY CEL • A cel, usually hand-painted, not actually used in a film or created for collectors, but made for publicity or promotional purposes. • CEL SET-UP • A combination of cels presented together. If the combination of cels match exactly, it is referred to as a KEY SET-UP. • ANIMATION DRAWING • These are the original, one-of-a-kind drawings, penciled by the animator, that cels are eventually made from. Drawings can be rough, or the more refined CLEAN-UP drawings. Sometimes, set-ups are available with matching drawings and the cel that was made from it. • STORYBOARD DRAWING • A drawing or story sketch made for the storyboard, which conveys visually the plot and action of a scene or shot. The storyboard serves as a preliminary guide for the artists. • MODEL SHEETS • Drawings, or studio reproductions of a character in a variety of actions used as reference by the animators during production. • BACKGROUNDS • Boy, is this a can of worms. We will try to cover the major types of Backgrounds you are likely to encounter, and what they mean. • Original Production Background • This covers a wide range of backgrounds that are original paintings, and were used in the production of a cartoon. It is important to note that it does not necessarily mean it is the same production that the cel is from. It may not even be from the same studio as the cel. If you see this term used, you will want to know what production the background is from. • Key Master Set-Up • This is the ultimate set-up, and the most rare. A key master set-up combines the original cel, or a key set-up of cels, with the background they were originally photographed over. When framed, this will look exactly as it did in the actual film or short. • Presentation or Hand-Painted Background • This type of background was specially prepared to complement the cel by an independent artist. Generally, it will be in the style of the original. Although it may enhance the visual appeal of the set-up, it adds little value or collectibility to the cel (unless the artist is famous in his or her own right). • Reproduction Background • This is the most common type of background. It is, as the name implies, a copy of a background. The reproduction can be by color Xerox, lithography, serigraphy or photography. In many cases, it is a reproduction of the original background. • LITHOGRAPHS/LITHOGRAPHY • Lithography owes it existence to the chemical principal that oil and water do not mix. The artist draws the image to be printed on a flat slab of limestone, metal, or plastic using a greasy crayon. The surface is then chemically fixed and wet with water, which does not adhere to the greasy image areas. When the surface is inked with a roller, ink adheres only to the greasy areas and not the wet area. Paper is then positioned over the plate and the press is manually operated to produce one impression. The process must be repeated for each color. It is not unusual for fine lithographs to be printed from 15 or more plates. • GICLÉE PRINTS • Creating Giclée fine art prints requires the utmost care and attention to detail. Harvest Productions, LTD., who produce all of the Giclée's for Linda Jones Enterprises, customize the color settings for each image so that each print is truly what the artist had in mind. The French term "Giclée", literally meaning "spray of ink," is used to describe these prints. Four precision nozzles spray up to a million microscopic droplets per second on to fine art paper. Then, each piece of paper is individually hand-mounted. Displaying a full color spectrum, the prints are lush and velvety, capturing the subtle nuances of the original artwork.
Claymations from 2003 • The FlyRun, Fergus, RunFrostbiteBasketballFrustrationFull MoonLosing Ur HeadPlay Ball!Slam DunkTough Luck • Claymations from 2002 • Apollo 13The Cat TrapDisco is DeadMonkey BizUp, Up and Away! • Comments from Students
Making Claymation Figures • Clay figures are often used in stop motion for their ease of repositioning. Stop motion animation that uses clay is known as claymation. The figures may have an armature or wire frame inside of them, similar to the related puppet animation (below), that can be manipulated in order to pose the figures. Alternatively, the figures may be made entirely of clay, such as in the films of Bruce Bickford, where clay creatures morph into a variety of different shapes. Examples of clay-animated works include The Gumby Show (US, 1957–1967) Morph shorts (UK, 1977–2000), Wallace and Gromit shorts (UK, as of 1989), Jan Švankmajer's Dimensions of Dialogue (Czechoslovakia, 1982), The Amazing Mr. Bickford (US, 1987), The Trap Door (UK, 1984).
The hardest part is probably coming up with an idea. Use a storyboard to set up the scenes before beginning. You won’t need to draw every picture but the storyboard will give you something to start with and helps you keep track of where you want to go. Decide what colors you will need for each scene and what you will use as a background before getting started. It seemed easier to work with the background flat on the ground to take pictures instead of having to stand it up. The clay does not dry out but it is tough to get off your hands. If you are going to work with a light color of clay after working with a dark color be sure to wash your hands first. Mixing the colors takes a little time. Cut the colors you want to mix into strips and layer them altering the colors. This makes it easier to mix.The length of the clips we used was originally one every 1/4 second(four clips a second), which worked well and later we changed that to one every 1/3 second to slow it down a bit. Ideally, estimate the length of voice narration before shooting theclaymation movie. Use still clips of longer duration if narration is long. Get an idea of the length of sound effects or music before creating themovie as well. The more increments of movement and pictures taken, the more natural the movement appears on video. Use a tripod and be sure to keep the camera as still as possible, theslightest movement by the camera from one picture to the other can make the video very jerky. Take a few practice shots to be sure that:- the edges of the backdrop don't show,- the camera isn't moving from shot to shot,- the figures are large enough to be seen (once the movie is converted to QuickTime, the screen is much smaller than the monitor and very small figures like our seed are hard to discern or see at all, so it's better to use larger figures and zoom in more on the subject of the movie), and- the lighting is goodThe creation of our claymation animation proved to be the most difficult project of all. It involved taking many pictures (close to 150 for our project which was called "Up, Up, and Away") of our clay figure. Each picture acted as a single frame in our movie and so for each picture the figure was moved slightly. • At first we had to experiment with how much to move our clay figure between frames to obtain a smoothly flowing movie. As we began to take pictures we encountered a problem with the camera. We realized that any movements to the camera would result in a jumpy movie, so we decided to mount the camera on a tripod to minimize any accidental camera movements. • A second problem we encountered was that it took so long to take pictures and move the clay figure that the entire picture-taking process took us close to 4 periods to complete (4 hours!). This was a problem because it meant that at the beginning of each period we would have to set up our scene guessing where the clay figure and props were supposed to be. We were able to come pretty close to setting everything up the way it had been by comparing it to the last picture taken on the previous day. • Then, to disguise any small changes in positioning, we decided to change the camera angle. The third and last problem we encountered was getting the clay figure to hold each position long enough to take a picture because the clay was so soft. So, we had to use pieces of wire to hold up the clay. This added the workload in the end because I personally had to edit each picture using Adobe Photoshop version 5.5. • Once we had obtained and edited all of our pictures we used Stopmotion Pro to make a movie out of them. It was really easy and the program did all of the work. It even had the option of automatically resizing each picture to a desired resolution. Although the most difficult this project was also the most rewarding. It was a change to work in a group, and a little trying when trying to even out the workload. With all things considered, sitting back and watching the finished product after it has been mixed with sound, using Adobe Premiere 6, there is a lot of satisfaction felt by all group members.
What is a Set? • A Set is the place where your characters will “perform”. A Set includes a backdrop, the scenery, and any props in the scene. • In claymation the set is usually miniature in scale or smaller in size than in real life.
What Makes a Good Set? • Craftsmanship, Craftsmanship, Craftsmanship!!! • Details, Details, Details!!! • Creative use of Materials
Student Examples • Craftsmanship, Details, Creative use of Materials