Claymation is a Dying Art Form

Every child loves his dose of cartoons. Perhaps it is the combination of special effects, music, drama and colours thhttp://entertainment.time.com/2013/10/15/10-great-stop-motion-animation-movies/slide/chicken-run/              at captures their attention, intrigues and sparks imagination. Or perhaps they can relate to the characters. The toon world has been regaling kids for decades now. But the world of animation itself has undergone drastic transformation. The characters don a more realistic appearance and technology has made it possible to create many techniques that can be adopted for the purpose of creating animated effects. One of the techniques being claymation.

Claymation is a technique that involves using clay models for making animated films. Claymation deploys stop-motion photography in which every action of the clay model will be filmed such that it creates an illusion of moving. Some popular movies that feature claymation are – The Gumby Show, Pingu, Mary and Max and many more. In totality, claymation is a unique art form that combines sculpting, photography, animation and filmmaking, but which requires huge amount of time, patience and effort.

The word ‘claymation’ has been termed by Will Vinton, and is formed of two words – clay and animation. He can be credited for creating the cartoon character ‘The Californian Raisin’. He founded Vinton Productions and their first venture movie in claymation was ‘The Adventures of Mark Twain’ in 1985. William Harbutt discovered ‘plasticine clay’ in 1897 and this was considered a big feat for makers of clay animation movies. ‘The Sculptor’s Nightmare’ was the first surviving clay animation movie. Produced by Edison Manufacturing Company, this move was a spoof on Presidential Elections of 1908. Clay animation started gaining popularity all over the world. Nick Park, an animator was responsible for giving the clay animation industry its Academy Award winners – ‘Wallace’ and ‘Gromit’.

Making claymation movies and the process of filming is a painstaking effort and challenging since the animators have to film a lot of sequences. It requires meticulous planning and execution from the animators to depict every movement clearly. But not all stop animation works are clay animation; sometimes animators use armatures and wires in the body of the clay models to facilitate easier movements. They have to practice extreme caution of not allowing any figure marks or dirt marks on the body of the figurines. At times, hard plastic is used to accessorize some parts of the body.

Filming claymation movies requires stop-motion photography which is then converted into a movie using stop-motion software. Animators prefer shooting the movie at around 24fps (frames per second) to 30fps, while some animators also shoot at half the rate – at 12fps or 15fps. Considering the challenges and the time taken to create the tiniest detail, making claymation movies is a time consuming process. Even a small advertisement involving clay animation takes up a huge amount of time. But the advent of editing software and armatures have made the filming process a lot easier; nevertheless one cannot ignore the fact that producing claymation movies requires enormous patience and efforts.

Considering this and the advent of computer animation, which has been monopolizing and changing the animation industry, lately there has been a drastic decline in the number of clay animation movies that are been produced. Claymation movies are slowly dying and soon going to become extinct. Hope the animators soon realize what a great art form it is and try to revive resurrect it with some great ideas.

Partho Ghosh (have 65 posts in total)

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