Stop Motion's charm and its impact on CGI - Dissertation Idea, Would like opinions and advice from Stop-Motion fans!

Hello everyone!

I'm an animation student fom DJCAD art school in Scotland, I'm studying animation and am about to enter my 4th year... which means dissertation time!

Being a big fan of stop-motion, I wanted to use it as the central theme of my dissertation, whilst looking at something new that I can learn from. I have come up with the loose theme as follows:

I'm going to explore stop-motions history and try and examine where stop motion gets its charm and appeal, that is unique to its medium, and not found in others. I will be trying to point out what makes the medium unique.. then I will look at how that has impacted the development of CGI animation and effects, and why digital animation does not fundamentally have the same charm as stop-motion... Then after establishing that, I will go on to explore attempts by CGI to try and capture the appeal and charm of stop motion, by exploring films and other case studies, and evaluating how successful they were. 

Firstly, any thoughts on my area of focus? Do you think this is interesting? Your opinions as well on the matter would be of great help to me, in building arguments for and against.

Also does anyone know of any great articles or written material out there on this subject that may prove useful? I am finding things, but there is a lot of stuff out there to trawl through.

And also most notably, does anyone have any great suggestions of CGI films that try and emulate/capture the charms of stop motion? I have been thinking of films that do this in varying stages of success, and one main contender for a case study is The Lego Movie, and I was also considering The Book Of Life (not so much for its capture technique, but for the fact that it embraces a very stop motion-esque model style, with the wooden puppet characters) Anything that you can think of would be of so much use and I would really appreciate it! 

Also on the same note, I am trying to create a list of films that have a direct stop motion and CGI comparison, either through the fact that they are a remake (Clash of the Titans, for example) or sequels, (Terminator, Star Wars original vs re master and prequels) or films that cut stop motion in favor of CGI (Jurassic Park) Any Ideas?

Thank you so much for your time and for reading this anyone! :)

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Being able to see evidence of 'how it was done' is a common theme in a lot of art. Watercolour paintings of flowers where the paint looks to have been thrown about with reckless abandon to give a more impresionistic look have a more dramatic impact than the perfection of a detailed botanical illustration. Portrait sculptures where the surface of the clay still shows how it has been worked rather than endlessly smoothed to look like a perfect life-cast convey more character.


The production of a CGI sequence allows for many iterations of fine adjustments to keyframes, spline curves and all the other controls available before committing to the final render. Does this make it that bit too smooth for it's own good?

I really enjoyed watching the test clip 'The Third Edition' posted earlier this week by Marnik. All the gloss and clutter of a detailed computer rendition is torn away to reveal a plain (no insult intended!) hand made puppet being brought so expressively to life. That is still the most amazing magic.

Kit - I agree! something about the straight forward nature of stop motion has surely got to be an appeal of the medium, whereas CGI undergoes several changes and edits, and was described by someone as 'Animation by Committee' (Where escapes me at the moment) but the fact that with stop motion, you are viewing an animators performance, over a period of time, with no edits, is something quite fascinating!

Is there perhaps also something about the degree of concentration on the part of the animator?

I went to a brilliant Retrospective of the Brothers Quay work last week at the Watershed in Bristol, UK. They described how the music was always the starting point for their films, and that many of them are not linear. The puppets are always subservient to the scenography.

I wondered why their films seem so incredibly potent to me. Perhaps it is because they make them like poetry, but sustaining a state of inspiration over a very long period of making a film isn't possible. What seems to happen is that, like with a poem, the inspiration becomes concentrated, just as time becomes condensed, and maybe that is what makes them so good, to me at least. They seem to be what dreams are made of.

So what I am getting as audience is the concentrated poetic vision of one (or in this case) two artists. And the real-ness, the dirt and muck and serendipity in their films could surely never be done in CGI.

Here's an article about the Brothers Quay that helps shed some light on the eternal mystery of stopmotion and its appeal: Quay Brothers get the 35mm treatment.

I'm not saying this is equally true for all stopmotion, but it does point out that there's a certain powerful aesthetic/artistic quality driving the choices of many who are drawn strongly to stopmotion. These guys obviously saw something in it that transcends children's entertainment. There's an alchemy in the merging of various real materials moving under real light - things happen that absolutely can't be replicated in the sterile and completely artificial world of CGI. 

I think CG holds a very different fascination, for the artificial and for fans of video games.

My best way of finding sources is simply searching a book in goodreads and then trying to find it on kat.ph. Actually, you can simply type in 'stop-motion' in search field on kat.ph and check the results. These are the one I found. And this is way easier than choosing a dissertation title. Well, at least for me.

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