Cutout animation is a technique for producing animations using flat characters, props and backgrounds cut from materials such as paper, card, stiff fabric or even photographs. The world's earliest known animated feature films were cutout animations (made in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani); as is the world's earliest surviving animated feature.
Today, cutout-style animation is frequently produced using computers, with scanned images or vector graphics taking the place of physically cut materials. South Park is a notable example of this transition since its first episode was made with paper cutouts before switching to computer animation.
More complex figures depicted in cutout animation, such as in silhouette animation, often have joints made with a rivet or pin – or when made on a computer, an anchor. These connections act as mechanical linkage which have the effect of a specific, fixed motion.
Examples of cutout animation
- For more examples, see the List of stop-motion films.
- The Adventures of Prince Achmed by Lotte Reiniger (from 1926) was a silhouette animation using armatured cutouts and backgrounds which were variously painted or composed of blown sand and even soap.
- Thieves of Baghdad by Noburo Ofuji (from 1926) was also an early example of cutout animation, by animating chiyogami (Japanese colored paper) cut-outs.
- No. 12, also known as Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Everett Smith, completed in 1962, utilizes cut-out illustrations culled from 19th century catalogs.
- The Soviet films Lefty (1964) and Go There, Don't Know Where (1966).
- René Laloux's early films made use of armatured cutouts, while his first feature Fantastic Planet is a rare example of unarmatured cutout animation.
- The feature films of Karel Zeman (Czechoslovakia) combined cutout animation and landscapes with live actors.
- The opening sequence of L'Armata Brancaleone (1966), a film by Italian director Mario Monicelli, features cutout animation, made by the Italian Emanuele Luzzati.
- Twice Upon a Time (1983), an animated movie directed by John Korty and produced by George Lucas, uses a form of cutout animation, which the filmmakers called "Lumage," that involved prefabricated cut-out plastic pieces that the animators moved on a light table.
- South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) uses computer animation to imitate cutout animation.
- Strange Frame relies primarily on an innovative cutout style combined with both traditional and 3D elements.
- The Miracle of Flight (The Miracle of Flight on YouTube), a short cutout animated clip from the famous Monty Python's Flying Circus - by Terry Gilliam
- Le merle (1958), is combination of the (white) cut-outs and (pastel) backgrounds (music is the French folksong "Mon Merle) - by Norman McLaren."
- How Death Came to Earth (1971) - by Ishu Patel.
- Tabi (1973) and Shijin no Shôgai (1974), two cutout animations - by Kihachirō Kawamoto (who is otherwise primarily puppet animator).
- Angela Anaconda, an animation combining the black-and-white photographs and cutout-styled CGI animation.
- South Park used construction paper cutouts in its first episode before switching to PowerAnimator and, later, Maya.
- Blue's Clues used cutout animation for many of its characters.
- Little Bill
- Pigeon Street created by Alan Rogers and Peter Lang who both went on creating animations for programmes like Words and Pictures, Numbertime, Rosie and Jim and Hotch Potch House.
- Charlie and Lola uses a complex combination of photographic and drawn elements to imitate the collage style of the books - by Lauren Child.
- Joel Veitch uses SWF cutout animation style on his website Rathergood.com.
- The humour animation site JibJab primarily uses cutout animation from photographs.
- It's Jerry Time is an Emmy Award winning web series that uses cutout animation in its episodes.
- Pre-1997 episodes of Captain Pugwash on BBC1.
- Outer Space Astronauts uses a similar technique to blend live-action and computer-generated layers in its unique animation style.
- King Rollo was a children's character created by David McKee in 1979
- Uncle Grandpa features a character called Giant Realistic Flying Tiger, who is animated using this technique.
- Nothing on You the music video use cutout animation.
- Pressure (Skindred song) the music video uses cutout animation
- Lie Lie Lie by Serj Tankian, the music video also uses cutout animation
- The intro and outro themes of Charlie Chalk.
- The 1960 Famous Studios Modern Madcap cartoon Bouncing Benny.
- Mi-Mi, the Lazy Kitten from China and Tillie, the Unhappy Hippopotamus from Czechoslovakia as shown on the Saturday morning kids' show the CBS Children's Film Festival which aired from 1967 to 1984. Mi-Mi used bright-colored pastels set against a white background while Tillie had done a variety of different shades of yellows, greens, and grays all done in a paisley design even before the latter became popular in the 1970s.
- Nintendo's Paper Mario series used cutout animation with the characters to explore the various locations in or around the Mushroom Kingdom. Also, the commercial for the 3DS game Paper Mario: Sticker Star use cutout animation.
- Armen Boudjikanian (February 26, 2008). "Early Japanese Animation: As Innovative as Contemporary Anime". Frames Per Second Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- McLaren, Norman (1958). "Le merle". NFB.ca. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2009-08-31.