Cutout animation

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Video about making cutout animation, in Spanish with English subtitles

Cutout animation is a form of stop-motion animation using flat characters, props and backgrounds cut from materials such as paper, card, stiff fabric or even photographs. The props would be cut out and used as puppets for stop motion. The world's earliest known animated feature films were cutout animations (made in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani),[1] as is the world's earliest surviving animated feature Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926).[citation needed]

While sometimes used as a relatively simple and cheap animation technique in children's programs (for instance in Ivor the Engine), cutout animation has also often been used as a highly artistic medium that distinguishes itself more clearly from hand-drawn animation.

Cutout animation can be made with figures that have joints made with a rivet or pin or, when simulated on a computer, an anchor. These connections act as mechanical linkage, which have the effect of a specific, fixed motion. Similar flat, jointed puppets have been in use in shadow plays for many centuries, such as in the Indonesian wayang tradition and in the "ombres chinoises" that were especially popular in France in the 18th and 19th century. The subgenre of silhouette animation is more closely related to these shadow shows and to the silhouette cutting art that has been popular in Europe especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.

While many cutout animation puppets and other material is often purposely-made for films, ready-made imagery has also been heavily used in collage/photomontage styles, for instance in Terry Gilliam's famous animations for Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1975).

Cutout techniques were relatively often used in animated films until cel animation became the standard method (at least in the United States). Before 1934, Japanese animation mostly used cutout techniques rather than cel animation, because celluloid was too expensive.[2][3]

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 the transition since its pilot episode was made with paper cutouts before switching to computer software.

Short films[edit]

Feature films[edit]

An example of cutout animation, produced at the UK's National Media Museum

Television series[edit]

Music videos[edit]

Jim Blashfield used cutout animation in his music videos for Talking Heads' And She Was (1985), Paul Simon's Boy in the Bubble, Michael Jackson's Leave Me Alone (1989, winning a Grammy Award, a Cannes Golden Lion and an MTV Award), Tears for Fears' Sowing the Seeds of Love (1989, winning two MTV Awards) and others.

Other music videos featuring cutout animation include Skindred's Pressure" (2006),[citation needed] Serj Tankian's "Lie Lie Lie" (2007),[citation needed] B.o.B's "Nothing on You" (2009).


Video games[edit]


For more examples, see the list of stop-motion films.


  1. ^ Bendazzi, Giannalberto. "Quirino Cristiani, The Untold Story of Argentina's Pioneer Animator". Animation World Network. Animation World Network. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  2. ^ Sharp, Jasper (2009). "The First Frames of Anime". The Roots of Japanese Anime, official booklet, DVD.
  3. ^ Sharp, Jasper (September 23, 2004). "Pioneers of Japanese Animation (Part 1)". Midnight Eye. Retrieved December 10, 2009.
  4. ^ Armen Boudjikanian (February 26, 2008). "Early Japanese Animation: As Innovative as Contemporary Anime". Frames Per Second Magazine. Archived from the original on September 28, 2017. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
  5. ^ McLaren, Norman (1958). "Le merle". National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
  6. ^ The Miracle of Flight on YouTube
  7. ^ Malbus Moma (2015-11-25), Terry Gilliam explains Monty Python animations, retrieved 2019-07-23