List of stop motion artists

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Tim Burton, famous for the award-winning Nightmare before Christmas, at the 64th Venice International Film Festival
George Pal

Ladislas Starevich[edit]

The great European stop motion pioneer was Ladyslaw Starewicz (1892-1965), who animated The Beautiful Lukanida (1912), The Ant and the Grasshopper (1911), The frogs who wanted a king (1922), The eyes of the Dragon (1925), The Queen of the butterflies (1927), The Magic Clock (1928), The Mascot, (1933), and the feature film The Tale of the Fox (1930), to name but a few of his over fifty animated films.

Starewicz was the first filmmaker to use stop motion animation and puppets to tell consistently coherent stories. He made very expressive puppets and he developed a lot of visual effects in his movies. One of his innovations was the use of motion blur which he achieved, most likely, by the use of hidden string, which, because they were moving, didn't register on film during long exposures of each frame. He was a very successful in his time, making 2 films per year. His work has been restored thanks to his granddaughter, who preserved all his films from his French period.

Henry Selick[edit]

Director Henry Selick is a well-known force in the world of stop motion animation, with Coraline – based on Neil Gaiman's best-selling novella and released in 2009 – being his most recent and successful work. Coraline, the first stop motion animated feature to be shot entirely in stereoscopic 3-D, received lavish critical praise and became the second highest grossing stop motion feature in history. Kenneth Turan, writing for the Los Angeles Times, said, "The third dimension comes of age with 'Coraline.' The first contemporary film in which the 3-D experience feels intrinsic to the story instead of a Godforsaken gimmick, 'Coraline' is a remarkable feat of imagination, a magical tale with a genuinely sinister edge." Coraline, released by Focus Features, is the first feature film made by LAIKA, an animation company based in Portland, Oregon and headed up by Travis Knight. Selick made his feature film directing debut in 1993 with The Nightmare Before Christmas, the first full-length, stop motion feature from a major studio. An instant holiday classic based on producer Tim Burton's story, "Nightmare" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and Selick won the International Animated Film Society's Annie Award for Best Creative Supervision. In 1996, Selick followed with a second feature, James and the Giant Peach, again produced by Burton, which combined stop motion animation with live-action. The film received widespread critical acclaim and won first prize at the world-renowned Annecy Film Festival in 1997.

Selick studied animation at CalArts in California in the late 1970s with classmates John Lasseter, Brad Bird, and John Musker. Joe Ranft, Tim Burton, Jorgen Klubien, and Rick Heinrichs also attended CalArts, and both groups worked together at Disney Studios, with Ranft, Burton, Klubien, and Heinrichs collaborating with Selick in the years that followed on his feature films. While an animator at Disney, Selick received a grant to make an experimental short film, Seepage, that combined hand-drawn animation with life-size cut-out human figures that he animated with stop motion. Leaving Disney in the early 80's, Selick moved to the Bay Area of California to work on the cut-out animated feature, Twice Upon A Time as a sequence director. He went on to direct many stop motion TV ads including nine Pillsbury Doughboy spots, but it was his work on his stop motion ads for MTV and his short pilot episode, Slow Bob In The Lower Dimensions, that caught the public's eye and reunited him with his old friend Burton, who, fresh off his success as a live-action director, revived his brilliant idea for a film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and asked Selick to direct it. Selick put together a studio in San Francisco called "Skellington Productions" with producer Kathleen Gavin and production manager Phil Lofaro and grew his small band of story artists, animators, puppet makers, set builders, and lighters – including Ranft, Eric Leighton, Trey Thomas, Anthony Scott, Paul Berry, Pete Kozachik, Bo Henry, Bonita DeCarlo, etc. – into a full-fledged production team who spent three years making the film. Burton, directing first "Batman Returns" and then "Ed Wood Jr." in Los Angeles while "Nightmare" was being made up north, reviewed storyboards and footage every weeks and sent his talented collaborator, Rick Heinrichs, up north to develop the look of Halloween Town in the film.

Fifteen years after the first theatrical release of "Nightmare", Selick has come full circle with Coraline, leading a brilliant team of artists, animators, lighters, and technicians – many of them veterans from "Nightmare" – to create another hand-made, all stop motion feature film.

Tim Burton[edit]

Tim Burton is very active in the field of stop motion animation. One of Burton's first films, Vincent, is a six-minute stop motion animation about a young boy who wants to be Vincent Price. Several of his early live-action films such as Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice made use of stop motion. In 1993, Burton produced the all-stop motion animation The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film was in production for three years due to the length of time it takes to shoot stop motion. The main characters in the film were puppets that in order to create realism in the film were structured hundreds of face models with different expressions. The film is based on a poem Burton wrote inspired by "T'was the Night Before Christmas" — it was then directed by Henry Selick. Selick later directed the adaptation of James and the Giant Peach, a blend between stop motion animation and live action film. In 2005 Corpse Bride was released, another stop motion piece from Burton. Computer animation of the aliens for his 1996 science fiction comedy, Mars Attacks! was deliberately made to look like stop motion when the film's budget did not allow for the use of the actual stop motion process, blurring the line between the two forms of animation.

Nick Park[edit]

Nick Park and the Aardman team also produce commercials and music videos, notably the video for Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer", which uses many different animation techniques, including pixilation involving Gabriel holding poses while each frame was shot and moving between exposures, effectively becoming a human puppet. More recently Aardman used this technique on a series of short films for BBC Three entitled Angry Kid, which starred a live actor wearing a mask. The actor's pose and the mask's expression had to be altered slightly for each exposure. Aardman has also created many films, of which some have become household names. Nick Park joined Aardman after they took interest in his college project, A Grand Day Out. Since then, Nick Park has directed the following films for Aardman: The Wrong Trousers, Creature Comforts, A Close Shave, "Cracking Contraptions", the feature film Chicken Run, and more recently, another feature film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, co-produced with DreamWorks Animation. Nick Park's latest work is the new Wallace and Gromit short (30 minutes) called A Matter of Loaf and Death, broadcast on BBC One on Christmas Day 2008. Nick Park has won several Academy Awards for Best Animation.

Ray Harryhausen[edit]

Willis O'Brien's student Ray Harryhausen made many movies using a more elaborate version of puppet animation called model animation, first pioneered by O'Brien, mainly for his feature-length films, the difference being that model animation strives to be "photo-realistic" enough to be able to be combined with live action elements to create a final fantasy sequence that allows the audience to suspend their disbelief that they are watching animation elements. Example of his model animation techniques; most famously, are the seven-skeleton sequence from Jason and the Argonauts (1963). But aside from the more "disguised" stop motion efforts of O'Brien and Harryhausen, America and Britain were slower to embrace the stop motion film, and so its use mainly grew out of other locations and sources.

Phil Tippett[edit]

In the mid-1970s, Phil Tippett, a stop motion animator inspired by the works of Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen, was tapped by George Lucas to work on Star Wars. After creating the Chess Set sequence and participating in the Cantina scene as a member of the monster band for the seminal movie, Phil was enlisted to join Lucas when he relocated ILM from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. During Tippett's tenure at ILM he earned an enduring place in the Star Wars galaxy by animating the Imperial Walkers and Tauntaun in The Empire Strikes and then was knighted as head of the studio's creature shop for Return of the Jedi. In addition to his artistic contributions Tippett's technical ingenuity was evident with the invention of the 'Go-Motion' animation technique in 1982 – a forerunner of today’s computer graphic imaging. He earned his first Academy Award© nomination for Dragonslayer and by 1983 received his first Oscar for Return of the Jedi. In 1984, Tippett left ILM and, along with his partner Jules Roman, founded Tippett Studio in a garage in Berkeley to create a 10-minute experimental film called Prehistoric Beast. The Emmy award-winning CBS special, Dinosaur!, quickly followed it. Fast forward several decades, the company now occupies four buildings in Berkeley, employs up to 200 artists and technicians and is best known for its outstanding CG character animation work. The early days of Tippett Studio saw sequences designed, built and animated using stop motion for movies like Robocop, with the out of control robot ED209, and later Robocop 2, with the evil mayhem created by the Cain robot.

George Pal[edit]

One acclaimed European puppet animation producer to break out in America was Hungarian animator George Pal, who, partially working in The Netherlands, produced a series of films in Europe during the 30s before coming to Hollywood to create more shorts in the 40s, now called Puppetoons under the Paramount banner, seven of which were nominated for Academy Awards for best animated film. In the late 40s, Pal evolved into feature film production, incorporating puppet animation into a live action setting in such films as The Great Rupert (1949), tom thumb (film) (1958), and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962). Pal used model animation (animated by Jim Danforth) in two other feature films, The Time Machine (1960) and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), the latter nominated for a Special Effects Oscar, and the former winning the EFX Oscar award. Pal's work is documented in two feature films by Arnold Lebovitt, released in the mid-80s, The Puppetoon Movie and The Fantastic World of George Pal which are currently available on DVD. More of Danforth's skilled model animation can be seen in Jack the Giant Killer (1962), the ending fire ladder sequence for It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), "The Zanti Misfits" and "Counterweight" episodes of the original The Outer Limits TV series (1963), and, with equally prolific model animator David Allen, in Equinox (also titled "The Beast") (1967, 1970), Flesh Gordon (1974), and the prehistoric comedy Caveman (1981).

Cuppa Coffee Studios[edit]

Cuppa Coffee Studios is based in Toronto and has also pioneered many of the modern techniques associated with stop motion. Started in 1992 by Adam Shaheen, the company has grown to now the single largest producer of stop motion for TV with over 250 employees and 48 Studios. All production is conducted at the 75,000-square-foot (7,000 m2) facility.They have produced the classic Celebrity Deathmatch, Rick and Steve, Starveillance, A Very Barry Christmas and JoJo's Circus and Glenn Martin DDS, Life's a Zoo, A Miser Brothers Christmas, Crashbox and Ugly Americans. The studio has won over 200 international broadcast awards for its work and an award-winning Commercial and Broadcast Design Departments.

Suzie Templeton[edit]

Suzie Templeton is most famous for her work on the film Peter and the Wolf for which she won the 2008 Academy Award for best Short Film (Animated).

Adam Jones[edit]

Adam Jones, Grammy Award-winning guitarist/musician/visual artist for the Grammy Award-winning progressive rock band Tool,[1] uses stop motion capturing techniques for the majority of Tool's music videos as well. With the exception of Hush, the band members of Tool do not appear in their videos, but rather use a combination of clay animation and stop motion. Jones' studies began in 1983 at the Hollywood Makeup Academy by learning "straight make-up". His focus of interest shifted to film, and he began to work as a sculptor and special effects designer for such films as Jurassic Park and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It was here where he learned the stop motion camera techniques he would later apply in Tool's music videos: "Sober" (on which he collaborated with Fred Stuhr), "Prison Sex", "Stinkfist", "Ænema", "Schism", and "Parabola".[2] The techniques and style of Tool's music videos, particularly Sober and Prison Sex, borrow heavily from the work of The Brothers Quay.

Willis O'Brien[edit]

The great pioneer of American stop motion was Willis O'Brien. In 1914, O'Brien began animating a series of short subjects set in prehistoric times. He animated his early creations by covering wooden armatures with clay, a technique he further perfected by using ball & socket armatures covered with foam, foam latex, animal hair and fur. Birth of a Flivver (1915), Morpheus Mike (1915), The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy (1916), R.F.D. 10,000 B.C.: A Mannikin Comedy (1917/18), The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1919), The Lost World (1925), King Kong (1933), The Son of Kong (1933), and, with the assistance of a young Ray Harryhausen, Mighty Joe Young (1949), yet these were but a few of the many films he animated. O'Brien's Nippy's Nightmare (1916) was the first film to combine live actors with stop motion characters. His partnership with the great Mexican-American model makers/craftsmen/special effects artists/background painters/set builders, Marcel Delgado, Victor Delgado and Mario Larrinaga, led to some of the most memorable and remarkable stop motion moments in film history.

O'Brien's imaginative use of stop motion, and his ambitious and inventive filmmaking, has inspired generations of film greats such as Ray Harryhausen, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Jim Danforth, Art Clokey, Pete Kleinow, Tim Burton, David Allen, Phil Tippett and Will Vinton, as well as thousands of lesser known animators, both professional and amateur. Many leading science fiction and fantasy writers also credit him as a great source of inspiration.

Lou Bunin[edit]

Puppeteer Lou Bunin created one of the first stop motion puppets using wire armatures and his own rubber formula. Another early stop motion piece by Bunin, also in the 1930s was Bury the Axis, a short, satiric film about World War II probably commissioned for the US Government as a WPA grant. Bunin went on to produce a feature-length film version of Alice in Wonderland with a live-action Alice and stop motion puppets portraying all the rest of the characters. Bunin was blacklisted in the 1950s, putting an effective end to his commercial career. He then turned his attention to painting and drawing, while still creating numerous TV commercials using stop motion techniques, as well as a number of children's short films.

Charles Bowers[edit]

One of the more idiosyncratic early users of stop motion techniques was the American comedian and cartoonist Charles Bowers who employed stop motion techniques (which he called the "Bowers Process") in his series of silent short comedies in the 1920s and early 1930s. In his 1926 film Now You Tell One, he skillfully uses stop motion to create such effects as a straw hat growing on a man's head, cats growing out of a plant, and a mouse firing a gun. His color film, "Pete Roleum and His Cousins", a promotion piece about the importance of oil in contemporary life, debuted in the 1939 New York World's Fair.


The Walt Disney studio dabbled with puppet object animation in 1959 with the release of a 21-minute experimental short, Noah's Ark, nominated for an animated film Oscar for that year. Disney didn't exploit the technique until their associations with Mike Jittlov in the 1970s.

Disney once again experimented with several stop motion techniques by hiring independent animator-director Mike Jittlov to do the first stop motion animation of Mickey Mouse toys ever produced for a short sequence called Mouse Mania, part of a TV special commemorating Mickey Mouse's 50th Anniversary called Mickey's 50th in 1978.


In North America, Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass of Rankin/Bass Productions produced a series of popular Christmas and non-holiday TV specials and feature films such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in 1964, and the TV series The New Adventures of Pinocchio in the early 1960s using 'Animagic', their trade name for their version of stop motion puppetry. The specials were animated in Japan by Japanese stop motion pioneer Tadahito Mochinaga (in the 1960s) and the other Animagic supervisors in a Tokyo-based studio called 'MOM Productions'. Another clay animated children's TV series Davey and Goliath, produced by Art Clokey, lasted from 1960 to 1977. Rankin and Bass also produced the puppet animation feature-length film Mad Monster Party in 1967, and combined puppet animation with live action in the 1966 feature film The Daydreamer, and along with cel animation in the ABC TV special The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye: The Emperor's New Clothes in 1972.

Jackie Cockle[edit]

In the UK, Jackie Cockle is an important figure in the pre-school stop frame animation scene. She was the creative producer of the worldwide success Bob the Builder, and is the creator and producer of Timmy Time. Since 2002, Cockle has won 3 BAFTA awards.

Art Clokey[edit]

Main article: Art Clokey

Art Clokey is best known for the clay character Gumby and for the show Davey and Goliath.

Corky Quakenbush[edit]

Main article: Corky Quakenbush

Corky Quakenbush created three dozen stop motion animated films for Fox network's Mad TV in the late 1990s[citation needed] that helped fuel a movement of comic stop motion for adults[citation needed]. Parodying famous feature movies and TV shows, the shorts drew their humor from the mixing of the innocence of puppets and the profanity of violence in mainstream contemporary situations. One example is Raging Rudolph,[3][4] written by Spencer Green and Mary Vilano, a re-telling of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as if directed by Martin Scorsese.[5] Quakenbush also created "reality animation"[citation needed] to mimic hand-held documentary newsgathering for Clops, written by Blaine Capatch, a parody of the groundbreaking reality show, Cops in which puppet police bust famous stop motion characters. Other parodies followed, such as Furious George, a spoof of the innocent Curious George children's book series.

Other notable artists[edit]

Other notable artists include the influential Czech animator Jiří Trnka. The aesthetic tradition of the puppet film was continued by Bretislav Pojar, Kihachirō Kawamoto, Ivo Caprino, Jan Švankmajer, Jiří Barta, the (Brothers Quay), bolexbrothers and Galina Beda.

A notable stop motion object animator was Germany's Oskar Fischinger, who animated anything he could get his hands on in a series of short abstract art films during the 20s and 30s. The best example is his 1934 film, Composition in Blue. Fischinger was hired by Disney to animate the "rolling hills" footage used in the opening "Toccata & Fugue" sequence of Fantasia (1940).

From the 1940's until the 1970's, notable Dutch stage designer turned stop motion pioneer Joop Geesink owned and operated his "Dollywood Studio's" in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Geesink, after a dissolved partnership with Dutch comic artist and writer Marten Toonder, turned his attention towards stop motion animation. Serenata Noctura (1942) was his first endeavour, and was followed by many commercial short films for Dutch advertising broadcaster Stichting Ether Reclame (STER) and Dutch multinational electronics corporation Philips, including Kermesse Fantastique (1951), Piccolo, Saxo and Company (1960) and Cavalcade (1964).

Jake Fried is a painter turned stop motion animator. He became interested in the way the image changed in the course of painting. He modifies and photographs an artwork over and over to create an image that rapidly evolves over the course of his short videos, which are typically a minute long.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Adam Jones - Film work
  3. ^ Scott Maiko (1998-03-01). "The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass". Animation World Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  4. ^ Ryan Ball (2007-03-20). "Stop Mo Expo Coming to Burbank". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  5. ^ Mark Rabinowitz (1997-12-12). "Who Is Corky Quakenbush?!". indieWire. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  • Tayler, Richard. The Encyclopedia of Animation Techniques. Running Press, Philadelphia, 1996. ISBN 1-56138-531-X
  • Lord, Peter and Brian Sibley. Creating 3-D Animation. Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1998. ISBN 0-8109-1996-6
  • Sibley, Brian. Chicken Run: Hatching the Movie. Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2000. ISBN 0-8109-4124-4
  • Smith, Dave. Disney A to Z. Hyperion Books, New York, 1998. ISBN 0-7868-6391-9
  • Maltin, Leonard Movie and Video Guide. Signet Reference Paperbacks, New American Library, Penguin Putnam, New York, 2006.

External links[edit]