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Animator (Stop Motion)

Industries:
Animation
Personality type:
Creative
Departments:
Production | Stop Motion

The lowdown

  • Animating models or puppets one frame at a time to create a performance and provide the action outlined in the storyboard

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have strong observational, acting and timing skills 
  • be able to work in a range of stop motion animation techniques, including excellent sculpting skills (if working in clay)
  • have good communication skills, including in liaising with members of other departments, particularly model making
  • have good team-working skills 
  • be able to clean up models or puppets and make replacement parts, if required
  • be able to operate relevant animation and camera equipment
  • have a good understanding of character development and storytelling
  • be flexible and adapt to the requirements of different types of production for a variety of media, such as television, films, commercials, etc.
  • be able to take direction and accept constructive feedback
  • be able to work without supervision and follow a brief
  • be able to deliver on schedule, working calmly and efficiently under pressure
  • show respect for the procedures and requirements of a particular studio or production
  • have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

What does an Animator (Stop Motion) do?

Stop Motion Animators bring models or puppets to life, animating them one frame at a time to create a performance and provide the action outlined in the storyboard.

They follow a brief from a Director, Animation Director/Supervisor or Studio Director, and may also refer to established characterisation developed by a Director or Key/Senior Animator.

Stop Motion, also called Stop Frame, describes animation that is created by moving models, puppets or any three-dimensional objects frame-by-frame in front of a camera to create the illusion of movement. Other terms used are Model or Puppet Animation, Table Top or 3D, although nowadays 3D usually applies to computer animation.

In character animation, Animators could be ‘cast’ like actors, for their particular talents, such as comedy, dialogue, action, charm, simplicity; or their ability to animate certain types of character; or for their skill at animating inanimate objects. However, they should also be all-rounders with the ability to replicate the animation style that the Senior Animator has set for each particular character.

Depending on the size of the production, they may be involved with pre-production and are likely to collaborate with Model Makers and Riggers to ensure that the models or puppets are prepared for the action that is required.

On smaller productions, they may work alone. On larger projects they may be one of a team and supported by an Assistant Animator. They can be responsible for supervising the work of more junior animators.

Will I need a qualification?

To become a Stop Motion Animator, it will generally help you to have a degree in animation, fine art, sculpture, graphics, illustration, or another related subject.

If you are considering taking an animation or art and design/graphics course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a creative career:

Animation courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

Art and design/CGI/graphics courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

Your showreel will need to demonstrate your talent in order to set you apart. The more experience you can gain in a range of stop motion techniques, the more employable you will be. Some studios also want to see evidence of good life drawing. Directors and Producers will be looking for you to have proven ability to develop characters and produce good performances.

What’s the best route in?

To become a Stop Motion Animator, you will need to work your way up from the position of Assistant or Junior Animator. It is very rare that you would be able to gain a job as an Animator straight after graduating.

You could apply to be an Animation Trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Where might the role take me?

Depending on your talent and ambition, you could progress to Key or Senior Animator, and from there to Animation Director/Supervisor or Director.

Interested? Find out more...

Websites

  • Animation Magazine - a US magazine about the business, technology and art of animation and VFX
  • Animation World Network - production news, interviews, jobs and a big archive 
  • Shooting People – community-driven site, founded by filmmakers, and providing opportunities, news and animation jobs 
  • Skwigly Animation Magazine - the longest running UK based animation magazine and community. Offers news, interviews, reviews, podcasts, videos and tutorials 
  • Toonhound – website about cartoons, animation, comic strips and puppets in the UK
  • Own-it - offers intellectual property (IP) advice, information and learning resources for the creative sector 
  • Animation Nation - Animation industry news and useful links 
  • Stop Motion Animation - online resources for the stop motion animation community

Books

  • Cracking Animation: The Aardman Book of 3-D Animation by Peter Lord and Brian Sibley (pub. Thames & Hudson)
  • Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation by Susannah Shaw (pub. Focal Press)
  • Stop Motion Armature Machining: A Heavily Illustrated Construction Manual by Tom Brierton (pub. McFarland & Company)
  • Stop Motion Puppet Sculpting: A Manual of Foam Injection, Build-Up and Finishing Techniques by Tom Brierton (pub. McFarland & Company)
  • The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams (pub. Faber & Faber)
  • Acting for Animators: A complete guide to Performance Animation by Ed Hooks (pub. Greenwood Press)
  • Timing for Animation by Harold Whittaker and John Halas (pub. Focal Press)

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