Aardman’s The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists proves there is still a place in people’s hearts for stop-motion – and not just footage produced with the most elaborate gear. Now anyone with an iOS or Android device has access to a deluge of time-lapse and stop-motion apps. One of the best examples is Boinx iStopMotion (boinx.com), which offers quick-and-dirty stop-motion using an iPad.

“It’s like the YouTube effect,” says Guilherme Marcondes. “Everyone is a filmmaker. That democracy brings out a lot of talent still unspoiled by market constraints.”

The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists has been a stop-motion hit

Of course this does present a risk that clients will turn to quick, cheap productions, says Simon Armstrong of the Ticktockrobot studio in Brighton, but that’s not to say that stop-motion animation with a phone is inevitably low-quality. Two films by Will Studd and Ed Patterson (the Sumo Science team, currently represented by Aardman), Dot and Gulp, recently won BAA 2012 awards, earning the distinction of being the world’s smallest and largest-scale stop-frame productions respectively.

Made using the CellScope microscope attachment and the 12-megapixel camera in a Nokia N8 phone, Dot stars a 9mm girl struggling through a tiny world. Gulp, meanwhile, utilised a crane to hoist N8 phones above Pendine Beach in south Wales to shoot the stop-frame story of a fisherman going about his daily catch. One scene stretched over 11,000 square feet.

Another notable nod to modern digital technology is Address is Approximate, directed by Tom Jenkins from south-west London film company The Theory (theoryfilms.co.uk). As covered here, he assembled thousands of images from Google Street View to send an office toy on a stop-motion road trip across the US.

Another of the genre’s leading lights is Darren Walsh of Passion Pictures in London (passion-pictures.com). His recent work includes ads for comparethemarket.com starring a Russian meerkat named Alexsandr Orlov, and a stop-frame mouse in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo.

“Anything that Darren Walsh does makes people like me wonder if we actually work in the same industry,” says Tom Mortimer of 12foot6 admiringly. “He did a stop-motion film called Bob for our ‘Get Well Soon’ series [in which] he used 50-odd masks. Totally amazing.”


Bob by Darren Walsh lasts just over two minutes and manages to use dozens of masks in that time

Animation trends 2012

Intro

1) Stop motion animation is hip again

2) Interest in hand-crafted animation grows

3) Combine animation with programming

4) Children's TV animation rediscovers its craft roots

5) Photorealistic CG meets traditional animation

6) Animation firms positive about George Osbourne tax breaks, but have reservations