Introduction to Stop Motion Animation Introduction to Stop Motion Animation

I have spent over 2 years of retirement working up to 16 hours a day setting up and shooting stop motion animation on 35 mm film. We were shooting Gumby and Davey and Goliath with Art Clokey and his son Joe Clokey. A workshop/studio was available where Art and Joe live 200 miles from Hollywood and the film labs. Going in I knew nothing about puppet and clay animation, but have done effects animation and a lot of rigging and miniature work in commercials.

The new Davey and Goliath Christmas Special brings Davey into the 21st century. Davey and Goliath go snowboarding with their Jewish and Muslim friends. Of course Davey leads them in trouble, they get caught in an avalanche and end up in a cave. Goliath goes for help while Davey and his new friends find out that they really aren't all that different.

This section owes much credit to our crew such as Bryan Garver who joined the Davey project part way through the show. He brought years of animation lighting and camera experience and made my life easier. Our animators, Anthony Scott, Gabe Spenger and Sara Meyer brought years of animation experience. Ross Shuman built sets also with years of stop motion experience; Zaron Ivanoevic brought engineering experience to the show. Eric Staley fresh out of film school brought studio experience and problem solving ability that I wouldn't expect from a film student. Fred Thompson with years of 2-D animation experience became our creative director during the shoot and his relentless requests often put all of us to the test trying to make every shot better. Production included Rick Smith as editor and production manager and Joe Clokey as producer. We were all writers.(Go to for more info.)

Most of the information in section is intended for people already in the stop motion animation industry and who understand motion picture photography. There is also a lot of information about photography, rigging etc. in other sections of this site that stop motion people might look at.

There is also a lot of how-to-make information that you can skip over. I suggest that you do read all of a section that you are interested in because there might be useful information buried between all of my equipment building instructions.

If not in the stop motion industry you might still skim over this section for issues of interest to you, such as, Unique Grip Equipment, Exposure and Lighting, Dry Wall Screws etc.

If you are a beginner in animation, I highly recommend the book by the Aardman Studio people; "Creating 3-D Animation" by Lord and Sibley. They are the creators of Wallace and Gromett, Chicken Run and much more. They are very generous with information about stop motion animation, especially clay and how to get started in it. (Really talented people have no secrets and are willing to share them.) These guys and gals are some of the best on the planet. I hope that we all can keep stop motion animation alive and well.

We did not use motion control because of experience, time and budget constraints. My philosophy is to keep it simple, but as controlable as possible. The time to lay out even a simple dolly shot with acceleration and deceleration at the beginning and end of the shot can take some time. This can be avoided with crank dolly mechanisms that are easy to set up once they are built.

© Copyright 2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.