Clay animation  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Clay animation is one of many forms of stop motion animation. Each animated piece, either character or background, is "deformable", i.e. a malleable substance, usually Plasticine clay. The portmanteau term "Claymation" is a registered trademark in the United States, registered by Will Vinton in 1978 to describe his clay animated films. While the word is not considered a genericized trademark, it has become a trademark which is often used generically in the US to refer to any animation using plasticene or similar substance.

All traditional animation is produced in a similar fashion, whether done through cel animation or stop-motion. Each frame, or still picture, is recorded on film or digital media and then played back in rapid succession. When played back at a frame rate greater than 10-12 frames per second, a fairly convincing illusion of continuous motion is achieved. While the play-back feature creating an illusion is true of all moving image (from zoetrope, to films to videogames), the techniques involved in creating CGI are generally removed from a frame-by-frame process.

History

Pioneering this technique was one-time Vinton animator Joan Gratz, first in her Oscar-nominated film The Creation (1980) and then in her Oscar-winning Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase filmed in 1992.

Already 1972 animated André Roche in the Cineplast Films Studio of Marc Chinoy in Munich (Germany) several films for a serie named Kli-Kla-Klawitter for the Second German TV-Channel ZDF, for a german language teatching serie for foreign children and another one for a traffic education serie (Herr Daniel paßt auf = Mr. Daniel cares of).

A variation of this technique was developed by another Vinton animator, Craig Bartlett, for his series of "Arnold" short films, also made during the 90s, in which he not only used clay painting, but sometimes built up clay images that rose off the plane of the flat support platform, toward the camera lens, to give a more 3-D stop-motion look to his films.

Some of the best-known clay-animated works include the Gumby series of television show segments created by Art Clokey, and the TV commercial made for the California Raisin Advisory Board by Vinton's studio. Clay animation has also been used in Academy-Award-winning short films such as Closed Mondays (Will Vinton and Bob Gardiner, 1974), Creature Comforts (Aardman, 1989), and all three Wallace & Gromit short films, created by Nick Park of Aardman Animation. Aardman also created The Presentators, a series of one-minute clay-animation short films aired on Nicktoons. Some clay animations appear online, on such sites as Newgrounds.

Several computer games have also been produced using clay animation, including The Neverhood, Dark Oberon, Clay Fighter, Platypus and Primal Rage. Television commercials have also utilized the clay animation, such as the Chevron Cars ads, produced by Aardman Studios. Besides commercials, clay animation has also been popularized in recent years by children's shows such as Bob the Builder and The Koala Brothers, as well as adult-oriented shows on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup, including Robot Chicken (which uses clay animation and action figures as stop-motion puppets in conjunction) and Moral Orel.

Flushed Away is a CGI replication of clay animation.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Clay animation" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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