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How Long Does Stop-Motion Animation Really Take To Make?

Dan Richards Apr 01, 2020 Scroll to read in 2 minutes

When people think of stop-motion more often than not what springs to mind, after Wallace & Gromit of course, is the craft involved in making it. Not least the time. Oh, the time. Often described as ‘time-consuming’ or ‘painstaking’ stop-motion is by nature, not the quickest process around, but how long does it really take to make?

When shooting stop-motion, one second of footage is achieved by capturing 25 individual still frames. TWENTY-FIVE! In each of those frames objects or puppets are moved incrementally, which when played back in rapid succession creates the illusion of movement…simple!

The Rule Of Thumb

As a general guide, on a commercial shoot we aim to animate between 5 -10 seconds of footage a day; however, this is hugely dependent on a number of factors such as the number of moving elements, amount of rigging required, camera movements, backgrounds and setup times etc. Take our Trivago advert for example; this 30 second TV advert has multiple characters, ten sets (all of which required lighting, dressing and rigging) and lots of detailed props. It took us 9 days of animation to capture the rich detail and character stories you see on screen in each frame of our final film.

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Jam Packed

Animating our paper-craft film for British Airways took a little longer due to the sheer detail packed into each shot. In this production, we had 17 different sets, over 50 paper people and of course not forgetting the aliens and a unicorn too. With this wealth of detail required to capture the hustle and bustle of an airport terminal, we captured an average of 5 seconds of footage per day. The final film is 2 minutes and 45 seconds.

Speed Is Of The Essence

Some projects, however, are turned around very quickly. On our Peanut Butter Day film, for example, all animation was captured in just ONE DAY followed by a single day of post-production, not bad right!

With our very own studio, we can also drastically shorten any production timeline by shooting on multiple stages with multiple animators…hurrah!

When it came to our 30 second TV advert Coffee-mate, despite being a complex blend of traditional stop-frame, claymation, paper-craft, pixilation and digital effects the entire production process (from initial storyboards to final delivery) took less than three weeks, with the stop-motion captured in just THREE days.

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There You Have It

So, at the risk of bringing immense frustration, the timescales for stop-motion, like any production method, is completely dependent on the creative idea. Something ‘all singing, all dancing’ is always going to take longer to shoot than a far simpler concept.

Yet unlike other production methods, it’s the time and craft that goes into stop-motion production that gives it its unique richness, charm and appeal that truly resonates with audiences and makes it stand out in a crowd.