If it’s not obvious by now, at our animation studio we’re mad about stop-motion. It is what our studio is built upon and is our passion. While everyone is in lockdown we thought it was a great chance to share our favourite stop-frame short films made by animation directors we admire. We’ve put together 10 short films that we feel use the technique of stop-motion animation to tell stories in the perfect way.
1: The Eagleman Stag
Starting off our list is this beautiful paper-craft animation The Eagleman Stag. A film that looks at the passage and perception of time through the lens of our main character Peter Eagleman. As Peter grows up, he talks through specific moments in his life and their relation to his perception of time, all up until he discovers a new type of beetle – the Eagleman Stag. Pretty heavy stuff, but the tone is always kept light. This depth of subject coupled with a truly unique stark white set and prop design makes for an interesting watch.
2: Out of A Forest
This music video tells the story of four rabbits who are peacefully reminiscing about their days as magicians’ assistants, only for their chat to be interrupted by a dangerous wolf who wants to eat them all. The film perfectly combines stop-motion with some live action elements, most noticeable of these being the stunning forest the film takes place in. With an exciting twist ending, this film is quite magical, to say the least.
3: The Sandman
One of the darker films on our list. The Sandman tells the story of a young boy who when going to bed is visited by none other than the Sandman, a ghoulish monster who aims to scare you awake. The puppets were created by British animation company Mackinnon and Saunders, with beautiful designers features and detailing. You’ll want to sleep with the light on after watching this one!
4: The Periwig-Maker
Another stop-motion with the model making produced by Mackinnon and Saunders. The film’s narration comes to life beautiful performed by Sir Kenneth Branagh. The focus of this film is the naivety surrounding the spread and infection of the bubonic plague in 1600s London (Sorry we know viruses are not what people want to be thinking about right now!). Slow-paced, the film follows a wig maker in isolation during the plague, who proceeds to write his thoughts and feelings of the event in his diary. Subtle character animation and intricate sets are what make this film worth a watch.
5: My Stuffed Granny
This film was made by friend of the studio and talented director Effie Pappa. Effie made the film in London before moving back to her native Greece where she now produces animation in Athens. A truly unique idea is the subject of this film – as a family struggles to get by, their ever-hungry granny eats any food that they can afford. It is only during a tragic circumstance that their luck begins to turn. With a grim twist that keeps the story interesting, as well as some very sweet characters, the film is more than enough to whet your appetite.
6: Oh Willy…
A beautiful character animation bought to life with needle felted stop-motion animation. The fabric puppets finished with the technique of needle felting creates a charming aesthetic. The story begins with a man travelling to see his ill mother in the country. Oh, and we forgot to mention… his mother lives at a nudist colony. Looking into what it means to distance yourself from your roots, the film is fascinating, funny and beautiful.
7: Negative Space
Negative Space shows off just what is amazing about stop-frame animation. Interesting and unique character designs and tons of abstract visuals to tell the story, the film is simply about a man talking about how he bonded with his father over packing suitcases. Quiet and reserved, the visuals and narration are used to move the story along.
Holding a world record for the most awards won by a short film (yes really!) this film again shows the limitless creative nature of animation. Pixilation is used to create this stop-motion film, a process that involves animating real people as you would traditionally animate a puppet. This factor coupled with the beautiful film location of Paris gives Luminaris a storybook-like quality reminiscent of films like Amelie and Hugo. The film is worth watching for these factors alone.
Sometimes the simplicity when telling a story is best. This Slovenian film follows Filip, a writer who wishes for more but cannot write. This is until he is visited by his neighbour, an elderly prostitute who asks him to write her a letter for her fiancé. Starting off grounded and moving into the surreal, Boles combines excellent character animation with riveting set pieces to create a small yet memorable story.
10: Stanley Pickle
Another film to use pixilation but used to a completely different effect. Stanley Pickle is a young man living at home with his parents, only there’s something off. This is because his parents are literally clockwork dolls that Stanley maintains. Weird premise we know, but under it all is a story about accepting loss and not being held back by what you’ve lost. This idea coupled with interesting cinematography and set design creates a world that looks straight out of a fairy tale.
This is a pretty good starting point if you want to see some cool and original stop-motion animated films. There is a whole world of stop-motion films out there and this is just a few of our favourites. If you’re looking for some longer form animations though, why not check out our blog on stop-motion features that are currently in production!