The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







The term "Claymation" is a registered trademark created by Will Vinton Studios to describe their clay animated movies. The more generic term is "clay animation" or "stop motion animation", however, "claymation" has entered the English language as a genericized trademark used to mean any clay animated movie.

Animation is all produced in a similar fashion, whether done through traditional cel animation, clay, stop-motion, or CGI. Each frame, or still picture, is recorded on film and then played back in rapid succession. When played back at a frame rate greater than 16 frames per second, a fairly convincing illusion of continuous motion is achieved. The concept is similar to keyframing in 3D animation programs.

In clay animation, each object is sculpted in clay or a similarly pliable material such as Plasticine and then arranged on the set. A shot is taken and then the object or character is moved very slightly by hand. Another shot is taken and the object moved slightly again. To achieve the best results, a consistent shooting environment is needed to maintain the illusion of continuity. This means paying special attention to maintaining consistent lighting and object placement.

Producing a clay animation is extremely laborious. Normal film runs at 24 frames per second, so this process must be repeated 24 times for each second of finished animation. As an example of the labor intensivity of claymation, the feature length animation Chicken Run took a production team of 300 people 2 years to complete.

Some of the best known clay animated works include the Gumby series of television shows and the Rankin-Bass holiday specials of the 1960's such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Little Drummer Boy . Claymation probably achieved its height in the 1960's and 1970's, with today's animation being done mostly with the aid of computers or a blend of traditional cel animation and computer graphics. However, noteable recent claymations include the work of Nick Park and his Aardman Animations, which have produced the popular Wallace and Gromit shorts and the feature-length Chicken Run. Short clay animated segments also feature prominently on the children's show Sesame Street.

Some films or television shows produced with clay animation:

A technique similar to claymation is employed in the East-German children's show, Sandmännchen. Several computer games have also been produced using clay animation, including The Neverhood and Platypus Game .

Last updated: 05-10-2005 14:58:52
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04