Communication and Culture | Production as Criticism (Topic: Object Animation Theory and Practice)
C335 | 9595 | Ivins-Hulley, L.
MTuWTh, 12:30 PM-2:30 PM, C2 102
Fulfills College A&H Requirement
Instructor: Laura Ivins-Hulley
Office: C2 212
In his creative manifesto, animator Jan Švankmajer
writes: “Animation isn’t about making inanimate objects move, it is
about bringing them to life. Before you bring an object to life, try
to understand it first. Not its utilitarian function, but its inner
life.” For him, animation is about discovering the stories of the
objects themselves and learning how to speak expressively through
the things we interact with on a daily basis. Like other stop motion
animators working with found objects, he emphasizes the physicality
of this mode of production and questions the primacy of realism and
narrative within film and video.
This course will provide a foundation in stop motion animation,
focusing on the contribution object animation has had on the
practice, history and theory of animation. Through stop motion
projects, you will learn fundamentals of animation – movement,
weight, shape and rhythm – and will explore expressive uses of found
objects. Then, through lectures, readings and writing assignments,
you will learn the history and theoretical basis for stop animation
and reflect on your own animation projects. By the end of the
course, you will have learned how to plan and execute a stop
animation project, and you will have the beginnings of a conceptual
foundation for your creative work.
Class screenings will include films by Jan Švankmajer, Pes, Janie
Geiser, the Brothers Quay, Jiří Barta and Douglass Crockwell, as
well as music videos, lego films, amateur and student films.
Moreover, many of the course readings will be essays by stop motion
filmmakers, reflecting on both practical and theoretical aspects of
Previous production experience (film, video, still photography or
digital animation) will be helpful, but it is not required for the
successful completion of the course. The first few weeks will
include tutorials and in-class exercises on equipment, software and
Please Note: Animation is a rewarding and sometimes magical form of
expression, but it is also tedious and time consuming. Expect your
projects to take at least three times longer to shoot than the usual
live action project (a thirty-second motion with just
two “characters” can take several hours to shoot). Moreover, you
should budget significant time for collecting and assembling found
objects, and for designing and constructing sets. This is not to
scare you away from animation, but to communicate the reality of it.
Please be sure that you can make the commitment required, both in
terms of time and energy.