The Magic of Paper Animation
There is something magical about Paper Animation. This unusal and niche artform has been around for nearly 100 years. One of the earliest examples is The Adventures of Prince Achmed by German Animation Film-Maker Lotte Reiniger made in 1926. It is believed to be the oldest surviving animated feature film. Prince Achmed has the wow factor through intricate paper cut sets and puppets and the air of mystery lent by shadow puppetry. The puppets were all handcut by Reiniger from black card and animated on sheets of glass which were lit from beneath, with coloured tracing paper, providing a illuminated backdrop to the silhouette characters.
Another beautiful example of the artform is Les Trois Inventeurs by French Animator Michel Ocelot. It is created using white paper cuts and doilies which Ocelot crafted into these wonderful characters and machines which he animated by hand. The film tells the story of a family of inventors who create all sorts of fantastic contraptions and flying machines.
Clubhouse Director, Eleanor Stewart, has been helping to keep this wonderful artform alive and has been creating Paper Animations for 10 years. Paper animation is a little different from other types of stop motion animation. The paper puppets require delicate handling and the animator’s hands must be completely spotless, this is because any mark or scuff will show up immediately on camera. Thankfully, at Clubhouse we are experts in this area and dedicated to creating the most beautiful paper animations possible.
Here are some examples of Eleanor’s work. Below is a trailer for a short paper-caper called ‘The Tearaway’. All the sets and puppets were crafted out of paper and brought to life using stop motion animation. This 4 minute film involved over 80 different shots with with multiple handcrafted puppets. To create the film using stop motion animation, over 5320 photographs were taken. The Tearaway is a story about a group of woodland friends who club together to try and track down a naughty beaver, but all is not as it seems! It was important to Eleanor tell the story with characters that displayed human traits and characterists. There is Owl, who is a bit anxious and always using his inhaler; Rabbit, the pragmatic one who formulates a plan and Squirrel who is a bit highly strung, plus many more. The puppets were animated through studying human gestures rather than animal ones, which is a technique Eleanor has used in many of her projects.
Here is a Paper Animation created with The Gate Films for client Baillie Gifford. In this film, elegantly crafted origami characters fold themselves out of flat paper origami sheets and come to life on screen. For this film, a thicker weight of paper was used so that the origami puppets could hold their shape. Discreet wires were threaded inside some of the puppets, such as the butterfly, to help the puppet hold it’s shape during animation. During the shots where the puppets are coming to life from the flat paper sheets, replacement models were used so that the puppets always looked clean and fresh. Paper puppets only have a certain lifespan so it’s important to always have back up models or replacement parts. Also in the shots where the puppet takes off into the air, such as the butterfly and the rocket, wires rigs were used to keep the puppets in place in the air. The rigs were then painted out in post production.
Paper as a medium for creating animation is so versatile. Paper can be feathered to mimic animal fur or low poly geometric 3D characters give a modern and industrial look. There is a whole world of beautiful coloured papers to choose from and textures. Moreover, the beautifully tactile look and feel of paper animation has the power to really captivate an audience, something that in the age of social media can be challenging.
At Clubhouse we are passionate about all things paper. We are here to advise and steer you to the best outcome with paper animation in your project by providing technical excellence at every stage of the production pipeline. So if you’ve got a paper project in mind please feel free to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.