Wednesday, 18 February 2009

CGI vs. stop motion but, which is better?

Stop motion vs. CGI... the debate continues... ok well, maybe I’m exaggerating (there's probably nobody else debating this apart from me)and maybe your everyday cinema goer doesn’t give a damn about stop motion (or even CGI for that matter) but, they should! It seems that stop motion is a dying form and it’s such a terrible shame.

Ok, so let’s settle the differences: stop motion involves physically moving an object a small amount between frames to give it the illusion of movement when the individually photographed frames are played in sequence and CGI or Computer Generated Imagery, involves using 3D computer graphics to create the special effects that cause all the ‘ooh’s’ and ‘aaah’s’ in the cinema. It is also used for characters and objects in film.

CGI is something we are faced with a lot of the time when we go to the cinema, it a form that allows things to be achieved on the big screen that could never have been achieved before. It is an excellent tool in film making and yes, I am a fan but, I don’t think it has the ability to create the image that a stop motion animation can.

Stop motion may be a long and pain-staking process but, the end product is definitely worth it. Let’s take a look at Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, this was filmed using stop motion alone and has such a unique and beautiful look about it that sets it apart from other films.

Tim Burton is of course a die-hard fan of the art form, saying: "There is an energy with stop-motion that you can’t even describe. It’s got to do with giving things life, and I guess that’s why I wanted to get into animation originally." (see

I can really see where Burton is coming from, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride (his two big stop motion successes) do have an energy and feel about them that is somehow different to CGI but, sadly most movie makers will opt for CGI over stop motion every time.

My argument is that we just don’t see enough stop motion in the cinema (seemingly apart from that brought to us by Burton) and we need to see more of it. Yes CGI is easier and quicker but, it would be such a shame to see stop motion die out completely. It’s a wonderful art form and creates a great image on-screen so, it would be nice to see the studios embracing it a bit more in future.


  1. stop motion, definitely....cgi hasn't been perfected at all and is too organic looking, where with stop motion and special effects that don't require the use of computers it just simply looks better when there's actually something infront of the star wars episode 1, then john carpenter's the thing, and you'll understand....

  2. I agree completely but, I think you're missing my point in the article, that being that I'm a big fan of stop motion and don't think filmmakers use it enough.

  3. I think that perhaps the BIG BOSS at the top of the animation food chain has decided that the swifter process of a CGI film out-weighs the beauty of a stop-motion animation. I personally would prefer a home cooked meal to a microwaved one any day! I’m sure it is all to do with money? Though I’m unsure of the cost between the two... An interesting point to leave you with, I researched the new Clash of the Titans film, and apparently the world hates the new version of the film and prefers the old one, even with its dated look. Given the new is animated and the old is in stop motion I feel this is perhaps a win for our side. Maybe it will remind the BIG BOSS that home cooking is better than microwaving....

  4. Haha I love your comparison to microwave food :p
    I think the biggest problem is that it's such a time consuming process which in effect I guess would make it a bit costly because of the production time. I guess the film companies want the films rolled out as fast as possible too.
    That's really interesting about Clash of the Titans though, I didn't know that. It proves that not every cinema-goer is after the fast-paced modern effects. It's nice that some people prefer the old one. I think stop-motion gives a film different life and a different feel to CGI.

  5. Yeh definately, that idea of giving life to something thats already physically there, perhaps thats why films (for me anyway) tend to be more scary when for example dolls are used, like puppets. If its a monster, I know its CGI, but a puppet turning its head my way, I might have one of them in my room!! lol
    Who knows.. maybe if we started a facebook group, like so many have, we could bring back the use of stop-motion. Stranger things have been achieved!

  6. Lol yeah there is something freaky about using dolls. It's the eeeyyeees!
    Yeah that would be an idea, facebook groups seem to be the way forward at the moment!

  7. For those saying that CGI isn't good yet, keep in mind AVATAR. This person that came up with the idea of AVATAR put BOTH kinds of CGI, the sensor suits and the green screen work and they put it together to form this absolutely amazing form of animation. I mean, to me this movie was so incredibly amazing, it made my heart jump!!

    On the other hand, I am an extremely HUGE fan of stop motion, I love it. To oscar, stop motion isnt out of style, by far. It is still there, and I think Tim Burton is doing a great job keeping it here.

  8. I don't dislike CGI, that's not what I'm saying at all. I just have a great appreciation for stop motion and don't think people consider it enough. Tim Burton is definitely doing a great job though, let's hope he releases another stop motion soon :)