Unconventional Animation Methods

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An incredibly rare and arduous method of animating using a screen full of many hundreds (sometimes thousands) of movable pins. The technique was developed by Claire Parker and Alexandre Alexeïeff in 1932. The screen itself is lit from the side so that the pins cast different types of shadows depending on how pushed in or out the pins are from the screen. There are only 2 animation pinscreens in existence.

Example: Jim Zipper by Alexandre Roy (excerpt)


A technique in which the animator creates a long tightly packed tube of clay with varying imagery inside, and slices pieces off, capturing the image between each slice as if it were a frame. Wax has also been used in place of clay. Early forms of the technique were experimented with by Oskar Fischinger and his associates. David Daniels is the most well-known practitioner of stratacut animation currently, his work was used in several music videos and television shows/films in the mid to late 80s including the video for "Big Time" by Peter Gabriel, a part of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker video compilation, and Pee Wee's Playhouse.

Example: David Daniels' stratacut animation from Pee Wee's Playhouse

Paint on glass/Sand on glass

The animator paints or manipulates sand upon a backlit pane of glass, taking pictures of each small manipulation.

Examples: Excerpts from Aleksandr Petrov's paint on glass animations
"The Owl Who Married a Goose" sand on glass animation by Caroline Leaf

Charcoal Animation

A destructive form of animation in which the animator draws with charcoal on a sheet of paper and utilizes an eraser to manipulate the image. Traces of the erased charcoal can be seen, creating an interesting effect when animated. This technique is most associated with the work of South African artist William Kentridge.

Example: "Pain & Sympathy" by William Kentridge

Direct animation

Created by scratching directly on the celluloid film stock. Film with sound strips can also be scratched upon to create music. Most famous animator associated with direct animation is Norman McLaren.

Examples: "Begone Dull Care" by Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren (Music by Oscar Peterson)
"Synchromy" by Norman McLaren, an example of music created by scratching on the film sound strip

Print Materials

Using analogue printing techniques to create the frames of the animation. There are many different approaches that can be used, such as screen printing, risograph, photocopying, linocut, etc.

Example: "Kaleidoscoping" by Carla Lopez, an animation created with risograph prints

Algorithm/Code based

Any animation created with pure code, or realtime software which employs algorithms to create imagery.

Example: "Jardins d'Été #1 by Quayola

Film remixing/remapping

A technique where the animator "animates" by deconstructing preexisting film, manipulating the editing, repetition and timing to create a completely new work.

Examples: "Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy" by Martin Arnold
"What is Spaghetti" a "YouTube Poop" by YouTube user jefflindblom. A more recent example of remapping/collage. CONTENT WARNING: Strobing imagery and coarse language.