Stop motion animation

Clay animation was popularized by Hollywood movies like ‘Chicken Little’ and ‘Wallace and Gromet’, and has also been successfully used in Indian advertisement like ICICI’s Chintamani and Amaron batteries, as well as MTV’s Simpu series.

What is clay animation?
Clay animation is a kind of stop motion animation. Stop motion animation is a technique, wherein you do not physically draw or animate an object, but rather click photographs of the object, place them in a sequential manner, and then play them. In clay animation you create models out of malleable substances like plasticine or any oil based clay, click a picture of the model, change the position, click another picture, and continue in this manner. When these images are played back-to-back, they create an illusion of movement. Usually clay animation runs at about 10 to 12 frames per second, instead of the usual 24 frames per second used in films.

Clay animation is as different from computer animation as a hand crafted product is from a machine made one. It has a unique texture and an organic feel to it, which cannot be achieved through computer-generated animation. There is a certain tactile quality that clay animation offers.

Claymation requires a lot of inherent artistic and creative talents. One also needs to have mathematical, logical, and spatial skills and patience. In addition, one needs to be a team player too.

Along with a wealth of creativity, one requires knowledge of animation, a sense of timing in animation, observation skills, sculpting skills, acting and filmmaking knowledge, and the ability to work under pressure and within a prescribed budget.

Claymation can be used in various fields like feature films, TV series, commercials, e-learning projects and web applications. In India since claymation has come into the spotlight only recently, there are currently very few studios specializing in this art.

There are quite a few foreign studios, who work with claymation. Some of them are Aardman’s Clayman, Warner Bros and Cuppa Coffee.

Remuneration depends on experience and expertise. The remuneration ranges from Rs20,000 to Rs40,000, depending upon one’s experience.

In India, clay animation is still at a nascent stage. It is just coming into the spotlight and there are only a few studios. Though it constitutes only five percent of the Rs1200crore Indian animation sector, claymation is slowly becoming a lucrative option for many.

We have to develop our skills and efficiency to meet international standards, and make sure that clay animation projects are outsourced to India in the near future.

National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad and the Industrial Design Centre of IIT Mumbai has the facilities needed for stop motion, but there is no specific course in clay animation in India. A few professionals do conduct clay animation workshops in various cities.

There are quite a few animation colleges abroad, where you acquire training. You can also attend clay animation workshops, or learn the technique through books and the Internet.

There are several institutes, which offer diplomas in clay animation in the US. A few universities may offer a degree as well. However, the degree will be a fine arts degree with a few courses in clay animation. Students may be expected to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, and in some cases, present a portfolio of their previous work.

An English proficiency test such as the TOEFL may also be needed. A diploma is cheaper, and can cost $10,000 or less. A degree can cost more than $30,000. In general, students should research courses in animation, and will then be able to find additional classes in clay animation.