Commentary
2005 Year in Review
© and ™ Aardman Animations Ltd.
Armen Boudjikanian, Noell Wolfgram Evans, Mark Mayerson and Emru Townsend · From fps #6 · January 1, 2006 | The most interesting trend in animation this past year for me was the resurgence of stop-motion. It may not have been a full-fledged revival, but with two feature films, a number of television commercials and other media outlets all utilizing the art form, one can hope that this trend is the start of a comeback. There is something comforting and awe-inducing surrounding stop-motion animation and this year we were treated to some great entertainment with it.

Starting with the films, 2005 saw the release of both Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Corpse Bride, which were two of the year's most popular and positively reviewed animated films.

In many ways it is interesting that this is the year that stop-motion has become prevalent again. Interesting because this was supposed to be the "Year of CGI" with 2D animation "officially" dead, but here came this influx of organically created animated efforts that not only met but in many respects exceeded their CGI counterparts. Because of their very physicality stop-motion characters have a warmth, depth and heart that even the most skilled computer animator would be challenged to replicate. And we were reminded of that in these two films.

It wasn't just on the silver screen that this trend seemed to gain traction. On television there were those ubiquitous Serta sheep, commercials for a host of products (including tissues and clothing) and services and even network television promos (for CBS). It's opportunistic but I would be remiss if I didn't point out the number of stop motion television programs on right now. Granted, it's the end of the year and at the holidays always rerun specials showcasing the work of Rankin-Bass. These shows may not be specific results of this trend, but they (and the sentiment they bring) can be considered forerunners of the current stop-motion resurgence and hopefully they will use their goodwill to help carry the medium into next year.

Of course we must also take into account the Internet where, without much effort, you could find stop-motion shorts (Lego creations were particularly popular) among all of the Flash-based movies. Pushing stop motion techniques in this direction is an obvious choice, but it's also difficult to know when to allow the technology to take over the human aspects that make stop-motion art so tangible. It will be interesting to watch the media, medium, artists and viewers discover where the lines can be drawn.

Because of its growing appeal and utilization in so many media, for me, stop-motion is the animated trend of the year.
—Noell Wolfgram Evans

Want to read the rest of this commentary?

You'll find it and many other articles in the January 2006 issue of fps, available for only 99 cents US.
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