Stop Motion – Frank and Caroline Mouris

Stop motion is a form of animation that deals with manipulating an object so that it appears to move on its own. One type of stop motion animation is referred to as graphic animation, which usually involves layering photographs over other photographs and moving the camera without changing the photograph. In 1973, Frank and Caroline Mouris released Frank Film, the first of their many works of animation which includes Frankly Caroline, Impasse, and the opening of They Came from Outer Space. Through these films, they are able to demonstrate a unique form of animation.

In Frank Film, images are shown onscreen as a narrator lists off objects that start with the letter F. The animation in the film is accomplished by incorporating cutouts of objects and overlaying them on top of one another as the time in the film progresses.Cover-Image-Frank-Film-730x410

In this example, Mouris took many different cutouts of an eye and placed them together for a frame of animation. For the next frames, the eyes would be taken out and replaced by a different object and the process would continue throughout the film. Due to the detail in the images of the eyes, this would be a very difficult process to do if done in traditional animation. This became a signature technique that would be utilized throughout the rest of Frank and Caroline Mouris’s career.

In the 1978 film Impasse, stars are used to convey the Mouris’s signature technique of using and overlaying images over each other. They go in all sorts of directions to create shapes and images that would be extremely difficult to replicate in traditional animation. In another sequence, lines are going down the screen and are overlaying on top of each other in another demonstration of their style

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Although it is a short and experimental film by the pair of animators, they are still able to utilize their signature style of animation.

The film Frankly Caroline, made in 1998 as a sequel to Frank Film, utilizes many of the same techniques used in its predecessor. Cutouts from magazines are used along with various photographs overlaid on top of each other to create a background.Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 1.50.12 PM (2)

In this screenshot, giraffes cut out from pictures and magazines are used to show a photo-realism that would not be accomplished in traditional animation, while still giving them properties that would be impossible to achieve in live action, such as giving one a hat and placing smaller giraffes in the hat.

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Later in the film, magazine cutouts are used to create the name of the film and change frequently throughout the frames.

In the 1990 television show They Came from Outer Space, Frank and Caroline Mouris created the opening of it and stuck to their signature style. Many of the backgrounds used in the opening are pictures of space and images are placed ontop of them in an abstract way.

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This would be impossible to recreate in live action and would prove to be very difficult in traditional animation.

Frank and Caroline Mouris utilized stop motion animation in unique and experimental ways that had not been done before. They helped pioneer more works of graphic animation, but the technique never reached mainstream status. Although their particular form of animation never received much popularity, it was able to create works of art that would be highly difficult, if not impossible, to be recreated in traditional animation and live action.


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