Stop Motion

A lot can be learned from the pioneers of animation. One such technique is stop motion. Lotte Reiniger’s work can be said to be the best example of cut-out animation.

Lotte Reiniger was a very successful animator. In 1916, she created silhouettes for inter titles of Paul Wegner’s Rübezahls Hochzeit. Institut für Kulturforschung in Berlin sponsored her first film in 1919. During the same year Reiniger moved to Britain and worked with G.P.O Film Unit with Len Lye and Norman McLaren. In 1936 she produced her first film in Britain; The King’s Breakfast. Reiniger then moved on to work in the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm of Märchentheater of the city of Berlin in 1946. The 1950s and 60s of her life were spent creating sets and figures for English puppet and shadow theater Horgart’s Puppets. Also during this time period was the set up of Primrose Productions and sponsored productions for American TV. In 1975 Reiniger began collaborating with the National Film Board of Canada and in 1979 her film The Rose and the Ring appeared at the American Film Festival (Starr). Reiniger also accomplished a lot more in her career, and has become one of the most known cu-out style animators.

Reiniger’s style was inspired by Chinese silhouette puppetry. She invented a technique to create her puppets that involved cutting out sheets of lead and cardboard and animating them frame by frame under a camera (Chan). For each film she created, she ended up with a total of about 100,000 slides. Reiniger used multilane cameras and a special table: a hole in the middle of the table was covered with a piece of glass and transparent paper went over the glass. The cut-out figures went on top of the glass, and light was shined through the glass from below so that the shadows of the silhouettes would become visible. She would stake multiple sheets of glass on top of each other to create depth in a scene (Spannhake). Generally, she would animate well-known older stories or fairy tales.

With my stop motion, I wanted to do the same type of fairy tale storytelling. I wanted my puppets to look similar to the shadow effect from Reiniger’s technique using paper that was inked black, but I probably would have been more successful if I tried to set up a light source from underneath like she had. Overall, I think I have the same feeling to my animation that Lotte Reiniger had due to the puppet designs that I referenced her work for.

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