Pixilation Research, Footage and Evaluation

This part of Unit 10 sets us the challenge of creating a Pixilation Film. I had not heard of Pixilation before, and, at first, I thought that it was the same as Stop Frame Animation, which I do know about and have done in the past. But after doing research and talking with our tutors I now understand the difference.

Stop Frame Animation
Stop Frame Animation is where you take an inanimate object and take a series of photos while moving it very slightly in between the photos, then edit them together to give the illusion of movement.

This can be using any type of object, literally anything you have around. Or it could be using a series of drawings. The important thing is that the items being photographed move very slightly in between shots. This will mean that when you edit the series of photographs together, for example using Adobe Premiere Pro, it looks like the objects are moving themselves. It’s the same principle as a flip book, where a series of still images give the impression of movement.

This is an example of a fairly complex Stop Frame Animation, which the description says was made over 5 days, despite only being 57 seconds long. I think that the complexity of the images and changes of the images in between shots shows why it took so long, for example the image of the world appearing on the watermelon at 0:04 seconds in.

Stop motion animation fruit and vegetables

Another example of Stop Frame Animation is using Lego and moving it very slightly. A favourite of mine is the Lego Stop Frame Animation made to go with a sketch by comedian Eddie Izzard. There are 2 different versions.

Eddie Izzard – Death Star Canteen

Eddie Izzard: Lego Death Star Canteen

Probably the best known Stop Frame Animation is that of Wallace and Gromit. Below is a short video (2 mins 58 seconds) showing examples and some behind-the-scenes footage.

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit [Featurette]

So how is Pixilation different? Most of the process is the same, but the difference is that live actors are included in the shots and are also moved slightly to end up giving the illusion of movement.

This means that you can make it look like the people in the film are doing things that they could not do in real life. For example, if you get someone to jump in the air and take a photo when they are in the air, then get them to move forward slightly, jump in the air again and take another photo, then continue this for a lot of shots, you could make it look like they are floating along. But it is very tricky to get them at the same height each shot. Here are 2 examples where they use this effect to make it look like they are riding a broom (I’m not sure what the sound is all about in the second one).

Flight of the Broomstick

Broom-Flying For Muggles

Although I like the idea of being able to make it look like someone is flying, the perfectionist part of me is not convinced how good it looks. I did consider trying and seeing if I could make it any more realistic, but a few quick jumps showed me that neither me nor my mum could jump high enough off the ground to even begin to make it look better. Due to being in Covid-19 lock down, I am restricted to me and my mum as possible actors (my dad is recovering from an operation and although he was happy to sit on a chair for my final Pixilation film, jumping into the air was definitely not possible). If we weren’t in lockdown then I may have asked around my friends to see who can jump high enough to see if I could make it look like they were flying. But I am happy with what I decided upon as my final Pixilation film, so it’s OK.

Some adverts have made use of Pixilation, for example this Amazon Kindle Advert from 2010

Amazon Kindle Commercial 4 (official) Holiday

I’m not sure if this Red Bull advert is a real one or one that someone just made but it is pretty impressive. They make it look like drinking Red Bull turns you into Superman

Red Bull Stop motion commercial

This next example is a good example of Pixilation being used looking down from above to make it look like the guy is skateboarding in his living room. The video also shows how he filmed it. It took him 3 days to film it. I don’t have a room clear enough to do this, or the right equipment, but I do find it fascinating. This also showed me the importance of adding appropriate sound effects, since the skateboarding noises really make the video come to life.

Skateboard Stop-Motion Animation

A key feature of these is that they are filmed from high above, and I do not have the facilities to get a camera that high up. But they are a wonderful example of what can be done using the Pixilation technique. The following example and its behind-the-scenes video show a method that I could have used if we weren’t in lockdown. It uses a plastic piping rig to attach a go-pro to facing down, to lift it up high. But due to lockdown I can’t get any plastic piping. This is an idea that I would like to try out at a later date. I think that summer would be a better time, since lying on the ground for a long time in the cold and wet of winter is not a particularly good thing to ask my actors to do.

Stop-Motion Karate

Making of Stop Motion Karate & VFX

I feel that some good examples of Pixilation that are useful for me in this project are some by “Ruustic” who is an animator who I found during my research. [Note – although a lot of the video examples below spell his name “Rustic”, his channel is spelled “Ruustic” with 2 “u”s]. I talk about him in my Pixilation Journal entries. In the example below, he pretends to be ice skating even though there is no ice. The second example is the behind-the-scenes of how he filmed it.

Stop Motion ICE SKATING! (Christmas Video) – Rustic B

How to do Stop Motion – Behind the Scenes of Ice Skater

The next example is of a Mario Kart Race without cars, with 2 people sitting on the ground pretending to drive cars, and the shots are taken of them moving along very slightly each time. In the first film they have no props, and in the second film they have included props like the yellow “item boxes” and the “green shells” that exist in the Mario Kart video game.

STOP MOTION MARIO KART! (Pixilation Race) Rustic B

Stop Motion MARIO KART2! (mario kart 64 in real life) Rustic B

I like the films where you can use Pixilation to make it look like people are doing things they can’t really do, for example “being” a car, or riding an imaginary skateboard. I prefer these rather than some examples of Pixilation that I watched which seemed to just show the people doing normal things. I don’t feel that doing normal things makes the most of the Pixilation technique.

The Mario Kart examples gave me the idea of doing a parody of the bikes racing in the movie Tron. I looked at the races in both the new and original films and decided that the original film best suited my purpose. This is because I had come up with the idea of using some of my (many) trilby hats to form the trail behind the bikes and I felt that turning instantly at right angles would make best use of the Pixilation method and I could make the line of hats turn at right angles. Including my hats links it back to my “Hat Man” brand as well.

New Tron Race
Tron Legacy Lightbike Scene [4K]

Old Tron Race (The one I prefer for my Pixilation)
Tron Lightbike Scene

I like this final idea, because it is quirky and links in with my “Hat Man” branding. I always like to add a bit of “quirkiness” to my films. I can also add some interesting sound effects when I do my final edit, which will tie in with the sound that we have been learning with Attila.


I enjoyed learning about Pixilation. Although I have done Stop Frame Animation before I have never done Pixilation, so it was a new technique. I wanted to make a Pixilation that really used the method as way to make something appear to happen that cannot appear in real life. Hence, I decided to have my Mum and Dad “driving” chairs in my Garden.

As I explained in my Research, I wanted the “chair-driving” to represent the motorbikes from Tron. The motorbikes in Tron have a light trail behind them. I decided to use several of my many trilby hats to form the trail, moving them along for each shot. I like to give all my films a “twist”, and including my trilby hats, which very much form part of my “brand” is a twist that I am pleased with. Since hats also cannot move by themselves in the real world, this also fits my plan.

I was limited on location due to Covid-19, and I feel using my garden made sense from a safety point of view, from a point of view of abiding my Covid rules, and also creatively I feel it works well, so the best of all worlds.

It is quite a while since I have done Stop Frame Animation, which uses a similar technique of using individual photographs to create a moving video, and I had forgotten how many photos you need for even a few seconds of footage. It is a lot! That is something that I have definitely learned from this project.

Also, that although a small amount of movement of the “subjects” i.e. my Mum, Dad and the trail of hats is acceptable, and a very small bit is actually part of the Pixilation style, I found that too much just looked odd. So, as well as being cinematographer, I also had to direct my parents exactly how much to move each time and move all the hats. Moving the hats was particularly complex since the wind kept blowing and blowing all the hats away. With Stop Frame Animation I had filmed inside, where there was no wind to blow anything away, and with stationary objects that only moved where I put them, rather than people who were trying very hard to stay in a position but are human so they fidget.

I did several versions. Initially I just had my Mum in the film, because my Dad was recovering from an operation. But once I got the technique sorted he was happy to sit on a chair for the photographs. Unfortunately it took longer than planned due to a particularly windy day, so I didn’t get quite as far as I would have liked with the version with my Dad in, but I was very grateful to him for participating at all after his operation, and since it was also getting cold as well as all the hats blowing away I decided that it was sensible to stop at this point.

Due to Covid restrictions, my Mum and Dad were the only actors I had access to. I had considered acting myself, but when I experimented it was very difficult to get in the right position since I had to move to press the camera button and I couldn’t see myself in the small camera screen. I did get a remote button for the final films but the screen was still and issue. In some of my research I saw that one person put a huge screen on the wall linked to his camera. That would be great! But I had to work within the limits of what I had available. I feel that being able to film someone else rather than me made my film’s continuity better, so it was a good decision.

When I showed my films to Simon (tutor) he laughed out loud, which I feel is a good sign. And Attila (tutor) also laughed and said I had cheered him up. So I am pleased with both reactions and feel my films achieved what I had been after, even if I didn’t get to film as much of the one with my Dad in as I would have liked to.

I enjoyed the research, since there are some impressive Pixilation videos around, especially on YouTube. I feel I produced an effective and entertaining video, and I have learnt a new technique that I look forward to using again.