If you have never seen a stop motion video on YouTube or Vimeo that has gone viral then firstly, you’re missing out. And secondly, where have you been?!
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On was one such video that took off in August of 2010. Written by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp, it wasn’t limited to the web world, however, and made it as a selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. And Sundance is just one way that stop motion videos have made it mainstream. Even bigger still is its permeation into mainstream music videos.
Alternative rock band OK Go makes spine-numbing music videos (not all stop motion), but they’re hands-down known for that. “Last Leaf”, released in 2010, portrays an etched piece of toast for a simple touch. Earlier this year, OK Go collaborated with Sesame Street for a stop-motion video explaining primary colors. Yes, Sesame Street. How much more mainstream does it get? But don’t let the seemingly infantile subject matter sway you. Maria Popova said that the video “might just be the finest treat for budding designers since Geometry of Circles, the fantastic 1979 Sesame Street animation with original music by Philip Glass.” Whoa.
On a serious note, why do musicians opt for stop motion imagery? What effect does it have on the viewer and/or the fan? The music video industry is drawing off the craze of DIY stop-motion videos online (mostly with clay animation or cuter-than-cute videos like Marcel). Because stop-motion is so easy to make, many people self-publish their own videos online. On the flip side, it allows for bands—they’re brands, too—to hone in on a more creative side, but the end result is simple and sometimes almost childlike, thus not alienating viewers.
Along the same nostalgic lines is Delta Heavy’s “Get By” video that uses nostalgic board games in a whimsical way. Directed by Ian Robertson and set to a deep dubstep tune, “11,000 photographs were taken and 3,184 of them were used in the final cut,” according to PSFK. “The stop-motion animation was completed in 32 days where sometimes it required 10 hours just to animate 18 frames.”
And so, stop motion music videos are being used by small and big bands alike. Recent ones making waves on the web include Benga’s “I Will Never Change” in which vinyls simulate an audio frequency. Gotye, of the top 40 hit on everybody’s lips, “Somebody That I Used to Know”, released “Easy Way Out” in February of this year. It’s a little bit of a more dejected portrayal of stop motion videos than what usually makes it big on the blogosphere but it’s just as clever.
Stop motion music videos tend to send a visceral message to the viewer, which is one of many reasons why directors and musicians alike are going for this web-crazed technology as the meat of their imagery.