What is Pixilation?

Pixilation is a stop-motion technique especially used for animated “life” actors. A pixilation animation consists of a series of postures in front of the camera. A stationary camera records a posed human subject who moves to new positions between frames. The actor becomes a kind of living stop-motion puppet.

Pixilation in Feature Films
Pixilation is a very stylized technique and can be difficult to sustain in long-format works because:

  • production
  • actors find it difficult to perform for such a long time
  • viewers may grow tired of style

However, Pixilation has been used in many feature-length films.

1. Bolex Brothers – The Secret of Adventures of Tom Thumb

2. Mike Jittlov – The Wizard of Speed and Time (1989)

Variations in Pixilated Movement
Pixilation is used more frequently in short films.

1. Paul and Menno de Nooijer
“We like the audience to ‘work’ and think about what they see. We like to arouse an emotion, and hope that the viewer realizes that even a negative or uncomfortable emotion can be good sometimes. We try to look for the magic of film. The magic the audience felt while they were watching a film for the first time. ” – Menno de Nooijer

2. Norman McLaren – A Chairy Tale (1957)

Working With Actors
Both Pixilation and Variable speed cinematography are challenging techniques for actors to learn. Why?

  • Every performer works differently – the director has to determine the length of time and direction of each performer
  • Skills – for regular acting may not carry over to pixilation
  • Extremes – actors may not understand the extreme expressions needed to animate
  • Animation Rules – most animation rules apply to pixilation
  • Staying in Rhythm is important. – This will affect the flow of the movement.

More Examples of Pixilation:


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