Cut-out animation is one of the oldest forms of animation and in
pre computer days, probably the easiest to create. As its name implies,
cut-out animation involves moving cut-out shapes in small steps
and taking a picture at each stage, this is a lot less work than
having to draw every single frame of the animation.
Of course, some form of capture device is required, and at one
time, the ideal tool for this type of work was any cine camera that
was capable of shooting single pictures. I can remember spending
many happy hours moving bits of painted cardboard around, snapping
each frame as I went using my super eight movie camera. The biggest
problem was waiting to see the results, as the film had to be sent
away for processing, which could take a week or more.
These days, the computer has pervaded all forms of animation and
cut-out animation is no exception. There are even programs available
specifically aimed at producing cut-out animations. An example of
this is "Creatoon", more information can be found at the
site and the UK based The
Cut-Out Animation Company is one of many using this software
to produce professional work.
You don't need a program designed for cut-out animation to try
it out, as you can emulate the process using software such as Flash,
Moho or ToonBoom Studio. In fact by using motion tweens and symbols,
you can avoid having to manually set up every frame.
A Simple Example - Using Macromedia
I started this example by creating a graphic symbol for the leg,
below. At this stage the leg need not be very complex, just enough
to create and test the animation. I created the symbol, so that
the hot spot was near the top of the leg, as this becomes the rotation
Because I am using symbols, I can modify the leg later and everything
else will update automatically.
Next I created a movie clip symbol with two layers and
placed a copy of the leg symbol on both of them. Using simple motion
tweens, I created the animation shown below.
I then placed this movie clip in a new movie, and used
a motion tween to move it across the stage from left to right, which
gave the result shown below.
Once I was happy with the animation I edited the original
leg symbol, to that shown below left. This automatically updated the
animated legs to those shown below right
I then just added new layers to the final movie and
created the body parts and accessories which were then motion tweened
to move across the stage with the legs. After adding a few details
to the background I finished up with the animation shown below
Have a look
here to see a version of this animation created with the GIMP
and GAP (Gimp Animation Package), two great freeware applications