Artist Research: Puppetry Stop Motion

Once deciding that I am now going to create a short stop frame animation to accompany the final artefact being the puppet itself, I was concerned that I would not be able to find a past artist who has worked with these 2 mediums combined easily, in order to research and gain inspiration to create my work.

Fortunately, I was able to find multiple artists who have worked in stop frame animation whilst using puppets, as opposed to regular clay animation. This is the information I gathered through my research:

Ladislas Starevich

The stop-motion animation of Ladislas Starevich | Den of Geek

Ladislas Starevich was a Polish-Russian stop frame animator and film director that lived from lived from August 8, 1882 to February 26, 1965.

Starevich was the first individual to create a puppet-animated film, called ‘Lucanus Cervus‘ (1910). Starevich would use dead insects as well as his puppets as protagonists in his films.

Starevich was once the director of the Museum of Natural History in Kaunas, Lithuania. It was during his time in this museum that he wished to create a live action fight between two stag beetles to add to the various live action documentary films which he created for the museum; but the beetles would die during filming due to the stage light. It was then that Starevich decided to remove the beetles legs and replace them with wire, which left him with an insect puppet.

An example of one of Starevich’s animations:

Starevich’s work was with no doubt highly innovative. Due to the films being vintage it is unfortunate that his best known works are quite difficult to distinguish and make sense of. Although I am not intending to use bugs in my stop motion. Starevich’s full puppets are quite advanced and appear as though they are their own person, although I want my puppet to clearly appear as a puppet, with strings, handmade/ rough aesthetic etc.

Jiří Trnka 

A Midsummer Night's Dream & The Hand, Jiří Trnka

Jiří Trnka  lived from 24 February 1912 – 30 December 1969, and was a Czech Puppet maker, Illustrator, film director and motion picture director.

Trnka developed his puppeteer passion through attending the Prague School of Arts and Crafts through an internship. Trnka had enjoyed making puppets since childhood, where he was sculpting puppets from wood and putting shows on for his friends.

After graduating from Prague’s School of Arts and Crafts, Trnka created his own puppet theater in 1936. When World War II began the puppet theater group was disbursed, and Trnka moved onto designing stages and illustrating children’s books for throughout the war. Once World War II finished, Trnka teamed up with 2 other artists to form their own animation studio. During this time, Trnka experimented with 2D animation, and created several films, 2 of which were awarded at the 1st Cannes Film Festival. Although, despite the films earning Trnka recognition and awards, he felt more comfortable making puppets, so ventured back into making puppet animation films.

Trnka’s stop motion is beautiful, the movement of each character adds to their personalities, the scenery also creates beautifully toned still images throughout the films if you were to pause it at any given moment.

I would like to experiment with the movement of my puppet throughout my film, perhaps I will create more flexibility to the puppet/ more limbs which can be altered in placement to offer more movement to the puppet than I initially intended.

It is important to note that during this current epidemic forcing us to stay indoors, I only have access to my bedroom as scenery, which is why I would like to embrace the fact that I have the desks, which I (as an art student) use to create my art work, allowing those to not only see into the life of an artist through the puppet, but also the scenery/ back drop of the room which I am using to create my work in at this space of time. I also don’t have access to official stop motion software/ tri- pods/ cameras, although I want to experiment with what I currently have access to. This being an app which I purchased in my second year of studying Illustration. I used this app to film the footage below during a project based in Cardiff Museum.

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