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Techniques

Animation stand

An animation stand camera. Photo: Sophie Quévillon. © NFB

An animation stand camera. Photo: Sophie Quévillon. © NFB

Shira Avni animates modelling clay on the animation stand. Photo: Caroline Hayeur.  © NFB

Shira Avni animates modelling clay on the animation stand. Photo: Caroline Hayeur. © NFB

McLaren shooting with the animation stand. © NFB

McLaren shooting with the animation stand. © NFB

By Marcel Jean
Animation Expert

With an animation stand, the camera is moved up and down above a table on which the artwork to be filmed is placed. The camera can be suspended directly above the surface or mounted on a system of columns. This setup, once known as a caption stand, was originally designed to shoot film credits and intertitles. It is impossible to date this invention accurately, but it is known that the first animated cartoons, like Humorous Phases of Funny Faces by James Stuart Blackton (1906), were filmed by simply standing the drawing board up facing the camera, which was on a tripod.

Before digitization of drawings became common, around 1990, most animated films were shot using an animation stand, because techniques like animated drawings (on paper or cel) and paper cut-outs required it.

Today, the animation stand serves only for some rarely used techniques: sand and paint animation, and animation of various objects (beads, string, metal fragments, etc.).

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