|Academy of Art University||BFA, MA 2D Animation and Stop Motion||Stop Motion Puppet Animation|
|School of Visual Arts||BFA Animation||Advanced Stop-Action Animation|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||MFA Film and Animation||Stop Motion Puppet Fundamentals|
|School of the Art Institute of Chicago||BFA, MFA Film, Video, New Media, and Animation||Puppet Animation|
|Savannah College of Art and Design||BFA, MA, MFA Animation||Digital Form, Space and Lighting, Action Analysis|
|Maryland Institute College of Art||BFA Animation||Stop Motion Animation|
|University of Southern California||BA, MFA, Minor Animation and Digital Arts||Stop Motion Performance|
|Point Park University||BA, BFA Animation and Visual Effects||Stop Motion Animation|
|Columbia College Chicago||BFA, Traditional Animation||Stop Motion Animation|
|California State University Los Angeles||BA Art, Animation Option||Stop Motion Animation|
|Massachusetts College of Art and Design||BFA Animation||Stop Motion Animation|
|Florida State University||BFA in Motion Picture Arts||Stop Motion|
|New York Film Academy||BFA 3D Animation & Visual Effects||Character Animation|
|DePaul University||BA Animation||Motion Graphics|
|Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design||BFA Animation||Stop Motion|
Stop motion animation is one of the oldest and most painstaking forms of animation in the world. The technique involves moving static objects in increments while filming a single frame per increment. Playing all the frames in sequence creates movement. The most common objects used in stop motion animation are puppets, clay figures, miniatures, and cutouts. Just a few excellent examples of stop motion animation can be seen in award-winning films such as Boxtrolls (2014), Frankenweenie (2012), Coraline (2009), Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Chicken Run (2000), and James and the Giant Peach (1996).
Considered one of the most unique forms of filmmaking, stop motion animation takes an extreme amount of attention to detail, laser-like focus, skill, patience, time and space, dedication, and a tremendous amount of talent. To master the techniques associated with this form of animation, you will need to find an animation program that offers a concentration or heavy coursework in stop motion animation. While there are few (if any) “pure” stop motion animation programs in the U.S. (there are dozens overseas), there are many programs that can prepare you for a career in the field. Here are some options:
Academy of Art University, School of Animation & Visual Effects, San Francisco, California
Degrees Offered: BFA, MA 2D Animation and Stop Motion
About: “The 2D Animation and Stop Motion Emphasis is designed for students interested in acquiring basic to advanced skills in classical, hand-drawn animation.” -Academy of Art
The school also offers an AA and a Certificate in Animation & Visual Effects with 2D Animation and Stop Motion coursework.
Sample Courses: Stop Motion Puppet Animation, Puppet Making for Stop Motion 1 & 2, Stop Motion Set Design & Fabrication, Stop Motion Animation 1 & 2, Figurative Concepts, Traditional Animation Principles & Pipelines, Drawing and Design for Animation, Traditional Animation, History & Technology of Visual Effects & Computer Animation (includes topics from traditional stop motion).
School of Visual Arts New York City (SVA NYC), New York, New York
Degrees Offered: BFA Animation
About: The BFA program prepares students to work in all areas of the animation industry. Many SVA NYC graduates are recruited by animation studios from both coasts.
Sample Courses: Introduction to Stop Motion, Advanced Stop-Action Animation, Miniature Sets and Action Props, Key Poses and Inbetweening.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), College of Imaging Arts & Sciences (CIAS), Rochester, New York
Degrees Offered: MFA Film and Animation
About: “The film and animation MFA is a three-year program designed to educate complete filmmakers. As an animation student, you will concentrate in either 2D, 3D, or Stop Motion but be able to explore the other types of animation.” -RIT, CIAS
Sample Courses: Stop Motion Puppet Fundamentals, Stop Motion Master Class, 3D Lighting and Texturing, Animation Workshop, 30-Second Film, Animation Writing and Visual Storytelling.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Chicago, Illinois
Degrees Offered: BFA, MFA Film, Video, New Media, and Animation (FVNMA)
About: The Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department (FVNMA) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) “endorses and encourages experimentation with radical form and content.” As such, “both new and old technologies are employed at the school to enable students to study the craft of both 2D and 3D animation.”-SAIC
Studio courses follow disciplinary paths of cinema, video art, installation, new media art, and animation—experimental 3D and hand-drawn.
Sample Courses: Puppet Animation, Drawing for Animation, Advanced Drawing for Animation, Intro to Experimental 3D, Experimental 3D, Sound to Image, Moving Image, Sonics and Optics, Type and Image in Motion.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah, Georgia
Degrees Offered: BFA, MA, MFA Animation
About: “2-D. 3-D. Stop Motion. Digital Modeling. Rigging. Lighting. Look development. As an animation student at SCAD, you will master it all.” -SCAD
Sample Courses: Principles of 3D Animation, 3D Character Setup and Animation, 3D Animation Production, Design II: 3-D Form in Space; Digital Form, Space and Lighting, Action Analysis.
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Baltimore, Maryland
Degrees Offered: BFA Animation
About: Students have the opportunity to “explore a number of animation techniques such as painting on glass, sand animation, cut-out animation, and clay animation. According to their own level, new students learn how to develop a sense of motion and timing through direct manipulation under the camera and simple assignments. Experimentation is encouraged in order to develop a personal style.” -MICA
Sample Courses: Stop Motion Animation, Otherworldly: Puppets & Sets, 3D Modeling Landscape, Painting I, Drawing I and II, Sculptural Forms, Animation Production, Advanced Digital Tools, 2D Character Animation, 3D Character Animation.
University of Southern California (USC), School of Cinematic Arts, John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts (Hench DADA), Los Angeles, California
Degrees Offered: BA, MFA, Minor Animation and Digital Arts
About: “At Hench DADA, students explore every aspect of art in motion and learn why animation has become central to all modern digital media. The Division teaches courses in all facets of animation and digital arts” from Stop Motion to Experimental Filmmaking. –USC Cinematic Arts, Hench DADA
Sample Courses: Stop Motion Performance, Stop Motion Puppet and Set Design, Live Action Integration with Visual Effects, Concept Design, Experiments in Immersive Design, Character Design, Film-Graphics-Animation.
Park Point University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Degrees Offered: BA, BFA Animation and Visual Effects
About: “Students in the animation and visual effects program combine artistic vision and technical skills to transform their wildest imaginations into moving images on the screen.”-Park Point University
Sample Courses: Stop Motion Animation, Stop Motion Workshop, Classical Animation, 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Visual Effects for Movies and Motion Graphics.
Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Degrees Offered: BFA, Traditional Animation, Animation Minor
About: Students in the Traditional Animation degree program will take interdisciplinary coursework to prepare them for a career in animation or graduate studies. Concentration sequences include Hand-Drawn or Stop Motion Animation. Students in the Animation Minor will study the history of animation around the globe and explore basic techniques, including object, hand-drawn and stop-motion animation.
Sample Courses: Stop Motion Animation I and II, Drawing for Animation, Figure Drawing, Animation Layout, Alternative Strategies in Animation, Animation Production Studio.
California State University Los Angeles (Cal State LA), Los Angeles, California
Degrees Offered: BA Art, Animation Option
About: “The Animation Option encourages an experimental approach to animation that combines traditional and contemporary techniques.” The Option “boasts multiple platform capability in the creation and production of animated content. Having a state-of-the art facility in stop motion animation, and the only dedicated stop motion facility at on CSU campus, we have the most diverse and up-to-date facility for the production of physical animation.” –Cal State LA
Sample Courses: Stop Motion Animation, Hand-Painted Abstract Animation, Story and Visualization, Experimental Animation, Advanced Animation.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), Boston, Massachusetts
Degrees Offered: BFA Animation
About: “The animation program exposes students to a wide range of experimental and conventional techniques.” These include stop motion, documentary animation, character animation, digitally generated animation, experimental video, “and other emerging technologies.” -MassArt
Sample Courses: Stop Motion Animation, Animation I, II, II, & IV, Life Drawing, Form Study, Human Figure in Animation, Design for Animators, Drawing for Animators, Intro to Painting, Color for Painting, The Digital Toolbox.
Florida State University (FSU), College of Motion Picture Arts, Tallahassee, Florida
Degrees Offered: BFA in Motion Picture Arts - Animation and Digital Arts
About: Students will master the craft of digital filmmaking by immersing in areas such as stop motion, 3D animation, modeling, compositing, texturing and rendering, character development, and visual effects cinematography.
Sample Courses: Stop Motion, 3D Animation, Modeling, Compositing, Texturing and Rendering, Live Action Production, Production Management.
New York Film Academy (NYFA) 3D Animation & Visual Effects School, New York, New York
Degrees Offered: BFA 3D Animation & Visual Effects
About: “Students who graduate from the Animation School at the New York Film Academy have a number of career paths open to them.” -NYFA Just a few include Stop Motion Animator, Visual Effects Artist, Animator, Key Animator, and Character Rigger.
Sample Courses: Sculpture I, Drawing & Sculpture, Drawing & Anatomy, Matte Painting, Character Animation, Character Design, Lighting & Rendering, Matchmoving, Character Setup, Cinematography.
DePaul University, College of Digital Computing and Digital Media (CDM), Chicago, Illinois
Degrees Offered: BA Animation
About: “Students can experiment with the latest in animation software, tools, and technologies including hand-drawn, 3D, stop motion, motion capture, motion control, and green screen studios. This is an extremely flexible degree with an emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and self-directed exploration.” -DePaul CDM
Sample Courses: Beginning Drawing, Figure Drawing, Motion Graphics, Two-Dimensional Foundations, Animation Production, 3D Design and Modeling, 3D Animation, Animation Mechanics, Cinema and Art, Illustration Foundations.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD), Denver, Colorado
Degrees Offered: BFA Animation
About: RMCAD’s curriculum is focused on creating compelling content to tell stories. Whether you’re using hand-drawn, computer, stop-motion, or experimental animation, you’ll be focused on storytelling through your craft. -RMCAD
Sample Courses: Stop Motion, Character Animation + Motion studies, Advanced Character Animation + Motion Studies, Drawing, Life Drawing, Anatomy and Figure Studies, Modeling, Character Design.
If you’ve ever thought about studying abroad, now is the time. Studying overseas is more popular than ever, so you will find an endless number of program options to fit your goals. As mentioned earlier, aspiring stop motion animators can expect to find a larger number of pure stop motion animation programs overseas than they would in the U.S. The following schools and programs are just a few that are worth exploring:
Staffordshire University, Staffordshire, England
BA Stop Motion Animation and Puppet-Making
Manchester School of Art, Manchester, UK
BA Animation (student will learn Stop Motion, 2D and 3D Animation techniques)
Bau Design College of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Master’s in Stop Motion Animation
University of South Wales, Newport, UK
BA Animation (2D and Stop Motion)
Griffith University, South East Queensland, Australia
Bachelor of Animation (focus in 3D Puppet or Clay Animation, Traditional Drawn Animation, 2D, 3D and Motion-Captured Digital Animation, and other Experimental Media).
Edge Hill University, Lancashire, UK
BA Animation with elective modules in Stop Motion, 3D CGI, and 2D and Convergent animation.
Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK
BA (Honours) Animation (Stop Motion, 2D Drawn, 3D-CGI Animation)
Falmouth University, UK
BA (Hons) Animation & Visual Effects with Stop Motion
University of Worcester, Worcester, UK
Animation BA (Hons) with Stop Motion
Norwich University of the Arts, Norwich, UK
BA (Hons) Animation (Stop Motion, 2D Digital, CGI)
University of Salford, Salford, Greater Manchester, UK
BA (Hons) Animation with Industry Placement BA (Hons) (Stop Frame Animation)
Coláiste Dhúlaigh College of Further Education, Dublin, Ireland
BA (Hons) Animation (Stop Motion Animation, Experimental Animation, 2D Digital Animation)
University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK
BA, MA Animation (Cut-Out, 3D Stop Frame Model Animation, Clay Animation)
University of Melbourne, Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Melbourne, Australia
BFA Animation (Stop Motion, 2D and 3D Digital, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics)
Birmingham City University, School of Visual Communication, Birmingham, UK
BA (Hons) Film and Animation (Stop Motion, 3D Animation, Traditional filmmaking)
To name a few.
Other programs to consider:
- San Francisco & Online
- Winter Park, FL & Online
Note: All school information was obtained from each school’s official website. At the time this article was published, all information was accurate.
IMDb. IMDb, An Amazon Company, 1990-2016. Web. 09 Oct. 2016.
"What Is Stop Motion Animation?" Techopedia.com. Techopedia Inc., 2016. Web. 09 Oct. 2016.