People, Culture and Inclusion

Animation in Isolation.


Animation in Isolation.

Woody doll sitting at end of pier looking out to sea

Canterbury Anifest has launched a special competition just for lockdown, called Animation in Isolation. Everyone is welcome to enter and if you’ve never even thought about making an animation, we’ve got some easy ways for you to start in this blog. There is no deadline; this is a rolling competition which will continue throughout lockdown, with favourites being featured on the Anifest blog. They will also be screened at Canterbury Anifest 2021, where someone will be awarded ‘Best Animation in Isolation’.

Your animation should be between 10 seconds and 5 minutes in length. You can make it any way you can, and on any theme. Please add ‘Made for Animation in Isolation!’ at the beginning or end of your films, so we know that you are entering into the spirit of the competition. Once you have made your film, upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and let us know the URL on the application form, which can be found on the Canterbury Anifest website.

If you feel so inclined, please also share your work with us on Twitter (@CCCU_Culture) or Instagram (@cccu_artsandculture) – we look forward to seeing it!

Stop motion

Stop motion is a type of animation which involves taking numerous photos of objects or drawings which are slowly moved between frames. The photos form a film when joined together. There are a number of Apps which can make stop motion an absolute breeze, including Smoovie for Apple (as used by Tina in our example) and Stop Motion Studio for Android (as used for the demonstration of a Thaumatrope). They are all very intuitive.


There are a few different ways you can create a stop motion:

  • Cutouts: This technique involves using paper and other 2D materials and moving them across a surface. You can use drawings, coloured paper, collage, photos, even fabric. You may have seen this style of animation when watching TV shows such as South Park, Monty Python’s Flying Circus or Captain Pugwash – obviously these are all quite old, because it’s not a particularly efficient way of animating, and easy to replicate with modern digital techniques!
  • 3D: This is the technique which Tina used in her example and involves manipulating found or homemade objects or figures. You could use inanimate objects, toys and figurines (Lego is a popular choice!) or build your own characters and scenery. Notable examples include Wallace and Gromit, Isle of Dogs, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Clangers.
  • Drawings: This method can be very time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. You can draw lots of individual pictures (like you would for a flip book) to photograph and put into a video. Alternatively, you can edit a single picture, either drawing in pencil and erasing fragments each time, or using a whiteboard, or chalkboard, and photographing the image between each edit. A lovely example of this has already been submitted to Isolation in Animation, and you can view it on the Canterbury Anifest website.


This is a simple way to tell a story with simple drawings, and no need for technology unless you want to film it.

You will need:

  • a small note pad – sticky notes are ideal (the more, the better)
  • a pen or pencil
  1. Draw the first image on the last page of your pad. You will have to hold the other pages out of the way so it can feel a little awkward. Take a break if your hands get uncomfortable!
  2. Let go of the next page and draw a second, slightly different image, to create movement. If you use post it notes you should be able to faintly see your previous drawing through the paper, so you can trace over the lines you want to keep stationary.
  3. The more pages and smaller movements you use, the more subtle the animation will be. Big movements will be quick but jerky, small movements will be slower.
  4. Practice flipping your flip book! It can take a few attempts to get it to flip nicely. Pinch the pages between your thumb and forefinger and slowly release the pages to reveal your story.

This example uses approximately 50 sticky notes:


Thaumatrope translates roughly as “wonder turner”, from Ancient Greek. While not technically an animation, it is certainly a precursor, and a fun optical illusion. A spinning disc is used to combine two images. Before you start, think carefully about what two things you would like to combine. Popular ideas are a bird and a cage, or a fish and a bowl, but you can let your imagination run riot. Traditionally these would have been a single piece of card with a loop of string either side, so that the disc spins around a horizontal axis, but this is a much simpler design using a pen or pencil, to spin the discs vertically.

You will need:

  1. Cut two circles out of card or paper, 5 – 10cm wide. We drew round a tin can.
  2. Draw your pictures. Depending on your design, it is best to avoid letting your two drawings ‘overlap’ too much. You will have to imagine the two pictures appearing on one disc to understand this. Here are some ideas for what your pictures could be:
    1. A bird and a cage
    1. A fish and a bowl
    1. A person and a hat
    1. Eggs and a nest
    1. A caterpillar and a leaf
    1. A black and white image, and colours
  3. Attach the two discs either side of the top of your pencil or pen. The discs need to be secure, and the edges need to stick together neatly.
  4. Spin the pencil by rolling it between your hands. If you do it fast enough, when you look at your paper disc, your two drawings will appear as one.

This demonstration video also happens to be a stop motion animation:


The name zoetrope comes from the Greek words meaning ‘life’ and ‘turning’ as a translation of ‘wheel of life’. The term was coined by inventor William E. Lincoln, for this early animation device. Here is a tutorial for making one from Art Ninja on the BBC.

Kellie Hogben, Arts and Culture

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