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Challenges: Pixelation animation

Montage of images showing girl waking up from sleep for pixelation sequence
Montage of images showing girl waking up from sleep for pixelation sequence
Behind the scenes pixelation experimentation, 2020. Photographs: Luiza.
Written by
Nicola Francis
Published date
28 July 2020

Nicola introduces you to ‘pixelation’-  an animation technique where you can turn yourself or your friends and family into an animated sequence.

Luiza's pixellation experiment

Video made and edited by Luiza especially for this 'challenge.'

The challenge

‘Pixilation’ is a stop-motion animation technique in which you use humans instead of puppets, and edit together individual photos instead of filming, to create an animated film.

In this challenge you’ll create an animated sequence of between 10 and 30 images.

This can be as simple as a single movement like ‘The Matrix jump’. Or more complicated, depending on what you have available and the space you have to play with.

Fun fact: the term ‘Pixilation’ does not come from the word pixels but from pixies!

What materials or equipment  do I need?

  • A smart phone
  • Free stop motion animation app for example, Stop Motion Studio (Android) (Apple) or a video editor app like Kinemaster (Android) (Apple)
  • Another human being
  • Objects around your house that you could use for props

How long will I need to complete the challenge?

Around 30 minutes – 1 hour for each part depending on how involved you want to be.

Part 1: Plan your actions

a drawn storyboard next to an image of somebody filming another in a bedroom
Luiza, Photograph: Luiza
| Photograph: UAL
  • Team up with one or more other people for this task
  • With your team mate/s, decide on an action for your short animated sequence
  • You might even want to draw out a storyboard to plan what actions you’re going to capture in your short sequence.

Part 2: Look at other pixelations for inspiration

There are lots of fun ways to use pixilation so have a look around online for inspiration. Here’s a couple to start with:

Matrix jump (Andrew Cortesi on YouTube)

You and I (Cristian Narváez on YouTube)

Part 3: Make your animated sequence

a screenshot from an editing software displaying images of young people in a bedroom
Luiza, Photograph: Luiza
| Photograph: UAL
  • Once you have decided your action, get your team mate/s in position
  • Take the first picture using your chosen app on your smart phone
  • Now your team mate should move and prepare for the second picture
  • When they are ready, take the second picture
  • Continue to move incrementally and take pictures until you have completed the action.

Remember, the further something or someone moves from its previous position, the faster it will appear to move when you play back your animated sequence.

Take a look at Avni’s ‘Techniques: Make a stop motion animation’ for tips on capturing movement and using the Stop Motion Studio app.

Part 4: Create a sequence with more props

If you’ve got more time, space and objects to hand you could develop your storyline further like Luiza's final pixelation.

Luiza's final pixelation

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