One of the earliest animation techniques, cut-out animation is a form of stop-motion in which the characters or props are cut out from materials such as paper, cardboard, photographs or fabric. The shapes are placed flat on a background and moved manually, with each movement captured by a camera which, when edited together, gives the impression of movement.
A brilliant pioneer of cut-out was the German director Lotte Reiniger, who created the first feature-length - and oldest surviving - animation, The Adventures Prince of Achmedin the 1926, which was made using her distinct style of cut-out called 'silhouette animation'. Named due to the black on white material she used, it created a charming, otherworldly shadow effect that was very experimental for the time.
Since then, many filmmakers have been inspired by Reiniger's unique approach, and in fact, cut-out remains a great method for budding animators to start with today, due to its simple but effective process. Although it can now be replicated using computer systems, there are various examples of the traditional cut-out method that can be found in modern animation. Here is a list of notable uses of the style from Lotte Reiniger to Monty Python and modern-day short animations.
This magical fantasy is the oldest surviving animation film in the world, telling an Arabian Nights-style story using a stunning silhouette style.
One of the first feature-length animations made by a pioneer of cut-out animation, female director Lotte Reiniger’s distinct silhouette technique gave her films a unique ethereal feel, similar to shadow puppetry.
Lotte Reiniger: The Fairy Tale Films - Disc 1(1961)
Collection of Lotte Reiniger's stunning depictions of popular fairy tales using her unique silhouette animation style.
Director Lotte Reiniger continued to use her beautiful silhouette style well into the 1960s to bring to life some of your favourite fairytale films including Snow White, Cinderella, Puss In Boots and Aladdin.
Norman McLaren — The Master's Collection — Disc 6(1933)
An extensive collection of the works of Norman McLaren, Oscar winning Scottish filmmaker who pioneered many techniques in animation and sound design.
Another animation innovator who rose to fame in the 1930s, Norman McLaren was known for his experimental and somewhat surreal approach to animation techniques. Collection six of McLaren DVD Boxset focusses on his work in paper cut-out animation, including well-known short Le Merle.
Riveting courtroom drama centred around a local prosecutor who gets a chance to rekindle his faltering career.
Look out for the cut-out animation credit sequence, created by American graphic designer Saul Bass who became infamous for his title sequences for Otto Preminger and other great directors including Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Billy Wilder and Martin Scorsese.
This comedic take on the Arthurian legend from famed British funnymen Monty Python sees the knights encounter all forms of silliness on their quest.
Director Terry Gilliam created the animated interludes and credit sequences across all the Monty Python work and preferred the surreal, offbeat effect that cut-out gave in comparison to the graceful, elegant look of a Disney film.
This 70s surrealist animation tells the story of a future where humans are pets to the giant alien race of Draag
The first feature film by animator Rene Laloux, full feature-length animations were still rare at the time of its release in 1973. Celebrated for its eerie, surreal imagery it offered a brave alternative to mainstream Disney animation that lead it to winning one of the main prizes at the Cannes Film Festival that year.