Cut-out Animation with UFOs

During this first film I encountered quite a few problems which flooded to be overcome, and a lot of time was spent in experimenting. Initially this is to be expected, until experience is gained, but of course no expensive cels or animation aids are needed, only a few pieces of card. In fact these experiments are fun, and become at times hilarious, with results far removed from what you intended, although I would always advise making your experiments, if possible, separate to the actual film shooting, if only to avoid splices.

This first film of mine was a joke film about U.F.Os and involved two differently coloured ‘Flying Saucer’ meeting, mating and producing a Cup and Saucer. The film was called THE MUTANT.

My first problem was ‘how do you give a rotation effect to the U.F.Os ?’ Answer: Have a pair of cut outs for each U.F.O. one with an even number of windows, the other having an odd number. These are substituted each frame and give a strobe effect which is quite realistic.


Above: U.F.O. front.

Below:  rear.


Alternate 2 frames front and 2 frames rear. The effect is rotation.

Another problem was how to depict a rotating planet in space, Answer; a circular hole in black card, behind which is pulled multi-coloured card frame by frame. Believe it or not the ‘orb’ does appear to rotate.


Effect of rotating planet.

One other problem which I met in this film was how to show the egg (produced by the female U.F.O.) increasing in size prior to busting.

I could of course have made a large number of increasingly bigger eggs but I found that you can use a smaller number of cut outs by shooting the next larger ‘egg’ over two frames, then substituting the previous smaller ‘egg’ for one frame, then going on to the third larger ‘egg for two frames, back one and so on. This gives a pulsating effect and looks quite realistic, making the jerkiness of cut out animation a decided advantage.

Egg grows:

Filming order: 1. 1. 2. 2. 1. 3. 3. 2. 4. 4. 3. 5. 5. 4. 6. 6. 5. etc. gives a throbbing effect.

So you see with a little imagination, virtually no drawing ability and some experimenting, acceptable animation films are possible.

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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 4 (Spring 1983)