Starbucks- Animation with some cups

Animating cups, stop motion style, simple yet effective!

This was an amazing opportunity to work with both Partizan and also Hoku Uchimaya and Adam Bolt who do some very cool stuff!

The video I saw of theirs was Evelyn Evelyn "Have you seen my sister Evelyn?" music video. Which is very cool and uses some merry melodies style animation as part of it, and all the action is within one shot with no cuts.

The Shoot

This shoot was also one of the very few that are done on location instead of in a studio. I was fine in the Starbucks, but many others of the crew were outdoors in amongst the snow. And these were experienced crew members, but strangely they didn't wear snow gear!

Animating cups is simple yet effective as each cup has subtle differences, but once animated it becomes apparent that this cannot be replicated in computer style as CGi by design has an amount of digital perfection about it. The cups are mass manufactured and each seam, each edge, each cut is ever so subtly different only noticeable once you start the replacement animation technique. All wrapped up in one day! Phew!!

The finished animation achieved great engagement results for Starbucks as the you tube video got 522 likes and 126,000 views, but it also helped their social media move up to 530,000 Facebook likes and 15,400 twitter followers.

Sign up for my 7 point guide to stop motion!


The story of a New Balance 420

New Balance are perfect first clients for STC as they appreciate grassroots initiatives

The 420 range is a very important shoe for New Balance, it is a very popular shoe and equally it was important to create a children’s option. Now the children’s range matches the adult range, but remain child specific. The promotional video will be part of the launch of this new range in a stop motion trainers story.

Although New Balance have grown substantially over the past five years, they have not lost sight of who they are or where they came from and remain committed to manufacturing in Britain. New Balance are perfect first clients for STC as they appreciate grassroots initiatives and are confident with innovative creativity, to go against the trend (like with their manufacturing commitments). Not only does the product lend itself well to stop motion, but their set of philosophies concur with the advantages of using stop motion- if the product itself is the star of the promotional video, then there is no need for a celebrity endorser.  


Production began with creating the set with Robin. We decided to create quite a beige corner of a room, so that the awesome colours of the shoes would just “pop”. Robin designed the set from his workshop, and cleverly designed it to be dismantled, loaded into his van and then unloaded and set up on the first morning in the studio. Set up with the set and lighting took all day. By day two we were able to start shooting.

a problem to be solved by animation tricks of the trade

A big part of animation is problem solving. How do you make the shoes jump I hear you say, well that is a problem to be solved by animation tricks of the trade. Or else turning to Mackinnon and Saunders for some rigging work, which was working out wonderfully for me.

It was all very satisfying to cross out the last frame on the storyboard, but then the edit begins with removing all the rigging work that helped so much with the animation. This is painted out using clean plates- clean plates that I must capture at the start and end of each shot.

If you enjoyed this, then you will enjoy my 7 point guide to stop motion, and you can get it here!

Franky’s Animation

Manchester based animator Kim Emson has been given a unique opportunity to showcase her talent by working on Skins, the controversial teen drama based in Bristol, which will be back on our screens on 27th January 2011.


Kim set up her Manchester based production company Seconds that count three years ago; the company’s specialism is Stop Motion Animation. This form of animation has been around since the late 1800’s and is widely used in children’s programmes.  The challenge now for those involved in this form of animation is to show that stop motion is current and relevant amidst the growing popularity of 3D computer animation. Another challenge is the trend to outsource animation overseas to countries such as India or Japan.  It is therefore a great boost when companies choose to support the homegrown talents of our UK animators.


So why did a modern, cutting edge programme like Skins, choose to use a form of animation that’s around 100yrs old over the popular computerised animation? Stephanie Oakley, Art Director for the series said “The main reason we chose stop animation over computer generated imagery was that the writer had created a character (animation student Franky) who made her own animated films from her bedroom, so it was an integral part of the storyline.”

The inspiration behind the Skins animation sequences was the 2006 film, The Science of Sleep by Micheal Gondry, which uses stop motion animation with live action filming to depict the main character who mixes dreams with reality.  

For the creative team it was a visually more interesting project to have a stop motion set in the characters bedroom than just a computer. The inspiration behind the Skins animation sequences was the 2006 film, The Science of Sleep by Micheal Gondry, which uses stop motion animation with live action filming to depict the main character who mixes dreams with reality.   About the Skins character, Stephanie Oakley says, “(Franky) interacts throughout the episode with her mannequin, which she takes with her at all times. The animation sequence quickly and succinctly represents the emotions of the character in the story, through her mannequin.”

About Kim

Kim Emson got her break working for CBBC producing children’s programmes notably Bob the Builder and Ooglies.  Of her opportunity to work on this high voltage teen show Kim says that, “I think it’s brilliant that they chose to have a character showing an interest in stop motion, instead of computer animation. It’s also great that they would champion the medium of stop motion. It’s a popular show amongst young people today and hopefully now stop motion can still be seen as ‘cool’ as it taps into a different audience.”

The chance to be involved with a show like Skins has been a great opportunity to do something that is far removed from her work on children’s programmes. “Franky has a lot of issues from her past and is using animation as a form of therapy in a way. I’ve learnt a lot about stop motion’s capacity to translate complex emotions, albeit in an abstract way,” says Kim.

The desire to attract a wider audience and show that stop motion is still a powerful creative tool is what drives STC to take on projects like this. With talented stop motion animators such as Kim, the use of this medium is not going to go away any time soon. Download STC's 7 point guide to stop motion here.

Up & Running

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