Let’s see how do Pixilation work

Pixilation is a frame by frame animation technique wich is similar to stop-motion Animation, but has the particularity to stage real people.

So, just like stop-motion, the process consist to capture a series of photos, using a video camera or a photo camera.

Then we will scroll them at a 24 frames/sec rate (rate can be different depending on the format in which the video will be exported), to recreate the illusion of movement.

The pioneers of pixilation

The process has been discovered and experimented for the first time by James Stuart Blackton.

He directed the animated pixilation film “The haunted hotel” (1906), in which he staged a breakfast that prepares itself.

Subsequently, other pioneers have followed him, such as the French Émile Courtet (aka Émile Cohl).

In addition to making the first French Animated Cartoon “Phantasmagorie”, he will later realize the pixilation animated film “Jobard does not want to see women working” in 1911.

Then in 1952, a Canadian director named Norman McLaren made one of the pixilation animation films that marked his field and his era, named “Neighbors”.

For the anecdote, McLaren himself created the music of his film by scratching directly on the soundtrack of the film geometric shapes, which the projector recognized as sounds!

Pixilation today

Nowadays, this technique is taken again and used to give birth to interesting and very original films.

The process allowing to have fun playing with the shapes and colors of any object, we may sometimes obtain special results!

As for example with the movie “Fresh Guacamole” (2012) which was the smallest film ever nominated for an Oscar :

In a register and aesthetic slightly different, we can find some very good films. They have required a huge amount of background work and a lot of patience to reach the final result.

As for example the movie “Luminaris” (2011) which required more than 2 years of production :

Pixilation looks so cool! But how can I make a pixilation movie by myself?

As with stop-motion, all you will need is a video camera, a photo camera or a cell phone to capture still images.

Once your images are captured, you can edit them with an image editing software such as Photoshop. And then compile them in a video editing software like Premiere Pro.

Finally, you can add sounds, musics, voices and why not special effects with a compositing software like After Effects!

The possibilities are endless, whatever your age. Thanks to the technology, you can today make your own pixilation movie.

Here is a concrete example of what you can do by yourself with few means, but a lot of imagination :

And here is a short Tutorial about how to make pixilation for those who would like to get started :

Have fun and let your imagination running!

Sly is the limit meme


I am a professional 2D and 3D animator who worked for years on Animated TV Series and Video Games. (see complete profil description on the sidebar of the Blog). Have fun!

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