In San Francisco’s Presidio, just down the road from where Industrial Light & Magic is using the latest in computer animation technology, the Walt Disney Family Museum (previous review here) is presenting an exhibition dedicated to a different type of animation technology that is over 100 years old. Between Frames: The Magic Behind Stop Motion Animation(on view from September 27, 2012 through April 28, 2013) explores the history and evolution of stop motion animation in the United States and, according to WDFM CEO Gabriella Calicchio, “is part of a new exhibition program showcasing artists and art forms that inspired and influenced Walt Disney and his animators.”
For animation fans, learning the history of stop motion is a worthwhile endeavor. Exhibition curator Anel Muller states, “I’m very excited about this exhibition, obviously… One of the most interesting things I uncovered is the people behind stop motion animation.” These people include Ray Harryhausen, Phil Tippett, Henry Selick and Tim Burton who all helped bring this art form to new generations of moviegoers and Saturday morning television viewers. Muller was able to obtain numerous drawings, models, puppets, interactive armatures and replicas (“[They] said ‘Take anything you want,’” she recalled) used in various films, television shows and commercials including Gumby, King Kong, Star Wars, The Nightmare Before Christmas and more.
Display case contents range from a replica of King Kong from the 1930’s to models of Coraline and Robot Chicken from the first decade of 21st century.
One of the main goals at the Walt Disney Family Museum is inspiration through education. While one may not immediately connect stop motion with Walt Disney himself, the Museum notes that Walt began his animation career in Kansas City using this type of animation for advertisements. The galleries exist to educate you on Walt Disney’s history and accomplishments which will hopefully inspire you to follow your own passion. This goal is not lost on Muller who says, “I hope that when visitors leave this exhibit that they feel a surge of inspiration, that they will find creativity in their own lives.”