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The Spooktacular Art Of Stop Motion Animation Comes Alive On Halloween

Whether you love it or loathe it, Halloween is now the UK’s third most profit-generating holiday after Christmas and Easter – with a staggering £687 million estimated to be spent this year.

The popularity surrounding Halloween has exploded in recent years as popular culture moves more freely between countries and continents – what was once a much-loved holiday in America is now a staple on the calendar for UK households.

According to the social media management tool, Sendible, ‘the best Halloween marketing campaigns often feature clever storytelling with a heavy focus on video’. This was the perfect excuse (not that we needed one) to get the ghoulish juices flowing within the Dead Ready animation team.

In this article we showcase our Halloween-inspired stop motion animation, share some behind the scenes of how it was made, explain what stop motion is and the different styles of stop motion that exist, and provide a helpful ‘how to’ guide to carving the perfect pumpkin!


Behind the scenes

Animator, Mia Moore, talks us through the different stages for producing our Halloween stop motion animation. 

Stage 1: Concept & Planning 

The concept stage is the most important part of the stop motion process. Not only do we come up with the initial idea, but also what will be needed to achieve the final product. Props and decoration are one thing, but tools needed to achieve certain movements and effects also need to be considered. Stop motion is very physical, so if something inanimate were to jump, how would we suspend it in mid-air? There are a lot of unseen tricks to achieve seemingly simple actions, and this is the stage where we discuss what can be done.  

For example, the idea to have the pumpkin close its eyes and laugh came from the very beginning, but it’s impossible to un-carve a pumpkin so we had to think backwards, from the last frame to the first, and figure out what could be done to achieve this effect. In the end, we carved the pumpkin in a very specific manner so it started off with closed eyes which could open and shut with some clever editing.  

Stage 2: Set Design 

A physical set was needed for this animation. We decided on a natural forest scene, with dead branches, leaves and cobwebs. It’s important to set up the camera first before building your set, as you only want to decorate where the camera can see. We wanted to keep the spooky atmosphere as natural as possible and let the light inside the pumpkin do most of the work, so we had to shoot the set in low lighting.

Stage 3: The Shoot 

We used classic carving tools and with every small cut into the pumpkin, two photos were taken – when played in a sequence the pumpkin appears to be moving on its own.  Being flexible and adaptable is very important on a stop motion shoot as no matter how much you prepare you have to accept that things could change last minute on the day. Despite taking longer to cut than we had anticipated, our shoot ran smoothly.

Stage 4: Editing 

Raw camera footage can only go so far, so a lot of the time stop motion has to go through a post-production phase. This was especially true for our Halloween animation, as we had to edit some features of the pumpkin to play in reverse to achieve the impression of laughter. This was created using the masking tool in After Effects as I wanted to be able to animate the eyes and mouth separately so that they could create new expressions that didn’t previously exist in the raw footage. 


Watch a time lapse video showing the making of our Halloween stop motion animation.


What is stop motion animation?

Stop motion is an animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames, so that they appear to exhibit independent motion or change when the series of frames is played back.

What are the different styles of stop motion animation?

Object Motion

Uses the animated movements of any non-drawn objects such as toys or dolls, and similar items which are not fully malleable such as clay or wax, and which are not designed to look like recognisable human or animal characters. (Wikipedia)


Involves the sculpture and frame-by-frame manipulation of clay-based characters or objects. The most famous examples of this technique are the multi-Oscar-winning duo Wallace & Gromit. (Adobe)


Live actors are used as a frame-by-frame subject in an animated film by repeatedly posing while one or more frame is taken and then changing pose slightly before the next frame or frames are taken. (Wikipedia)


One of the oldest and most simple techniques there is, cutout motion involves making 2D animation using characters, props and scenes made from materials including paper. (Adobe)

Puppet Animation

Involves puppet figures that are animated frame-by-frame. Usually, the animators create a physical three-dimensional scene, similar to a small theatre, where the action will take place. (

Silhouette Animation

Pioneered by European studios during the 1920s, silhouette animation combines the use of cutout-motion and clever shadow play to produce fascinating frames of action. (Adobe)

It’s not a Halloween blog without a ‘how to carve a pumpkin’ guide!

We’ve prepared this quick and easy guide to help you through the steps of carving the perfect pumpkin.

Step 1. The Lid

Make sure that when you take the top off it is slightly cone-shaped. This will help make sure that when you place it back on the pumpkin it doesn’t fall into the middle. To do this, angle the knife downwards into the pumpkin to form a cone.

Top Tip: Use a small serrated knife. If you can find one that is slightly flexible it will help you go round corners when it comes to cutting out your design.

Step 2. The Innards

You now need to remove the seeds and the stringy tissue to form a centre cavern. To do this, scrape down the sides of the inside of the pumpkin with a robust spoon. Once you’ve worked your way around the entire contents of the middle, the innards should come out in one go.

Top Tip: Place a biodegradable bag over the entire pumpkin, tip the pumpkin upside down and all the innards will fall straight into the bag. 

Step 3. Your Design 

Once you’ve either picked your design from the hundreds of templates on the internet or sketched out your own, it’s time to draw or mark your outline on the pumpkin. A biro draws easily on pumpkin skin and if you make any mistakes, it can be rubbed off, but you can also use a large pin to mark dots along the outline which you can then use as a guide for your knife.

Top Tip:  If you want to add an extra twist to your design try using black chalkboard paint on your pumpkin. 

Step 4. Get Cutting

The best way to cut out your design is to trace over the lines you have drawn with the knife, piercing the skin by just a few millimeters – you don’t want to push through the full depth of the pumpkin just yet. Once you have your preliminary cuts you can now start carving through the full depth of the pumpkin. The deeper cuts will naturally follow the shallow cuts you previously made.

Start with the inner least structural parts of your design and work your way out. To ensure most light comes through, make sure that the direction you are carving is perpendicular to your outlines – you are going to be viewing your pumpkin from the front, so the light won’t shine through parts where the flesh remains. You can vary the amount of light showing in the design by cutting some areas to half depth.

Top Tip: Rotate the pumpkin as you cut out the various parts of your design, so the knife is always moving in the same direction. This will help improve the accuracy of your cuts.

Step 5. Lights On

When it comes to lighting your pumpkin there are electronic candles available which are safe for children, but for the best effect there’s no substitute for using two tea light candles placed inside your pumpkin.

Did you follow our pumpkin carving ‘how to’ guide?

If so, we’d love to see your pumpkin creations so share them and tag us on Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #DeadReadyPumpkin.

If you would like to find out more about stop motion or any other type of animation, please feel free to get in touch via the button below or by calling +44 (0)208 339 6139. 


In Celebration Of International Animation Day Our Animators Flex Their Creative Muscles

How do the animators at Dead Ready Productions celebrate International Animation Day? By creating an animation showcasing all the skills we can offer our clients of course!

International Animation Day was an international observance proclaimed in 2002 by the Association Internationale du Film d’Animation (ASIFA), a non-profit corporation devoted to cultivating and promoting the art, craft and profession of animation.

Celebrated annually on the 28th of October, International Animation Day commemorates the first public performance of Charles-Émile Reynaud’s Théâtre Optique at the Grevin Museum in Paris in 1892.

The Théâtre Optique is an animated moving picture system invented by Émile Reynaud and patented in 1888. From 28th October 1892 to March 1900 Reynaud gave over 12,800 shows to a total of over 500,000 visitors at the Musée Grévin in Paris.

Thanks to the ASIFA, International Animation Day is now considered to be a global event celebrating the art of animation.

In this article, our Lead Animator, Chris Lupton, explains the 8 creative stages involved and how they were applied to our animation (watch below) in celebration of International Animation Day 2022.


The Creative Process


Stage 1. Brainstorming

Definition: A group creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. (Wikipedia)

Showing the brainstorming process for the International Animation Day animation

Brainstorming sessions are an important stage of any project so the whole animation department got together, found reference materials for style and animation approach and used Pinterest to collect visual imagery to draw inspiration from.

It was decided that this was a great opportunity to not only represent the varied animation approaches that Dead Ready Productions offer, but to demonstrate the processes involved in creating those animations.

The video would therefore tell the creative story, touching on each stage of production: storyboarding, animaticsdesign/illustration, character rigging, various styles of animating, sound designing and last but not least, the tedious (but essential) rendering process.

Stage 2. Storyboarding

Definition: A storyboard is a graphic organiser that consists of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualising a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence. (Wikipedia)

Visual showing the storyboard process for the International Animation Day animation

Once a solid understanding of a visual style and the story that was to be told was confirmed, the next stage is storyboarding. Initial sketches were made by Lead Animator, Chris Lupton, using the software Procreate.

The sketches were laid into a storyboard using Boords, an online storyboarding software, to give a visual idea of the overall flow of the story.

Stage 3. Animatic

Definition: An animatic is an animated storyboard – a slideshow of images depicting movement. Storyboard images are cut together to make a rough draft animation, usually with sound effects or music, giving filmmakers an idea of what the final animation or live-action sequence will look like. (

Visual showing the animatic process for the International Animation Day animation

Once all the sketches were finished and arranged, an animatic of the storyboard timed to music was created. The soundtrack was also selected and added at this stage. 

The below video shows how the finished animation compares to the animatic stage.


Stage 4. Design / Illustration

Definition: Graphic design can be defined as the art or practice that helps you communicate your messages and ideas with the use of visuals, whereas illustration can be defined as a visual explanation or interpretation of an idea, process or concept. (London College of Contemporary Arts)

Visual showing the design process for the International Animation Day design and illustration

Alongside the creation of the animatic, Chris and Graphic Designer, Hollie Coote, began illustrating and creating the graphics for the video. The video uses various forms of animation so there were multiple design approaches to consider for the 2D environments and 3D where necessary.

A combination of Adobe After effects and Illustrator were used for the 2D elements and Cinema 4D software was used for the 3D Modelling and texturing.

The creation of a colour pallet also happens at this stage of the process – a video that adheres to an on brand colour pallet throughout helps to keep the video coherent and give it its identity. 

Stage 5. Motion Graphics (animation)

Definition: Motion graphics (sometimes mograph) are pieces of animation or digital footage which create the illusion of motion or rotation, and are usually combined with audio for use in multimedia projects. (Wikipedia)

Visual showing the animation process for the International Animation Day

The animation stage was a team effort as it combined multiple animation formats (3D, 2D and stop motion – it is also when any characters are rigged and graphics are made to move, see explanation of in stage 6).

Lead Animator, Chris, worked with Animator and stop motion expert, Mia Moore to devise a cost-effective way to create the hero sphere element – namely a ball of Blu tac! Multiple photos were taken of the Blu tac ball, which was colour corrected to match the colour pallet of the video.

It was important that the 3D sections blended with the 2D sections seamlessly, so Maxon’s Cinema 4D software and Video Copilot’s Element 3D was used to achieve a perfectly blended look.

Stage 6. Character Rigging

Definition: Character rigging is a technique used in skeletal animation where you add control to a model. It defines the range of movement for a character or object to define its actions, gestures and movement. (Adobe)

Visual showing the character rigging process for the International Animation Day

Taking the time to rig a character makes the animation process much simpler in the long run.

Whereas without it, you would need to move each individual piece of a character’s body e.g. to move an arm you would need to move the wrist, the forearm, the shoulder, all whilst ensuring the elements appeared attached to each other, character rigging allows one element e.g. the wrist, to move the whole arm. 

TOP TIP: To ensure project deadlines are met, always encourage client sign off on any characters before moving onto the rigging and animation stage, as re-rigging and re-animating is both timely and costly. 

Stage 7. Sound Design

Definition: Sound design is the art and practice of creating soundtracks for a variety of needs. It involves specifying, acquiring, or creating auditory elements using audio production techniques and tools. (Wikipedia)

Visual showing the sound design process for the International Animation Day

Sound design is the extra layer that brings an animated production to the next level.

The application of sound design usually varies during the production. Music is generally applied early in the animation process, whilst any sound effects (only if an animation is locked off), are added towards the final stages.

If a movement changes within an animation so too does the sound effect relating to that movement, so to keep things simple, all sound effects are saved. This helps to speed up the process.

Stage 8. Rendering

Definition: Rendering is the process involved in the generation of a two-dimensional or three-dimensional image from a model by means of application programs. (

Visual showing the rendering process for the International Animation Day

The all-important rendering stage is the equivalent if clicking save, but the time it takes to render depends entirely on the components featured.

The rendering of this 30 second animation for International Animation Day took 20 minutes due to the lighting effects, 3D visuals and detail animation used to create it. 

When working on any animation and/or design the Motion Graphic Designer will always be considering how long a scene could take to render. This knowledge ensures the highest standard is delivered to clients and that deadlines are met.

If you would like to find out more about these or any other animation approaches, please feel free to get in touch via the button below or by calling +44 (0)208 339 6139.