Using Stop Motion Animation to Sketch in Architecture: A practical approach

Ru Zarin, Kent Lindbergh, Daniel Fallman
2012, Vol. 17, No. 3,


Widely acknowledged as an archetypal design activity,
sketching is typically carried out using little more than pen
and paper. Today’s designed artifacts however, are often
given qualities that are hard to capture with traditional
means of sketching. While pen and paper sketching
catches the character of a building, it may not equally well
capture how that building changes with the seasons, how
people pass through it, how the light moves in between
its rooms from sunrise to dawn, and how its façade subtly
decays over centuries. Yet, it is often exactly these dynamic
and interactive aspects that are emphasised in
contemporary design work. So is there a way for designers
to be able to sketch also these dynamic processes?
Over several years and in different design disciplines, we
have been exploring the potential of stop motion
animation (SMA) to serve this purpose. SMA is a basic
form of animation typically applied to make physical
objects appear to be alive. The animator moves objects in
small increments between individually photographed
frames. When the photographs are combined and played
back in continuous sequence, the illusion of movement is
created. Although SMA has a long history in filmmaking,
the animation technique has received scarce attention in
most design fields including product design, architecture,
and interaction design. This paper brings SMA into the
area of sketching in architecture by reporting on the
planning, conduct, result, and evaluation of a workshop
course carried out with a group of 50 students at Umeå
School of Architecture, Umeå University, Sweden.


sketching, stop motion animation, design, architecture, Technique, workshop, course

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