Pixilation is a stop motion technique in which 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 changing pose slightly before the next frame or frames. The actor becomes a kind of living stop-motion puppet. This technique is often used as a way to blend live actors with animated ones in a movie, such as in The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb by the Bolex Brothers.

In Hôtel électrique (1908), Julienne Mathieu's hair appears to brush itself, one of the first uses of stop-motion animation in film.

Early examples of this technique are Hôtel électrique from 1908 and Émile Cohl's 1911 movie Jobard ne peut pas voir les femmes travailler (Jobard cannot see the women working).

The term is widely credited to Grant Munro (although some say it was Norman McLaren) and he made an experimental movie named "Pixillation", available in his DVD collection "Cut Up – The Films of Grant Munro."[1]


Television shows

Music videos

Quebec band Les Colocs and Michel Gondry used pixilation in many of their music videos.

Of note, "Leave Me Alone" by Michael Jackson utilises a variation on this technique by slowing down the frame rate of video and overlaying objects to achieve the distinctive pixilation look to great effect.


The pixilation technique was also used for the opening of Claymation, Will Vinton's 1978, 17-minute documentary about his animation studio's production techniques, the first time the famous trademarked Claymation term was used, now a term synonymous with all clay animation.[4]

The Czech animator Jan Švankmajer uses pixilation in most of his work; most notably Food.

Jan Kounen's Gisele Kerozene (1989), a short film that shows witches riding around a city on broomsticks, is another influential example of this technique.

Pixilation is also used in Andrew Huang's short video Fluxis.

An effect similar to pixilation can be achieved by dropping occasional frames from a conventionally recorded movie. While obviously easier than the stop-frame technique, this does not achieve the same quality.


  1. ^ Grant Munro
  2. ^ Washed by Michael Bartolomeo
  3. ^ "Baby C'mon" 2005 music video by Stephen Malkmus
  4. ^ Claymation Documentary Part 1 (1978)