Video Picks: Heather Colbert

Stop motion animation has a long history in film and it is safe to say it is here to stay! Sheridan talks about the history of this technique and how it’s being applied in today’s design.

From the first instance of the stop motion technique being used back in the 1897 short film ‘The Humpty Dumpty Circus’, to the notable feature-length films released in the CGI boom era of the 90s such as ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, it is safe to say that this personal and heartfelt type of moviemaking represents the purest expression of the creative spirit on screen.

Given the versatility the stop motion aesthetic offers, some may wrongly assume it would not lend itself to dealing with serious motifs and themes…

Enter illustrator and animator Heather Colbert. Having graduated in 2016, she is emerging as quite the trailblazer with her experimental approach to the craft and ability to capture larger than (puppet) life topics. In one of the many music videos she has directed and animated, Heather invites us into her fantastical take of Dolly Parton and true GIRL POWER!


Credit: Official Music video for ‘Dolly Said No to Elvis’ by Mark Nevin. Animator and director, Heather Colbert.
Be sure to check out this Video Pick… It will delight and amuse you in equal measure. In the video, we see Heather Colbert tell the story of how Dolly Parton once stood her ground and refused to sell her song to Elvis Presley. The visuals are beautiful!


Want to see more? Watch Heather’s other animations on Vimeo


Elvis Presley’s manager – the formidable Colonel Tom Parker – approached Dolly Parton with a great opportunity to have Elvis record her song, ‘I will always love you’, but on the condition that they would take 50 per cent of the publishing rights. At the time she was successful, but not yet in the league of Elvis, so it took extraordinary strength of character and belief in the value of her work to refuse.

From the stylised hand-lettered title sequence, to the expressive puppet figurines, we the audience get a three minute and 42 second snapshot of female excellence… both from Dolly P and Heather C – Zig-a-zig-ahhhhhh.

What is stop-motion? Stop motion animation can be thought of as just a series of still photographs. Objects or puppets are moved and filmed frame-by-frame to simulate movement. For example the original ‘King Kong’ (1933) and Star Wars films made heavy use of stop motion animation, using miniatures and puppets. This was the only way to bring objects that couldn’t move by themselves to life on screen. With the advent of computer generated imagery stop motion animation serves as a rejection of the mainstream and an ode to unique effects and realistic textures (since actual materials are used in filming). It is still widely used in artistic films, shorts, and commercials.


Don’t forget to watch our tutorial on doing your own stop-motion animation at home.

Interested in studying animation?

BA (Hons) Animation

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