back to top

12 Surprising Materials That Filmmakers Used To Tell A Story

Fancy special effects are just so... fake. There are many other creative ways to make a film, which is exactly why IBM used atoms to make the world's smallest movie.

Posted on

1. Potatoes:


For the opening titles of Typophile Film Festival 5, BYU design students and faculty used carb-tastic goodness (as well as ham, jell-o and and squash) to convey a dedication to design.

2. Human hair:

20th Century Fox / Via

For the human characters in The Fantastic Mr. Fox, the animators used hair collected from employees around the studio.

3. Pumpkins:

To make this delightfully creepy stop motion short, Auke de Vries carved out dozens and dozens of pumpkins.

4. Atoms:

For the short "A Boy And His Atom", IBM placed atoms with a scanning tunneling microscope to make its actors, props, and scenes. The lead character is a single nanometer in size (one 25 millionth the size of an inch), and Guinness World Records has certified it as the world's smallest stop-motion film.

5. Lubricant:

Icon Productions / Via

Mary and Max, which premiered on opening night at Sundance in 2009 but never have a theatrical release in the US, used lubricant for all of its water scenes.

6. Cellophane:

France 3 Cinéma / Via

For anything imaginary, Science of Sleep never really relied on traditional materials, further proving that what's in our heads will always be cooler than reality.

7. Pencils:

Dropbear Digital / Via

The stop motion music video "Against The Grain" for Hudson was brought to life with nearly 1,000 pencils and 5125 images

8. Sound and vegetables:

William Chan / Via

The opening title for The Kitchen Musical (a Singaporean musical drama TV series) set various foods on speakers so they could vibrate.

9. Handcrafted figurines:

Four Story Treehouse / Via

This stop motion short tells the serious "Story of Sushi" with art direction reminiscent of your childhood.

10. Post It notes:

A student's video project titled "Deadline" made procrastination playful with plenty of colorful sticky notes.

11. Infrared dots:

Deepspeed media / Via

In the documentary "Clouds," Kinect technology brings to life interviews of media artists and hackers who are talking about code.

12. Anything but food:

In the Oscar-nominated short "Fresh Guacamole" by PES, a bowl of guacamole dip comes to life using playdough, dice, and sequins.

Inspired by the world's smallest stop motion movie:

View this video on YouTube