Cardboard: animation by Sjors Vervoort

Dutch animator Sjors Vervoort created this fantastic stop-motion animation as a graduation project. Steven Aert did the sound design. (Thanks, Vann Hall!)


  1. Very cool animation. At first I was almost hoping he would do it in a more isolated spot as the people/vehicles jumping was a bit distracting, but then he did the animation running across the street, and it added lots of tension and excitement. Love this sorta stuff!

  2. That was seriously fucking badass. Thank you Sjors, Steven, and David for posting. I thought I’d seen stop motion pretty well played out, but this had great style and spot-on pacing. Thanks!

  3. Very impressive, yes indeed.

    Now counting down to the inevitable rip-off by some advertising creeps.

  4. Awesome, awesome, awesome. The giant orange runner blew my mind (and, surely, some of the folks on the street when it was being filmed)

  5. Puskmonk: No that was my thought exactly. Not to be a nit because it’s kind of a cool piece, but the lighting on the cardboard doesn’t match the enviornment in many shots, the cardboard subjects are too evenly lit and he forgot shadows in a couple shots. Neat idea but I can’t help he’s cheating and knocking off this piece (which is really what it seems):

  6. This is very cool, I’m glad it was done and that I got the chance to see it.

    As to “cheating”….WTF? Since when has there been a “right” way to do art? Whatever methods he used are just fine (as if he needs anyone’s approval).

    The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. A. Einstein

    1. Let me second the WTF? on comments of cheating. Maybe the nitpickers could wrangle this together in an afternoon, but it’s way beyond my skill set, and what’s here is pretty fabulous. He/she deserves huzzas, not whinging and nitpicking, especially for a school level project. I agree the Blublu piece is pretty amazing too.

  7. I’ll start off by saying that this is an exciting student project, and the sound design is just right, too. Nice Job!

    Stop-Motion is probably the most intense and difficult forms of animation, and to say that this is stop-motion is untrue. So, if you’re going to call it Stop-Motion Animation, it should be that. I think that’s the issue the nitpickers have – no one’s saying it’s not a cool vid.
    There are definitely elements that were shot on location, which is stop-motion, but most of the animation was composited in after the BackGround plates were shot – with shadows faked in to set them in the BG.
    So the nitpickers and the it’s all gooders are both right – it’s a cool animated project.

  8. It’s cheating if the artist called it Stop Motion, because these are clearly not all cardboard cutouts. I suspect the majority were done in CGI, if not all. Stop motion implies a lot of painstaking manual work which was not done here.

    However, it appears boingboing is the one who called it Stop-Motion. In which case it’s a simple mistake on David’s part, and Sjors didn’t cheat at all. He made a fancy CGI video, and it’s fairly badass. Good job, Sjors!

  9. Knodi: That looks like traditional stop-motion video to me, using a series of cardboard cutouts painted appropriately and using replacement animation to achieve motions within the cutout such as walk cycles.

    Yeah, it could have been done more easily in post. But the fun thing about it is that they *didn’t* take that shortcut.

    1. If everything was done practically, I’m very interested in the mechanics of it. Such as at 1:31 how to keep an 8 foot tall figure balanced on one leg from falling or blowing over.

  10. The potato bug thing has the Chinese character for beauty for a mouth – you can see it clearly at 0:41.

  11. Sorry technogeek, it’s pretty clear that the cardboard was inserted after the fact in at least some of the scenes.

    There are several parts where a “cutout” is moving across a rooftop and the contrast of the scene changes dramatically, while the contrast on the cutout remains the same.

    This would not be possible of the cardboard cutout was physically part of the scene, as the contrast on it would change along with the surrounding environment.

    They may be real sheets of painted cardboard that were filmed and then inserted after the fact, or it may be CGI, I don’t know. But it was definitely added after the fact.

  12. I believe people here are diverging into an argument of semantics. Is the argument that 100% of the stopmotion was done on location, or that some was done one set? It is hard to argue due to the compression, but there is evidence that would lead some to believe post work or some form of masking was done.

    Examine the base of the objects, there is blurring and disjunction from the local shadows. Could be from post when they removed the supports, or where they photoshopped/after effects/ect it into the scene.

    Examine the cardboard where it meets the painted characters. There are no wrinkles on the character, while the cardboard clearly has folds and creases that stop at the characters edge.

    Consider the feasibility of some of these shots, stopping traffic, or keeping a crowd of onlookers from messing stuff up. “Dude! whats that giant orange monster, lets go see”

    This is a remarkable piece of work, but I believe many people are ascribing too much to its production. Art and animation is about a number of things, but towards its center it is about bringing people into an environment or emotion set by the artist. Many times it is slight of hand that brings us there, and there is no better BSer than a good artist. ;)

    1. That’s what I thought too, but we can’t since using computers is somehow cheating. Anyone remember how snailmail works? Actually I just sent him an email about our conversation.

  13. As a stop-motion junkie I just had to chime in.

    At the beginning I was excited, but after the composite stuff started showing up I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed.

    Working with stop-motion means being creative within the limitations of stop-motion. I think this is where most of the distress about this video is coming from. Why would you simulate such a process? One argument given was that the shots would be impossible to do otherwise. That is the point! You work within the confines of your medium, instead of doing composites on your computer.

    BTW, the artist has it tagged on youtube as ‘stop motion’ among others…

  14. I agree with Anonymous’s comments: This can look awesome and be amazing (and it is), but to say it’s stop-motion when the majority of it isn’t is a huge disappointment, not to mention a lie.

  15. Likely the sounds you hear also aren’t really generated by the cardboard characters, but are added after the fact.

  16. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for all your reactions, I appriciate all the feedback im getting!

    Cardboard is bassed on a concept and not on a technique. Its not a narrative movie, but a visual experiment. I love character design, so I wanted to create an exposure of my characters to the world. After thinking of different materials to use, to place my characters in a real-life evironment, i decided to use cardboard. Since its flexible, flat like my characters, and doesnt costs any money (which is very important for a student).

    As far as the technique goes, you could call it Stop-Motion, since its working with replacement, which is a part of Stop-Motion. But it could also be considered pixelation, as well as traditional animation (drawings).

    All the cardboard in the movie is real cardboard, but because of the limited time I had, there is also digital work done on the piece.

    I have worked 6 months, full-time, to create the movie.

    The character I created where first digitaly designed. I printed the outline on papers, traces the outlines on to the cardboard, and painted them.

    The sound is created after the animation, but Steven did a great job making it sound like its animated on the sound.

    Anyway, I dont think the technique should be the main focus of “Cardboard”. Since its an experimental piece, to excite people about characters and street art.

    I hope i can futher explore the concept of Cardboard in a new film. I dont have any budget at the moment, but im working on raising money for a new movie.

    1. Thank you for coming, thanks for a very cool film. As you say, the story is more important than the technique, but we’re all geeks here, so how things are done is as cool to us, so any detail on the “how” is of interest. Please forgive the legion of Haryhausen purists here who are doubtless busy constructing plasticine skeleton swordsmen to do you in as we speak.

  17. Logistically a great idea– you only have to make a set number of cutouts and keep moving them around, rather than thousands of stills with minor changes. And even if he took some digital shortcuts, only those nerd/purists will notice and complain, whereas most of us will just enjoy the images.

  18. Thanks for the clarification, Sjors.

    For the record, I’m with Snig and Ill Lich: if it’s all real cardboard, I’d call it stop-motion whether or not there’s a bit of digital cleanup. Especially for a student project.

    And in the end, the real question is whether you like the results. I do. A storyline might have been nice, but I’m perfectly happy to just immerse myself in a world where these things are wandering around.

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