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December 06

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

While computer-generated imagery has taken over the special effects industry, many artists contend that stop-motion offers textures that can’t be replicated by computers.

Photo by Adam Gerard

1964: Not Your Average Reindeer
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer premieres on television
The cute star of this TV special was none other than that red-nosed reindeer, who is mocked as a calf for his unusual feature but is ultimately a hero when he bails Santa out of a tight spot on a very important night.

The program was shot using stop-motion, also called stop-action, which is an animation process in which producers make objects—in this case, clay sculptures of reindeer, elves, and other characters—appear to move by adjusting their positions ever so slightly, capturing the configuration on camera, adjusting the models again, filming the new setup, and so on. That’s how the snowman appears to glide across the screen and the reindeer soar through the air. Featuring the voices of folksinger Burl Ives and other recognizable voices, Rudolph is still a hit with kids today each December.
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