World's smallest animation character shot with smartphone camera and microscope (w/ Video)

Dot leaps across the heads of pins in the tiny animated film. Image credit: Aardman Animations.

( -- The title character in a 90-second film called "Dot" has broken the Guinness World Record for being the smallest stop-motion animation character in a film. The 9-mm-tall Dot (whose head is about the size of the tip of a pencil) is a young girl who wakes up in a magical world to find that the flannel shirt she has been sleeping on has begun to unravel. As loose threads threaten to swallow her up, she runs across tiny objects including coins, pencil shavings, and heads of pins to escape.

The film, which was created by animators at Aardman Animations in the UK, is a celebration of a new technology that goes beyond entertainment. The film was shot with a Nokia N8 smartphone 12-megapixel camera attached to a 50x magnification called CellScope. Invented by bioengineer Daniel Fletcher at the University of California, Berkeley, the tiny but powerful CellScope allows doctors in poor, rural areas to capture images of blood samples and transmit them via cell phone to laboratories anywhere in the world. In this way, the CellScope should allow doctors to diagnose fatal diseases even when there are no medical labs nearby.

Watch the film with Dot, the world's smallest stop-motion animation character.

As the creators at Aardman Animations explain in the video below, they had to print about 50 different models of Dot in different poses using a because she was too small to move into different positions. The Rapid Prototyping 3D printer used computer-generated images and printed them out on plastic resin. Then the animators hand-painted each model individually. They also painted the set, which was about 1.5 meters long in its entirety. The set moved underneath the camera, millimeter by millimeter, and the animators shot about 4 seconds of film per day. A few thousand frames later, the animation was complete.

The making of Dot.

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