Stop motion animation has a long history in film. It was often used to show objects moving as if by magic. The first instance of the stop motion technique can be credited to Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton for The Humpty Dumpty Circus (1897), in which a toy circus of acrobats and animals comes to life. In 1902, the film Fun in a Bakery Shop used the stop-trick technique in the "lightning sculpting" sequence. French trick film maestro Georges Méliès used true stop-motion to produce moving title-card letters for one of his short films, but never exploited the process for any of his other films[dubious – discuss]. The Haunted Hotel (1907) is another stop motion film by J. Stuart Blackton, and was a resounding success when released. Segundo de Chomón (1871–1929), from Spain, released El Hotel Eléctrico later that same year, and used similar techniques as the Blackton film. In 1908, A Sculptor's Welsh Rarebit Nightmare was released, as was The Sculptor's Nightmare, a film by Billy Bitzer. Italian animator Roméo Bossetti impressed audiences with his object animation tour-de-force, The Automatic Moving Company in 1912. The great European stop motion pioneer was Wladyslaw Starewicz (1892–1965), who animated The Beautiful Lukanida (1910), The Battle of the Stag Beetles (1910), The Ant and the Grasshopper (1911).
One of the earliest clay animation films was Modelling Extraordinary, which dazzled audiences in 1912. December 1916 brought the first of Willie Hopkins' 54 episodes of "Miracles in Mud" to the big screen. Also in December 1916, the first woman animator, Helena Smith Dayton, began experimenting with clay stop motion. She would release her first film in 1917, an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
In the turn of the century, there was another well known animator known as Willis O' Brien (known by others as O'bie). His work on The Lost World from 1925 is known, but he is most admired for his work on King Kong, a milestone of his films...
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