What Is Go Motion in Film? Unveiling the Animation Technique

Go motion is a technique in film that breathes life into models or puppets with realistic motion blur, an advancement over the more traditional stop-motion animation.

It’s particularly noted for its ability to make animated creatures appear as though they are moving swiftly, a feature stop-motion struggled to reproduce due to its inherent frame-by-frame capture method.

By integrating controlled movement during each frame exposure, go motion effectively simulates the blur one would see in fast-moving objects, thus enhancing the realism of the scene and providing filmmakers with a powerful tool to tell dynamic stories before the advent of advanced CGI.

Definition Of Go Motion

Go motion is a technique that revolutionized the way we perceive movement in film.

Before its advent, stop-motion animation was the standard for creating motion with models or puppets – but it often resulted in jerky movements.

Go motion brought a significant upgrade by incorporating motion blur into each frame, mimicking the natural blur of moving objects and delivering a smoother, more lifelike animation.

Developed by Industrial Light & Magic for films like Dragonslayer and The Empire Strikes Back, go motion involved programming computer-controlled motors to move the models during each frame’s exposure.

This breakthrough allowed for fluid and dynamic sequences that were closer to real life than ever before.

While go motion isn’t as widely used today due to advancements in CGI, its legacy lives on in modern filmmaking.

It laid important groundwork for blending practical effects with digital enhancements – a hybrid approach that is still prevalent today.

Films like Jurassic Park benefitted from this technique before transitioning mostly to CGI.

The use of go motion can be seen as an evolutionary bridge between traditional stop-motion and full computer-generated imagery (CGI).

It represents an era where filmmakers pushed the boundaries of technology available at their time:

  • Enhanced realism through added motion blur,
  • Integration with early computer technology,
  • A stepping stone towards advanced CGI techniques.

Despite being somewhat overshadowed by contemporary digital effects, go motion still holds a special place in cinematic history.


Its contributions have paved the way for the seamless visual experiences audiences enjoy in current blockbuster movies.

How Go Motion Works

Go motion is an advanced stop-motion technique that brings static models to life on screen.

It involves moving the model slightly during each frame’s exposure, creating a blur effect that mimics realistic motion.

The process requires a meticulously programmed rig to move the models.

This adds the critical element of motion blur, which traditional stop-motion lacks, resulting in more fluid and lifelike animations.

To achieve this, go motion rigs are often connected to computers.

These systems allow for precise control over movement, ensuring consistency and accuracy between frames.

Films like Dragonslayer and RoboCop have utilized go motion effectively.

Their dynamic creature sequences showcase how the technique can elevate special effects by adding depth and realism to animated models.

Technological advancements have led many filmmakers to favor CGI over practical effects like go motion.

Yet, there’s a charm and authenticity in this tactile method that continues to inspire both nostalgia and innovation within the industry.

History Of Go Motion

Go motion is a technique that revolutionized the way we perceive motion in stop-motion animation.

It was developed by Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) for use in feature films during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

This innovation emerged as an improvement over traditional stop-motion, which often resulted in jerky, unrealistic movement.

Phil Tippett, a key figure at ILM, played a pivotal role in creating go motion.

He sought to introduce fluidity to the animations he worked on.

Dragonslayer and The Empire Strikes Back are early examples showcasing the potential of go motion; they featured more lifelike creature movements than previously seen.

The technology behind go motion involved programming articulated puppet models to move during each frame’s exposure.

This added blur mimicked what cameras captured when filming live action, resulting in smoother sequences:

  • Articulated models with movable joints,
  • Frame-by-frame exposure adjustments,
  • In-camera effects creating motion blur.

Though it was groundbreaking, go motion saw its prominence wane with the advent of computer-generated imagery (CGI).

Films like Jurassic Park, initially planned to use go motion extensively, pivoted to CGI for many scenes involving dinosaurs.

However, this shift didn’t diminish its contribution to visual effects history.

Today’s animators still draw inspiration from go motion techniques when blending practical effects with digital enhancements.

The legacy of go motions lives on through modern homages within contemporary filmmaking projects that value its tactile artistry.

Comparison Of Go Motion With Other Animation Techniques

Go motion is often compared to stop motion, a technique that’s been around since the early days of cinema.


Both create the illusion of movement by capturing one frame at a time with physical models or puppets.

However, go motion adds a critical element – motion blur.

This is achieved by slightly moving the object while the camera shutter is open, mimicking how objects look when they move in real life.

Stop motion can sometimes appear stilted due to its lack of motion blur.

Take The Nightmare Before Christmas as an example; its charming aesthetic hinges on this precise, incremental movement.

Conversely, go motion films like Dragonslayer showcase smoother transitions that resemble live-action cinematography more closely.

Compared to traditional 2D animation where artists draw each frame by hand or digitally, go motion demands a different skill set involving tangible materials and mechanical manipulation.

Disney classics such as The Lion King demonstrate how 2D animation allows for expressive character movements and fluidity but lacks the three-dimensional realism that go motion provides.

With the advent of computer-generated imagery (CGI), there’s been a paradigm shift in animation techniques.

Films like Toy Story broke new ground with their fully digital characters and environments offering infinite possibilities for camera movement and detailed textures beyond what go motion can achieve.

Technique Characteristic Notable Example
Stop Motion No inherent motion blur The Nightmare Before Christmas
Go Motion Motion blur for realism Dragonslayer
2D Animation Expressive character movement The Lion King
CGI Animation Digital flexibility & detail Toy Story

While CGI dominates today’s film industry because of its versatility and efficiency, there’s still appreciation for the tactile nature of go-motion techniques which carry a unique nostalgia and artistic value within certain filmmaking circles.

Examples Of Go Motion In Films

Go motion is a technique that’s created some of the most memorable moments in cinema history.

It takes stop-motion animation to new heights by adding motion blur, which results in smoother, more lifelike movements on screen.

Let’s dive into notable examples where this innovative method has been used.

The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980, showcased go motion with its AT-AT walkers during the Battle of Hoth scene.

The realism achieved with go motion made these menacing machines feel like they were truly trudging through the icy landscape.

This film stands as a pioneering example of how effective go motion can be.

Another iconic use was in Dragonslayer from 1981.

The dragon Vermithrax Pejorative wasn’t just any creature; it was brought to life using go motion technology.

Its fluid movement and terrifying presence set a new standard for cinematic dragons and demonstrated the potential for detailed character animation within films.

In RoboCop, released in 1987, ED-209’s robotic motions were enhanced using go motion techniques.

These scenes highlighted how seamlessly practical effects could integrate with live-action footage, creating an unforgettable antagonist that moved with unsettling realism.

While computer-generated imagery (CGI) has largely taken over, understanding go motion offers insight into the evolution of visual effects in filmmaking:

  • It bridges traditional stop-motion and modern CGI,
  • Adds dynamic movement to models that might otherwise seem static,
  • Helps us appreciate the tactile craftsmanship behind classic movie monsters.

Filmmakers who are well-versed in various animation techniques often have a better grasp on how to bring their visions to life regardless of budget constraints or technological changes.

Go motion remains an important chapter in our journey through special effects history – one we’re proud to explore and share insights about at Filmmaking Lifestyle!

What Is Go Motion In Film? Unveiling The Animation Technique – Wrap Up

We’ve delved into the captivating world of go motion, a technique that breathes life into inanimate objects on screen.

It’s an ingenious blend of stop-motion animation and motion blur effects that creates an illusion of fluid movement.

In the realm of filmmaking, this method has paved the way for some iconic cinematic moments.

Understanding go motion adds depth to our appreciation of film history and visual effects development.

While it’s less common now due to the rise of CGI, its legacy endures through films like The Empire Strikes Back and Dragonslayer.

The tactile nature of go motion lends a unique charm that digital effects often strive to replicate.

Here’s what we can take away from our exploration:

  • Go motion is a significant milestone in VFX history.
  • It provided a stepping stone towards more advanced techniques used today.
  • Its influence remains evident in modern filmmaking.

As technology continues to evolve, who knows?

We might see a resurgence or reinvention of go motion in future projects.

Our journey through film techniques doesn’t end here; it only gets more exciting as new innovations emerge.

Stay tuned with us at Filmmaking Lifestyle for more insights into the ever-changing landscape of cinema!