The working dynamics of Monty Python were fascinating. While Cleese, Chapman, Palin, Jones, and Idle split into teams to write together and workshop each other, Terry Gilliam was squirreled away in his attic flat working alone on animation, providing most of the voices and sound effects for the interstitial cartoons that defined the visual look of the troupe. His descriptions of the process are predictably quirky, but now we’ve found a video that will guide you through your own cutout animation! Click through, and unlock your inner mob hedgehog.
Gilliam demonstrates the construction and filming of the classic “Cannibal Baby” piece. First, he shows us the pram, and gives us a brief tutorial on creating motion:
In the next section, he and his assistant move the cutouts into a studio to demonstrate the process of filming the animation. First, glass panel is laid over the cutouts:
And finally we see how the cut-outs are moved along a scale under the cameras, to make sure everything stays in shot as the action is filmed:
The best part may be watching Gilliam transform when he discusses his work. His usual manic giggle is gone, and instead he becomes a calm, genuinely encouraging teacher as he breaks his process into simple steps, and explains how anyone can make their own cut-out cartoon. Watch the whole video below, and check out more about Gilliam’s animation here!