BOWIE, Md. (WJZ) — Stop motion animation is one of cinema’s oldest techniques that give characters, like those in the 2009 film “Coraline”, a unique look.

“It’s small, mostly small physical characters’ sculptures. Someone is physically moving it frame by frame,” Tewodross M. Williams, Bowie State University Chair of Department of Fine and Performing Arts, said.

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But, like a lot of the animation industry, there hasn’t been much diversity in stop motion filmmaking, Williams said.

“There’s such an under-representation of African Americans and people of color behind the scenes actually doing animation, writing,” Williams said.

The university and the Golden Globe award-winning animation studio Laika are soon starting a new program that could help change that.

They’re now partnering to create the nation’s first stop motion animation studio at a historically black college.

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“It also helps shine a light on underrepresented groups to get their voices out there,” Ronald Palmer, a senior at Bowie State majoring in visual communication and digital media arts, said.

Palmer said the studio gives students a unique, local opportunity to work on stop motion animation in Maryland.

Most of the studios are based on the West Coast.

“Students may not have to fly all the way out to California to pursue their dreams,” Palmer said. “They have somewhere a bit more local they can go to.”

The program should start in Spring 2022, but Laika is getting involved now and is trying to meet with students in classes this semester to talk to them about stop motion animation.

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Stetson Miller