Lotte Reiniger’s stop motion work differs from other forms of stop motion and live action in which there is a large amount of detail in her work. Each cutout is delicate and the texture is intricate. Live action at the time was limited to what’s physically possible and animation had to be simple to be consistent. Reiniger could have fantastical beasts in the same world as people and have complex character designs while still maintaining consistency.
She uses paper cutout stop motion with the most advanced cameras at the time. Including multi-plane technology. She also used other techniques such as using sand and soap on the glass planes. The cutouts would be connected at the joints for realistic movement. Another interesting choice is the use of silhouettes. By doing this her characters rely solely on body language and staging. To enhance the silhouettes, she used back lighting. Her light source would come from under the glass panels, exactly like a modern lightbox. Since she only needed to move her cutouts rather than draw a whole new frame. Filming this way was easier. No cards that if dropped would scatter everywhere and have to be reorganized, only one facial expression would be necessary and the character would have to be drawn three twice at most after storyboarding. She only had to design, cut and film.
Her best use of techniques was in her first film, The adventures of Prince Achmed. She used complex designs, in the costumes especially, she would cut lines that would look as thin as a spider’s silk. She also used the soap and sand techniques for special effects during the magic scenes. The multi-plane work is shown by the background being at a distance rather than right where the characters were.