Clay animation is one of many forms of stop motion animation; specifically, it is the form where each animated piece, either character or background, is "deformable", i.e. a malleable substance, usually plasticine clay.

The term "Claymation" is also used to describe clay animation. Though a registered trademark created by Will Vinton in 1978 to describe his clay animated films; the portmanteau claymation has entered the English language as a common term, called a genericized trademark.

All animation is produced in a similar fashion, whether done through traditional cel animation, stop-motion, or CGI. Each frame, or still picture, is recorded on film or digital media and then played back in rapid succession. When played back at a frame rate greater than 10-12 frames per second, a fairly convincing illusion of continuous motion is achieved.