The secret world of animated doll videos

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On YouTube young women are using the age-old technique of stop motion animation to bring their dolls to life. The American Girl brand of dolls is the most popular with AGSM (American Girl Stop Motion) videos clocking up a total of 33 million views on YouTube last year.

The animations cover familiar topics like the high school prom or the first day of school but also explore serious issues like online bullying and drink driving. For Alexis, who runs the AGsmiless channel, the videos are a potential route into a career in filmmaking. For others the pastime is less career-oriented, but no less obsessive. As photographer Ilona Szwarc's portraits show, the dolls are often customised to look like their owners, and many of the girls continue making animations well into adulthood.

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