Unlike computer animation, stop motion videos are fairly easy to make. Anyone with a camera and some creative story ideas can get in on the fun. The stop motion style involves taking a photo of an object (say, an action figure), moving it a tiny bit, snapping another photo, and repeating the process until you’ve stitched together an animated clip.
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Below, we’ve outlined the essential step to creating stop motion videos.
Prepare the Camera: You don’t need a particularly expensive camera to make a great stop motion clip. Even an average webcam will do. However, we recommend using a tripod or heavy-duty tape to ensure that your camera doesn’t move while shooting. Any sudden camera movement will detract from the animation. Once you’ve set up the camera, simply plug it into your computer so that the software can read it.
Download the Software: There are a few different stop motion programs for Mac and Windows, including iStopMotion, Boinx, Stop Motion Pro, and iKITMovie. Tablet and mobile users can also create stop motion videos with software like Frameographer and Clayframes.
Plan the Storyline: Next, you’ll need to choose some star characters for your film. Anything that can be moved in an expressive way is perfect for stop motion. Some classic examples include LEGO, action figures, clay models, and other children’s toys, but feel free to push those boundaries. We recommend coming up with a vague plot before moving characters around, so that it adds up to a consistent video. It’s smart to draw a few storyboards or write a basic script before shooting, just to stay on track.
Find the Right Location: Unlike live action video, stop motion can be ruined by poor lighting or a changing backdrop. The more controlled your scene is, the better it will look. You can draw the curtains to block out natural lighting, and then set up a lamp that doesn’t flicker so your image stays consistent. Your location should also be static, so hang up a blanket or use a LEGO scene as the film’s setting.
Start Shooting: Once everything is ready, you can start snapping photos. Make sure that your stop motion software is running and the camera feed is visible on your monitor. Every time you shoot a photo, the software should add it to your ongoing clip. After taking the first photo, move your characters a tiny bit, and then snap another.
Try to keep the characters’ movements about the same distance between shots, unless you want them to do something different (i.e. running or slowing down). If you’d like the animation to feel slower, you can make a copy (or two) of each image so that the characters take longer to move. Even longer pauses can be achieved by copying a frame more than 6 times. Keep in mind, it’s extremely important that your camera stays in focus throughout the stop motion shoot, or else it will have a blurry flickering effect.
If you’re unsure about a particular frame, you can preview the clip on the software to see how it looks before moving on. Remember, you can always delete a frame and replace it with a better one. Have fun!