How to create your own stop motion animation.
You will need:
- A tripod
- A camera
- A shutter release cable or self timer
- Story, characters, set and props.
- A computer editing program
- Make sure your tripod and camera angle are exactly how you want. You need to ensure that your set will stay perfectly still in the frame, apart from the pieces you wish to bring to life.
- If you have lights, use them. The sunlight changes a lot in the UK and isn’t really suitable for animation because of this. Animation works best when everything is carefully controlled. You can use lamps you have in the house, they don’t have to be anything special because you are using a tripod for the camera which means that you can let the camera take a longer exposure to compensate for the poor light.
- Use a shutter release cable to take a photograph.
- Move the character you wish to animate. Very small movements. Experiment with how many frames you want per second. I usually set each image to 0.2 of a second.
- Use the shutter release cable to take another photograph. And repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have finished your scene.
- It’s nice to think about your animation in filmmaking terms so keep each scene short, and change angles, view or scene regularly to keep the animation dynamic. Having multiple things moving in your scene makes it more realistic but also raises the risk of more mistakes.
- Upload to your computer software.
- Add sound effects, dialogue, and music.
When I was at school none of my thick text books were safe. Every corner in every direction, particularly on my Spanish dictionary, were tiny stick men living and dying. Flick book animation. I thought that it was pure magic. I could bring doodles to life by drawing tiny scenes that changed in tiny increments. It was a fantastic way to waste my time in lessons. Don’t get me wrong, I was a swot at school, but tragically, I just found foreign languages dull. I wish I had paid more attention but instead I was beginning a love affair with art. Sadly, I don’t think I have any of the flick book animations any more, but I vividly remember making them. One had an elephant in it.
I didn’t really do any animation during college. I didn’t have a digital camera until the 2nd year of A levels, and I think it was round 1MB capacity. Crude square images. Pixelated into oblivion.
I knew that it was possible to create a stop motion animation using photographic film, but in fairness, I was a teenager and being able to afford to create an animation in film was beyond my financial capability. So, it wasn’t really until digital camera technology had become much more widespread, better quality, and more accessible, that I began to dabble in animation again.
In my foundation year at Sunderland University we were put into groups after meeting an animator. My group worked on developing an animation from suggestions that we had thrown into a hat. We had a french condom character, a hammer character, a buxom barmaid, and several conkers. We built a pub scene. Using a magnetic tape video camera we created a mad cap animation that involved a bar fight. The conkers watched and cheered Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb. Totally surreal, but entirely class. It was probably bangy and crude but we had a lot of fun making it.
I like using animation when I am doing workshops. For several years I’ve worked with various charities to create animations with the groups that they work with. These are always so much fun. Every single person no matter skill set or physical ability can do something. We make the story, create the characters, sets and props, we film the scenes, edit them, make the sounds, and make the music. It doesn’t really matter how crude the method is, somehow when it all comes to life, it just works!
There’s a long history of photography, filmmaking and animation working hand in hand. Very early films used animation or puppetry as a way of doing special effects. Great figures in animation history that you should consider looking at for research are:
- Nick Parc
- Walt Disney
- Jan Svenkmajer
- Eadward Muybridge
- Studio Gibli
- Roger Mainwood
- Georges Méliès
- Helen Hill
- Izabela Plucinska