Have you ever seen those quirky, slightly jerky videos where items dance around the screen? They’re probably stop motions – a simple animation consisting of photos stitched cleverly together. I’ve been playing with a few of them recently, and as per popular request, put together this post detailing exactly how to make a stop motion video.
I’ve been a little obsessed with them since I discovered Wallace and Gromit – and was delighted to discover that it’s possible to make them myself – you simply take an image, move the prop in a small way, take an image, move the prop etc etc. then stitch the images together, like frames of a filmstrip.
Wikipedia defines stop motion as “an animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion or change when the series of frames is played back.”
Equipment for stop motions
I like to keep the equipment for stopmotions fairly simple. If I’m just doing them for my idle amusement I simply use;
- Fairly recent model smartphone with a decent camera [If I’m making stop motions for professional use, I use my camera & a very steady tripod with a weighted counterbalance.]
- Gooseneck Phone Holder [affiliate link here] or you could balance your phone on cans/a stack of books/DIY tape it to the ceiling
- Stop Motion Apps for post-shoot editing (read on for how to make them manually without an app)
My Gooseneck phone holder is simpy gold for getting crisp, steady shots. [This below is what happens when you try to free hand a stop motion – note the washi tape borders appearing in the top corners? I wouldn’t advise it.]
I set it up like below (using the clip to attach it to my bench, grab my props and decide what movements I want to show in the slow mo. I find neutral backgrounds are better – and cope with light changes better than darker ones like my kitchen bench top.
I put my phone in the butterfly grip screenside up – clamp the bottom of the phone else you’ll accidentally hit the wrong buttons – keeping the best camera facing towards the props. The gooseneck has two adjustable but stable sections so you can twist it into position, keeping your hands free for moving the props and taking photos. Open the camera function on your phone.
Now, don’t touch the Gooseneck.
Take Image/Make Change/Repeat
Frame your shot, and add your prop. Tap the screen lightly to take a photo [DONT USE THE SIDE BUTTON ON AN iPHONE, you’ll move the phone]. Make a tiny movement with your props. Take a photo. Make a tiny movement. Keep going until you’re happy. You want to end up with loads of photos. All kinds of movements work really well – pouring, spinning, opening, closing, flour spilling… I’ve also used the self timer for absolutely crisp, still images.
Post-Production Edit – Using Apps
Once you’re happy with that, import those images into your stop motion app of choice. Use the editing options.
Post-Production Edit – Manually
I transfer the images (yes, all of them) to my laptop, use the image preview function – on a Mac click the image in the file with your mouse and then use your SPACEBAR to open the preview. Use the arrow key to quickly flick through and take out images you don’t want to use.
Then, I tend to manually create stopmotions in a free website called gifmaker.me – it allows me the ability to play with the speed of the stop motion, and you can export it as a video MP4 or as a GIF depending on what format you want to use. This also makes it super simple to queue into Buffer etc. for social media posts.
Don’t touch the image size, but the speed I usually use is 200 milliseconds.
Was that helpful? Do you have any quersions? If you make one as a result of this blog post, please do tag me in – I’m @londonkiwiemma on pretty well all social media channels!
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