How To Make a Stop Motion Animation

July 29th, 201110:41 pm @ smtd90

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How To Make a Stop Motion Animation

Have you ever wondered how to make those cool stop motion movies you see on TV, in the movies or on Youtube such as Coraline, Gumby or Wallace and Gromit? Or those really funny and cute LEGO brickfilms? Well this article will give you some very useful tips and insights in to the world of stop motion. Sometimes stop motion is called stop frame or even stop go animation but we will call it stop motion for the purposes of this article. Stop motion is not difficult and it is not as time consuming as you might think, as long as you get organised and plan a little ahead, you can get a very convincing and entertaining mini movie done in no time.

Step by Step

1. First you need to decide how you are going to capture you snapshots or images. You can use a digital still camera or a web camera or even a camcorder that can stream a live video feed in to your PC. You will need a PC with Windows XP/Vista or Windows 7 with at least 2Gb of RAM. Stop motion is essentially multimedia work. And multimedia requires at least 2Gb of RAM these days to make your animation run smoothly.

2. Choose stop motion software to run on your PC that is compatible with your hardware and operating system.

3. Choose what you will animate. You can animate absolutely anything. If you want characters that are ready made you might consider using LEGO Minifigure characters or MegaBlok minimen or any toy characters you might have lying around. If you want to make your own characters you might choose to make them for clay. Then your stop motion becomes a claymation! You can even use two dimensional cut out characters from magazines or comics. Use your imagination

4. Come up with a storyline. Your stop motion should depict a funny scene or a short story. You must engage your audience with a plot and an outcome or punch line!

5. Consider sketching out a storyboard. This will help you to design not only your characters but also your set or stage layout.

6. Build your set and set you character or characters up in the scene. Note it is important to make sure that your set and your camera are secure. If they are not secure then any movement of the set or camera that is not intentional during the making of your stop motion will spoil the effect.

7. Lighting is everything with any type of movie making and no more so than with stop motion. You cannot rely on daylight to create your stop motion if you are working indoors. So close curtains or blinds and use desk lamps. Ideally two or even three lamps will be needed to properly light your character and set. The reason for not using daylight by the way is because sunlight will vary from time to time depending on cloud cover etc.

8. If you are using a digital still camera to take your snaps then you should ensure that the camera is fully charged and that the images are clear and that your flash is turned off. If you are using a webcamera things are little easier in that you are taking your snapshots directly in to the PC’s hard disk.

9. Decide on how many frames or snapshots you are going to take per second of film. 15 frames per second is very good for stop motion. So that means for every 15 snaps you take you will get 1 second of movie playback. It sounds like a lot of snaps for 1 second but once you get good at it you can get fast at making stop motion.

10. Now that you are ready to film you can start taking snapshots. To start a scene you should take at least 20 frames with no movement on your set so that the viewer can focus on the scene. Remember that 20 snapshots or pictures will only take up a little over 1 second of your movie. So the viewer needs this time to settle in to the scene.

11. Action! Now take a snapshot of your character or object you want to animate. Move it slightly and take another snapshot. The smaller the movement you make between snaps will determine the speed of the action when it is played back. The smaller the movements the slower and often smoother the action looks when played back. You will get better at determining the best or optimal number of movements per frame after some practice. Depending on what you are animating you might want to use blutack or sticky tack to secure the object or characters legs between movements. LEGO® and MegaBlok® minimen are useful in that they plug in to their surface so you are sure they are secure between snaps.

12. Use onionskinning. This allows you to observe your object or characters position between snapshots. It is the most useful function you will find with any stop motion software. Unfortunately you cannot avail of this function with a digital still camera only with a webcam attached to the PC software.

13. If you were using a Digital still camera you will need to copy the images (normally in JPEG format) over to your PC to import in to your stop motion software. Take note of where you copied the files right!

14. The step that confuses many who are new to stop motion is the “adding sound” step. Finding ,creating and adding sound , music and voiceovers can prove difficult. However it is very important to bring your movie to life with sound, music and voices. After all silent movies went out of fashion some time ago. There are a few stop motion software programs out there with sounds and music included so it might be worth checking them out in the review sections of popular stop motion sites. Such as stopmotionanimation.com , stopmotioncentral.com and animateclay.com.

15. Create dialogue for your voice over and add it to the correct frames and replay it. Also add sound effects and mood music to enhance your story.

16. Edit your time line of frames to either extend certain areas or shorten others. Most good stop motion software will allow you to copy , paste and delete frames.

17. Export you finished movie to a format best suited to your publishing forum. If you are intending to display your work on YouTube then it is recommended to export to MPEG 4 (MP4 ) format.

18. Upload your movie and enjoy the acclaim you will no doubt receive.