Basic Stop Motion Tutorial

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Basic Stop Motion Tutorial Empty Basic Stop Motion Tutorial

Post by Foster on 1/8/2016, 11:25 am

Basic Stop Motion Tutorial

Stop motion is a special kind of medium because even though it can be considered more tedious and difficult to do well than other types of animation, it's also one of the most accessible types of animation that anyone of any age can start. This is because most of things you need for stop motion, you already have lying around the house! Here are some of the things you will need:


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For starters, I would recommend using a webcam for your first animation. They're easy because you can simply plug them into your computer and capture frames directly to your computer. They are also very cheap if you don't already own one, so its a good way to test to see if will want to continue doing more animations later down the road. iPad's also can make good stop motion cameras when used in conjunction with a stop motion app. If you don't want to spend any money at all, any camera will do really - as long as it can take pictures!

Animation Software

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The best free stop motion program out there has to be JellyCam. It's completely free, easy-to-use, works on both Mac & PC, and allows you to easily edit the sequence of photos. There's also MonkeyJam and qStopMotion which are both free and great programs to use. If you're willing to spend the money, you can get the top-tier animation programs: Stop Motion Pro and Dragonframe which have been used in features films by big studios like Laika and Aardman. However, I would recommend steering clear of these until you're more serious about the craft as they are very expensive and made for professionals.

The Background & Lighting

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Since this'll be your first animation, I wouldn't worry too much about the background just yet. I recommend starting out animating on a clean spot on your desk - make sure not to animate in an area where there's so much stuff you can't make out what's going on. In terms of lighting, even light the set so your subject is clearly made to be the focus. Avoid over or underexposing the shot (too bright or too dark).

Clay or Something to Animate

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Most animators tend to use clay as your material of choice for stop motion, and for good reason! With it, you can easily make your own original characters or morph the clay in interesting ways. I recommend using Van Aken's Plastalina clay as it never hardens and is very easy to sculpt with. Of course, the beauty of stop motion is that you can use literally anything that you can move to animate. Just find an interesting object you think would make for good animation, and go ahead!

The Animation Process

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Now, I'm not here to tell you about story or characters because that's a completely different ballpark. Regardless, I don't think you need a story for a first animation. Just do something simple, like a character waving or even just something moving around a little bit. Just get movements to start with, start small before you go crazy with plot lines or action.

Animation is all about moving what's on screen small increments at a time, taking a photo of each individual movement. When played in a sequence, all the photos come together to create the illusion of movement. Don't move your subject a huge amount between pictures or it'll come out too fast and choppy. The more you move the subject, the faster it'll appear to move on screen and vice versa. Make sure to take this into account and not move everything the exact same amount, or it'll all go at the same speed and be not only unrealistic, but uninteresting as a result.

The rate of frames per second, or FPS, determines the speed at which your pictures will play in a sequence. In terms of frame rate for your first animation, I recommend somewhere around 12 to 15 FPS. The higher the frame rate, the more pictures you'll have to take to make it look smoother. It means more work, but a better looking result!

That's all it really takes plus tons of time and patience. Don't rush yourself to get it done - it may be tempting at first, but the result will be significantly better if you take your time crafting each part of the animation. When you're all finished, export the video, upload it to YouTube, and post it here so you can get some feedback! Good luck out there.

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