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Stop-Motion for dummies

Chasing The Mask of Vengeance by Brickset (Flickr)

“What stop-motion does best is present real objects magically brought to life in a very imperfect situation; the hand of the artist or the electricity of someone touching, massaging and torturing themselves to get life out of an inanimate object.”  Henry Selick

At the end of this article, you are not going to become an expert on how to make a big stop-motion film as Tim Burton´s The Nightmare Before Christmas or Wes Anderson´s Fantastic Mr Fox, but you will know how this animation technique works and maybe get inspired to make your own video.



What is stop-motion?

According to Techopedia, stop-motion is a technique used in animation to bring static objects to life on screen. This is done by moving the object in increments while filming a frame per movement. When all the frames are played in sequence it shows movement. Clay figures, puppets and miniatures are often used in stop motion animation as they can be handled and repositioned easily.


Basically what it means is; you take a picture then move the objects placed in front of the camera a tiny bit, take another picture and then after repeating this process a lot of times when playing the sequence rapidly the objects appear to move normally on the screen.

How to produce a basic Stop Motion video in a few steps:

1. Set up the camera: format, frame rate, quality. Consider using a shutter release for less movement or do it with your cell phone.
2. Decide on a concept: it can be whatever you think of, anything you can move. From a paper plane to M&M´s or even yourself.
3. Find a stable surface: this will make sure your shots are all balanced.
4. Steady your camera: do you have a tripod? If not, just don’t move the camera.
5. Be wary of light: it is better to shot with artificial light to be able to manage it.
6. Take the shots: one move on the object one picture and repeat.
7. Editing: use an App like Stop Motion Studio or Kapwing. If you know how to use a video editor as iMovie, Anne Pisarik tutorial on YouTube is pretty accurate.


Looking for a more professional guide on how to produce a stop-motion video? the video platform Wistia have an easy “step by step” guided article to help you through it.

If you have the patience and time to do it, stop-motion can be truly rewarding but it is an “improve with time” and practice kind of technique. Now that you know what it is and how you can try it, the only thing left is to find inspiration, which already did for you in their stop-motion style section.


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