Introduction to Stop-Motion Animation
Stop-motion is a unique filmmaking technique that allows you to make your own movies by using a conventional digital camera and many individual pictures. A movie, in essence, is a bunch of frames (pictures) strung together and played back at 24 to 30 frames per second (fps). The higher the frame rate, the smoother the action will appear in the final movie.
A stop-motion films works the same way. Numerous pictures (frames) are shot with subtle changes between adjacent frames. When played in its entirety, the frame to frame changes convey motion. Like an animated cartoon, the animator must draw out each frame with minor changes.
Make a Stop-Motion Video using These Tips
Get Organized: Have an Outline of Your Ideas
The very first step to any movie is creating an outline and/or storyboard. Visualize the action and how you want the movie to look like. If you can’t clearly visualize it, how do you plan to shoot it?
Determine How Long You Want Each Scene to Be
By gauging the length of each scene and the frame rate of the movie, you can estimate the number of frames you will need for each scene. Say you want the movie to be a smooth 15fps. That means for a 10 second scene, you will need to shoot 150 frames!
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Plan ahead. For the sake of continuity, shoot each scene in its entirety before taking a break or coming back. The extra effort will show in the final movie. By allowing more time for your project, you also minimize the chance of making mistakes which will be very apparent from frame to frame.
Use a Tripod and NEVER Move the Camera
An absolute must for stop-motion is the use of a tripod. Setting the camera on a table is just not going to cut it. Any slight bumps or shifts in camera position will completely kill the flow of your animation.
Keep Your Exposure and Lighting Consistent
If your camera has it, use the manual mode (M on the dial). Manually set your aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance and lock it down. As previously stated, subtle changes will stick out! The same goes for lighting, shoot in a consistent environment, preferably with artificial lighting since natural lighting has a tendency to change throughout the day, both in intensity and direction.
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Here are some examples of Stop-Motion clips: