Throughout the long history of animation, very few techniques have attracted as much attention as stop motion animation. Some of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century have used this technique to tell their stories in an unusual way that captivates the viewer’s attention.
However, taking thousands of photos to create a stop motion animation is no longer a painstakingly slow process that takes days and sometimes even months to complete. You just need a DSLR or Smartphone camera and a video editing software to create a stop motion animation, although the amount of time you will need to execute an idea, depends on its complexity. So in this article we are going to guide you through the process of making a stop motion animation.
Tips and Tricks That Will help you Shoot Better Stop Motion Videos
The amount of work you have to put into making a stop animation increases with each second you add to your animation. This is equally true for short and simple stop motion animations as well as animations that last twenty minutes or more and involve a lot of complex on-screen movements. However, having the right equipment or planning each frame in advance can help you spend less time creating the material you intend to use to make a stop motion animation.
Keep the camera steady
Holding the camera in your hands while shooting a stop motion animation is one of the worst mistakes you can make. It is vital to keep you camera steady during each shot you take, since even the slightest vibration can blur the shot or slightly alter its framing.
Furthermore, lightweight cameras are incredibly difficult to keep perfectly still, which is the reason why it is much better to mount them on a tripod than to shoot your stop motion animation handheld. In addition, mounting a camera onto a tripod will help you fix the camera position and framing of the shot which will make shooting a stop motion video somewhat easier.
Use remote camera triggers
Once you have fixed the camera position by mounting it onto a tripod, you shouldn’t trigger the shutter release button manually. The force of a push to the shutter release button can cause vibrations that blur the pictures you take or it can even move the camera just enough to alter your framing.
Nearly all digital cameras have remote triggers that enable photographers to keep them perfectly still. In case the camera you are using to capture photos you want to include in your stop motion animation doesn’t have a remote trigger, you should try to acquire one, as this can significantly improve the quality of images you are taking.
Make sure your light is consistent
The rapid succession of nearly identical images in a stop motion animation reveals even the slightest inconsistencies of the light. That is why the available light must remain the same throughout the scene you’re shooting. Most stop motion animations are shot in studio conditions under artificial sources of light, since the amount of available natural light can change easily.
Set the ISO, Exposure, White Balance and Aperture values manually and change them only if the light conditions are changing. Moreover, you should avoid using autofocus because you won’t be able to control where in the shot the camera is going to place the focus.
Calculate the frame rate in advance
The frame rate shows you how many still frames are displayed on the screen each second. Movies or videos normally have between 24 and 60fps, but stop motion animations can have as few as 12fps.
This simply means that you have to take 12, 24, 30 or 60 photos for each second of stop motion video you are creating. Calculating the exact number of frames will tell you exactly how many photos you have to take in order to have enough images for the entire stop motion animation. Keep in mind that increasing the frame rate will make movement in your video smoother, while reducing it may make your animation look like a slideshow.
Don’t forget to use audio effects
Unlike video files your camera captures, photos do not contain an audio track. This means that you have to create a soundtrack for your stop motion animation from scratch. Moreover, adding audio effects to a stop motion animation will make it look and sound more realistic, since actions like crumpling a piece of paper look much more convincing when they are accompanied by a matching sound. If you don’t have access to professional audio recording equipment, you can try downloading the effects you want to use in your video from an online database.
How to Make A Stop Motion Video With Filmora9?
Once you complete the production stage it is time to move to post production where your stop motion animation will get its final form. Place all the images you want to include in the final cut of the video into a folder and arrange them in the same way in which they should appear in the video. Even though Filmora9 offers powerful video editing tools that enable you to enhance the colors in the footage you are working with, it is advisable to edit your photos using a photo editing software.
Afterwards, you should proceed to launch Filmora9, create a new project and add the folder you created to Filmora9’s Media tab. Furthermore, you should also import all audio files you would like to use in your project, before you do any actual editing. When done, head over to File menu, and select the Preferences option. Once the Preferences window pops up on the screen, you should click on the Edit tab where you can set the maximum duration of a photo in a video you’re creating.
The value you are going to insert into the Photo Duration box depends on the number of frames your video has. Filmora9 doesn’t let you reduce a project’s frame rate below 23.97fps, so if you want your animation to have 12 frames per second you should set the Photo Duration value to 00:00:04.
You can then add your media assets to the timeline and hit the Play button to preview the results, and the export the video from Filmora9 if you like the results.
Creating A Stop Motion Video With Stop Motion Studio App For iPad
In case you don’t have a DSLR camera, you can shoot stop motion animations with your iPad. You just have to install the Stop Motion Studio app on your device, launch it and proceed to adjust its settings so that they meet the demands of the scene you’re shooting.
This iOS-based app lets you set White Balance, ISO or Exposure values manually, although you first have to disable the auto setting for each of these options. You should also disable autofocus, because you won’t be able to control on which object your camera focuses and then proceed to set the frame rate at which you are going to shoot your stop motion animation,
Each photo you take will be displayed near the bottom of the screen, which enables you to see how your animation looks like. The results you will be able to achieve may not be as good as those you would get if you shot a stop motion animation with a DSLR, but the quality of the footage is still satisfactory for most non-professional animators.
Digital cameras, Smartphones and video editing software products like Filmora9 have made the process of creating a stop motion animation much easier. Even so, you should be prepared to spend countless hours on getting each shot right. Have you ever created a stop motion animation before? If so, leave a comment below and share your experiences with us.
Liza Brown is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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