Filmmakers have been making stop motion movies for over a century. "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" or "Anomalisa" are examples of stop motion movies, proving that animation can be taken to new realms for both children and adults.

The beauty of the technique is that anyone with a smartphone or digital camera and the right stop motion software can try it.

What is stop motion animation?

Stop motion animation is an easy form of animation to achieve, but it can take a very long time before you have a finished product. It is a technique where objects are moved physically in small increments and shot with a camera. Various types of objects are used for stop animation videos, including clay, cutouts, puppets, and live people.

Each movement of the objects is captured as a frame (picture), and when played back, they appear to be moving. It is estimated that 12 frames equal about one second of video. To make a video that is one minute long would require 720 frames. That requires a lot of manipulating objects and taking pictures!

How to make a stop motion video

Stop motion photography is similar to time-lapse photography, but instead of shooting a scene that moves on its own, you are the one moving the scene. Organize and plan by storyboarding your animation in moderate detail, so you have a graphic visualization to reference before your shoot begins. You can do this on paper or digitally. Be prepared for creative inspiration and adjustments as you proceed with the shoot.

Shooting a stop motion video follow this sequence:

  1. Set up the scene with your objects in your background set
  2. Take a picture
  3. Make a small change in the scene
  4. Take another picture
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you are complete

Tips for using a stop motion camera

Your camera must remain as motionless as possible throughout the entire process. It can move slightly, but if it moves a lot, your video will look jumpy.

Use these tips to get the maximum effect from your shots:

  • Attach your camera to a tripod to ensure it does not move during the shoot.
  • Lockdown the tripod after you are sure the shot is framed up with the objects in view.
  • Pre-set the focus and exposure manually so they don't change between frames.
  • Daylight changes angles during a shoot, so use artificial lighting that is constant and controlled.
  • To easily see the shot, use an optional third-part accessory monitor or Vari-angle display if your camera has it.
  • Use a remote shutter release to make sure the camera remains motionless.

Important stop motion software features

The final step to creating a stop motion video is editing your shots together in a sequence, using stop motion software. The best video editing software for this animation technique gives you advanced precision and control for professional results. Your stop animation movies will be enhanced with software features such as:

  • Title editor
  • Credits editor
  • Voiceover dialogues for your characters
  • Sound effects
  • Background music
  • Color management
  • Special animation effects
  • Dynamic video masking

Stop-frame animation inspires the imagination

Even the most dramatic of writers and producers has delved into the art of stop motion animation because of their visual appeal. It can be a highly time-consuming endeavor to create the scenes and manipulate them frame-by-frame to give them the appearance of movement. If you have ever dreamed of doing animation, stop motion photography gives you a way to bring a story to life in ways that stir the imagination. Learn more about how Pinnacle Studio can help make your videos come to life.

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