Getting Started with Stop Motion Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Getting Started with Stop Motion Animation

with Richard Harrington

Video: Assembling shots in iMovie

Now that we've imported the items into iMovie, For now, don't worry about a theme. I'll click Create and give it a name. Now that you've done that, you just need to add the items to the sequence.

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Watch the Online Video Course Getting Started with Stop Motion Animation
1h 53m Appropriate for all Mar 21, 2014

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Stop-motion animation has a long history in Hollywood, from films like King Kong to Coraline, but it can also be a fun and relatively easy weekend art project. Whether you're a hobbyist looking for a creative outlet for yourself or your kids, or a professional who wants to try stop motion, this course will help you create your own short stop-motion films. Rich Harrington shows how to shoot the initial sequences with an iPad, smartphone, or DSLR camera, and then assemble them into a short animated movie using iMovie and the iStopMotion app. He'll also show how to export your final project and get it ready to share or move into a professional or semiprofessional video editing application.

This course was created and produced by RHED Pixel. We're honored to host this content in our library.

Topics include:
  • What is stop motion and how does it work?
  • Stop motion vs. time lapse
  • Shooting stop motion with a tablet or smartphone
  • Lighting your environment
  • Directing the animation
  • Working with filters and color
  • Shooting in reverse
After Effects Premiere Pro
Richard Harrington

Assembling shots in iMovie

Now that we've imported the items into iMovie, we can create a movie to share with others. Simply click the Create button, and choose Movie. For now, don't worry about a theme. If you'd like to explore some of the more advanced options with iMovie, check out the essential training course available here on I'll click Create and give it a name. Now that you've done that, you just need to add the items to the sequence. Lets select the music clip, and make sure to click and drag through the entire clip. Now, clicking the Plus button, it'll add it to the timeline.

Let's have a listen. Sounds pretty good. Let's choose one of our clips from the iPhoto Library that we previously imported. I think I'll start with this ball rolling into the frame. By dragging through the frames that I want, I could then click the Plus button to add it. And then, hit the Home key to go back to the beginning. And the space bar to start to play. That looks good. But it went by a little bit fast. It's perfectly acceptable to retime your stop motion clips. Just right-click and choose Show Speed Editor. This allows you to drag it out to a new duration if necessary.

There we go. It's a little long there, so I'll shorten it. That feels about right. Let's grab the next clip of the snake, and add that to the timeline second. Here we go. Now, I'd like that to last a little longer. You note that it wasn't quite long enough, but rather than slowing it down, I'll add a freeze frame.

By clicking on the clip, I could choose add freeze frame. And it extends it. Note now, we could play it out until the music ends or transitions to the next section. Right about there. Using the arrow keys on the keypad, I could nudge the playhead left or right. That Seems like a good spot. Let's right-click and choose to split the clip. This makes it easy to select the other portions, and simply press the Delete key to remove them. I'll take my next shot here. The panda and the lion meeting for the first time.

And add that to the sequence. Let's drag the playhead back. That's pretty good, I'm just going to slow that down as well. I'm going to right-click for show speed editor. And drag that out a bit. Again, this is very subjective, but remember, the whole idea here is manipulate time so the animation looks its best. Sometimes that means lining it up to dialog or music, so you can speed it up or slow it down as you see fit. That's good. Lets add the next clip.

Click the Plus button to add it. I like that but I want to change the shot just a little bit. Lets trim that back, and slow this one down. Show Speed Editor, and we'll drag that out just a bit. The difference between the two shots though, is not as dramatic as I would like. While one does get tighter, I'd like it to get a lot tighter, so by right-clicking on that clip, I could choose to adjust it. This gives me access to all sorts of controls, including color controls, or the ability to even crop the image.

And I'm going to pull this in a bit tighter with crop. It maintains the same original shape of the video file. There we go. And I'll drag to recompose. And click the check box to apply. Let's have a look. That looks good. And let's just finish this out with our last two shots. Back in my iMovie library, I've got the shot of the robot. Let's drag that out to select, click the plus symbol to add, that one's significantly longer cause it was a very elaborate animation.

Let's take a listen. That's good, let's just find that music beat right about there. That looks to be a good transition. So we'll tighten this up by dragging the edge, and put our last shot in. Click to add, let's see if that times out. Well, it looks like it didn't take the whole banana shot. So I'll need to extend that just a bit. And note as I drag the handle at the edge, it does put in the other frames. Sometimes when you click to add, it may go off of the playhead here.

So if you've accidentally put the wrong shots in, you can always delete it and reselect, or just make trimming adjustments in the timeline. Always check your shots back though, to make sure you're getting the results that you expect. Let's drag that playhead. That's a good place for the music to end. So I'm going to right-click and choose Split Clip, we can now get rid of this, by pressing the Delete key. And you'll note a little handle here, to add a slow fade out.

Just grab that dot and pull, and you get a gentle music fade. Let's take a look. Good. Tweak that just a little. And what I'd like to do is put a slow fade here and an end title. Let's add a transition. I'll toss on a fade to black. But before I do, let's add a small freeze frame. There we go. Pull that in a bit. Slow fade to black. And in this area here, we'll put a small title. You'll note that you could choose titles from the content library. I'll put a simple title here in the middle.

Let's drag that to the timeline, select it, and I'll put a copyright. Option+G on a Mac is the copyright symbol, and I'll type my name. That looks good. Let's just shorten that up. Pull the music in a little bit, and watch it end. Good. And we'll just drag until we find a natural end to the music. That seems almost right. Remember, creativity often involves slight trial and error, but it makes it pretty simple here as you drag. Good, I like how that looks, and at this point, I'm ready to share it with others.

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