Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video What is stop motion, and how does it work?, part of Getting Started with Stop Motion Animation.
Before we jump into actual techniques, let's establish what stop-motion animation actually is. It's a pretty straightforward concept. Now, with traditional animation, it's really a series of still images that play back rapidly. In fact, video is the exact same way. The way your brain works with persistence of vision is that if you see enough still images per second, your brain sort of blends them all together into smooth motion. So with stop motion animation, it's really up to you how smooth that gets.
Some stop motion animation is very fluid with lots of frames. Other times, if you're just getting started, you might rough it out a bit more. Let me show you a really straightforward concept. Right now, I've got a simple toy. Now, this is one of those old school puzzles that you can bend into different shapes, but I'm going to use it as a ball here, and just roll it through the scene. You've note that I brought up my iPad, and I framed up the shot. So if I put this here, I sort of find where that shows up on the screen, and that's right about at the edge. So this ball's going to start here, and it's going to move across all the way to the other side, and end up here.
But if it just floated across the screen, that wouldn't be very interesting. So we're going to introduce a little bit of character animation as it moves on through. Now, before I go too far, I want to make sure that my camera is set up correctly, and we're going to explore this more. But quite simply, I'll drop this right in the middle here and check my camera settings to make sure that it's focused and exposed right. I could just set this in the middle. There we go, and check my focus. Tap to set the exposure, and I'm going to make sure that that stays locked so I'm looking at those real easy.
And same thing with white balance, we've locked there. Now we'll explore these concepts more later, but the essential thing here is that only the things I want to change in the stop motion animation change. In this case, the cameras not going to change. It's not going to move. It's not going to adjust focus. It's locked down. The only thing moving is going to be the ball. So let's frame that up. Here we go. We got that just out of the frame. And now, I'm going to record. So, when I tap this button, it records an individual frame.
Now, something needs to change. So, we'll roll this forward. Here we go. And press record. Roll it again, moving it to the next position. Note, I let it settle, so it's not shaking. Tap record. And we'll just proceed. To let that move through the frame. I could be a little stylized as that moves. because it doesn't have to be realistic. It just needs to be entertaining. So we'll just keep that moving here a little bit. There we go. And you might notice on the screen that I can see a preview of the previous shot with the next one.
This helps me make a good judgement about how things are working. There we go. Let's have a little fun here. Let the ball come to life a bit. I'm just going to have it do a little spin in place. There we go. And roll out of the frame. Note that I'm not just doing a simple movement. I've curved the ball a little bit. Having some fun and introducing some organic variety, just makes things feel a little more natural and entertaining. And at the end here, we'll record a few empty shots of the frame. Now, that was really basic, but I'm like you. I want to see how it turned out. So, I'm just going to tap the play button, and I can see what happens.
It's pretty cool. This is the whole core concept here. You're going to go ahead and take a series of individual photos that could then be played back as a movie. We're going to take a look at a lot more complex items and staging a more elaborate scene, but at its heart, stop-motion animation is just a bunch of still pictures that you have a plan for. You figure out what you want to do, how to get from point a to point b, and then you create a little bit of motion in between. Along the way we record that, and when we're done, we have a movie.
And this movie is ready to share. Alright, let's explore a little bit more about this process.
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- 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