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Tips for Making a Stop-Motion Video

To bring out the secret photographer or videographer in you, stop motion techniques are extremely easy and fun to follow. Stop motion, which can also be called stop-action or frame-by frame, allows you to make objects appear like they are moving. This popular animation technique allows you to make a still image move in tiny increments through each different frame. When these frames are played in a continuous sequence, it seems like the image is moving. Take for example, those children’s books that you have to flip through within 15 seconds. From one page to the next, you may not realise that the image has moved half a centimetre. When you flip the pages, you see that the images are moving much like a movie. In the same way, you can make photography mimic this technique.

Here are some tips for creating a stop motion picture.

1.Lay out the visuals you want to use

Just like in movies, every part of a particular scene helps create the total image. In a restaurant scene, you will have food on the table, people eating and talking, waiters in the background, ambience shots and more. Each of these details helps describe the story. In stop motion videos, you want to make sure that when you capture your images, the series of images are detailed from the first to the hundredth. You cannot take 50 shots and then take out the fork in the background. Everything must have a sequential progression. This will help make your story strong.


2.Create a storyboard

No one wants to be stuck sorting through thousands of photos that one has to put together into an image. Instead, plan out your story board ahead of time so you save yourself some effort. Unlike videos that are comprised of many clips, photography has the limitation of being in images. The story board will help guide you step by step so that the images will come together naturally. Once you figure out what story you are going to tell through the images, you must create a script. This can describe the characters in the images, the development, the problem, and the conclusion. You will also have to mentally visualise your story. If you can’t see your own photos making a series of motions, no one else will either. Make sure all the visual elements are there and the shots and angles are precise.


3.Edit afterwards

It might be a photographer’s curse to feel the need to edit each picture they take. Since in photography, there is value in each individual shot, the perfection needs to be there. However, in stop motion, you must learn to edit the images as a collective whole. You have to put everything together in a chronological timeline. Using tools like Imovie, Windows Movie Maker, or Final Cut Express can help you edit all your images together.


4.Add audio to give emotion and connect the story

To bring a true motion feel to your images, it’s important to have audio in a stop motion video, which helps to strengthen the stop motion. The audio can be music, sounds, or narration -whatever you feel would most work with the story you are trying to tell. This can be one of the final steps since once your video is put together, it will be easier to pick out the sound to go along with it.

5.Consider output

Once you’re done with the stop motion piece, you have to decide how to use it. You want to figure out a good medium for your art. Whether you will be posting it on the web, making a DVD, putting it on your phone, you should figure out what you actually want to do with it.

6. Online help

One great website that can give you more ideas of stop motion videos is StopMotionCentral.com. You’ll be able to watch some sample ones and take a look behind the scenes or get ‘How-to’ tips. For some really cool ones, check out Brickfilms.com [1] where hundreds of directors create stop-motion animations using Lego bricks.


~Zahid Javali