Stop Motion Action
Have you seen an Epic LEGO brickfilm called “The Wild Crunch” by Jack Gerald Baeumler. If you are looking for stop motion action then you need go no further than this animation. Coming in at 37 minutes and 53 seconds long it is one of the longest stop motion action animations on YouTube. According to Gerald it took 9,274 photographs using his Canon 5D MII dslr camera. Additionally he has added 628 additional graphics images alongside some video footage where appropriate. He has used a whole raft of animation and editing software including Adobe Final cut pro 7.03, soundbooth, Illustrator, Digital Juice, Luca VFX , Videopilot, Kinemac , Smartsound, Photoshop and more. So this stop motion action animation is not a beginners endeavour by any means. Gerald is a German fully qualified film producer who likes to create LEGO animations on the side. The action is this animation is superb. Sound effects are used to great effect. Dialog is perfectly synchronized to minifgs. Atmospheric music and background sounds add to the feel and tension throughout. The storyline involves a bank robbery that is intercepted by SWAT. The result is a major battle of guns and firepower. Trucks , cars, helicoptors and buses are all used to bring the story to a climax of stop motion action madness. Muzzle flashes and lots of smoke, fire and flames litter the streets as the hero’s leave the final scene.
Gerald also gives us a view from behind the scenes in his “The Making of ..The Wild Crunch” on YouTube. Here you can see the sets , lighting , and camera he used to make the animation. Note the use of clamps throughout the various sets he used for his stop motion action movie. It’s worth noting if you are new to stop motion the absolute need for securing your set.
Their are various still images of the sets he used on his site ( see link above ) but here is just one to wet your appetite.
Stop Motion Sound Effects
The days of silent stop motion animation is over. Animation audiences will not be entertained by silent movies. So the need for well suited and effective stop motion sound effects are vital to any stop motion animation. iKITMovie includes 2,200 free stop motion sound effects right out of the box. It saves a lot of time by having all these sounds effects included in a readily accessible library within your stop motion application. It says time searching on the internet for the right sound. Or at least it is a very good starting point for your animation. Any sounds that are not readily available in the included library you can find online and can be easily added to the library with iKIT for immediate use and for use later at any time.
A very useful site is freesound.org a collaborative database of Creative commons Licensed sounds in various formats. Users contribute to the database of sounds for anyone to use as long as the sounds are not sold or used for profit. This is ideal for amateur stop motion animators and it is free. There are also good selection of music tracks and background music tracks on the site. The quality of the stop motion sound effects available on the site varies. Some are better than others to say the least. Search out the sounds that are at least 128kbps , stereo rather than mono. Those sounds will give you a better result for you animations.
When you start using stop motion sound effects it is important to note the length of the sounds sample. Normally you do not add the sound effect first and then create the animation. Thus if you sound is say 2 seconds long then you need to create an animation to match its length. Let’s say you are animating at 15 frames per second. Then you will need 30 frames ( still images ) in order to make up 2 seconds of animation. Then you are matching your 2 second sound effect to your 2 seconds of animation. So start animating today and track down those cool sound effects you will need to engage your audience.
Stop Motion War
There are a lot of really well made stop motion war animations out there on Youtube. Some are so well made they could be released professionally on TV. But there are also lots created using the old style plastic toy soldiers with low frame rates and so forth. The example below is just one those genre that I particularly find amusing. I have trawled the internet for a few of my favorites that use this approach. Animations with frames per second as low as 12 are still engaging because of the sounds effects , visual effects and storyline. Also an important element is humor. I think humor adds to the engaging element of the animation.
One approach that is commonly taken is to recreate a scene from a famous war movie. For example a scene from “Saving Private Ryan” called “Saving Plastic Ryan: Halftrack Cover!” epitomizes this approach. Created by “KingwoodStudios” this Stop motion war epic ( little humor ) uses plastic soldiers , toys and a portion of the soundtrack from Saving Private Ryan coupled with additional animation sound effects ( fx ) and visual effects. In fact Kingwood has created a number of scenes from that movie all using the plastic toy soldiers. By the way he uses iKITMovie and photoshop to create the stop motion war scenes.
Stop motion war is not only the reserve of world war II as can be seen with “Army Men: Viking Bloodlust: Part II also by Kingwood Studios. This wonderful animation ( again made with iKITMovie ) is shot at 15 FPS and was inspired by Braveheart , The Vikings, Ironclad , 300, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings and Spartacus according to the animator. There is a very cool “Trebuchet” used in this animation. I don’t know if it was made by Kingwood or purchased but I have never seen one used in any other animations online.
Stop Motion Tanks
A wonderful WWII action animation by Matthew Quinnell ( DF10 Productions ) of stop motion tanks depicting a scene from the infamous Battle of the Bulge. Matthew used a Canon 60 DSLR camera to take on the still shots. Editing was done using Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects and also Action Essentials 2. The result is really cool stop motion tanks battle with awesome special effects. Using 25 frames per second for the stop motion gives the animation a very smooth feel. As for the sets which must have taken weeks to build are all made with plaster of pairs and rubber moulds. The stop motion tanks themselves are all 1:72 scale. The model tanks look larger appearing almost 1:32 to be honest. But this has been achieved using well planned photographic angles and good set building techniques. I have a real passion for World war II tanks such as the Tiger and the Sherman firefly. The only slight let down in the animation is the fact that the tanks tracks do not move. This is a real pity but an obvious restriction of the models used by Matthew. Model tanks with moving tracks were probably alot more expensive or not available. Someone did suggest in the comments section to his video that he using blurring. This might be worth doing next time he releases such an animation.
Matthew released this animation on the 27th of January 2014 and has just under 800 views so far. The animation deserves hundreds of thousands of views by now given the quality and expertise demonstrated by his work. The Battle of the Bulge took place predominantly in Belgium, France and Luxembourg between December 16th 1944 and January 25th 1945. It was a major German offensive that ended in Allied victory. It was spearheaded by US troops but backed by British, French, Canadian and Belgium forces.
I would encourage everyone to view Matthews stop motion tanks animation and spread the word around. He deserves a few million views on this one.
A Stop Motion Game – A Rarity these days!
This is not something you don’t come across every day by any means. A musical interactive stop motion game created in black and white. Bet you didn’t see that one coming? The game is called Dominque Pamplemousse in “It’s all Over Once the Fat Lady Sings!”. Catchy title right? The title sets the tone for the animation and game. It’s very offbeat and purposefully obscure. The animation is primitive. The musical aspect has a random feel to it. Dialog is frequently sung with crude rhyme. It has the feel of not being thought through, but it obviously has been planned. I guess you could say it is being satirical. It’s described by the creator Deirdra Kiai as a detective adventure. Her sites tagline is “Videogame development from the margins”.
Not only does the gameplay seem like something from 20 plus years ago (think Leisure Suit Larry in the land of the lounge lizards ) but it is all in low resolution black and white. Despite this or perhaps because of it , Deirdra’s stop motion game has been nominated for four IGF Awards, “Excellence in Narrative”, Excellence in Audio, the Nuovo Award and the Seamus McNally Grand Prize. And good for her. It pays to be different. Game interaction is via flash popup message options, which you click on to choose the direction of the gameplay. It’s more of an interactive story than a game in that sense as the level of interaction is minimal.
Characters include Casey Byngham (the missing popstar), Prudence Van Dunng ( President and CEO of Van Dunng Records ), Devon Van Dunng, Ms Prendergast and Caseys Lawyer among others.
For those of you who have never played a stop motion game it might be worth the $4.99 you need to purchase it online at http://www.dominiquepamplemousse.com/.
“Stop Motion Ireland – Beochan” is the first dedicated animation studio purpose built for stop motion in Ireland. As far as I can make out in 2013, Telegael Productions have set up a dedicated stop motion studio in Casla, Connemara, Ireland. It’s main function is to produce the second series of “Igam Ogam” for Channel 5 ( UK ) , TG4 (Ireland ) and ZDF enterprises ( distributors). The new stop motion Ireland studio employs 40 staff in the region. The studio is involved in a number of stop motion projects including Morten (a family adventure feature film ), Shaggy Dog Stories ( 26 11 min TV mini series) among others.
The studio comprises of 1400 sq ft office space, 6,000 sq ft main studio, workshop, construction workshop and so forth. The animation is created using Dragon DMX , Avid Edit Studio and AfterFX compositing quite. All sets, props , sets and puppets are made at the stop motion Ireland studio. The team consists of a number of very talented and experienced stop motion animators. Director Ben Halliwell has worked on well known and loved animations such as Postman Pat, Fireman Sam and Frankenweenie. Heather Mills, Animation Line Producer/Production Manager with international project experience in traditional 2D, 3D CGI and stop-motion projects, both series and feature. Titles include the award winning* 3D(s) feature “Niko & The Way To The Stars” and the follow up: “Little Brother, Big Trouble” (*2 Cinekid Awards, 2 Jussi Awards, European Film Award, CIFEJ Award).
It’s heartening to see that stop motion animation is not only alive and well but thriving in Ireland ( the home of iKITMovie stop motion animation software ). We are very proud to see creativity flourishing in a beautiful part of Ireland and keeping 40 people employed in a wonderful art form. Long may they continue to grow and create. Best wishes to Beochan – Stop Motion Ireland.
Unique Stop Motion
Some stop motion are to be expected. Claymation characters, lego animations, toys, dolls and so on. But there are some unique stop motions released online these days that still catch you by surprise. They break the mold when it comes to out the box thinking. Take for example the unique stop motion by Rodrigo Eba from Brazil. Rodrigo created a fantastical world created with drops of water. Using a simple syringe filled with water he has brought a character to life. Not only is it expertly animated with high end techniques like ease in and ease out it is unique. Rodrigo created this back in 2011. It’s well worth a viewing below.
Cachoeira from Rodrigo EBA! on Vimeo.
This next one is more traditional but what makes it a unique stop motion is how fluid and gritty it appears to the viewer. You forget that the objects being used are toys and are instead fully engaged in the action and storyline. Beautifully shot and expertly sound synchronized for full effect. Created by “Stoopid Buddy Stoodios” a collective of animators, Seth Green, John Harvatine IV , Matthew Senreich and Eric Towner. These are the guys behind the longest running stop online series we all love “Robot Chicken”. So it’s not surprising that the below animation is a unique stop motion.
I would recommend to anyone that they search out “unique stop motion” animations online if you are looking for stop motion ideas.
A random collection of some really nice cool lego minifigs. They are all customized lego minifigs created by true LEGO lovers. See if you can identify some of the characters these are mimicking very nicely indeed. It’s very easy to create your own cool lego minifigs by mixing and matching a few different parts from standard minifigs. You can also paint on features or add decals to create various effects. You don’t have to use LEGO parts for that matter either. Many custom minifig makers use their own moulded plastic parts. Or some even use clay to add features such as hair of clothing. The clay can be quick drying or quick hardening.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own custom minifig there is a a thriving online marketplace where you can purchase almost any minifig that has been pre-customized for you. You can pay anything from $5 to $50 for highly intricate cool lego minifigs. The customization doesn’t just stop however with minifigs on these sites. You can purchase furnitture , instruments , animals , tanks, aeroplanes. All these items cannot be made with any kits that are made by LEGO.
It’s worth checking a few custom lego minifig sites such as
Scaling up stop motion – The Challenges
I recently did a book review of the Aardman book of film making Creating 3-D animation and was fascinated by the chapter on the challenges of scaling up stop motion. According to Peter Lord, when Aardman considered making their first full length feature film they thought that working out the logistics would be as simple a multiplying the resources used in a 30 minute movie by three to calculate what would be required for a feature film of 90minutes duration.So they multiplied the time, the cost and the crew by three and doubled it for safety. Well….as it turned out it wasn’t quite as simple as that…They were soon to realize the challenges of scaling up stop motion. A Close Shave which is a thirty minute movie with a total crew of roughly thirty people, including 6 animators. On Chicken Run, their eighty minute feature film they needed ta crew of two hundred plus thirty four animators altogether. Who would have thought?
Working out crew requirements was the first of many of the challenges of scaling up stop motion that they would encounter. Another was delegating many of the critical tasks to others while still maintaining complete control. Both Nick Park and Peter Lord came from a background where they did everything themselves.Together they were the writers, the directors, the animators, model makers and general tea makers. They were totally immersed in every single aspect of a stop motion short movie so letting go some of these functions proved difficult at times.
Once Nick and Peter knew where they were going with the story they decided to bring in the screenwriter, Karey Kirpatrick, who told them that their three hour story line which they had expected could easily be cut to 80 minutes was much too long and complicated. As it existed they couldn’t possibly fit it in the time allotted for filming. Once they got the first draft of the script Nick and Peter started on the storyboard.
Once again they encountered another of the challenges of scaling up stop motion. This time they had to take on other people to help them with the story boarding. Something that took Peter by surprise was how many times they had to rethink and redo the storyboard over the life of the movie. Previously in a thirty minute short film they did all the stop motion storyboard themselves and most of the storyboard stayed in the film. This time they had to divide the movie into several shorter and more manageable sequences, however this in itself caused the problem of “sequencitis” (sounds like an illness). Because they were working on separate short 3 minute long sections, when they were finished and put together it didn’t always work because the story is continually evolving. As a result they ended up story boarding the film many times over.
These problems while overcome by Nick and Peter resulting in the sensational movie Chicken Run are just some of the challenges of scaling up stop motion that all budding feature film makers will encounter on their journey to stardom.
Armature in Stop Motion
Whether or not you need to use somre kind of armature in Stop motion depends on what is required of the character in question and on your budget. If you have your clay character moving around a lot and being quite athletic then you will definitely need to use some kind of armature. Using armature in stop motion is not necessary when someone is starting out but as you become more accomplished at stop motion and want to make more realistic looking and moving characters then Armature of some kind will definitely be of benefit. You will also find that if you are using clay for your claymation characters the most active ones will very soon become dirty and smudged from all the handling and will require constant smoothing and cleaning off. However, if you use some kind of armature in stop motion then you have an infinitely more flexible character. There are other benefits to using armature in stopmotion, such as your character will last longer and allow you to do more with it. It will also keep its shape longer and better than a simple unsupported clay character that will have to be smoothed and shaved if you unintentionally damage the shape thereby unintentionally changing the essence of the character.
So you have decided that you are ready to use armature in stop motion. The next thing you have to consider is your budget. The first thing you need to do is experiment with lengths of wire, pieces of balsa wood, foam and cloth material. At Aardman Studios they have a course on designing and building a stop motion character. They look at dozens of different materials as no method is set in stone and every character requires a different way of working.
Did you know in Aardmans “A close shave” they had three different sheep, all requiring a separate armature structure depending on the level of activity required from them. However all the sheep had legs made of twisted aluminium wire. Their feet were made from steel discs with holes to fit the legs into. Then their heads were moulded from fast cast resin. Something I have never used as I have has difficulty sourcing it. By the time the sheep were finished they had used glass beads, cocktail sticks, plastazote, a hard foam like material, aluminium mesh, maxi-plast rubber which had to be sculpted and baked, epoxy resin glue,foam and finally wool . Now that seems like an awful lot of work and that is the level of expertise required when making professional quality stop motion movies. However for beginners using armature in stop motion some wire will usually give a satisfactory result. Check out the following:
Of course you can always buy armature from online stop motion stores such as animationsupplies.net where you can choose from ready made aluminium armature which is ideal for beginners to the much more expensive professional studio armature with ball joints and sockets. They also have a product which is a hybrid of both and reasonably priced for beginners. The EZ Armature at £34.99 looks a pretty good starting point for anyone deciding to use armature in stop motion for the first time.