New Stop Motion Software – A journey in to the unknown
When I started creating our stop motion software I was predominantly conscious of two things. First of all I wanted the software to be as easy to use as possible. Secondly it had to be as fully featured as we could make it without making it complex. These two requirements can be at odds with one another with any system never mind a new stop motion software application. Our target audience was initially children between six and sixteen years of age. However we noticed later that there was no age restriction on the result. We found adults who wanted an easy to use application as much as younger people.
We researched a number of other stop motion software programs on the market back in 2007. In order to gauge the quality of the applications available to the market at the time we looked at a number of factors.
- Ease of use
- Features list
We graded all applications we found in the stop motion software arena and discovered that all applications had their strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the best stop motion software as a result was difficult at the time for potential customers.
The other factor which we took in to account which I have not already mentioned was cross platform availability. In other words, should the application run on Mac or PC or both? At the time the Mac market share was in or around 12.5%. While we accepted that a higher percentage of Mac users tend to use multimedia creative software it still did not convince us that there was a sufficient market for us to pursue it. Thus we decided to concentrate on the PC Windows market. Also cost was a massive influence on the choice. Developing a cross platform multimedia application is very expensive. Both platforms use very different multimedia interfaces for capturing and presenting audio and video.
Thus the decision for us was obvious. Take all the good points from existing stop motion software and integrate them in one application. We went one step further at the time and planned to create a unique selling point. Namely the inclusion of a library of sound effects and music tracks. The reasoning behind this USP was simple. No one else in the market at that time included a bank or library of sound effects to use when creating your stop motion or Claymation animation. You had to search the web for sounds to suit your action. We believed that including a wide range of sounds (2000+) under various categories made life a lot simpler for the user.
With the categories of “Ease of use”, “Feature list” and so forth we started by designing the interface. We believed and still do that the interface is key. Without an intuitive and attractive interface we believed we were not to start the background development. We stuck to this and as a result it also made coding a lot more focussed. We released version 1 of our stop motion software, iKITMovie 12 months after interface design began. We have built on the premise of ease of use and features ever since releasing version 2 in March 2012 and version 3 in March 2013. Each release added more features and functions while keeping to the promise of ease of use, reliability and attractiveness.
We are committed to further developing of our new stop motion software in the coming years.
Stop Motion body art isn’t really my thing but I came across this interesting stop-motion video created by “Elvis Schmoulianoff” on Vimeo today.
“Elvis” describes the project which took 10 days to shoot as an experiment in paint and stop-motion. He shot the stop motion body art having been inspired by “Motu” a similar stop motion graffiti video by BLU. Unusually he was shot using natural light rather than 3 point lighting as is normal with this form of animation. A total of 1064 still images were taken to create the 4 minute 21 second animation. The result is around 4 frames per second, which is ok for this form of stopmotion. The effect is meant to be a little jittery.
Elvis describes some of artwork inspiration in his animation called “Painted” as follows:
“Painted was inspired by some amazing artists and the video is a little homage to their outstanding talent and a thank you for the smiles and wonder it has given me. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s fantastic body of work, Fritz Lang’s impressionist masterpiece Metropolis and the sumptuous makeup art of Alex Box all served as fantastic visual inspiration, Blu’s stop-motion graffiti inspired the concept itself and the sheer ingenuity and borderless creativity of LA based artist A Dandypunk and England’s Happy Slap Boutique gave me the push to embark on a new creative adventure on my own.”
Elvis is a professionally trained make up and Prosthetics for performance professional based in the UK and Australia.
The Simpsons get the LEGO treatment in a special episode to be aired this May 2014. The Simpson’s LEGO episode called “Brick Like Me” looks very cool at least from the trailer shown below. The plot involves Homer wake up and looking in the mirror only to discover he looks rather different. He discovers that Springfield has turned effectively in to LEGOLand. He does not refer to his environment as LEGo but rather calls it “made of bricks”. It makes you wonder if the producers got the permission of LEGO to make the episode in the manner at all?
The entire episode looks to be CGI rather than stop motion but nonetheless really worth the time to view it.
Stop Motion Bears – CGI & CAD !
I came across a stunning piece of replacement stop motion called stop motion bears. The animation was created by DBLG ( an agency based in London ). Founded in 2007 they described themselves as a group of highly ambitious creative designers, animators and innovative thinkers. Among their clients include BBC1, Channel 4, Apple, TATE and many more.
The animation actually combines CGI ( 3D Animation ) , CAD 3D printing and stop motion. The concept of the animation itself is straightforward. It’s a stop motion bear walking up a stairs. What makes it interesting is not only the combination of techniques but the use of approximately 40 paper bears. The bears were made using 3D CAD printing on a 3D printer. The 40 bears form a full stair climbing cycle using the replacement technique. This technique is a must for such an intricate piece of animation.
The result of using the 40 stop motion bears is an extremely smooth animation. It intentionally gives the impression I think that the whole animation is done using CGI. The 3D printed bears look like they are CGI wire frame untextured straight from 3DMax or something.
It appears they used a Nikon DSLR and DRagon to create the stop motion as far as I can see as they do not mention it in their publication.
Why not watch the below Vimeo video of the making of the animation and the stop motion bears themselves in action. Watch out for the 3D CAD printer and the resulting 3D bears lined up in order ready for action.
Stop Motion Swans a clever stop motion animation made by PES for “CitizenM Hotel” in Times Square New York is very entertaining. Created by PES of PESFilm uses his signature style of bringing common everyday objects to life. In this case two swans feature as the romantically involved lovers made from hotel bathroom towels dance on a double bed to soothing music only to be devoured by a shark. The shock factor used to denote the new and unique tag line for the advertiser of “cutting back on the unnecessary trimmings but retaining some more essentials at a affordable price”. PES says this unconventional commercial is one of his favorite stop motions to date. Judging by his 326,552 subscribers on YouTube I would say PES has plenty who agree that his stop motion swans animation is well worth the work he has done once again.
INGLEWOOD, CA-JANUARY 30, 2013: PES, the animator of the Oscar-nominated short, “Fresh Guacamole”, is photographed at his studio in Inglewood on January 30, 2013. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times) Los Angeles Times
citizenM – “Swan Song”
Directed by PES
Agency: KesselsKramer London & Los Angeles
Creative Team: Frank Anselmo, PES, KesselsKramer
Agency Producer: Amy Jadine van der Veer
Co-produced by PES Film/Stoopid Buddy Stoodios/RESET
Director of Photography: Helder K. Sun
Animated by Dillon Markey
Production Designer: Almitra Corey
Fabrication/Production Studio: Stoopid Buddy Stoodios
Sound Design by PES
Exec Producer: Sarah Phelps
Supervising Producer: Janet Dimon
Producers: Ethan Marak, Scott Pourroy
You’ve heard of pigs in space but have you seen Pigs in Stop Motion ? Farmsanctuary.org have created a nice stop motion using paper dolls of people and a pig playing a computer game. It’s an quaint concept and nicely executing in stop motion.
The resulting animation was published on March 25th , 2014 on Youtube. My daughter is a vegetarian and she stumbled across this video. However I must say while I enjoyed the pigs in stop motion animation it certainly will not convince me to give my bacon!
The two images below show how the paper dolls were cut out and used to create three dimensional characters. It must have been tricky to handle such delicate dolls when animating. The images on the right is more traditional showing a three sided set with sofa , window door and so forth. Nice work.
Discover just how smart pigs are. This engaging new spot for Farm Sanctuary illustrates pigs’ intelligence. Watch and see for yourself. For more information about pig behavior, emotion and intelligence, visit http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/so….
Director: Melanie Mandl
Copywriter: Jean Rhode
Copywriter: Kelly Beck-Byrnes
Executive Creative Director: Jason Wulfsohn
Director of Strategy: Ben Tiernan
Junior Art Director: Belinda Sumali
Voice Over Talent: Amanda Philipson
Color Correction: David Smith
VO Recording: Sonicpool Post Production
Production Design: Melanie Mandl
Set Decorator: Zarouhi Mazmanyan
Character Design:Melanie Mandl, Robbie Mehring
Model Makers: Zarouhi Mazmanyan, Henry Kamp
Lighting Designer: Mark Mervis
Animated by: Melanie Mandl
“Farm Runner” video game designed by: Henry Kamp
Compositing/ Rotoscoping: Henry Kamp
Mixed by: David Bach
Music Composed by: J. William Adkins
Special Thanks: Somewhere Something, All Sets, Brandon Fusco, Dean Styers, Keystone Art Space, Victoria Foraker, Tommi Zabrecky
What don’t you try animating some of your toy animals just like these pigs in stop motion ?
The Boxtrolls Stop Motion animation due out in September 2014 is based on Alan Snow’s “Here be Monsters”. From the producers of Paranorman and Coraline comes these wonderful new animation entirely made in Stop motion animation. The Boxtrolls stop motion will no doubt have a wide appeal for all ages. Adults will appreciate the intricate work involved in bringing the characters to life while children will readily engage in what are very interesting scenes and storyline.
This article gives you a glimpse behind the scenes of the The Boxtroll stop motion animation by looking at the making of the dolls and sets and more. The dolls use the well known armature shown below as a base for the structure of the characters. The armature is covered in clay as shown above and sculpted meticulously to create the characters.
The Boxtrolls stop motion characters seem to be mostly animated using the replacement method. At least when they are expressing or talking as seen by the below image for the “Fish” character. All the mouth replacements are carefully stored in cardboard boxes waiting to be swapped in as required.
The image below then shows the various expressions created with the mouth replacements. This approach saves alot of time when animating but requires dozens of dolls and faces be made for each expression.
I am truly looking forward to the Boxtrolls stop motion movie when it comes out in September 2014.
Ever wondered How they made the LEGO Movie? The below video is I think the best description of how they went about making the LEGO Movie. I have transcribed the audio also so that you can understand how it was made step by step.
Emmet: What is happening?
Wyldstyle: You’re the special, and the prophecy states that you are the most important person in the universe. That’s you right?
Emmet: Uh, yes! That’s me
CG supervisor: So this is Emmet. We spent a long time working on Emmet being the lead character in this film. We went through quite a few different iterations on his hair, but we finally settled on this one. As you can see we try to be quite authentic with the actual Lego product itself. So, there is a lot detail put into the sticker work, the detail work, the mold lines, chips, chunks and scratches. We try to incorporate a lot of that. In fact, we put a lot of the mini figs underneath the microscope and have a good look at those details so we could actually get a lot of that fidelity into our models.
Editor: This represents the storyboard phase of the film. Basically, you do a rough pass of drawing the script by hand and it’s the first thing that we do when we’re testing out an idea. And after that , once it gets approved, it goes through a process, which is called layout, where you kind of roughly put the characters and the cameras into the scene. That’s pretty neat. And then after layout, once you’ve locked your cameras in your sets and your characters in, you get to animate it. And then at last after you’re done with the animation, the lighting and grading team comes in and they make it look really pretty and this is what that looks like.
Modelling Artist: Essentially all you are doing is importing the bricks and snapping them together just like real Lego. And also just like real Lego, the bricks will refuse connections that can’t be made in real life.
Lead Animator: Metal Beard is an interesting character for a number of reasons. Firstly he is so much bigger than all the other characters. He’s got a lot of cool accessories, which I have a lot of fun with. He’s got a shark on his arm. He’s got a canon on his other arm and it kinda plays into the fact that is slightly kind of unintentionally intimidating character.
Emmet: Good morning apartment! Good morning doorway! Good morning wall. Good morning ceiling. Good morning floor.
CG Supervisor: This is kinda the animation review format so obviously it doesn’t have any lighting or anything like that, but it does show kind of the face and it shows various bits and pieces.
Emmet: Oh here it is. Instructions to fit in, have everybody like you and always be happy. Step 1: breathe.
Does the basketball ever come off of the shelf?
So far no.
No, but it could
It has the ability
Do you want that to happen?
If things get crazy enough, it could happen.
Emmet: No. No. Nah-ah. No. Not that. Wrong. And that’s it. Check.
If you would like to make your own LEGO animation check out our stop motion software and tutorial pages.
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.