Archive for the ‘Stop Motion Tutorials and Tips’ Category
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.
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.
Special Movement effects in Stop Motion
Today I decided to research some special movement effects in stop motion. Did you know that a sheet of glass can come in very useful when shooting special movement effects in stop motion movies. For instance how did the penguin fall through the sky in in Nick Park’s Wrong Trousers? Did the animators use strings and change the position after each shot, which would have been very tedious or did they use some other technique? Believe it or not they used a sheet of glass. In the movie the penguin is shot up into the air and then falls to earth against a background of blue sky and fluffy clouds. So what they did was quite ingenious. Instead of having the poor penguin falling against a fixed background, they photographed him on glass with a parallel sky positioned behind him. The penguin was then held still except for an occasional movement of his sack and the position of his feet. The illusion of falling comes from the sky which is moved slowly from side to side between frames.
This glass technique, an ingenious example of special movement effects in stop motion has also been used by Peter Lord in his filming of Adam, which was released in 1991. Adam won Ardman an Oscar nomination and is another fantastic example of stop motion with clay or claymation as we like to call it. In this stop motion the character Adam ran around the circumference of the world without falling off. How did Peter Lord do this ? Well, he used a sheet of glass of course. They measured the circumference of the globe they were using in the stop motion and then cut a circular hole in a large sheet of glass which fitted exactly round the globe on a north-south axis. They then took their shots looking down from above the set. Adam was essentially lying with one of his shoulders and hips flat on the glass .Using the glass technique made it much easier to animate than if they had tried in some way to suspend him on wires.
Tips when using glass for your special movement effects in stop motion.
If you use glass to help with your special movement effects in stop motion you will need to take into consideration the colours in the glass and any extra reflections. When you move from the scene before the glass effect to the next scene with the glass effect, some colour differences are likely to occur. To over come this all you have to do is shoot a group of scenes with the glass whether or not it is actually needed and then colour differences will not be discernible. Then you should shoot at 90 degrees to the glass to offset any reflection thrown by your character lying on its side.
For those of you who want to see this great technique and other special movement effects in stop motion then, check out, Peter Lord Adam 1991, on youtube.
The importance of stop motion story board can not be over stated. Without a good storyboard you are like a boat without a rudder. Every stop motion animation needs to have a some kind of story , not matter how basic. So in order to give direction to your animated story you should always use a stop motion story board. Every movie or animation every published used a story board. It does not have to be anything elaborate. It can be very basic.
From just a few rudimentary sketches on a single sheet of paper to a filmed sequence of scenes made a just a few hours. To illustrate how basic a stop motion story board can be I came across a “videomatics” story board made by Ken Ralston when they were planning Star Wars. Ken Ralston, who worked on the visual effects for Return of the Jedi, discusses the “moving storyboard” created for the film’s climactic Death Star attack sequence. The effects team shot, on tape, a simple version of the space battle with models on sticks, cardboard cutouts, and blue screen. It was crude — sound effects were made by the crew themselves — but effective. “I was hoping it would be in the movie,” Ralston jokes. “But I guess not.”
George Lucas was impressed, and spliced these temporary sequences into the live-action footage he had. From there, Ralston and ILM were able to use their “moving storyboards” as a guide for creating the actual scenes.
Jedi Videomatics: A Moving Storyboard Narrated by Ken Ralston – interview below.
Originally, to get things choreographed and designed correctly, what we did for the first space battle – the first big space battle – is we shot on tape using models – very simplistic models – on sticks shot against ultimate blue screen. We shot our own version of the space battle matting in ships against little drawings of backgrounds we would do and really funky cardboard cutouts of things and we would mat in, like, the Millennium Falcon on top of some other ships we would put in and you could see the sticks in the shots and all that. George took all that material and cut it together… actually, I think, we took the first space battle and did our own cut, and then we set down every one of us that was involved and did sound effects for it. So as the ships are going around, we would be [makes zooming ship sound] just using our mouths and just faking it, and, apparently, it went over real well. I was hoping it would be in the movie, but I guess not. It was fun doing that because it didn’t have to be as precise and as time-consuming as the real shots had to be. So George took that, he cut the sequences and cut that around the live action footage that he already had, and, based on that, we would set up the real models and start shooting away.
So having read and seen the importance of a storyboard in once of the biggest movies of all time then I hope you can see the benefits of a stop motion story board in your animations.
How to Make a Lego Animation!
I’m always on the look out for a good “how to make a lego animation” video on Youtube and Vimeo.
This one I came across recently gives all the fundamental instructions in one very well executed user friendly animation. It combines all the important aspects of a good instructional animation tutorial. Cool visuals, humor and a step by step approach. The author of the animation “Jett Morgan Ffrangcon Williams” is a keen lego animator and “magnet animator”. Yes that’s right, a magnet animator or Magnemation. Jett uses magnetic balls ( Zen Magnets ) to come up with a whole range of monsters and beasts which he integrates in to both lego animations and claymations. He is certainly unique in that sense. I don’t know of anyone else out there doing such animations. Jett has dedicated a whole website to the unique “Magnemation” animation approach.
Jett created his “how to make a lego animation” tutorial video back in March 2012. Since then he has had two hundred and twenty thousand plus views. It’s animated using a Canon 600D T3i DSLR Camera with a 18-250 mm Sigma lens. He uses Adobe Final Cut Pro X to create his animations. He also uses Adobe After Effects to create any special effects. He uses free sounds he finds on the internet also.
I like the approach Jett takes on his tutorial. He uses a Lego Minifig as the narrator. Bob the bad tempered lego guy attempt to teach you how to make a brickfilm. Jett breaks it down on the video also so you can jump to the section that interests you.
A good Stop Motion chroma key affect if well executed can make an ordinary animation a little more special. What is chroma key? Well think of the weatherman or even superman. A character in front of a blue or green screen in a studio is seen by the viewer with weather maps behind him in the case of the weatherman. Were in fact he only sees a blue / green screen, we see images of maps of states, clouds etc etc. And in the case of superman we see a sky and clouds moving in the background ..the cameraman in the studio sees an actor dangling from support wires in front of a green screen. So now with Stop Motion software such as iKITMovie you too can change the background.
Changing a background with stop motion software used to be difficult. In fact a lot of the stop motion software available does not have even have a stop motion chroma key feature. So you would have to export your finished movie to another application that has chromakey in order to add backgrounds. And the stop motion software out there that does have chromakey is tricky to use at the best of times. Not only does iKITMovie stop motion software make it easier to use stop motion chroma key it also includes a library of still images and video images ready to use for backgrounds. When we reviewed stop motion software with chroma key the two areas which we felt that let them down were “A” only a single color could be chromakeyed out and “B” they did not give you any video or still images to work with. You had to search for appropriate images/video yourself either online or offline, resize them and import them in to your stop motion software. We felt that this slowed down they creative animation process. So we set about addressing these two issues. After over 14 months of development we believe we have addressed both these issues and more.
iKIT allows you to do stop motion chroma key out up to 3 colors. This is really useful if you have any shading in your backdrop. While to the naked eye you may think that your blue / green backdrop looks all the same color throughout, it invariably will have slight differences in shading of the blue/green ( whichever color you are using ). To help with this iKIT allows you to click on up to three different shades of your backdrop. This will ensure that all your blue or green is chromakeyed out correctly so that the background image or video can show up. So if you are looking for stop motion software that gives a great result without spending too much time on lighting etc then iKIT is for you. Its perfect for what you would expect from good stop motion software.
Good Stop Motion Ideas
Whether you are looking for some good stop motion ideas for kids or beginners you have come to the right place.
Cutout Paper Stop Motion animation.
Paper cut out animation is a really nice way to do stop motion. It is especially good for telling stories. Like the one example I have given below from Caitlyn McHarge who recreated her near death experience of a car crash. Caitlyn has told the story with colored paper cutouts like many you will see on YouTube. However she has been really clever in her use of sets to give a real sense of movement. I was sad to see that her animation has received very little views for such an expertly created animation. She certainly has some neat good stop motion ideas in her animation.
Clay Morphing Claymation Stop Motion
Another good stop motion idea that is reasonably easy to execute is described as morphing claymation. This involves creating a character of object the morphs in to something completely different often randomly to entertain the viewer. There are absolutely thousands of really good examples of this technique on Youtube. I have just pulled up one example to show you the claymation morphing in action. The undisputed king of the claymation morphing techique is guy called “Mamshmam” ( YouTube channel name ) aka Callum Bowden. Callum uses an oil based clay ( a must ) called Belgrave clay. But note that paticular brand of clay is only available in Australia. There are many other oil based clays out there that are just as good, such as Van Aken, or Claytoon. He has lots of tutorials on his site to give you some more good stop motion ideas for you to try out.
There are a number of really good stop motion animators who use LEGO’s to animate. One of the est out there is guy called Michael Hickox. His channel MichaelHickoXFilms is well worth checking out. Watch the animation below from him and you will be inspired to try some of the things he does in his brickfilm. Most of the techniques are straightforward and can be done by beginners. Take a look and pick out a scene you like from his “Lego Halloween” animation and try it for yourself. It can be a simple 30 second animation to start. For example do a scene with lightning and make a character appear in the flash. Make sure you do like he does however and add atmospheric music and good sound fx. The animation is full of good stop motion ideas. Watch it a few times and practice.
How to do stop motion
So you want to know how to do stop motion ? Well this article will tell you all you need to know about making a stop motion animation video. You will need a few things first to get started. Namely a computer , some stop motion software, a camera and something that you want to animate.
A good place to learn how to do stop motion is by browsing youtube. There are millions of stop motion videos there which can inspire you by giving you ideas for your stop motion animations. There are also lots of tutorials online which will teach you everything from the basics to the advanced techniques such as “ease in – ease out”. Try to search in youtube for videos that have lots of views and are more recent were possible. This will ensure that you get more up to date information especially when it comes to the latest stop motion software and cameras. Its also worth noting that there are some channels dedicated to stop motion and these will most likely have the best animation tutorials, tips and tricks to help you.
Some basics you will need include, stop motion software, a webcam or digital still camera , a computer and some lamps. If you are very new to stop motion then I would recommend using a webcam. A webcam is easy to secure and place within a small set placed on a table for example. Anther advantage with a web camera is that they are relatively inexpensive and robust. You don’t want to be tying up a large DSLR camera on your set if you wish to use it for everyday use also.
This page on how to do stop motion sets out the basics of creating a set and animating your characters. Some notable items which are common to all animating that you should watch out for include lighting and securing your animation set. Because stop motion relies on very small incremental movements that you need to control step by step, any unplanned movements will be a disaster. Also a poorly lit set without good lamps will have shadows which can not only distract the viewer but can cause undue flicker. Both of these unintentional additions to your stop motion will ensure that your viewers will not be engaged.
There are many mistakes made when creating stop motion animations but here I have tried to illiterate the top 5 commonly made mistakes in order to help you improve your work.
Stop motion animation is an art that is accessible by people of all ages and abilities. It need not be confined to art and animation students in third level education or professional animators in the film industry. A ten year old child can easily master the art of stop motion with very little instruction from a professional. However no matter what age you are there are some basics that you need to take in to account in order to make the best presentation of your animation possible. Here I try to explain the most common or top 5 mistakes that those new to stop motion tend to inadvertently make during animation.
- Mistake 1 – Poor Lighting
This is key to creating a pleasurable viewing experience for your audience. If you set and character are poorly lit either by too little light or too much direct light then your viewers will soon tire of the animation. Another key element of lighting is that the lighting source must be reflected or filtered light. Harsh direct light will cause glare on your characters or objects that you are animating. This is especially true when using LEGO minifigures. Their hard shiny bright surfaces reflect light easily and thus are not as easy on the viewers eyes as you would like them to appear.
- Mistake 2 – An unsteady Set
I have seem all too many animators make the mistake of not securing their set before they start animating. The result can be a very distracting moving set mid animation which will dampen the viewers interest in the animation immediately. The illusion of animation will be dashed in such circumstances. So make sure that you secure your set with duck tape or bolts to a base plate to avoid this happening.
- Mistake 3 – Poor focus
Focus your webcam or whatever type of camera you are using or you will not keep the attention of your audience. If you are using a webcam most will allow you to focus through software. Avoid using a cheap webcam that insists on automatically focusing everything for you does not allow you to manually take control.
- Mistake 4 – Hands in the frame !
Again I have all too many times viewed stop motion animations on Youtube with hands flitting in and out of frames. This is an absolute show stopper for a viewer. If they see that you were not either organized enough or too lazy to take the frame again then they will not be willing to invest the time watching your animation. So keep your hands clear before taking your snaps. And if they do end up in there..then take the snap again before moving on to the next shot.
- Mistake 5 – No storyline !
This is a classic mistake that all newcomers to animation make without realizing it. You have to tell a story when you animate. The story can be very simple but there must be a point to your work. Freytags pyramid is a good starting point in order to put some structure on your animation. If you can’t think of simple original story, simply retell a classic story in your own way. A lack of a storyline will not engage your audience and they will simply move on.
I hope this article has helped you to avoid mistakes made while creating stop motion animations when you next turn on your computer and open your favorite stop motion software to create a great animation?
It can be difficult at times to decide the best approach to teach stop motion. Those new to the art of animation and using stop motion software may prefer to follow written step by step guides whereas others much prefer video tutorials. Most people prefer to watch a video tutorial. ” A picture paints a thousand words” as they say to come up with good stop motion ideas.This leads to a bit of dilemma for a website owner trying to promote stop motion. And as Google does not reward you for good video tutorials simply because it cannot see or understand the quality of a video content. On the other hand google very much likes written content. Thus you are sometimes forced to create a written tutorial in order that google pushes those interested in learning about stop motion to your site!
So the only solution to ensure that both your budding stop motion animators and search engines are happy I guess is to have a balance of both? I have seen some instances where a video promoting the topic in question has a transcription tagged underneath. Thus if you wish you can choose to read what was said or described and also watch the video on the same page.
There – I have got that rant off my chest! From now on we promise to put up more videos on stop motion and transcribe the content on the page also so that you can check on what has been said in writing. That should keep our stop motion animators happy and all search engines happy.
Of even easier still visit our stop motion tutorial page and browse at you ease to pick out what you like.
Bye for now guys. Happy Animating.
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