Stop motions films are easy to do at home and are hours of fun!
This could be the perfect activity during lockdown as a project for your kids to take up several days. All you need is a whole lot of patience and you could create a phenomenal feature film from play-doh or lego.
There are lots of wonderful films that started out as stop motions that we know and love. Cast your mind back to the original Wallace and Gromit's, Morph and even some of the Lego short films and you will find that they were all made through the art of stop motion. There are lots of easy ways to create a stop motion movie at home which can be fun for the whole family.
What is a Stop Motion Animation?
This type of video project is aptly named stop-motion animation because it is all about stopping the camera and moving the figures to create the illusion of motion. This is one of those very simple ideas which takes up a lot of time and has a very effective end product. There are some very simple stop motion ideas that purely involved household objects which are very easy to recreate and experiment with. Then you have slightly more complex videos that involved other elements like play-doh. Some videos include more realistic characters that may take a little more time or effort but essentially will use the same method as the other two.
Start with a Storyboard
Every great filmmaker plans their movies before they start shooting so it's important to plan out your stop motion animation before you make it. A storyboard is a great way to plan a video project, all you have to do is fill in the squares of what each scene will be with a caption in words explaining the drawing. You can print a storyboard template from the internet or you can simply draw one yourself. They are super easy to make and will really help when you get to recording your film. Whether you are doing simple stop motion with household objects or a more complex storyline with characters, a storyboard is a very useful way to plan it. If you are all very new to this then this youtube tutorial is a helpful guide to making lego stop motions to get you started!
Create Your Characters
To create a stop motion animation, you first need some characters or objects to feature in your movie. If you are doing one of the first examples, like this one, then you may only need a few household objects but ensure you collect them all and gather them up before you start filming. If you are creating a more complex story, you can build your characters out of anything you like. The main rule is that your characters should be easily movable and need to be able to stand up on their own. The easiest way to accomplish this with is either a lego figure or making your characters out of play-doh. Your kids can use the toys they already own to enhance their short film. You can have as many characters as you want but make sure they are all ready to go before you crack on with the movie-making.
Arrange Your Set
You need a set for your stop motion animation - the basis is easy; it has to be a table and it has to be one you don't need to use once the stop motion has begun it's filming because the cardinal rule is you can't move the set until your film is finished. The backdrop and other props in your film will entirely depend on your storyboard, you can draw, paint or print any backdrop you want to set the scene for your movie and create whatever props you need out of anything you can find. These can also be made out of lego, play-doh, cardboard or any other household objects; the same applies to the props as the characters - they must be able to stand up on their own. Just make sure that your set is sturdy once it is set up so you won't have any malfunctions, you could even have your movie filmed in a shoebox or any other cardboard box so that it can be movable without disrupting the flow of the stop motion animation. Your kids may also choose not to have a backdrop or props but always ensure that if this is the artistic choice is to not use these things then you should use a plain background to not distract from the story - so hang a plain white (or any colour you like) behind your characters or objects before the video starts.
Filming the Stop Motion Animation
You have quite a few options when it comes to filming the actual production - some are easier than others but it also depends on what facilities you have available:
a) The easiest option is using a video camera and a tripod, this will ensure your camera will not move the entire time that you are shooting your film and will minimise continuity errors. If you have a video and a tripod then all you need to do is set your camera up in the position that you want to have it in for the duration of the animation. Then once this is done and all your characters and objects are in the right position you just hit the record button, let it run for one second and then click pause. While the recording is paused you can move your figures/objects and then remove your hands again and repeat the action. If you repeat this throughout never capturing your hands-on record then it will appear that the figures or objects are moving of their own accord when you watch the film back. The trick is to move the figures the tiniest amount every time the camera is paused so that the motions are slick and appear like a continuous movement rather than a stop-start.
b) There is another option to use an app that you can download on a smartphone or tablet which helps you create your stop motion in a very simple way where you take pictures through it and it edits it for you into a stop motion video. The app called 'Stop Motion' on the Apple App Store is particularly good and free to use! Remember that this too will be easier if you prop up the phone or tablet on a stand as trying to get your frame in exactly the same place each time is extremely challenging.
c) If you're looking for a real challenge then you can try taking your own photos and editing them yourself through a movie maker application, if you are that way inclined. This may be a challenge for your tech-savvy kids if you're looking for something extra to add to a great project. This can also be quite a simple task if you are familiar with these kinds of editing software; which I am sure many of your older kids will be.
Editing Your Video
For the first two options editing will certainly be the easiest part. The only thing you will really need to do is upload your video off the camera onto a computer if you have been using one. Once you've got your completed film off your camera or on your phone or tablet then all you need to do is pick some fitting music to put over the top and voila, your finished masterpiece is ready for viewing.
Of course, if you are taking the challenging route then the editing will be the important part - this is an excellent tutorial on youtube about how to edit pictures into an animation through photoshop. Once you have tour completed stop motion animation with the added music then you can share your work with your family and friends which they are sure to love!
Josie has grown up in London all her life and is an avid theatre go-er. She loves boogying along to her favourite musicals in the West End with her family. Her older sister always knows the best places to go in London for vegan food and her favourite attractions include the Victoria Palace Theatre and Borough Market.