You must have seen thousands of stop motion animated videos on Instagram and Facebook lately and of course the reason is the appreciation you get on these platforms. I’m sure one wouldn’t go ahead and search for stop motion animated videos on YouTube unless you’re a fan of animation or you specifically love stop motion. It is a tedious task to create stop motion video content for social media platforms as it requires loads of man hours and insane amount of preparation, but if done right, you could be in a surprise as Instagram would allow you to showcase your talent which would bring potential sponsorships from companies to make content and promote their brand or stuff. Anyhow, I’m not going to talk about being an influencer on Instagram here.
In general, stop motion animation means, “a cinematographic technique whereby the camera is repeatedly stopped and started, for example to give animated figures the impression of movement.” It sounds simple, right? Wrong, it isn’t, but then nothing is. The ideal frame rate for a stop motion video is 24fps (frames per second) and it ideally means taking 24 pictures for a one second shot, but you can decipher the frame rates accordingly and mix them. You don’t have to stick to 24fps all through your project you can use 12fps or 15fps as well. There’s something called ones and twos in stop motion which is actually cool if you understand it and use it. Shooting on ones and twos essentially means that you don’t change the timing of the shot, but how you move your object for the shot. You could learn more about ones and twos here.
I am a beginner when it comes to stop motion animation, but the learning has been amazing and honestly, I’ve learned everything by just reading relevant information on the internet and by watching YouTube videos and tutorials. The reason I say stop motion is something that can be done alone is because most of the times, you are dependent on other people to start and finish something, but here, right from the preparation of the puppets (I’ll come to them) and your setting or your set to the actual shoot, you are the universal boss of your project and you don’t even need to go out.
Write a good story (if you are into proper short film stuff) or a good script and then break it down as you would while shooting a proper film. Start with your characters as they are the most important part of your project. In stop motion, this is called character build or puppet build. Now these can be proper ball and socket armatures or you could do some DIY stuff and make your own wire armature. Armature essentially means the inner skeleton of your character or your puppet. The ball and socket and wire armature allows for movement of the puppet. You could even use clay puppets and all of these vary massively. The set build and characters make for great fun and learning if you end up doing everything yourself. I don’t really mean that you have to do it alone, but you don’t have to rely on someone else.
There are some amazing stop motion animated feature films like Kubo and the Two Strings, Anomalisa, Coraline, Corpse Bride, Paranorman and many more shot on professional film cameras and yes, you should definitely use a proper DSLR camera for the same, but I love smartphones and I know you just can’t compare an iPhone to a proper DSLR, but I love the ease of use you get with them. If you are into stop motion and you have a DSLR, the one most important software that is a must is Dragonframe – Stop Motion Animation Software. However, if you are into iPhone stop motion making, I’d suggest a Free app called Stop Motion Studio or if you can spend around $12, the Stop Motion Studio Pro offers some really cool and professional options.
I’ll update more on stop motion in general and other amazing smartphone related options and apps for stop motion animation. Till then Keep on Animating.