Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Most Basic Lighting for Stop Motion Animation

The first rule for lighting animation stop motion movies is Do NOT use natural light!  At least for close stop motion work like animating minifigures or clay characters. I know there are plenty of stop motion movies on youtube of people and objects outdoors during daylight hours..but that is a different kettle of fish altogether.   There is 3 point lighting and all sorts of positioning of lights and reflectors that you can read about anywhere on the web but I have found having tried a good few of them is that a single lamp with a piece of paper wrapped around the bulb can have very good results indeed. Be careful that the paper does not burn or catch fire obviously turn of the lamp when you leave the room for a break or whatever. The paper diffuses the light enough to avoid reflections or glare on your character for animation. It also means you can move the lamp up close to your subject confident that you won’t get any nasty glinting reflections.

Some of My Favourite Stop Motion Brickfilms

Brickfilms website is home to hundreds if not thousands of stop motion animations made with LEGO® bricks. Nathan Wells is a longstanding member of that community and some of his brickfilms are held in very high regard by that community. I would echo that sentiment and have one paticular brickfilm he completed in early summer 2007 called Driven that is excellent.. Copyright Nathan Wells (One Brick Studios) The camera work, lighting, sound  all excellent ..well worth the 5 minutes to view. Nathan has moved over to BricksInMotion now because of the commercialisation of Brickfilms dot com website.   Then there one of the very first stop motion LEGO® animations called “Portal” by Lindsay Fleay. Lindsay created in Perth, Western Australia between the years of 1985 and 1989! Here is a link to the movie.. and website.. A very modern brickfilm from  Keshen (youtube name) Custard Productions called “Legolibrium 2”  The action sequence here is a stop motion take on the Matrix. Smooth movement..good effects and music etc.

Stop Motion Alive and Well

CGI has it’s place in animation ..thats a given. But stop motion animation still has its place also in media and entertainment. It’s alive and kicking everywhere. I stumbled upon a really good professional animator today called Kirsten Lepore. She’s based in the US (New Jersey). She graduated in 2007 from Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in Experimental Animation. “Sweet Dreams” from Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo. Its worth spending the 10 minutes or so to watch the above “Sweet Dreams” stop motion. The two things I like about Kirstens animations and this one in paticular are 1 – they are fresh and 2 – the sound. Fresh – the colors used, the imagery , the camera angles, the simplicity ..all perfect. The Sound – I am a real fan of good sound effects and appropriate mood music etc. In the example above Kirsten could not be more accurate. Perfect. We hobby animators could learn alot from Kirsten. Long live stop motion animation…

Nick Park -Some Thoughts on His Early Stop Motion Animations

I have to say that I am more a fan of Nick Parks early stop motion animation movies than for example the more recent Chicken Run. Nick was born in 1958 (he has four brothers and one sister) in Preston, England and wanted to be an inventor more than an animator. Something that is quiet evident from Wallace’s inventions in all his animations. His very first animation was a flipbook type animation which he spent a few days labouring over and sent to the photographers labs for developing ..but never got it back. He was 12 at the time. He then moved on to a character he created in cartoon (drawn form) called Walter the rat.  Nick’s mother was  a dress maker. She helped him to make cutout characters of felt fabric for “Rat and The Beanstalk”, a 1 minute stop motion animation, his first real movie. He admits making the classic mistake in this early movie that all new animators make of filming in daylight. You can see the image changing light level over the day long shoot during the movie. Later on when Nick when to college he came up with the Wallace and Gromit characters. He invited Aardman’s co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton to come and guest lecture at the college. Nick used some of his own budget to pay for their lecture.         [caption id=”attachment_62″ align=”alignright” width=”268″ caption=”Nicks First Studio Room […]
By |April 18th, 2009|Nick Park|0 Comments

Dromoland Castle – A Break from StopMotion

Taking a break for a couple of days from StopMotion animation here in Co Clare Ireland at the world famous Dromoland castle. It’s a real escape from reality. You drive onto the 410 acres of landscaped grounds and feel like you are entering a different world. We have visited Dromoland castle every Easter for the last seven years and always look forward to it. Dromoland Castle is a famous baronial castle in Ireland. It was the ancestral home of the O’Brien family , Barons of Inchiquin. The O Brien’s were  one of the few native Irish families of royal blood and are direct descendants of Brian Boroimhe ( Brian Boru  941-1014 A decendent of Milesus King of Spain no less) High King (Cheiftan) of Ireland in the eleventh century. The main part of the castle that remains today is built of blue limestone, with its high Gothic-styled grey stone walls. There has been a stronghold here since 1002 AD but it was rebuilt and designed by the Pain brothers in 1600 approximately by the then famous architects of that period. The castle was built by the then Lord of Dromoland, Sir Edward O’Brien, 4th Baronet, at a cost of £80,000. This was a very large amount even at the time (Georgian)..mostly because of the cost of cutting and hauling its stone from a nearby quarry on the Dromoland Estate. The O’Briens kept the property and lands right up to the middle of the 1940’s, however the then Lord Inchiquin sold the castle, along with some 330 acres of surrounding land, and the hunting and fishing rights to Mr. Bernard McDonough, an American industrialist, whose grandparents were born […]

A Teachers Survival Guide to Stop Motion

We visited a number of schools this week promoting stop motion animation as an ICT supplementary teaching aide. There was a common theme that we noticed in the way that the teachers and students reacted to the whole process. In general the students were very enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get started. The teachers on the other hand took a little longer to both grasp the concept with 22 students rushing to get started and grasp it’s appicability to their respective coursework. But once they were given a few examples of some work that students had done in other school they were sold on the whole concept. We also noted that teachers while trying to be helpful were in some cases stifling childrens imagination by trying to overly control the whole process. Animation is simple and should not get in the way of imagination. I was reminded of the song “So many colors in the Rainbow” …and children do see every one and more.. But in one regard I would agree with the need for some organisation and discipline. A story board is a must when animating in a group. Assigning roles is also important. But once that is established the imagination of children should not be impaired by the rigid structure of traditional teaching methods. Some children worked enthusiastically on set building while others made characters out of clay.  There is something for everyone in the process. Once filming began concentration levels focused keenly on the work at hand.  In this instance we used iKITMovie stopmotion animation software. They plan to make a number of movies in the coming weeks and post them on a YouTube channel. Once they have I will put the link to them here.
By |April 11th, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments