Stop Motion Animation Tutorials

Stop Motion – A Creative way to animate!

Stop motion animation is probably one of the easiest and most fun ways to bring alive an inanimate object and can really produce some stunning effects. Whether you are a novice or a beginner the art of learning and creating with stop motion animation is endless. By using stop motion your imagination is the only limit. Have you ever drawn on the corner of a book and drawn slightly different pictures on each page and then flicked the pages producing what looks like a moving man or face or whatever you draw? Well it is the same principal. Stop motion animation has been used for decades in the film and TV industry; in fact one of the first examples of stop motion was in the 1890s and called the humpty dumpty circus, by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton. Of course things have now advanced in terms of technology and the final result, but the mechanics and principles remain the same and they are so simple to replicate. Star wars films used stop motion animation with the storm troopers and Disney has had much success with it. Other famous characters and films using this technique include the famous Wallace and Gromit. Stop motion animation is basically taking a snapshot of the object, (whether it be a picture or frame) then moving it slightly and then taking another snapshot and continue doing this as many times as you want or need to, then just run all the snapshots together and watch your object come to life and move before your very eyes. Once you get the hang of it you can have some real fun […]

Brickfilm Walking Tutorials – Top 6

Stop motion walking tutorials are plentiful on the internet, some better than others. So in no particular order of preference because everyone has their own preference, here is my top 6 stop motion brickfilm walking tutorials. Nathan Wells is a well respected brickfilmer. I would say if I have a favourite walk cycle it would be his one. MagicofLego ( MOL Productions ) has a step by step version with text for both running and walking at 12 and 15 fps. xxxFancyPantsxxx gives an excellent tutorial here on running (rather than walking ) and also talks about the importance of “ease in and ease out” as he calls it in stop motion. It’s well worth checking out this one. BlobstudioALT does not make the minifigure arms move in this stop motion tutorial but the result is still reasonably good. His channel also has some other useful tutorials for those starting out. Kevin Macleod aka Rsteenoven has a very excellent tutorial on running here at 15 fps. I would advise you to try a few of the […]

Stop Motion Puppet Replacement Mouths

Ever wonder how they made those clay puppets talk in Coraline, the hit stop motion movie? The effect is achieved by using “replacement mouths”. That is to say that each syllable or mouth gesture uses a different mouth. So for example an “oo” sound will have a specific mouth made for it and swapped in to the characters’ lower half of their face when needed. Coraline as you can imagine had a whole set of mouths for each character. Below is a snapshot taken from the backstage shorts of the movie. It’s interesting to note in this case the nose and the lower part of the characters eyes are included in the mouthpiece. Normally it does not include the nose or eyes..just the mouth.  Amateur versions can be found on the internet , youtube, animation sites etc. A very effective and basic one shown below from sk8inLeo. sk8inleo’s approach is well within any budget and experience. It is something worth trying out if you have not done so already. The Coraline (professional) method uses the full jaw at least when replacing mouths but the alternative is to just stick the replacement mouths onto the surface of the face is done by AndreasFrancis with his below video. One of my favourite very simple stick on mouth replacement stop motion shorts comes from sebyoung. So simple but very well done

Stop Motion – Chromo Key / Green Screen on the cheap !

Lighting lighting ..it’s all about the lighting. Get the lighting wrong and your chromakey looks bad. I have been trying to help a friend to improve his YouTube submissions by suggesting he use greenscreen. For those of you who are not familiar with “Chromakeying” or “greenscreen” (sometimes called bluescreen), it is the method by which you can replace the background in a video with anything from a skyscape to a weather forecast. Think of the weatherman standing in front of a map of the US warning of impending storms in Florida. What is behind him is a green screen made of green material or a wall painted green ( or blue in some cases). Also superman flying ..thanks to chromakey (sorry if I keep interchanging the words..but they are the same thing). The reason by the way that they use either green or blue is because it is the furthest away from our skin tone. Also you have to be careful not to wear either color when doing this type of video work. I am more used to lighting small sets for lego minifigs or clay puppets for stop motion than for full size human beings!. As a result I realized that you need alot more light for larger sets that you would for stop motion movies. It took many attempts before we got the lighting right ..including having to borrow another 1000 watt lamp from my brother in law. Now for the “cheap” part. We used Wax 2.0 which is free. But I have to say its chromakeying is primitive. It does not allow anything other than color picker and tolerance. The color picker is an obvious must. The tolerance on Wax is too […]

Stop Motion Webcam Lighting Tips

So many stop motion brickfilms and claymations are disappointing to both the viewer and the new animator because of basic mistakes with lighting when using a webcam. We have all seen those claymations and brickfilms that are creatively very  good but fall down on their lighting or settings on the webcam being used and thus result in poor image clarity and color. You can get good results these days with a budget webcam such as the Microsoft VX-1000 ($20). You do not need a Canon EOS/D DSLR 40 / 50 D etc etc to get good quality shots. The mistakes are made firstly by in some cases not even installing the webcam drivers but secondly by not using them when they are installed. Take for example the snapshot below of my brickfilm minifig. This is what the picture looks like when you do not adjust any of the settings on the webcam. Now take a look at the image after a few clicks on settings dialogue of the webcam. The difference is dramatic. So by spending 15 seconds clicking on a few buttons on the webcam dialogue you have moved from a “crappy” image to a near professional image for your stop motion movie. And as you know 15 seconds is a very short time when it comes to stop motion. How can I do that for my stop motion? This is how to do it…at least with the Logitech range of webcams. Open up your webcam application (assuming you have installed it…if not install it!! […]

Stop Motion – Making things Fly!

Today I played around with layering on Paint.Net.  For those of you who are not familiar with the term “layering” it refers to the placing of images one on top of the other to form two or more layers.  So what can you use this for and how is it applicable to Stop Motion animation. Well for one thing you can make your character ( claymation or lego minifigures ) fly! Below you can see the fruits of my very serious work on this. But joking aside it can be really effective and convincing. I must do a full tutorial on it very soon and put the link here. Brief Tutorial Summary In brief you need a paint program such as my favourite Paint.Net which will allow you to place one image on top of another i.e. layering. You take a photo of you subject (in this case the lego guy) in the various positions including lifting him off the ground with a stick or string or whatever you choose. Then you take a photo of the same scene but with the character removed. Now when you place the image with character over the top of the image of the scene (with no character) you can rub out the rigging / stick or string by using the eraser tool to expose the background…which has no rigging in it.

Stop Motion – Minifig Easy Talking Tutorial

Today I was actually going to list my top ten favourite funny brickfilms. That’s stop motion animation with LEGO®  bricks for those who are not familiar with the term. But while I was looking back at my favourited brickfilms on YouTube I was reminded of the fact that I never tried the simplest dialogue test with minifigures. That is the method of taking a single snapshot and editing it to paint in a simple open mouth.  So below you see the single snapshot taken of the minifigure guy with his unaltered face – mouth closed. Then I opened the jpeg in Paint.Net (a free alternative to PhotoShop) and simply painted on the mouth (black) to create an open mouth as shown below the image to the left.           Then I imported the two images in to my stop motion software (in this case I used iKITMovie) and copied and pasted the frames back and forth until I have an animated mouth opening and closing in line with my dialogue. It took all of ten minutes to create this little animation. Which is quick in stop motion animation terms.     The result is not bad for a ten minute test. Click here to see the result. I will do a full tutorial on this and put it on the StopMotionCentral site very soon. The video is at the bottom of that page.

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 ..so 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.

QuickCam Pro 9000 Getting some attention by Animators

Not the cheapest webcam on the block but definitely one of the best for stop motion animation at least in the non professional field. Combine the  Carl Zeiss® optics and improved wide field of capture this makes for a really good animation webcam. I notice alot of the good brickfilm makers especially have noticed the benefits of the Pro 9000. I always personally prefer to use a clip on type webcam (normally designed to clip on to the top of your LCD screen) as their small size and clip allow you to connect the webcam to anything in confined spaces. Here is a good example of someone using the Pro 9000 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs6KF7cRUvc from NickMOCstudios

Bouncing Light For Stop Motion Animation

I had a question recently through our webmaster address asking “Anyway my question is that in movies I see people for lighting use a direct light and bounce it off of something. It is usually a silver or white colorWould that work for better lighting if you bounced say a board wrapped in tin foil or painted white or maybe one of those things u stick in your car window to stop the sun from coming in.” I answered as follows.. In regard to the bouncing light issue..I would say this..The reason animators bounce light is to avoid glare or shiny spots on the characters. This happens if the light is too strong. So there are two ways to dampen the effect  1 – Bounce the light ( as you say ) or 2 – Use a light dampener such as putting greaseproof paper over the light. Be careful not to put it too close to the bulb as it will eventually start to burn. Bouncing the light can work but it takes up space on your set (where sets are small this is an issue ) and it can be time consuming trying to get the perfect deflection angle etc So I would advise getting some GreaseProof paper (available in baking stall of shops ..its used in baking as it is heat proof Let me know how you get on. However there is one other way..which might work in some circumstances…using the set to block / dampen the light eg. This shot is from one of my favourite brickfilms from a guy called.. Lindsay Fleay The film was made in 2004 with a Cine Camera ( http://www.rakrent.com/mp/mp.htm) A work of genius But […]