22 Dec 2020

3 Tips for Beginner Stop Motion Animators

There’s never a bad time to learn new skills, experiment, and have fun. I’m sure you’ve most likely always found stop motion animations intriguing, but you’ve probably never tried your hand at making one. Well, OKIOCAM Stop Motion makes creating stop motion animations accessible to everyone, so why not give it a whirl?

Click here to download OKIOCAM Stop Motion.

Starting out making stop motion animations can seem like a daunting task. You’re bound to have tons of questions when taking the first steps along your stop motion animation creation journey. What props should I use? Where do I put the camera? What if I make a mistake? Essentially, it’s really important that you embrace the creative process for what it is — a process. You’re first few productions are not going to have Nick Park (the creator of Wallace and Gromit) quaking in his boots, and that’s perfectly fine. What’s important is that you have fun! With that being said, we’ve assembled 3 tips that will help you hit the ground running.

Plan Ahead

It can be super easy to want to jump straight in and start taking hundreds of photos, crossing your fingers and hoping you somehow end up creating a stop motion masterpiece. Unfortunately, the chances of that happening are slim to none.

It’s always an excellent idea to set aside a few hours (the amount of time can be increased or decreased depending on the scope of the project) for planning. Here’s an example of how the creative process could look during the planning stage:

  1. Gather ideas and write them down.
  2. Choose the strongest one that you can feasibly bring to life.
  3. Draw a storyboard.
  4. If your stop motion video will have dialogue, write the script.

Fleshing out your idea will help you perfect it. You’ll notice areas where it can be improved, and this is the perfect time to do this — before you’ve spent hours laboring over the project.

Having a solid storyboard will save you lots of time. You won’t waste time taking unnecessary shots that you end up deleting during the editing process. The storyboarding stage is also the perfect time to think about creative ways that you can frame your shots and how your props will move across the screen.

One benefit of stop motion animation is that your script doesn’t have to be perfect. Because you’ll be recording the dialogue after you have edited the video, you can easily get by with a rough draft of the script. Definitely don’t spend too much time ironing out the script, trying to perfect it during this stage. Depending on the project, this can be a lengthy process and it can kill your creativity.

Attention to Detail

It is paramount that you exercise a keen eye for detail when making stop motion animations. There are many ways that you can inadvertently introduce inconsistencies into your work, lowering the quality of otherwise great stop motion animations. Below are some things you should be aware of:

Undesirable camera movement

While you are free to position the camera wherever you want, and when you have more experience creating stop motion animations, adding camera movement can make your productions more dynamic, it is advisable to keep the camera in a fixed position when starting out. It is necessary that you avoid accidentally nudging the camera during production. Undesirable camera movement will greatly lower the quality of your stop motion animations.

Too few photos

It’s no secret that creating stop motion animations is a time-consuming process. However, cutting corners will only result in a lower quality final product. For example, if you want one of your props to move a distance of 10 inches, you will need to take many photos to make this movement seem natural. If you were to take only 5 to 10 photos, when you edit the video, the movement will be exceptionally jerky and unnatural. OKIOCAM Stop Motion’s Onion Skinning feature is immensely useful for ensuring that movement appears as smooth as possible. Onion Skinning allows you to line up each photo with the one taken prior, ensuring the appearance of fluid and natural movement.

Incorrect camera settings

Ensure that your camera is correctly white balanced, not under or overexposed, and that your props are in focus. OKIOCAM makes this super easy because of the One Button Auto-Adjust feature. Simply press the gray button on the camera to adjust the white balance, exposure, and focus automatically.

Get Creative

Stop motion video creation can be a phenomenal creative outlet — especially for kids. The creative process allows children to explore the world of storytelling. Storytelling is an essential skill for children to learn. Teach the young ones how most stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Encourage the older ones to explore their imaginations fully during the planning process. It’ll result in the creation of some truly unique stop motion productions.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with props. Repurpose cardboard boxes into backdrops for your videos. You can paint them cool colors for videos set in different locations. Paint the box blue when you want to shoot an underwater production, or paint it black with white dots when you want to record a video set in outer space.

You can use household objects as props or you can create your own. A hairdryer makes a great stand-in for an alien space cannon, and a cut-up dish sponge can convincingly pass for a creepy sea creature. Don’t shy away from making props from scratch, though. You can purchase plasticine at the local arts and crafts store at a reasonable price, and as long as your artistic skills are up to snuff, you can make anything your heart desires.

If you’ve got questions about anything in this post, or if you have your own awesome tips, contact us on Twitter.