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The Trap – Clay Stop Motion Animation Test

I hope you don’t expect a beautiful, long animation within this post. I wasn’t sure, whether this video deserves a post. But it’s a blog, so I write here what’s going on with my work πŸ˜‰ When it comes to stop-motion, it can be really difficult art. I’m at the begining of my journey as an animator, but I really like to make things alive. This was a really quick shoot, so I’ll describe my whole process. This could be helpful for a stop-motion beginners, you can think of it as a mini stop motion tutorial πŸ™‚

I really like stop-motion as an addition to timelapse & hyperlapse, which I do more often. Since it’s also a still pictures technique, I find it related to the timelapse when it comes to shooting. The most important thing is to understand how the video is made – as you know there are 24/25/30 individual still images every second (depends on framerate). Shooting stop-motion can help you learn how the objects are moving between still pictures and how it looks after combining all pictures into the video.

I wanted to shoot a plasticine stop motion for a long time. The main thing is the idea. You make a video, so it should tell some story, even very simple. I want to animate something turning into water, this was the core of my idea. Professional stop motion requires a storyboard. It was a simple test, so I did a very simple storyboard. In the picture below you can find 5 frames from that storyboard – as you see it’s just a quick sketch, however only I needed to understand that πŸ˜‰ And it’s better than nothing!

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The storyboard represents the half of this video:

  1. Crawling plasticine
  2. Standing up and squeezing
  3. Becoming a cube
  4. The cube is rolling over
  5. The cube is turning into water

I didn’t use a specific stop-motion software. I’ve used a stop-motion feature in my GH4 – it shows onion skin (the transparent previous image) in camera. It’s a great option for a fast and simple shot, however the accuracy isn’t very good due to a small screen.

There are a few technical things that you’ve got to have in mind shooting a stop motion video:

  • Use a good, stable tripod. The camera can’t move at all (unless you’re doing a slider shot, however that’s a very basic description). Shooting handheld is unacceptable. There is a lot of videos on Youtube, where the camera moves between frames and I’ve never watched even a half of such. So, use a tripod and don’t touch it during the shot.
  • Release the shutter remotely.Β  If you can’t touch the tripod, you can’t touch the camera either. You can use a cable device or ever an IR remote, these are really cheap. If you don’t have any other choice, you can use a 2 sec self-timer in your camera.
  • Use artifical lightning & block the sunlight. The light flicker is one of the most common problems with an amateur animation. It can be really bad. You don’t have to use fancy photography or film lights, it could be a simple desk lamp. Remember that using too short shutter speed with some artificial lights can generate flicker too. It’s safe to use a shutter speed of 1/50s or longer (1/60s for NTSC region, for example USA).
  • Use manual settings. Just like in timelapse – use manual everything! Exposure, focus, white balance. Leaving that on auto can really ruin your shot πŸ˜‰
  • Always stand in the same place, when you take a picture. You can generate shadows or just bounce the light into your scene. So, choose the comfortable position and repeat that when you release the shutter.

I shoot this animation ‘on 2s’, which means about 12 fps final video (I deliver my video in 25fps, so it’s technically 12,5fps). As you know, I use a Premiere Pro for editing my videos. This was really simple, I didn’t have to use After Effects. In editing software, I had to adjust the duration of the pauses and delete some frames, that just wasn’t work.

You want to add a movement to your stop motion shots, but you don’t have a big budget? Check out the tutorial: 2 axis movement on a budget.

More difficult but really important in stop motion is sound design. Animating is about bringing to life objects that don’t move in real life. To help sell the effect you’ve got to add their sounds. Simple things like moving, bouncing etc. Unfortunately it takes some time, it’s just easier to release the video with just a background music. But the sounds make you feel that it’s real.

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For my video I’ve recorded some sounds on my own and some of them were downloaded from the internet. There is a huge amount of free sound effects online. Sometimes it’s hard to find something that you have in mind, but still you should try πŸ˜‰

Now you’ve got your video finished, you can check out my case study about Where you should upload your video πŸ˜‰

Thanks for being with me πŸ˜‰ I hope I will make more stop motion video like that, however I treat that more like a hobby. You can like my fanpage or join my newsletter to be up to date with new stuff from me πŸ˜‰

 

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