“Stop Motions are fun to watch!” Absolutely!
“Stop Motions are a breeze to create!” Errm..mmm…what did you say?!
Honestly! I do not blame anyone who thinks stop motions are an exercise in patience.They are to an extent.But with just a little bit of planning and prep they can be really fun to create. Before we go ahead let us retract a bit and get into its definition. Stop Motion is essentially a set of pictures shot with subtle differences, put together to create movement so it appears like a video.
Something like below:
What is the difference between a GIF and a Stop Motion?
A GIF (pronounced “giff” or “jiff”) which stands for Graphical Interchange Format) and in its most simplest form is one animated image that loops endlessly. It can also be a series of images or videos that loops endlessly without requiring someone to press play. A Stop Motion however does not loop endlessly, unless of course it is a Stop Motion GIF. Something like this:
GIFs are very popular and are everywhere on social media these days. Hence it is only natural that even food bloggers are dabbling into this genre of videos to get more engagement from the viewers. I love making them too and have been making them for a while now.
Hence I decided why not put together a Beginners Guide to Stop Motion Animation? These are some things which I wish I had known when I started off. While there is a plethora of information out there, no one breaks it down to simple words for beginners. So, here are my two bits which I hope you will find helpful.
BUT BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, REMEMBER! PLANNING GOES A LONG WAY!
What is the idea?
Having a clarity as to what is it that your stop motion is going to show in the first place is half the battle won. Is it a short story, a styling tip, a step by step recipe or something else?
Keep things simple
Especially if this is your first attempt at creating a stop motion video, pick a simple theme or idea which doesn’t involve too many steps
Put Pen to Paper
- Once you have a definitive story idea, make a list of steps that would go into creating the video. Make sure you read and re-read the steps and do not miss the tiniest details. A little extra time spent here would save you a great deal of time later
- Create a rough image in your head or on paper on how best to depict each step on camera. For example: In the below Aam Panna GIF I wanted to show a little BTS as to how I styled this image. Hence I wrote down what props would be taken away from the final image in the correct sequence
Set the scene
It is important to make sure apart from the parts that need to move in your stop motion everything else remains constant and stationary. Backdrop, background, camera and light
Mark the boundaries
Remember you would most probably be capturing images in double digits even for a simplest of stop motions and you do not want to spend too much time editing individual images. Not only is it time consuming it also shows inconsistencies between two shots. Hence using the batch edit option is essential. Batch edit also includes batch Crop as well as Transform options which are great life savers.
However, in order to make sure you can utilise these features to their optimum, it is essential that the size of the area in each shot remains exactly the same. Hence it is imperative that you mark out the boundaries using chalk or post it flags on your background/photography board before you commence shooting
Light & camera situation
Using artificial light is the most convenient option as it is steady. However if using natural light make sure you have prepped and made everything ready beforehand so the actual shooting is wrapped up in an hour or so . That way change in light would be less obvious and some post processing can take care of rest
Place your camera on a tripod and shoot tethered with a remote control to minimise movement AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Please take my word for it, each slight movement shows in the final stop motion. If a remote control is not handy use the timer option on the camera. There is another option that you could use and that is the Camera Connect App for your brand of DSLR. I use the Canon Camera Connect which is great for shooting tethered as well makes up for the absence of a remote. Here is a quick tutorial how to use the app. Nikon and Sony have similar apps too
Set up your frame and focus making using of the boundaries you outlined earlier . Avoid using Autofocus as the camera might choose a different spot to focus on each time. Another reason why shooting tethered is important.
Shooting tethered also helps in batch exporting the images to Lightroom while shooting and that is such a HUGE time saver.
And finally, shooting!
Once you are all set with the above steps the actual shooting is pretty painless. It is time consuming for sure but painless nevertheless. All you now need to do is take a shot, move the object in the frame slightly (like in the video below) and or completely like I have done in the videos above, take another shot, move/remove objects, take another shot and so on
How many images do I shoot?
This is one of the tougher ones to answer. Ideally stop motions are created with 24 frames per second (or 24 fps) in order to be able to see a fluid motion. Frame is nothing but each image that you capture . However this is just a general guideline and if I may take the liberty to state, can be a tad daunting when starting off. So, unless you are using applications such as Dragonframe which is a highly specialised app designed just for stop motion it is best to start small, learn the ropes and then get into more complicated animation. I for example started off editing my images on Lightroom and then creating a stop motion on iMovies before moving to Photoshop(more on that in my next post).
Also, if your plan is to create a simple gif with just a few images to share on your social media then fps doesn’t really matter.
So, thats it! That is all you need to know about preparing for and shooting a simple stop motion and or a GIF. In my next post I will share my workflow for creating a GIF using Lightroom and Photoshop. And I will also share some popular apps which help you create a GIF in no time.