How to Make a Stop-motion Movie

Kaitlin Lee, Staff Writer

Stop-motion movies have been around since the start of animation. One of the first animated movies ever, Le théâtre de Bob, featured stop-motion using dolls and some objects. Even now, two stop-motion movies, Early Man and Isle of Dogs, are coming out this year. The appeal of stop-motion is that it is one of the easier ways of animation to master and it’s one of the cheapest ways to make a film, so much that you can make your own stop-motion movie with a phone, some clay, creativity, and of course, patience.

The first thing to do is to set up a studio for your work. The main thing to remember when setting up a workspace is that everything needs to stay constant. Find a sturdy table that won’t move much as you will be constantly adjusting the objects on the table. Get some lights that will stay flat and constant, and try to block out the sun, since the sunlight will change the lighting drastically. Set up a backdrop that will stay even throughout the day, and buy a steady tripod for your camera. This way, the frame of the camera stays constant even if it takes more than one day to shoot.

If you’re using your phone, you can download apps like Stop Motion Maker or Motion Stop Motion. These apps can allow you to export your film into several types of files and can also allow you to adjust the amount of frames per second (fps) you can have for your movie. These apps are incredibly useful if you are not able to afford a camera or if you are unfamiliar with editing videos.

When you are shooting your film, it is recommended you shoot 24fps, which is the normal amount of fps in actual blockbuster movies. Also, 24fps is the smoothest amount to use for a movie without it looking slow or choppy. While filming, make sure to take some pictures before and after any action. This helps with timing and if you want to insert any blank spaces into your edit. Also, go section by section. If you ever mess a scene up, just like live-action films, you can always do reshoots! Finally, be patient. It can take a good hour or so just to make a two-minute film. For full-length movies, it can take two to three years even for big movie studios like Laika. For one of the most popular stop-motion movies ever, The Nightmare Before Christmas, it would take a week to shoot one minute of the movie.

Usually, if you are using an app to shoot your stop motion movie, it’s incredibly simple to move your movie into your photo album as a video. And with a camera, it can also be very simple. Dump all of your photos into a video-editing feature like Adobe and create a timelapse, thus making a movie in the process. Add some sound effects, music, adjust the pacing a bit, and then boom! You’ve got your very own movie!

Stop-motion is definitely one of the most frustrating yet satisfying and amazing art forms out there. It certainly can take a very long time to create a movie, but the amazing part of creating a film is that you made it yourself, and you can carry a great amount of pride from it. So if you’re interested in animating, movies, or art in general, give stop-motion a try.

For instance, at AHS, you can try it out by submitting a stop-motion movie for Film Club’s annual Film Festival! The festival itself will be held on May 22 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the MPR. For non-members, the submission fee is $5, and videos must be submitted by Apr. 29 by 11:59 p.m. to Film Club’s email at [email protected] Late submissions are then due by May 5 and you must pay a late fee of $5. Prizes will be given for the best films; $50 for each category winner, and a grand prize of $150. You can also submit in multiple categories at once, but each submission must be school-friendly! So, if you love this interesting medium of art, why not try it out?