Shoot an animated movie with characters made of clay.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
What is Clay Animation?
Create a Storyboard
Have you completed the Storyboard badge yet? If so, you could use that story for your claymation film. If you haven’t written a storyboard, that’s your next step.
Your first claymation story should be very short and should not require dialogue. Dialogue is when characters talk to each other. Telling an interesting story quickly and without dialogue is challenging. What kind of story could you tell this way?
Ask yourself these questions:
-- What is a story you could tell in less than one minute?
-- How will you communicate the story without dialogue or with very little dialogue?
-- Who will your characters be? You should have no more than three characters.
Now, sketch out a storyboard for your story. Here’s an example of how simple your first claymation storyboard could be.
Story: The Happy Gardener
Characters: Gardener, Flower
Beginning: Man plants seed
Middle: Plant grows
End: Flower blooms, Man smiles
If you want, you could use one of these sample stories:
-- A blob moves through a city and devours anything in its path. Each time it eats a toy, object or character, it gets bigger.
-- A child builds a snowman. The child leaves. The snowman comes to life. The snowman looks around and sees that he is alone. The snowman builds another snowman to hang out with.
Say: "Today you will create a one-minute claymation video. The story for your video should be short and simple. Since we will take photos to make the video, rather than shooting it as a video, there will be no dialogue."
Show the group the sample storyboard for a claymation video about the man and the flower. Another possibility is to give members the option to use the sample story ideas about the blob or the snowman.
Once members have their story ideas, tell them to sketch out several storyboards that show the movement of the characters.
Build Your Characters
Grab some clay and start building your characters!
Check out these claymation characters. What do you notice about them?
Here are a few tips when you build your own:
-- Keep it simple. No elaborate details are needed.
-- By drawing eyes or a mouth with a toothpick or similar tool, you can erase and change the shape of the mouth for different shots and make your character laugh, smile, talk, etc.
-- Build your character so that it can stand up on its own. You can do this by making the feet much heavier than the head and shoulders.
-- Your character doesn’t have to be 100 percent clay. Sometimes, designers make a stick figure out of wire or pipe cleaners and then add clay around the figure’s wire “skeleton.”
-- If you want, you could incorporate small toys like Legos or other materials for your characters to interact with.
Set the Stage
Gather all your materials:
-- Your storyboard
-- Your characters
-- A digital camera or smartphone
-- If you’re using a digital camera, adjust the settings so that the photos are no bigger than 640x480.
-- If you’re using a smartphone as your camera, consider downloading one of these apps:
-- Stop Motion Studio (iOS and Google Play)
-- OSnap! Time-Lapse & Stop Motion Camera (iOS)
-- Pic Pac Stop Motion (Google Play)
-- Motion - Stop Motion Camera (Google Play)
-- A tripod for your camera, which can be as simple as binder clips or a stack of books. If the camera shakes or moves, it can ruin your film.
-- A lamp so you can shine a bright light onto your characters while you photograph them
-- Extra clay or props to use in your story
-- A background image is optional. Some Club members draw or paint their own backgrounds.
How to Set the Stage:
-- Choose a space to film. If you have a backdrop or items that will be in the scene, set them up in the filming space.
-- Point your camera toward the area you’re filming. It is very important that your camera is stable and doesn’t shake or move while you take pictures. If you don’t have a tripod, make a secure space for your camera to sit with a paper cup, binder clips, or other objects.
-- Point a lamp at the space where you’re filming. Keeping the lighting bright and consistent throughout the film with make your video much better.
-- Turn off your camera’s flash. Take a few sample photos. How do they look? Is it bright enough?
Capture the Action
Set up your characters as they appear in the first frame of your storyboard. Take a photo. Move your character(s) a TINY bit in the direction of your next frame. Take another photo.
Continue making tiny adjustments and taking photos until your characters have “acted out” the entire story.
You’re going to end up with a ton of photos. Take your time. Moving too quickly or shaking the camera are two of the most common mistakes in claymation.
Stop-motion animators use a term called “frames per second” to determine how many photos they need to take for each second of action in their stories. Professional stop motion animators might take 24 photos for every second of action (that’s 24 frames per second) while amateurs are more likely to take 12 photos for every second of action (12 frames per second). You could even animate in 3 frames per second, but it’s going to look a little choppier. The more pictures you use per second, the more smooth your animation will seem.
If you’ve taken all of your photos with a digital camera, you can learn how to turn them into a movie with the Producing a Stop-Motion Movie project. If you used one of the smartphone apps, the app will turn your pictures into a video.
If you want to learn more about frames per second, watch this video.
Once members have set up their projects, get the group’s attention. Ask: "How do you think we will get the clay figures to look like they are moving by taking photographs?" Listen to a couple ideas. If members don’t mention everything, add to what they said with the explanations to the left.
Tell students to begin taking photos. As you walk around the room, you may have to remind students to move their clay figures only a tiny bit between each photograph.
If members are using a smartphone and one of the apps listed in Activity 4, the app will create their video with the photos.If they are using digital cameras, members can learn how to turn them into a movie with the Producing a Stop-Motion Movie project.
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